Spend a perfect day and take a walking tour and discover historic Genoa Nevada. Park your car (anywhere is a good spot really) and start your visit at the park with the reconstructed 1851 trading post. You can’t miss it…it’s smack dab in the middle of beautiful peaceful historic Genoa.
A Brief History of Genoa Nevada
Genoa is the site of the first non-native permanent settlement in Nevada. Starting as a trading post in 1850 along the California Trail, Genoa provided supplies to travelers before crossing the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Often cited as beginning in 1851, that is because that is when the second and ‘permanent’ trading post was built. That one grew to include a blacksmith shop, livery, flour and saw mills… and voila.. a town was born!
Genoa has another claim to fame as it was a stop for the pony express. Each year that is honored and recreated as Genoa celebrates their history in really fun and unique ways! (Scroll down to Celebrate in Historic Genoa Nevada to learn more)
Genoa formed a ‘Squatter’s Government’ which remained in place until statehood happened in 1864. The county seat remained in Genoa until 1916 when it was moved to Minden.
Morman Station and Museum
The museum itself is small but don’t let it fool you! It’s full of stories that really bring the early history of Genoa to life in a very tangible way. The park itself is a delight to walk around and it is so easy to visualize Genoa’s beginnings.
Now a state historic park, the pre Genoa trading post is reconstructed and jam packed with pioneer artifacts. Within the fort are a stockade, wagon shed, a pavilion, and room for the kiddos to run.
This is the perfect place to start your walking tour. Be sure to take the time to read the informational plaques as well. They are bite sized history lessons and give a great overview so all you will experience in the delightful town of Genoa.
Oldest Bar in Nevada
Built in 1853 it began as Livingston’s Exchange. Shortly thereafter it was known as a ‘Gentleman’s Saloon’. Over the years The Genoa Bar has been a draw for locals and visitors alike to visit. There is even a bra from a very famous movie star hanging on the wall from her visit. I won’t give it all away here but it’s a fun little story and there are so many more. The point is it’s a super cool place to grab a drink and make new friends or come together with old ones. Today the Genoa Bar is known as Nevada’s Oldest Thirst Parlor and it’s wall to wall stories with some original pieces and some others collected over time. They all connect to make a truly unique place to visit.
Grab a cold one where Mark Twain, Ulysses Grant, and Teddy Roosevelt did. Other famous faces that have enjoyed the oldest bar in Nevada include Clint Eastwood, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, John Denver, and Waylon Jennings.
The Genoa Bar is a Nevada treasure and that of American history as well. A must see on your visit and for sure include on the walking tour.
History of Taverns in Early America
Blend of Old and New of Genoa
As you make your way over to the Genoa Bar, take a little time to visit the stores along the way. Some historical, some new, all worth your time.
Antiques: You can’t tour a historic place like Genoa and don’t check out the antique stores. They are full of stories and memories and treasures just waiting for you to discover.
Sierra Chef: This quaint business is the epitome of a small town business and carries on traditions of a community. They have cooking classes, event catering, take out, a store, dinners to go and so much more! Definitely stop here and stuff your face and heart with goodness. Worth every calorie.
Explore Virginia City, Nevada
Oldest Courthouse and Jail
Once the county seat, now the courthouse is a beautiful museum and an extension of the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center. The exhibits on the Pony Express, the Emigrant Trail, Snowshoe Thompson, and The Washoe people provide a robust look at the history of this town and surrounding area.
The Pink House
Another perfect representation of how Genoa honors the past and celebrates the present, The Pink House is a modern restaurant in a historic landmark home. They have a fantastic menu of light fare and we highly recommend anything that highlights their cheeses!
Childhood home of Lillian Virgin Finnegan who is the founder of the Candy Dance (keep reading for more on that) this historic building has been restored with so much love and care. Even the tables are built from repurposed wood from the original home. It’s a gorgeous example of Gothic Revival with everything either being original or reproduction. Many discussions took place within these walls about making Nevada a state and you can soak it all in while enjoying a charcuterie that you’ll be talking about for ages. I highly recommend the cheeses. Anything cheese. Trust me. All the cheese.
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The adorable Pink House
Historically accurate ambiance
The White House
Just across the street from the Pink House is the Kinsey House. Another historic home on the National Historic Registry, I’ll leave you discover the full story for yourself but I’ll let you know the black walnut tree in the yard is the oldest and tallest in the state of Nevada. That’s the charm of Genoa. All these little fun historic surprises everywhere you look.
The White House with a bunch of deers
The Old Courthouse Museum
Celebrate in Historic Genoa Nevada
CandyDance: Beginning in 1919, this unique event brings together over 300 arts and craft vendors, food, and activities. Originally the Candy Dance was a fundraiser to purchase street lights for Genoa. Today it fundraises for the town budget and it is a delightful celebration for all who visit. And YES! There is home made candy lovingly made by volunteers just as it was 100 years ago.
Snowshoe Thompson: Originally from Norway, John Snowshoe Thompson carried the mail twice a month for twenty years over the Sierra’s. He doesn’t have his own festival but he’s part of the Genoa story and therefore all the festivals so totally worth mentioning.
Other Festivals : Genoa Cowboy Christmas Concert, Americana 4th of July Celebration, and concerts on the green. It seems like there is always a reason to visit this charming Nevada town. Quintessential Americana in a great town backed up to the Sierra Nevada Mountains is the perfect backdrop for a celebration or an afternoon visit.
More things to do near Genoa
So you took your walking tour of Genoa Nevada and fell in love right? Yeah, we did too. The good news is your visit doesn’t have to end just yet! Lots more to do very close by!
North Fork River Ranch: 12 miles straight out of town is a nature paradise for hiking, wildlife viewing, photography, and more. Visit the wetland and meadow preserve along a two mile section of the Carson River.
Hot Springs: You can walk, bike or drive to Walley’s Resort. Built in 1862, a visit to this hot springs mineral pool is relaxing and gorgeous and just a mile and a half journey from downtown Genoa, a great addition to your tour.
skiing: Heavenly is less that 8 miles from Genoa’s town center. There you will find a tube and saucer hill as well as skiing and snowboarding. If snow play is on your list, this is a must stop on your visit.
Discover more Historic Nevada
Genoa is a peaceful glimpse into early Nevada and is a gorgeous place to visit full of historic charm in an unexpected way. It’s slightly off the beaten path and well worth the effort to exit the main highway and discover the stories of Nevada’s early beginnings.
A walking tour of Genoa is a great way to explore Nevada’s past while enjoying the present. The people in the community take great pride in their history and it shows in everything from the maintenance of the flowers to the loving restoration of historic buildings to the care put into the modern buildings to blend into the stories of the town and early Nevada.
For a half day or a full day visit, Genoa is a delight to explore! We will for sure travel back for one of their unique festivals and invite you too!
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