Nevada is packed with cool blue lakes and rivers with crystal clear waters; awe-inspiring landscapes with imposing hills and valleys; and dynamic cities full of fascinating sights. Situated nearby most Nevada vacation rentals are a bounty of opportunities for swimming and sunbathing, as well as water sports, hiking, cycling, sightseeing, and fine dining. Without further ado, here are the best places to take a summer vacation in the state of Nevada.

1. Carson City

the nevada state capitol
Source: Flickr/Ken Lund

Carson City, the state capital, lies along the Carson River east of Lake Tahoe in western Nevada. Take the scenic Carson River Aquatic Trail by canoe, kayak, or raft, and view local wildlife such as wild horses, bald eagles, hawks, and turtles. Pick up a map of the Blue Line Trail at the Carson City Visitor’s Bureau, and follow it through the historic district to locate the Nevada State Museum, the Carson Brewing Company, the Nevada State Capital, and many other famous sights. Ride the Virginia and Truckee Railroad to Virginia City through scenic mountains and high desert, and enjoy exploring the saloons, shops, mines, and museums in this famous silver town. Don’t miss the annual summer Carson City Fair, which has a carnival, agricultural displays, bull riding, a tractor pull, and other attractions.

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2. Moapa Valley

the valley of fire

The town of Moapa Valley in southeastern Nevada serves as a gateway to beautiful Lake Mead and the amazing Valley of Fire State Park. Lake Mead offers activities such as canoeing, kayaking, power boating, water sports, and fishing. Stop in at the Visitor’s Center at Valley of Fire State Park to view the displays on the area’s geology and history, and then enjoy hiking, cycling, and picnicking in this unique and scenic location. Lovely Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge is another spot that provides pristine nature trails and pleasant picnic areas. For an unforgettable thrill, try tandem skydiving over the breathtaking landscape with Skydive Fyrosity.

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3. Reno

truckee river

The city of Reno lies on the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada Mountains along the Truckee River in western Nevada. The Riverwalk District offers the perfect area for a pleasant summer stroll, shopping, and a selection of restaurants for fine dining. Have fun at the Truckee River Whitewater Park, where you can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, rafting, and tubing in the center of town. Play 18 holes amidst the emerald landscapes and scenic vistas of the Washoe County Golf Course. Annual summer events in the Reno area include the Reno Rodeo, the Reno Art Fest, the Reno Sculpture Fest, and the Reno Aloha Festival.

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4. Laughlin

laughlin boardwalk
Source: Flickr/Jasperdo

Located at the southern tip of Nevada along the Colorado River, the town of Laughlin provides numerous opportunities for summer water fun in a scenic setting. Rent jet skis to explore the river from Best-Jetz Watercraft Rentals. River Passage Water Taxies offer passage to the various casino docks along the riverfront. For a leisurely romantic experience aboard a luxurious and spacious passenger vessel, book a dinner cruise with Laughlin River Tours. Enjoy walking and cycling along the Colorado River Heritage Greenway Park, which runs along several miles of the riverfront in Laughlin and includes fishing piers and a day-use park with playgrounds and a water spray area.

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5. Crystal Bay/Incline Village

lake tahoe north shore

The adjoining towns of Crystal Bay and Incline Village lie on the north shore of breathtakingly beautiful Lake Tahoe in the midst of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in western Nevada. For a beautiful sandy beach that’s perfect for swimming, sunbathing, picnicking, and water sports, head for Sand Harbor State Park just south of Incline Village. Flume Trail Mountain Bikes provides bicycles and then takes you by shuttle to Spooner Lake to ride the Flume Trail or to Tahoe Meadows to ride the Tahoe Rim Trail. Enjoy fine dining with a lovely view at the Crystal Bay Steak and Lobster House. Don’t miss the renowned annual summer Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival at Sand Harbor.

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6. Las Vegas

welcome to fabulous las vegas

The incomparably entertaining city of Las Vegas lies in a desert valley surrounded by scenic mountains in southeastern Nevada. Stroll along the Las Vegas Strip to find innumerable family-friendly attractions such as the Adventuredome Theme Park, the Discovery Children’s Museum, Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, and the Flamingo Wildlife Habitat. For an amazing thrill, learn to fly with Vegas Indoor Skydiving. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Hershey’s Chocolate World Las Vegas. When you need to cool down, head for Wet ‘N’ Wild Las Vegas, which features multiple pools, water slides, a tubing river, and a special fun zone for children.

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7. Ely

great basin mountains
Source: Flickr/Frank Kovalchek

Ely is a historic mining town near the border with Utah in eastern Nevada. The Nevada Northern Railway Museum provides fascinating exhibits on local history and also takes you on excursions to the old mining area. Special themed rides feature Wild West cowboys and haunted ghosts. To get a taste of mining, head for Garnet Hill Recreation Area, and use picks to find ruby-colored gemstones and dig them out of the rocks. Ely is also a gateway to Great Basin National Park, an area of rugged peaks and pine forests. Within the park, expert guides at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center take you into beautiful marble caverns full of stalagmites and stalactites. A few miles south of Ely is Cave Lake State Park, which offers excellent swimming, boating, and fishing.

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8. Elko

lamoille canyon
Source: Flickr/Antti

Located along the Humboldt River in northeastern Nevada, the city of Elko is home to the Western Folklife Center, which features a gallery of artwork celebrating the cowboy culture of the Old West. Additionally, the Northeast Nevada Museum highlights the geology, ecology, wildlife, and history of the region. Nearby is Lamoille Canyon, a beautiful valley in the Ruby Mountains that offers opportunities for hiking, cycling, fishing, and observation of wildlife such as elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, and coyotes. Annual summer events in Elko include the Elko Motorcycle Jamboree and the National Basque Festival.

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9. Boulder City

rocky valley kayaking

Boulder City lies in southeastern Nevada near Hoover Dam and the Lake Mead National Recreational Area. The Bureau of Reclamation offers fascinating tours of imposing Hoover Dam. At Las Vegas Boat Harbor, rent power boats, pontoon boats, jet skis, kayaks, and water sports equipment for fun on Lake Mead. Alternatively, relax and sightsee on the lake aboard an authentic three-level paddle wheeler with Lake Mead Cruises. The Flightlinez Bootleg Canyon offers a thrilling zip-line tour over scenic desert landscapes.

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10. Gardnerville

zephyr cove beach
Source: Flickr/Brian Shamblen

The town of Gardnerville sits near the southeastern end of Lake Tahoe in western Nevada. Tour the lake aboard a comfortable yacht or paddle wheeler with Lake Tahoe Cruises out of Zephyr Cove. Check out the Angler’s Edge fly shop in Gardnerville for the best places to fish in the area. Cool down at the Carson Valley Swim Center. Carson Valley Tours takes you on guided hiking trips to the nearby back country for photography and wildlife observation. The annual summer Carson Valley Days features a parade, carnival rides, live music, and many activities for the whole family.

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