The biggest town for miles around, Ely deserves an overnight stop. Its old downtown has beautiful regional history murals and awesome vintage neon signs.
East of downtown's gambling strip, marked by the 1929 Hotel Nevada and Jailhouse Casino, the White Pine County Tourism & Recreation Board provides visitor information on zany town events like Cocktails and Cannons and the annual Bathtub Races. Ask about the mysterious Ghost Train and the Ely Renaissance Village, a collection of 1908 period homes built by settlers from France, Slovakia, China, Italy and Greece.
Ely was established as a mining town in the 1860s, but the railroad didn't arrive until 1907. The interesting East Ely Railroad Depot Museum inhabits the historic depot. There the Nevada Northern Railway offers excursion rides on trains pulled by historic steam engines.
Off US Hwy 93 south of town via signposted dirt roads, Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park protects a half-dozen beehive-shaped structures dating from 1876 that were once used to make charcoal to supply the silver smelters.
Kitsch lovers will dig the Hotel Nevada with clean rooms above a funky old casino with a bar that defines the term 'local color.' In the morning, stop by the cafe for giant cinnamon rolls, steak and eggs, and Starbucks coffee.
Ely's casinos have mostly ho-hum eateries, some open 24 hours. The Silver State Restaurant is an authentic diner-style coffee shop, where the waitresses call you 'hun' and comfort food is the only thing on the menu (cash only). La Fiesta serves up deliciously cheesy enchiladas and good frozen margaritas.