Is there something missing from your life lately? Cowboy boots, perhaps, and 10-gallon hats? How about a six-shooter?
If you’ve been searching for that perfect place to tap into your inner gunslinger, look no further than Virginia City. Originally built in 1859 following the discovery of the Comstock Lode, Virginia City was once the site of bar fights, heavy gambling, and occasional visits by Mark Twain. The Virginia City of today is much more sedate; located just 25 miles south of Reno, it’s a great place to explore, whether you want to perfect your Wyatt Earp cosplay or just have a morbid fascination with the underground.
With that in mind, here’s a few of the top Virginia City tourist attractions to get you started. Grab your duster and make sure you’ve fed your mustang—whether it’s the grass-eating or gasoline-loving variety—because here we go!
For a long time, John Piper could not seem to catch a break. He built Piper’s Opera House back in 1863, and it was an instant hit with the locals; Mark Twain even spoke there in 1866. A decade later, the opera house burned in the Great Fire of 1875; John Piper rebuilt in 1878, only to see that opera house burn down as well in 1883. By 1885, Piper had finally stopped angering the fire gods, and that iteration of the building is the one you see today.
The opera house, located at 12 North B Street, still hosts numerous community events. It also doubles as a museum and general architectural marvel for aficionados of that era.
Pro Tip: If you’re visiting while in costume, make sure you get a picture in front of this building to delight your social media followers.
You can’t live out your cowboy fantasy without stopping by the saloon for a drink, right? In its heyday, Virginia City had over a hundred bars and saloons; while that number has decreased, it’s still home to some fine eating and drinking establishments. Once you’ve snapped some selfies at Piper’s Opera House, mosey about 300 feet east to the Delta Saloon on C Street, where fortunes were won and lost and men gambled with their money and their lives.
You’re probably thinking something is missing from this trip. Cowboys, right? More specifically, angry cowboys. You’re in luck. The Bucket of Blood Saloon in Virginia City, NV is barely 30 feet away from the Delta Saloon, and it’s a must-see for any Virginia City visitor. The saloon is not actually in the business of selling blood (at least, I hope not), but its evocative name, old-timey light fixtures, and costumed cowboys and sheriffs will have you feeling like a gunslinger the moment you step inside. The name, by the way, is supposedly drawn from the fights that often occurred at the establishment. People threw so many punches that when the bar staff mopped up after closing, they’d come up with “buckets of blood.”
Trust me, it’s a great place to take your mother.
Men made their fortunes in the mines around Virginia City. Why wouldn’t you do a little digging and see if you can follow in their silver-plated footsteps? The bad news is the odds that you’ll strike an as-yet-unknown vein and become filthy rich overnight are approximately the same as the Cubs winning the World Series. The good news is you can still tour some of the mines, including the Ponderosa and Chollar Mines. Check out the old equipment, listen to stories told by trained guides, and try not to imagine how much gold and silver you probably won’t be uncovering.
There’s far more to Virginia City than just these attractions. If you’re getting a little tired of losing your rent money at the casino tables in Reno, rent a car and head down to Virginia City to enjoy its slightly slower pace of life.
Just please, don’t throw anyone through the saloon doors.