The Silver State
Nevada may be best known as a gambling destination thanks to Reno and Las Vegas, but there is more to the Silver State than casinos. The beauty of Lake Tahoe, Lake Mead and the expansive Great Basin and Mojave deserts are the backdrops to many outdoor activities throughout the year. Nevada has the dubious distinction of being a popular site of government nuclear testing, which is now chronicled at the Atomic Testing Museum. Nevada’s history is also tied to the Native Americans of the region, a silver mining boom around towns like Virginia City, and the gambling history of Nevada in areas like Reno and Las Vegas. Browse our Nevada cultural learning guide for outdoor activities, historical sites, arts and culture information and more, or visit www.travelnevada.com.
Jump to: Historical Sites & Tourist Attractions | Arts & Culture | Sports & Recreation | Outdoor Activities | Food | Local Festivals | Housing Resources | Transportation | Health & Safety | Help Your Community
Historical Sites & Tourist Attractions
Las Vegas Strip. Photo by Marco Verch.
Add some local history to your cultural exchange experience by visiting a nearby historical site or tourist attraction when living and working in the U.S.
The California Trail Interpretive Center in Elko uses life-size exhibits, artifacts, artwork and nature trails to teach visitors about westward expansion and the settlers that came through Nevada on the California Trail in the 19th century.
The Lost City Museum in Overton was established in 1935 to display artifacts from an Anasazi Indian site called Pueblo Grande de Nevada. The museum now displays these artifacts, a reconstructed Anasazi pueblo and other special exhibits related to the cultural heritage of the region.
Mine Tours in Virginia City allow visitors to see the old gold and silver mines that once drew settlers to Nevada. There are multiple tours available, including the Ponderosa Mine, Comstock Gold Mill and Chollar Mine.
Las Vegas is filled with attractions for visitors of all ages. For an overview of the many attractions in Vegas, visit the Las Vegas tourism website and search according to interest or location.
The Nevada State Museum in Las Vegas features exhibits on the history and natural history of Nevada, such as native plants and animals, Native American culture, pioneers and settlers, atomic testing, and the changing history of Nevada and Las Vegas. There is also a state museum in Carson City.
Several one-of-a-kind museums are located in Las Vegas, like the Mob Museum and Neon Museum. The Mob Museum tells the story of both the gangsters and law enforcement that once battled in Las Vegas through exhibits, historic artifacts and presentations. The Neon Museum is a unique collection of neon signs, also known as the “Neon Boneyard”, with pieces from the 1930s to today. Visitors can tour the collection and reservations are recommended.
Learn about nuclear history, the Cold War and the Nevada Test Site at the National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas. Exhibits include unique artifacts, information on “atomic culture," Area 51, and the development and testing of the atomic bomb.
- Adventures Vegas
- Annie Bananie’s Wild West Tours
- Awesome Adventures
- Black Canyon/Willow Beach River Adventures
- Carson City Ghost Walk Tours
- Detours Nevada
- Lake Mead Cruises
- Nevada Atomic Test Site Tours
- Pink Jeep Tours
- Scoot City Tours
- Sonny Boy Tours
- Travel Nevada
- Visiting Lake Tahoe
- Visit Reno and Tahoe
- Las Vegas
- Las Vegas J1 guide from Go4Less - Travel, accommodation and job resources
Arts & Culture
The United States offers a wide variety of cultural learning opportunities through the arts. Dance, music, theater, opera, art museums and festivals are just some of the options available to international visitors who wish to experience the U.S. and its culture.
Art & Cultural Museums
- Arts4Nevada, state-wide
- The Arts Factory, Las Vegas
- Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, Las Vegas
- Contemporary Arts Center, Las Vegas
- Goldwell Open Air Museum, Beatty
- Hispanic Museum of Nevada, Las Vegas
- Nevada Museum of Art, Reno
- Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery at the University of Nevada, Reno
- Sierra Arts Gallery, Reno
- Southeastern Nevada Museum of Fine Arts, Las Vegas
- Western Folklife Center, Elko
- Amargosa Opera House, Amargosa Valley
- Brewery Arts Center, Carson City
- Nevada Ballet Theatre, Las Vegas
- Nevada Opera, Reno
- Nevada Repertory Company, University of Nevada, Reno
- Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts, Reno
Sports & Recreation
Many Americans are passionate about sports – and not just baseball and football! Get a glimpse into this part of American culture by watching or participating in a favorite U.S. sport or recreational activity in your local area.
College athletic programs are a fun and inexpensive way to see popular American sports.
- Nevada Wolf Pack, University of Nevada, Reno
- UNLV Rebels, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
A variety of professional sports teams can be found in the Las Vegas and Reno areas:
- Las Vegas Raiders (American football) - Coming in 2020
- Vegas Golden Knights (hockey)
- Las Vegas Aces (basketball)
- Las Vegas 51s (baseball)
- Las Vegas Lights FC (Soccer)
- Reno Aces (baseball)
- Reno Bighorns (basketball)
The Las Vegas Motor Speedway hosts many sporting events, including NASCAR races and a NHRA drag racing series. Visitors can also take rides in NASCAR vehicles, go on tours of the track and go to special events at the track.
Death Valley. Photo by Ken Lund.
The United States is home to a variety of landscapes and climates to suit all types of outdoor activities. The courageous traveler can find extreme sports and outdoor adventure tours, while others may want to keep both feet on the ground in a national park or forest. Whatever your interests, take advantage of the many outdoor activities available during your time in the United States.
Berlin – Ichthyosaur State Park is home to both a mining ghost town and the fossils of the ancient Ichthyosaur marine reptiles. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the ghost town, take a tour of the Diana Mine, and tour the Fossil Shelter. Nature trails, campsites and picnic areas are also available at the park. Find information on the 24 state parks of Nevada at the Nevada State Parks website.
Death Valley National Park offers many outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, biking, guided tours, paleontology tours, festivals and historic sites like Scotty’s Castle and Panamint Springs. Visitors must take caution when traveling in Death Valley due to the extreme temperatures in the area.
Great Basin National Park features many outdoor activities and sites, including tours of Lehman Caves, hiking, camping, fishing, horseback riding, biking, skiing, snowshoeing, stargazing and ranger-led astronomy tours.
There are about 300 hot springs in Nevada, allowing visitors to relax and enjoy the nearby scenery at places like Lake Mead, Carson City, Genoa, Beatty, outside Las Vegas and near the Hoover Dam.
The Hickinson Summit Petroglyph Trail allows visitors to see early Native American rock art on hiking and nature trails. Camping, hiking and horseback riding are also available. Petroglyphs and other types of rock art can be found in other areas of Nevada, like the nearby Toquima Cave and Grimes Point.
Pyramid Lake is a large natural lake and important site for the local Paiute Tribe. Visitors can learn more about the history and culture of the tribe at the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum and Visitors Center. Outdoor activities at the lake include fishing, paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking and mountain biking.
Skiing and snowboarding are popular activities in Nevada, especially at the 18 ski resorts in Tahoe. Skiing and snowboarding areas are also available at the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort and the Elko Snobowl.
One of the best ways to experience cultural exchange is through food and cooking. Visitors will enjoy exploring the regional specialties and local cuisine during their time in the United States.
Nevada cuisine has been influenced from cultural groups like Basques and Native Americans, but also the miners, cowboys and settlers of the 19th century. Today, international visitors will find all types of cuisines in the state, including a large range of options in Las Vegas, from cheap buffets to world-class restaurants.
Find a local Nevada farmers’ market to buy fresh fruit and vegetables, handmade goods and other products from local vendors.
- Virginia City Rocky Mountain Oyster Fry, Virginia City, March
- San Gennaro Festival, Las Vegas, May
- Fandango Food Truck Fest, Carson City, June
- Las Vegas Greek Festival, Las Vegas, September
- Basque Festival, Carson City, September
- Las Vegas Asian Food Festival, Las Vegas, October
- Las Vegas Wine & Food Festival, Las Vegas, October
For a unique and local perspective on American culture, be sure to check out festivals and events near your cultural exchange program location. These events are a fun and interesting way to interact with locals and to learn more about American culture by experiencing it firsthand.
Helldorado Days brings visitors back to the Wild West each May in downtown Las Vegas. The four-day event includes a rodeo, carnival, parades, games, entertainment and more.
The Western Heritage Festival at the Sparks Museum in May focuses on northern Nevada’s heritage and culture and teaches visitors about the music, food and folk traditions of the region.
The Genoa Cowboy Festival in May celebrates western heritage and life on the ranch. Cowboy poetry, music, Native American culture and other elements of the traditional Western lifestyle will be on display at the festival, which is held in southwestern Nevada.
The National Basque Festival in Elko is a cultural celebration of Basque heritage and features fireworks and traditional Basque food, dancing, athletic competitions, music and singing each July.
The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival in July/August features performances of Shakespeare plays on the beach at Sand Harbor in Lake Tahoe. Live entertainment is also available on Monday nights in July and August.
The Shakespeare Festival is part of Lake Tahoe Summerfest, a summer arts festival with concerts, workshops, lectures and fine arts presentations.
Employers may be able to assist with housing during your time in the United States, but this is not always possible for all participants. When looking for housing during your cultural exchange program, consider the cost of the accommodation, the distance to your work place and the amount of time you will be in the United States.
It's also important to avoid fraudulent housing. It is highly recommended that you secure short-term housing upon arrival (e.g. in a hostel) and conduct your housing search once you are in the U.S. Never give your financial information to a stranger over the Internet. Browse the Housing Information guides for InterExchange participants below for more tips and advice.
General Housing Information
- Housing information for Work and Travel USA participants
- Housing information for Career Training USA interns and trainees
Nevada Housing Resources
Some examples of housing and accommodation resources for Nevada participants include:
- Craigslist - Nevada
- American Homestay Agency
- Hostelling International
Public transportation options can be hit or miss, depending on your location in the United States. Buses are a common transportation option for short and long-term travel in the U.S., while some areas will also have trains, subways and other options.
Public Transit Systems
Information on public transit systems in Nevada can be found at the American Public Transportation Association website. Examples of public transit systems in major Nevada communities include:
Greyhound – Bus service to a limited number of Nevada cities and towns.
Megabus – Bus service from Las Vegas and Sparks to locations in California
Silver State Trailways – Bus trips for events in the region, like fairs and sporting events. Daily express shuttle between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Amtrak’s California Zephyr route travels between Chicago and California, making stops in Elko, Winnemucca and Reno. International visitors can also take a bus to some Amtrak stations in the region and connect to other Amtrak routes. See the Amtrak website for further details.
Health & Safety
Participants in Nevada can use the following resources in case of an emergency or extreme weather event in their area:
Emergency Management Agencies
- Department of Emergency Management – Nevada
- Emergency Twitter updates: @NVEmergencyMgmt
- Las Vegas Office of Emergency Management
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): www.fema.gov and www.ready.gov
- Nevada FEMA updates: @femaregion9
- National Weather Service
- Weather – Elko and Northeastern Nevada
- Weather – Las Vegas and Southern Nevada
- Weather – Reno and Western Nevada
Help Your Community
Interact with others and expand your skill set by volunteering in your local community. Volunteer organizations are often looking for short-term volunteers or for individuals to help with a single event, making it a great option for InterExchange participants who wish to add to their cultural exchange experience during their time in the United States.
Volunteermatch.org, Idealist.org and Serve.gov are three general volunteer websites that match local organizations with volunteers in their communities.
United Way’s Volunteer Center of Southern Nevada helps to connect group and individual volunteers to non-profit organizations in need of support. Browse the volunteer calendar or search for a volunteer opportunity on the UWSN website.
Habitat for Humanity and their local affiliates in Reno, Elko and Las Vegas build homes for families in need. Volunteers can help build a new house with no experience required or help in another area of the organization, and both individuals and groups are welcome.
Food banks in Nevada in Las Vegas and Northern Nevada welcome volunteers to help with activities like sorting donations, packing meals and administrative office work.
Nevada Volunteers helps individuals and groups find volunteering opportunities in their local communities, including short-term and one-time volunteer activities.