Explore the art, history, museums and beautiful vistas on this interactive tour
By: Annie Flanzraich
The Sierra Nevada region is rich in history, art, and nature — if you know where to look. There is plenty to explore and enjoy in this fair part of the world, from one-of-a-kind museums to scenic vistas to immersive historical experiences.
To aid in your journey and guide you to new adventures and sites, we’ve put together the Sierra Scavenger Hunt. Follow along and share what you see with us on social media (FB & IG @getawayrenotahoe, Twitter @getawayRT), where we’ll be awarding prizes to the most active participants.
At the Benko Art Gallery in South Lake Tahoe, you’ll find a 1,500-square-foot showroom showcasing pieces by local contemporary artists, including paintings, photography, sculpture, ceramics, glass art, functional art, and installation art. The gallery has become a platform for local artists to emerge as professionals.
Sierra Scavenger Hunt Challenge: Choose your favorite piece of art, and tell us about it.
Walk through history
Take a self-guided tour through Carson City’s historic district on the Kit Carson Trail. This route along the sidewalks of the downtown Carson City residential area features stops at landmarks, including 1800s-era Victorian-style homes, museums and churches. Nearly 60 landmarks and structures telling the story of the capital city’s history are featured along the 2.5-mile trail. In addition to the historic homes along the path, visitors will see The Governor’s Mansion, The Brewery Arts Center, Nevada State Capitol, and Nevada State Museum.
Sierra Scavenger Hunt Challenge: Take a photo of yourself at the Nevada State Capitol Building.
Be in the art of it
The only art museum in Nevada accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno strives to offer meaningful art and cultural experiences, and foster new knowledge in the visual arts by encouraging interdisciplinary investigation. nevadaart.org
A museum of ideas, the Nevada Museum of Art serves as an educational resource for everyone. Co-founded in 1931 by Dr. James Church, an early climate scientist, humanist, and lover of art, the museum has long understood the importance of examining how humans interact with their natural, built, and virtual surroundings.
Its building reflects that philosophy and the four-level, 70,000-square-foot building is inspired by geological formations in northern Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. The museum offers in-person and virtual experiences for visitors of all ages.
Sierra Scavenger Hunt Challenge: Take a selfie in front of one of the museum’s many outdoor sculptures.
Cross your heart (and the snow)
With more than 50 kilometers of groomed Nordic ski tracks in winter and mountain bike rentals in the summer, Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area (call it Tahoe XC if you want to sound like a local) in Tahoe City offers activities for every season. And the Tahoe Cross-Country Ski Education Association provides free and affordable community ski programs for skiers of all ages.
Sierra Scavenger Hunt Challenge: Show us your cross-country skis or snowshoes at Tahoe XC.
Make a discovery!
The Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum in Reno offers fun activities and adventures for all ages. Since opening to the public in 2011, The Discovery has solidified its place in our region as the home for informal science, technology, engineering, art, and math learning. Founded initially as a children’s museum, The Discovery has quickly transformed into a world-class science center serving much more than families with young children. nvdm.org
Through hands-on galleries and exhibitions, and a robust array of educational programs, The Discovery connects learners of all ages with opportunities to explore a wide variety of ever-changing topics, all designed to inspire curiosity and further investigation.
Sierra Scavenger Hunt Challenge: Take a photo of yourself exploring the human body or taking a climb in the clouds.
Get a look at this view
Home to one of the best views of the Reno skyline, University Ridge Park is a great place to take in a sunrise, sunset, or a breath of fresh air. Pack a picnic and a few lounging chairs, and head over to 990 S. University Park Loop in Reno, close to the University of Nevada, Reno.
Sierra Scavenger Hunt Challenge: Snap a time-lapse of one of Reno’s legendary sunsets.
Mining the past
A stroll down Virginia City’s wooden sidewalks may make you feel like you’ve taken a trip back in time and that Mark Twain is waiting for you around every corner. And, to be fair, he just might be.
The 19th-century mining bonanza turned Virginia City into the most important industrial city between Denver and San Francisco. Prospectors worldwide came to stake their claim in this mining “boomtown,” where more than $400 million in gold and silver was mined. At today’s prices, that’s more than $20 billion.
Today, you can see the mansions, hospitals, churches, opera houses, and schools these newly minted millionaires built. Their riches helped finance the Civil War and build San Francisco.
Sierra Scavenger Hunt Challenge: Strike a pose on that famous wooden sidewalk.
Yes, you may have some culture
Located inside Reno’s Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, the Wilbur D. May Museum houses the private collection of the man for whom it is named. During a lifetime of world travel and adventure, Wilbur D. May accumulated thousands of rare and exotic artifacts, which he brought back to his Reno home.
Since 1985, his unique ethnographic collection has been on display for the public to enjoy. It’s the only museum in Nevada where you will see: African tribal masks, American Western art, antique firearms, Chinese pottery, Egyptian tomb items, European glasswork, exotic taxidermy, Japanese swords, Polynesian carvings, saddlery and tack, and more. The museum also hosts traveling exhibitions, special programs, and events year-round.
Sierra Scavenger Hunt Challenge: Snap a photo of your favorite item in the collection.
As for me, I’m starting my Sierra Scavenger Hunt at University Ridge Park — because there’s no such thing as photographing too many Reno sunsets.
Disclaimer: Getaway Reno/Tahoe supports social distancing and safe practices promoting the health of our community. Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, digital and print content is updated to the best of our knowledge. Please keep in mind, many photos featured in our publication and online platform were taken before the pandemic and may not reflect current conditions. As you navigate your Reno/Tahoe adventure, be sure to visit the corresponding event url or business page to check cancellations, closings, or postponements. Stay safe, stay healthy. Thank you.