There is a Cure for the Summertime Blues


Summer vacation. Are there two words that bring more joy to a child, or more fear to a parent? Planning a trip to satisfy your brood can be downright daunting, but we’re here to help. We’ve chosen three destinations across the state, and we’ve chosen great things to do and see in each area. From food to activities, shopping to adventure, we’ve got you covered. Just pick your destination, pack up the family, and hit the road.


Ruby Mountains: Royal Family Fun


The town of Elko tucks in near the Ruby Mountains, and in the heart of the Rubies lies Lamoille Canyon. With easy access to a host of mountain trails, alpine lakes, secluded hanging valleys, and campsites, Lamoille Canyon is at the forefront of what it means to experience Nevada’s “Alps.” In late spring and into summer, the towering jagged peaks of Ruby Dome, Wines Peak, Mt. Silliman, and Snow Lake Peak are adorned with a sprawling blanket of wildflowers. Aspen, limber pine, and mountain mahogany also surround visitors with the best of the Nevada’s outdoor wonders.


Breakfast – If Elko is your base of operations, start your day at the bustling Coffee Mug, where kids get a menu full of puzzles, coloring, and tiny-people-approved dishes. McAdoo’s is another great option for breakfast and lunch.

Lunch – Costa Vida Fresh Mexican Grill is a good casual place for tasty grub. For lunch with a side of history, try B.J. Bull Bakery for some Cornish pasties, like the area miners used to eat. It’s a simple meal, and the no-frills atmosphere means mom and dad can relax.

Dinner – Of course, The Star—as well as Toki Ona—are good options if folks want delicious Basque food.



Ruby Crest Trailhead – Families with children can make their way up to the trailhead and embark on a leisurely and short trail to the Dollar Lakes. Depending on your gusto, the Island Lake Trail—1.9 miles one way—is a rewarding and enjoyable hike as well. Bring binoculars; mountain goats dwell on the cliffs high above. Break out the fishing rods along the banks of Lamoille Creek or any of the numerous beaver ponds found in the canyon. Browns, brook, and rainbow trout can be caught, and if you’re from out of state, fishing permits can be purchased at C-A-L Ranch or Walmart in Elko.

Thomas Canyon Campground – This is a popular base camp for exploring the rest of the Rubies, not to mention it has additional opportunities for families to hike and fish. The campground has more than 40 campsites with fire rings, grills, water, and primitive restrooms. Lamoille Creek runs through the campground, with a bridge connecting both camping area. The Thomas Canyon Trailhead is also located here, and makes for a very good hike for adventurous families.

The Ruby Crest Trail – If serious backpacking is something your family adventures include, consider looking to the Ruby Crest Trail, which extends nearly 40 miles along the rim of the Rubies. Most people start at the Green Mountain Trailhead southwest on Harrison Pass, and take three nights and four days to reach the Road’s End parking area in Lamoille Canyon. Some take their time and explore the side trails to the remote peaks and lakes along the way. Despite the remoteness and beauty, some of the locals and repeat visitors who make this backpacking trip throughout the year bemoan the garbage left on the trail. Remember the mantra: If you pack it in, pack it out.

Hastings Cutoff, the Pony Express Trail, and Ruby Valley – If you’ve got the time, and you and your family are history geeks like my family and me, grab a good area map and retrace some of the steps the pioneers took on their way out west.



Northeastern Nevada Museum – Once you have the education of the outdoors, head back to Elko and stop at the Northeastern Nevada Museum, where amid the Western art and history of the area, a fantastic display of wild animals is sure to please the kids.

The Western Folklife Center – This eastern Nevada treasure offers changing exhibits designed to preserve the American West.

California Trail Interpretive Center – The Center reveals history through its exhibits, trails, and encampments, and offers a glimpse into Elko’s past that goes beyond the ordinary.



Little Creek Crossing – If you’re looking for adventure but with some creature comforts close to the Rubies, try Little Creek Crossing, a vacation home rental in Lamoille at the base of the Rubies that accommodates up to 10 people.

Elko has no shortage of inns, motels, and hotels, not to mention RV parks such as the Iron Horse RV Resort, complete with swimming pool and cottages.

Las Vegas: Don’t Leave the Family Behind


While it may be true that just 10 percent of annual visitors to Las Vegas are under 21, consider this: that small percentage still equals more than 4 million visitors. So that’s 4 million kids who need to be entertained, exercised, fed, and watered. While there are a seemingly infinite number of obvious diversions, it’s easy to get lost inside the color and excitement of The Strip. So once you’ve had your fill of the neon thrill, step outside and see what else Glitter Gulch has to offer.


The Strip – Buffets, buffets, and more buffets. Suffice to say, your dining choices aren’t limited. Aside from those, plenty of obvious choices—such as Hard Rock Café or Rainforest Café—also keep kids occupied nicely while waiting for your meal.

Du-Par’s Restaurant and Bakery – Located at the Golden Gate Casino is a diner beyond compare. Great food includes pancakes to die for. Du-Par’s rocks it with simple, incredible food.

Pizza Rock – A perennial favorite of the Best of Las Vegas contest, Pizza Rock is a local treasure with great pizza, and a cool semi- truck that looks like it smashed through the wall. Sometimes, it’s just that easy to please them.



Centennial Park – Parks in Vegas are as big and grand as its casinos. Centennial Park has a bright, colorful play area with oversized flowers and plenty for kids to climb on.

Sunset Park – Whatever your park preference is, you’ll find it at Sunset Park. Water features, interpretive trails, wildlife habitats, lake for fishing, and bike rentals make this a must-see for families.

Springs Preserve – Home of the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas (see below), Springs Preserve is 180-acres of natural wonder in the heart of the city. Botanical gardens, trails, historical structures, restored wetlands, wildlife exhibits, and a child’s play area await your family.



The Nevada State Museum – Located on the Springs Preserve grounds, this makes a perfect twofer day. Learn about Nevada history—with special emphasis on the area—then head to the Preserve.

Las Vegas Museum of Natural History – Mummies, dinosaurs, wildlife, and rocks will keep even the most jaded of tyke engaged. This museum covers the world, and brings it to Las Vegas.



Children’s Museum – Three stories of fun, hands-on exhibits, and so many things to touch, your kids won’t know what to handle first.

Mob Museum – This museum has plenty of intrigue and crime-related exhibits to interest older kids. Spotlighting the role the Mob and law enforcement had on the birth of the area, this museum tells both sides of the tale.



The Strip – Circus Circus has circus acts, and an arcade; New York New York has a roller coaster; Mandalay Bay has the Shark Reef Aquarium; the MGM Grand’s pools are set on 6.6 acres with winding rivers and grottos. Get the picture? If you want big adventure for your kids, The Strip properties are a sure bet.

Red Rock Casino Resort – If you want a little breathing room, try Red Rock. About 30 minutes outside The Strip, the hotel has a huge pool, bowling alley, playground and more, but best of all, it’s situated near some of the most beautiful scenery (Red Rock Canyon) in the world. It’s great for those looking for a different kind of view.


Reno/Tahoe: A Home Away From Home


As a popular headquarters for northern Nevada summer vacationers, the Reno/Tahoe area caters to family fun. But you’re not required to be an out-of-towner to act like you’re on vacation—locals can enjoy the region’s beauty without ever leaving home. Gorgeous beaches, fishing holes, museums, hiking trails, eateries, and hotels aplenty are the perfect remedy for the summertime blues.


Breakfast – Red Hut Café is a great place to bring the family, and with locations in Reno, Stateline, and Carson City, you can fuel up no matter where your vacation begins. Large menu selections offer choices for even the pickiest eaters. Peg’s Glorified Ham N Eggs is another great choice if you find yourself in Reno or Sparks.

Lunch – Genoa is a must-see if you’re in the area. There are several eateries in the historic town, including the Genoa Country Store, which serves up sandwiches, souvenirs, and more. Carson City’s Reds Old 395 Grill offers heaping helpings of barbecue, sandwich- es, burgers, and such. With several locations in Reno and Sparks, Squeeze In is an excellent choice, offering an extensive lunch menu and lots of crayons to keep the kids occupied. And if you find your- self in Incline Village, give T’s Mesquite Rotisserie a try. Their tri-tip burritos rival any in the area.

Dinner – For dinner, one of the many downtown Reno casino buffets will work great. The Buffet at the Eldorado offers large seating areas, but be sure to make reservations ahead of time. The Oyster Bar at JA Nugget in Sparks has been a local favorite for more than 50 years, and can satisfy any seafood craving.



Davis Creek Regional Park – Located in Washoe Valley, Davis Creek Regional Park offers hiking trails, fishing ponds, and a campground. The park is known for its summer activities, including visits to nearby Bowers Mansion Park.

Fuji Park – In the heart of Carson City lies Fuji Park—a great place to have a picnic or barbecue. The park offers Baily Fishing Pond—perfect for youngsters who like to fish.

Idlewild Park – This Reno park offers children’s playgrounds, a swimming pool, walking and biking paths, acres of grassy areas for games and sports, a baseball diamond, and small lakes. During the summer months, the popular miniature train ride runs throughout the day.

Sand Harbor State Park – With spacious sandy beaches and plenty of room for swimming in beautiful Lake Tahoe, Sand Harbor State Park is a great place for a beach day. Popular activities include boating, picnicking, swimming, and hiking. The 2015 Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival runs July 10-Aug. 24, and celebrates theater, music, and art.


Carson City – The Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada; Ne- vada State Museum, Carson City; and Nevada State Railroad Museum are all great places to take the kids, depending on the mood they’re in.

Reno – The Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum has many hands-on activities and exhibits to stimulate children’s minds. The Wilbur D. May Center is another great choice, and features a museum, arboretum, playgrounds, ponds, and miles of hiking trails.



Reno – There’s lots to choose from when selecting a room in Reno. Many of the downtown Reno casinos have restaurants, arcades, and cater to families. The Silver Legacy, Eldorado, or Circus Circus Reno may be a good bet. Circus Circus offers a large arcade area and nightly circus shows.

Stateline – Harvey’s Lake Tahoe and Montbleu Resort are both known for their rockin’ summer concerts. Consider staying in either of these resorts and your concert will be just a quick walk away.


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