Nevada has an interesting and varied history. From the silver and gold rushes of the 1800s to the introduction of gambling to its beautiful mountains and lakes, there is much to see in the Silver State. Whereas there are certain tourist areas that attract many, many visitors such as Hoover Dam, the Las Vegas Strip, and Lake Tahoe, for example, there are several other quite interesting and underappreciated attractions. Here are 10 of the coolest attractions in Nevada not enough people visit.
1. The National Atomic Testing Museum, Las Vegas
Located at 755 E. Flamingo Road, this museum details Nevada's significant contribution to the nuclear weapons testing program from the Nevada Test Site and beyond.
This huge museum has several movies, hands-on exhibits, and a wealth of artifacts from this important period in U.S. history. An added feature is the Area 51 alien exhibit.
2. Mark Twain Museum, Virginia City
Located inside the original Territorial Enterprise Newspaper Building at 53 S. C Street in Virginia City, this small but informative museum is brimming with Virginia City printing history.
The museum is also full of history relating to the incomparable Samuel Clemens who got his first paid writing job penning news stories for the Territorial Newspaper between 1862 and 1864 under the name Mark Twain. There is much history about Twain and visitors can see his original, non-refurbished desk.
3. Ruby Lake National Wildlife Reserve
Established in 1938 and located in Elko and White Pine Counties at the southern end of Ruby Valley and nestled beneath the Ruby Mountains, this 40,000-acre refuge is one of the most remote in the 48 contiguous states.
In addition to viewing and photographing the wildlife in the area, visitors can learn about the various flora and fauna native to the gorgeous Great Basin area.
4. Humboldt Museum, Winnemucca
In addition to the two-story main building, the museum's grounds also contain 1907 St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, the 1880’s Greinstein Building, and the 1899 Richardson-Saunders House. The museum is located at 175 Museum Avenue in Winnemucca.
Most of the museum's artifacts relate to Winnemucca history such as period furniture and clothing, automobiles, and the skeletal remains of a Colombian Mammoth found nearby.
5. The Smith Center, Las Vegas
Located at 361 Symphony Park Avenue in downtown Las Vegas, this gorgeous, state-of-the-art entertainment center is a work of art with its Art Deco design and 17-story bell tower. Inspired by the Hoover Dam, the center is constructed with limestone to keep electricity costs down and the building cool in the summer.
You can see a variety of performances from the Las Vegas Philharmonic to the latest Broadway plays. The high-tech sound system, amazing acoustics, multi-level seating, bars, dining areas, and Cabaret jazz area all amazing, and the staff is incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. If you love culture, this is definitely the place to go.
6. Ward Charcoal Ovens, Ely
Located in Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park, 20 miles south of Ely, these six 30-foot beehive-shaped charcoal ovens were used between 1876 and 1879 during the silver boom.
These ovens actually prepared charcoal for use in the smelters in nearby ghost town Ward. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, these are the best-preserved ovens in all of Nevada.
7. Pioneer Saloon, Goodsprings
Built in 1913 by businessman George Fayle, this authentic and historic saloon is the oldest working saloon in Nevada. The unique indoor and outdoor walls are stamped tin manufactured by Sears Roebuck.
The outside patio is a great place to kick back and enjoy the history. Inside, you can enjoy much memorabilia including the Clark Gable/Carole Lombard memorial room and photos from movies in which the saloon has appeared.
8. The Republic of Molossia
Back in 1999, Kevin Baugh and his friends created their very own territory in Nevada, separate from the US, and, thus, was born the one-acre, smallest country in the world, the Republic of Molossia.
Baugh is the self-proclaimed president and he will even stamp your passport when you visit. The entire country is a government house, Baugh's residence, and some interesting other sights. The country is completely separate from the US, doesn't pay any taxes, and prints its own currency on poker chips. Current applications for citizenship are not being taken at this time.
9. Double Negative, Moapa Valley
Created by artist extraordinaire Michael Heizer, Double Negative is an optical illusion and amazing work of art.
This amazing sculpture was created by displacing 244,000 tons of rhyolite and limestone with bulldozers and dynamite. Heizer dug two massive trenches at right angles to each other which span a natural chasm, thus giving the illusion, when looked at head on, that the sky extends down into the Earth. Heizer's other amazing work of art is Concept City; an 80-feet high, quarter-mile wide, and 1.25-mile long sculpture made entirely of rocks, dirt, and concrete. Complex City is located 50 miles from Area 51.
10. Lake Las Vegas, Henderson
This private 320-acre lake with 10 miles of shoreline is at the center of this premier residential, golf, and resort destination in Henderson.
Residents and visitors can rent boats to take out onto the gorgeous lake; book a cruise on the resident yacht; play golf; walk through the Old-World Mediterranean-styled MonteLago Village with its various shops, restaurants, bars, and galleries; and enjoy live music events on the pier.
There you have it: ten of the coolest attractions in Nevada that are rather under-visited. How many have you been to? Did I leave any of your favorites off this list? Please comment below.