Obviously when I visited Virginia City last month, I didn’t just wander around visiting museums. I did have to eat and sleep. And, as I mentioned, it is a small town and there are no franchises or chain stores so you won’t be tempted by the familiar. Don’t worry though, you won’t miss them because Virginia City’s unique offerings will keep you quite happy.
Food and spirits…
My tactic for a jam-packed visit like this is to grab a big breakfast and go non-stop until dinner. I’m simply not able to get in everything I need to do a write up if I stop so I missed out on some really yummy-looking barbeque joints for lunch but I did manage some really good breakfast that more than made up for it.
Virginia City Baked Goods: The offerings here include yummy pastries as you might expect from the name but they also have hot menu items that hit the spot and fueled me for a full day on my feet, lugging 25+ pounds of camera gear around town. Plus, the coffee was super strong, the way I like it.
Comstock Cafe: Being a southern girl, I’m always prepared to be disappointed in non-southern offerings of biscuits and gravy. My geographical bias met its match here, though. Theirs was top-notch. I was tempted to do a repeat visit but I knew I needed to check out more places around town.
The Roasting House: I had only intended to grab a cup of coffee when I stopped in here on my way to the airport on my last day. Once I saw the menu though, I knew I had to try the Morning Glory… a bacon waffle stuffed with scrambled eggs and cheese an served with fresh fruit. And yes, it was glorious!
In addition to some excellent breakfast joints and other restaurants, Virginia City is ripe with old-timey saloons as you can imagine given its history. I didn’t visit all of them but I did spend a little time at some:
Red Dog Saloon: Originally the Comstock House, the Red Dog is home to the Virginia City music scene. It’s where Janis Joplin got her start as well as many other 60s icons. The Red Dog suited my laid-back personality and after a busy day exploring, I reveled in kicking back to enjoy some local music along with some dinner and a beer.
Silver Queen Hotel: There’s a good bit of kitsch to this historic hotel and saloon but the friendly staff and amazing details more than compensates for that. It also serves as a wedding chapel and the starting point of the ghost tour. On the random weeknight I visited, there was very little going on here but I did have a little bit of company. He was a quiet fella, though.
Bucket of Blood: Since lugging a massive backpack full of camera gear around all day will wear you out, I stopped in here briefly to take a load off of my tired feet. It was a worthwhile respite to take in the view from their enormous picture window as well as the amazing collection of light fixtures. Apparently most people stop in here for a Bloody Mary but all I wanted was a beer and it certainly hit the spot.
Crown Point Restaurant: Technically in Gold Hill, the next town over the divide, Crown Point is housed with the Gold Hill Hotel and turned out to be one of my only dining options by the time I arrived my first night in Virginia City. Gold Hill is a combination of hotel, bar, and restaurant and it was really very cozy. This is the only fine dining experience I opted for during my stay and it was indeed quite a treat.
My home in Virginia City…
There are a handful of lodging options in Virginia City but what you won’t find is sterile look-alike hotel chains. Instead you have colorful, unique places.
For my time there, I was situated at the cozy Virginia City Inn on the south edge of town. From its position at the top of the divide, you can admire the scenes of Virginia City to the north below and the valley to the east, making for a spectacular sunrise over the layers of mountains in the distance. In addition to the super-friendly and helpful owners, my visit was highlighted by the inviting grounds that include a small garden, a picnic table, and a swing to lounge in and enjoy the scenery.
The rooms each have a theme reflecting the history of Virginia City, everything from a tribute to the 60s music scene and native american history to cowboys and the Civil War. I stayed in the Victorian-themed room which I enjoyed for its king-size bed and large bathroom. After a week pounding through the backcountry of Idaho prior to my visit, it was a very welcome comfort.
The big picture…
Obviously I’m a fan of Virginia City. I love the vibe and everything there is to see and do. This is a place where locals will stop to chat and share what they love about their town. It’s also the kind of place where local residents pop in to order “the usual.” That’s a rare sight for me being headquartered in a large metropolis.
Stopping in Virginia City proved a great way to ease back into urban life after the Hell Hike and Raft. And even if you’re not visiting after being in the back-country and cut off from civilization for a week, you’ll find Virginia City to be a nice change from the typical destination or vacation spot. Enjoy, friends!