13 Wallet & Kid Friendly Summer Activities in Carson Valley

Summer is here and there are family memories to be made in Carson Valley! Check out these 13 activities that are kind to both the kiddos and the wallet.

1. Pond Hop

Grab a pole and head down the Martin Slough Trail. Martin Slough is a paved path that connects Minden to Gardnerville and has two ponds, Mountain View and Seeman, that are prefect for little fishermen! Mountain View Pond also allows remote-controlled boats.

A sweet spot to ride bikes, scooters, or skip along, you can’t go wrong on Martin Slough.

Minden Park Splash Pad

2.   Make a Splash

Visit the free splash pad at the Minden Park! Perfect for a hot summer day, the cement pad shoots jets of water in the air to run and play in – a high tech version of the garden hose and sprinklers we all remember so fondly. Surrounded by grass, trees and picnic tables, the park provides all day long entertainment.

Tip: If the water isn’t running when you arrive, stand barefooted on the black circle in front of the bench to activate the pad.

3. River Romp

There are several spots on the Carson River for kids to play! Whether you load up the flamingo floaty or just soak your feet, the river is a great place to be for some fun in the sun. One easy entry point is located right off Highway 395, about 3.5 miles south of Gardnerville. Turn right onto Washoe Road, just past Ruhenstroth. This road heads straight for the river, and there is easy access and dirt parking just after the turn-off on the right. Be sure to pay close attention to all safety rules and regulations while out on the river.

4. Dive into the Carson Valley Swim Center

Cannonballlllll! The Carson Valley Swim Center features two diving boards, six pools (indoor and outdoor) and best of all – two slides! The swim center is open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. and 11 a.m. -3 p.m. on the weekends. Fees are $5/day for adults, the first child under 6 years old is free and it is just $1 for each additional child. Depending on the season, they also host lively events like an underwater Easter egg hunt or teen nights! Check out their website or follow them on Facebook for more information.

5. Totally Topaz

Topaz Lake offers a relaxed pace and ample elbow room. Take the kids out for a float followed by a night of smores and stargazing. Set up camp on the shores of this desert gem with the option of motorhome hookups, dry campsites or dispersed camping (free). Reserve hookups and dry spots online or by calling 775-782-9835.

Learn more about Topaz Lake in this blog.

Carson Valley has deep rooted history and a storied past that comes alive with characters of the wild west. Drink in some of the history without breaking the bank at one of these treasured historical sites!

6.   Dangberg Ranch

Step into yesteryear at Dangberg Ranch Home Park, a perfectly preserved ranch and public park located off of State Route 88 (3/4 miles south of the roundabout). Let the kids roam the grounds before visiting the home ranch itself and learn all about Carson Valley’s ranching history. There is no fee for admission to the grounds, but visitors have the option to donate to the cause of preserving this piece of Carson Valley history.

Dangberg also hosts an annual Summer Festival, which includes Chautauquan performances of beloved national and local characters (think Mark Twain, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Snowshoe Thompson), live music and presentations taking place all throughout the summer. To learn more, visit their website.

7.   Genoa Courthouse Museum

What was once a courthouse, gathering place and school way back when has now been forever frozen in time as a museum. The Genoa Museum gives an insight into early life in Carson Valley and showcases other historical aspects including Snowshoe Thompson, the courtroom itself, the Washoe Tribe and Pony Express, to name a few.

Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for children and free for ages 0-6. Even better, the fee gets you into two different museums (see #9)!

8.   Mormon Station State Historic Park

After visiting the Genoa Museum it’s an easy walk across the street to Mormon Station State Historic Park, which is the reconstruction of the 1851 trading post in Nevada’s first permanent non-native settlement.

The park itself is an idea place to gather for a picnic lunch or play with the kids before visiting the stockade and wagon shed (free), Campbell homestead, 1908 blacksmith shop, and log cabin trading post replica (fee is $1, children 12 years and younger are free). Hours vary by season but the park is open 10 a.m.- 4p.m. in the summer months. Visit the Nevada State Parks website here.


9.   Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center

Top off your history mug with the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center, located in Gardnerville. Built in 1915 by well-known Nevada architect, Frederick DeLongchamps, the beautiful brick building was home to the Douglas County High School. It was later preserved and now serves as a walk through Carson Valley history and includes exhibits on agriculture, early communications, Basque culture, the Record-Courier and much more.

The Douglas County Historical Society maintains both museums and often puts on children’s events, activities and family days. Visit their website here, or contact them at [email protected] or by calling 775.782.2555. Also, be sure to keep an eye on our calendar for events at the museum.

10.      River Fork Ranch Trail

Chase the horizon with the River Fork Ranch Trail, known for its sweeping, post-card worthy views and wildlife. Located one mile east of Genoa on an 800-acre nature preserve, the trail itself is the perfect place for kids to learn all about native animals and their habitat. Discover all the treasures on the trail with this free interactive guide for kids!

11.      Free Concerts

Let your littles get their groove on at the Bently Family Summer Concert Series at the Minden Park or Genoa’s Concerts on the Green. All of which can be found on our events page as they occur each summer, so be sure to mark your calendars! Bring a blanket, some snacks and your dancin’ shoes!


12.      Movies in the park

The Town of Gardnerville provides high-quality, efficient, and cost-effective services to meet community-wide needs. Gardnerville’s Movies in the Park can be found here. Please join us for an evening of family entertainment. The shows begin at 8 p.m. at Heritage Park in Gardnerville.

13.      Heritage Garden Co-op

The Heritage Garden Co-op’s mission is to making learning fun in a natural environment! Their play-based learning kid’s classes are a great way for kids to explore and discover nature. Classes alternate weeks, Mondays and Tuesdays from August 15th to November 21st, and are $15 per child. Learn more and see the full schedule on their Facebook page.

These are just a few of the family and budget friendly opportunities in Carson Valley. Get more inspiration by checking out our sample kid’s day itinerary and be sure to show us how you play in Carson Valley on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest using the hashtag #WhyCV.