10 Best Museums in Lake Tahoe and Reno

Most people visit the Lake Tahoe and Reno area to experience the great outdoors, but the area has a surprising number of museums–some are even located outdoors. Like the Taylor Creek Visitor Center. This series of trails and interpretive markers profiles Tahoe's wildlife and streams. Two other museums that bring the outside in are the Tahoe Maritime Museum and the beautiful Vikingsholm Castle in Emerald Bay.

If you want a bit of history, head to the Gatekeeper's Museum in Tahoe City or the Emigrant Trail Museum at Donner Lake. Both tell the stories of the people who lived and settled the rough terrain of the Sierra. The wonderful Nevada State Museum in the capital city of Carson City has exhibits that talk about the Silver State's mining, gaming and ancient past. The museum even has an underground mine tour.

For some fun interaction with art and science, take the whole family to The Discovery, an excellent museum that features a giant cloud climber, science experiments and even a place for kids to go mock camping while looking at the stars. At the KidZone in Truckee, children can learn to garden, paint and even play with farm animals. For some actual art exhibits from the likes of Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo, the award-winning Nevada Museum of Art has changing exhibits in a beautiful, contemporary building in downtown Reno.

South Lake Tahoe


The Tallac Historic Site includes several large estates built by the rich during the late 19th and early 20th centuries--the Baldwin Estate, the Pope Estate and Valhalla. The entire site is open daily during the summer months. The Baldwin Museum...  Read More



Set in a wooded grove, this gracious log structure replicates the original gatekeeper's house on the Truckee River dam in Tahoe City, which burned down in the early 80s. The gatekeeper's job was to regulate water flow out of the lake, and the...  Read More

Emerald Bay


Constructed as a vacation home in 1929, Vikingsholm sits at the head of Emerald Bay, a gracious tribute to Scandinavian architecture. Sited picturesquely amid dramatic evergreens, it features building materials harvested largely from the area....  Read More



Originally built in the late 19th century as a US Mint, this museum is a treasure trove of local history. Not only does it showcase how the mint once functioned and stamped coins, but it houses re-creations of a mine and a ghost town. You...  Read More



The Taylor Creek Visitor Center is located near Camp Richardson on the south shore of Lake Tahoe. It is free to enter and offers both adult and children an up-close view of the local flora and fauna. The paved trails and bridges throughout the...  Read More



This museum is a celebration of the nature, science and weather of the Silver State. Children can visit a Native American tule house, learn about the early Pioneers, work on their own farm or ranch and study archeology. They can also climb...  Read More



The Tahoe Maritime Museum, located in Homewood on the North Shore takes great pride in preserving Tahoe's maritime traditions. This growing museum displays vessels, engines, photographs, and memorabilia of Tahoe's shipping past and present, some...  Read More



Now a center for recreation and outdoor fun, this park also holds the memories of pioneer struggles, especially in regard to the Donner Party, who suffered a winter in the area and resorted to cannibalism to survive. Now, the tract of land in...  Read More



This award-winning museum is just south of downtown Reno and features permanent and traveling exhibits from various artists. This excellent museum is small, but packs in a wonderful selection of contemporary and traditional art, sculptures...  Read More



The KidZone Museum in Truckee is an interactive museum for children under the age of 10. Exhibits are designed to provide play that encourages a child's development of social, imaginative, physical and problem solving skills. Specific activity...  Read More


Meet Christina Nellemann

Christina has lived in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area since she was a baby. A first-generation Nevadan, her Danish parents instilled in her an intense love of travel and the wild, rugged outdoors...  More About Christina