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37 Things To Do In Carson Valley: Part 1

People love making lists, and here in Carson Valley we’re no different. What sets us apart however, is that we also like weird numbers and we go big. No 21 things to do in 2021 for us, no sir. For locals and visitors alike, here is the first installment of 37 not to miss experiences, from Genoa to the north, Gardnerville and Minden in the valley, and Topaz Lake to the south. 

These aren’t in any order, so dive in anyplace that looks like a great place to start. Read on for the things to do in Carson Valley that you simply don’t want to miss. 

  1. Minden Meat and Deli Tri Tip Salad – Well known for its 31 beers on tap, hundreds more in cans and bottles, and RIBS!, a lesser known delicacy is the Tri Tip Salad. Blue cheese crumbles and dried cranberries add an extra dimension of flavor. Pair it with a hard cider or Mammoth Brewing root beer, and there’s no better lunch in the land.

  2. History lesson at the Museum – The Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center in Gardnerville is a delight. Wander through main street, see how people in the ‘good ole days’ cooked and curled their hair. There’s a beautiful exhibit about the history of the Washoe Tribe. You wont feel like you’re learning at all. But should you feel like gaining some extra credit, visit the Genoa Courthouse Museum to see what the Genoa jail and courtroom felt like. Just be sure not to close the jail cell door, the key has been lost for some time now.
  3. Dangberg Ranch – (even if just to roam the grounds). Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park is a feast for the eyes, and a peak back in time into the lives of an early settler family. At the time of this writing there are still social distancing requirements, so getting into the actual ranch house for a tour isn’t easy. However, the outbuildings are open during business hours, and the hallowed grounds are open every day. There is no better scenery to enjoy whilst eating your take-out lunch from Cafe Girasole, or any other tasty dining establishment.

  4. Wild horse and wildlife tour – whether you’re young or old, there’s nothing better than getting out on the range in a jeep, and coming across bands of wild Nevada mustangs. Second only to this experience is seeing some of the majestic birds and critters that call this valley home. Our local wildlife and avian experts offer a wealth of experience in spotting the wildlife, and generally know where they can be found, even when proving elusive. Should you prefer to ‘fly solo’ there are blog posts here and here that can point you in the right direction.
  5. SoaringNV – Minden, Nevada is known as one of the greatest soaring locations in the world. In fact, this article tells the story of a record busting glider designed and tested right here. Anyone can go up in a glider, where you are towed up by a plane, and then release the tow line to soar with the eagles. The views of nearby Lake Tahoe, the Sierra and our wide-open valley are absolutely breathtaking, and the knowledgeable pilots will point out landmarks you never would have guessed from the top angels.

  6. Skydive Lake Tahoe – With very similar views of the region, but with  a more exciting landing, look no further than Skydive Lake Tahoe. The professionals there will fulfill your bucket list dream any time of year.
  7. The trails no one else mentions (they are all great) – We all hear a lot about some of the more well known trails around the valley. The Carson Valley Trails Association and their army of rock-star volunteers have built an astounding 54-miles of maintained trails, traversing through public and private lands. Sierra Canyon Trailhead in Genoa is one of the more famous trails, especially with mountain bikers, as it connects with the Tahoe Rim Trail. However, there are plenty of lesser known trails that will fit the bill for social distancing and fun. The Bently Heritage Trail at the north end of the valley is flat, and meanders through a cow pasture along the Carson River. Care for a little more challenging terrain? The Pinyon Trailhead provides just that, with an incline, and 360 degree views of the Pine Nuts to the East and Sierra to the West.
  8. 9-holes in the afternoon (at any of the four courses) – Don’t keep score, just enjoy the walk. Not only are there four spectacular golf courses at all points on the compass in the valley, but they provide for some phenomenal scenery as well. Carson Valley Golf Course meanders through Cottonwoods along the Carson River, and Genoa Lakes and Ranch Courses provide some stunning terrain. Which brings us to…

  9. Tee off from the iconic tips 200 feet above hole 14 at Sunridge Golf & Recreations! If you’re not sure what that’s like, there’s only one way to find out.
  10. Hope Valley (in all 4 seasons) – Truly a photographer’s dream, Hope Valley, CA is only 20 minutes south-west of Gardnerville and worth the drive any time of year. From the lightshow of gold and red leaves in Autumn, to endless snowshoeing opportunities in Winter, to soaking your feet in a meandering stream after a Summer hike, Hope Valley provides a legendary backdrop to help you unplug and relax.

  11. Cooking class at Sierra Chef – Owner and ‘Jane of all trades’ Cynthia Ferris-Bennett (great great grand niece of the Ferris Wheel inventor), will teach you to make anything your heart desires. From Instapot recipes to lobster ravioli, there’s really nothing she can’t do. A cooking class is a great way to hang out with your best girlfriends, or inspire the Junior Chef in your life.
  12. Grab a dessert at Sierra Chef (Fresh Cannoli, Tiramisu, or Lasagna) and – in addition to hosting cooking classes, Sierra Chef makes homemade delights you can take home and eat, like gourmet pizzas, signature soups, lamb chops with all the fixin’s, as well as desserts and all kinds of delectable treats. As the saying goes ‘you can’t eat just one’.
  13. Sunrise or sunset (from any point of view). Sunrise from the Pine Nuts means you get amazing colors and the Alpen Glow on the Sierra peaks at first light, as well as all the wild horse bands coming through to water and socialize. Sunrise from Eagle Ridge Trailhead gives you the full experience of the sun emerging from behind the Pine Nut Range, and casting its rays across the valley. Sunset is often even more dramatic, especially when there are plenty of clouds to reflect the pinks and oranges that make Nevada sunsets famous.

  14. Road biking on Foothill Rd. and Diamond ValleyThe Sierra Nevada features an abundance of challenging climbs over notorious passes, state routes and rural highways to build a dream road ride for all abilities. Click here to explore the area’s top five classic road cycling routes. 
  15. Picon at the JT – A classic of American Basque cuisine is the Picon Punch (say that long eeeee in Peeee-kon). JT Basque Bar and Dining Room has been a stalwart fixture in Gardnerville for more than a half century. This hometown favorite is family owned and operated, and serves up the best Picons this side of the Rockies. Be careful though, locals know from experience that one isn’t enough and three is too many.

  16. Stick a dollar bill to the ceiling at the JT – one of the first things you notice when you walk through the door of the JT is the paper currency dotting the ceiling. This fun tradition is one the bartenders have perfected, so be sure to give it your all. First accomplished with silver dollars, now the bills are carefully folded over a metal ‘hammer’ with a thumb tack. Getting the tack and dollar bill to stick is all about technique. The stories of the dollar bill ceiling is great entertainment, so be sure to ask for the tale.
  17. Treat yourself to a delectable nosh at Coffee on Main – don’t let the line of cars scare you, the coffee and treats served up by a friendly barista are worth an extra couple of minutes of your day. Another family owned treasure of the Carson Valley, the little red hut is deceiving – there’s big hospitality served up here.

     

  18. A drink at Genoa Bar – The historic Genoa Bar and Saloon is widely believed to be the oldest thirst parlor in Nevada. The decor is a visual feast, but nothing beats the drinks served by a friendly face.


There you have it, the first 18 of 37 Things Not to Miss in 2021. Let us know how you experience them by tagging @CarsonValleyNevada or using #WhyCV on social media. Click here for episode 2!

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