With a few days off for Memorial Day Weekend, we decided to take the new Subaru Crosstrek (named Black Panther, and affectionately referred to as Panthy) for his first trip through the mountains to test out that AWD. Since we had never been to Virginia City, we thought this was a great opportunity to do some exploring in gold country.
We headed out Saturday afternoon, hitting horrible traffic due to a combination of the holiday weekend and the BottleRock festival in Napa. We planned to break up the 4.5 hour drive with a stopover in Sacramento, and checked into our accommodations near the freeway around 7:00 PM. With such last-minute plans and our dachshund Dave with us, lodging options were limited, and we ended up at the Red Roof Inn & Suites. While the lobby was very nice and the rooms newly renovated, it pretty much lived up to our expectations of a shady motel. The floors hadn't been cleaned and there were long dark hairs in the bathtub, the bed was hard and the towels scratchy, but they had a big screen TV and air conditioning, plus pets could stay free and there was even a discount promotion for the month of May. A free breakfast included cereal and waffles, and even though the location wasn't in a nice area of town, it was immediately off the freeway for easy access to our route, and right next to a Starbucks for convenient caffeine. This almost made up for finding hypodermic needles discarded on the ground just outside of the parking lot!
And that would be a discarded needle...
For dinner met with up my friend Kami at River City Brew Co., which is located in the Milagro Center, a dog friendly venue that has some really cute outdoor seating areas surrounded by restaurants and cafes. We ended the night with some red velvet gelato that tasted exactly like a cupcake!
On Sunday morning, we headed out early and made our way through the winding mountain roads to Nevada. We rolled into Virginia City around 1:00 PM and checked into the Virginia City Inn, which was a significant upgrade from our previous night's stay. While still a small, locally owned establishment, this historic motel was wonderfully clean with each room decorated in a theme appropriate for the region. We had the Miner's Room, which sported old maps and photos on the walls and a blue and white quilt that seemed to bring you right back in time. We were located right on the main road with a view of the valley below, and our assigned parking spot backed up right to our room for easy unloading. The sheets were truly some of the softest sheets I've ever slept on, and the towels were also soft and fluffy. Dave even had a huge patch of grass with a beautiful view to run around on behind the hotel. I would definitely recommend staying here, especially if you enjoy immersing yourself in local culture.
We drove around the town to see some of the interesting architecture and historical sites, which is easy to do in a few minutes. Wild life is abundant, and in addition to more wild horses, we encountered big lizards, rabbits, deer, and birds of all kinds.
By the time we were ready to eat, we headed back to the main strip to find that most of the restaurants had closed at 4:00 PM. I suppose they do most of their business with day visitors who come through, as pretty much everything was closed down by the time we arrived around 4:30-5:00, with the street almost deserted. We decided to have dinner at the Cider Factory since they were a) open, and b) allowed dogs on their outdoor patio.
We read about the restaurant's interesting history as a cider factory, award-winning restaurant, and inn (Marilyn Monroe stayed there!) while eating our Chicken Saltimbocca and drinking honey apple hard cider. It was a nice way to end the day!
Once it got dark, we headed out to see the downtown area at night (maybe we'd see a ghost?!) and in hunt of dessert. Let me tell you, there is nothing open at 8:30 PM in this town at all, not even a gas station. We eventually found a vending machine in the lobby of one of the more modernized hotels. You definitely want to do your shopping early here.
On Monday morning, we cruised through downtown for a final look before heading out for the day. We stopped in Reno for some breakfast, and dueled with holiday traffic the whole way home, stopping briefly in Old Sacramento to stretch our legs and grab some mini donuts. Again, the amount of people out was overwhelming and with temperatures near 100, we kept our visit short.
Overall, Virginia City is definitely a fun and quick trip worth a visit.. Since the museums and tours do not allow dogs, if you plan on bringing Fido along, make sure you have someone you can switch on and off with to make the most of your stay. You can easily do everything you want in Virginia City in a day, and skip the holiday weekends if you want to avoid the crowds.