When it comes to vacationing, bustling cities are often the subject of attraction but as Travel and Leisure recently reminded us, there is much to be gained by setting your vacation compass on a small town.
Carson Valley, not to be confused with Carson City (our neighbors to the north and the state’s capital), is made up of four small communities: Genoa, Minden, Gardnerville, Topaz Lake. Just 12 miles east of Lake Tahoe, these communities are spread across sweeping landscapes at the base of the Sierra Nevada. Each are unique in their own small-town way and together offer special experiences and charm well worthy of vacation status.
Read on to learn about why taking the path less traveled to Carson Valley might just be the perfect path for you.
After all, isn’t that one of the main reasons we travel? Taking the time to intentionally decompress and unwind is a priority for many vacationers. Carson Valley offers little traffic, no crowds, a hearty dose of nature, and an overall slower pace. It is hard to feel stressed when you stare up at a snowcapped Jobs Peak or watch the water ripple onto the shores of Topaz Lake.
Spending time in nature has incredible mental and physical health benefits. Learn more about all the ways you can fill your wellness cup in Carson Valley here.
Bringing little ones? There is ample space for them to run and play or explore the downtown scene without fear, which also drops the needle on the ole stress meter. Simplicity is the motto we live by in Carson Valley!
Experiences Beyond the Mainstream
Not to say we don’t have your standard niceties like a movie theatre and bowling alley (hint: we do and they’re great), but you can also easily throw convention to the wind and experience something unique to small towns in general, and Carson Valley in particular.
When was the last time you floated your cares away in a hot air balloon or an engineless glider? How about pick wildflowers, wage a snowball fight, hike to a waterfall? Exchange the pulsing night club lights for the sight of a wild mustang running with his band along a ridgeline. Swap a shopping mall for the chance to roam a farmer’s market in search of fresh goodies or scour the antique stores in search of hidden treasures.
Truly special memories can be made in the unexpected, uncommon experiences. Check out some of Carson Valley’s unusual bucket list opportunities here.
Small Town Events
Attending a small town event is the perfect way to experience the local flare and mingle with the folks that call Carson Valley home. Things like the local rodeo, free summer concerts in the park, monthly wine walk, Historic Society’s Heritage Lecture series, Genoa Western Heritage Days or Carson Valley Days – to name a few – can really top off a vacation. Use our events calendar to see what is going on during your visit!
Who doesn’t like a great value without a painful price tag?
On the whole, small towns are kinder to the wallet. Lodging can be more affordable and often times, more unique. If you are looking for some character with your King bed like an indoor pool shaped like the state of Nevada, uniquely themed rooms, deer grazing outside of your window, hot springs that have soothed the aches of many a Pony Express rider, or the smell of a bakery downstairs waking up your senses, there are ample options to choose from that won’t break the bank.
Free or low-cost activities are an added bonus to reasonable lodging. Visit one of the valley’s very first ranches, the historic and picturesque Dangberg Ranch, roam their beautiful grounds or check out their over 40,000 catalogued items for free or a donation of your choice. For less than a price of a cup of coffee, immerse yourself in history at the two Carson Valley Museums. Over 54 miles of hiking and biking trails provide a fun and free activity and can elevate a day from good to great. Free community events often take place throughout the year, so check our events calendar to stay in the know. We could go on and on, but you (and your wallet) get the point.
The best part? When and where you do choose to spend money in Carson Valley, you are supporting an entire community. You can feel great about being the reason that local restaurants, shops and ranches stay in business.
Q: Do the people make the place or does the place make the people?
Maybe it’s all the fresh air that makes small towns so friendly, but whatever it is, hospitality and local connections abound in Carson Valley. Don’t be surprised if a local Joe chats with you for 20 minutes about the weather or a waitress takes the time to offer her favorite choices from the menu. You’ll probably be talked into throwing a dollar on the ceiling of JT Basque Bar & Dining Room for luck or hear all about Raquel Welch’s wild contribution to the Oldest Thirst Parlor in Nevada.
You will find that you gain a more authentic experience, an insight into the rich culture, and a sense of community when you get to know the people of Carson Valley.
We’re happy you’re here.
Try It and See
A place perhaps overlooked by the masses can be exactly the place to have the most meaningful travel experience. There is something to be said for the appreciation of little gems, bursting at the seams with authenticity.
So, for your next vacation we encourage you to think small but expect big: big memories, smiles, adventure, satisfaction.