Is this the most underrated town in Nevada? We're going to double down and say that it is. An easy drive from Reno or Lake Tahoe, it's a perfect stop for lunch and a stroll around the quiet, old-fashioned downtown. Expect handsome antique buildings and pleasant tree-lined streets centered around the 1870 Nevada State Capitol where the governor's door is always open – you'll just have to charm your way past his assistant. Note the silver dome, which fittingly symbolizes Nevada's 'Silver State' status.
US Hwy 395 from Reno becomes the town's main drag, called Carson St. Look for the Cactus Jack neon sign letting you know you've reached downtown. About a mile further south, the Carson City Convention & Visitors Bureau has information about mountain-biking trails and hands out a historical walking-tour map of the Kit Carson Trail, with interesting podcasts that you can download online.
Several historic attractions and museums are worth visiting. Housed inside the 1869 US Mint building, the Nevada State Museum puts on rotating exhibits of Native American, frontier and mining history. Train buffs shouldn't miss the Nevada State Railroad Museum, displaying some 65 train cars and locomotives, most pre-dating 1900. For made-in-Nevada artisan crafts, shop at the Brewery Arts Center.
Lunch, sip and linger at fetching, art-filled Comma Coffee where eavesdropping is always interesting: the next table over might be Nevada lobbyists discussing a new bill over lattes or wine. Nosh on English pub classics in red velvet booths at the Firkin and Fox downtown in the historic St Charles Hotel. Or spend the evening at the town's friendly, locally owned microbrewery, High Sierra Brewing Company, for great local beer and eclectic international dishes on the patio or near the stage, where nationally touring musicians perform some nights.