Twenty-five miles south of Reno, this national historic landmark is the site where the legendary Comstock Lode was struck, sparking a silver bonanza that began in 1859 and stands as one of the world's richest strikes. Some of Virginia City's silver barons went on to become major players in California history, among them Leland Stanford of university fame and Bank of California founder William Ralston. Much of San Francisco was built with the treasure dug up from the soil beneath the town.
At its peak during the 1860s gold rush, Virginia City was a high-flying, rip-roaring Wild West boomtown with 30,000 residents. Today, with fewer than 1000 residents and a main street of wooden sidewalks and historic saloons in restored grand Victorians, it can sometimes feel like a frontier theme park. Even so, it’s still a fun and photogenic place to while away a few hours.