Visit Virginia City in Montana: 13 Popular Places to Visit and the Best Things to do in Virginia City (2023)
Virginia City is a fantastically well-preserved National Historic Site in Madison County, Montana. The entire city is a National Historic Landmark District which also grants it with a nickname, ‘the Virginia City Historic District.’ It is a town with beautiful landscapes, fascinating history, and rich heritage. Back in time, it was the largest town in the inland west with a blooming population, though today, no more than 220 residents live here. However, the town still continues to interest thousands of visitors all throughout the year.
A visit to Virginia City allows you to visit the nearest Nevada City, another historic charm as well. Besides that, it is also close to Yellowstone National Park an undisputed gem of Montana. The best time to visit Virginia is from late May through mid-October. Not just because it has warm weather but also because several attractions and tours here operate only within this duration. For more details, have a look at the popular places to visit and the best things to do in Virginia City. Let’s get started:
Visit Virginia City in Montana: 13 Popular Places to Visit and the Best Things to do in Virginia City
1. Visit the Thompson-Hickman Museum
Thompson-Hickman is a small but must-visit museum in Virginia City, especially for history buffs. The museum was built back in 1920, and this stunning stone building has been standing and operating since then. Inside, the museum exhibits a huge collection of historical artifacts and pictures of the mining dredge. Besides that, their collection is also home to war weapons, geological rock examples, a replica of Clubfoot George’s clubfoot, a petrified cat, and other objects exhibiting the significant history of Virginia City. Inclusions of the Chinese culture, too, are wonderfully presented here. Even though the collection isn’t enormous, it still has things you might have never seen before. The museum operates from Memorial Day weekend through Mid-September, daily from 11 am to 5:30 pm.
2. Stroll Along The Boardwalk In Virginia City
Virginia City’s boardwalk is like the downtown of the U.S., ideally the one with old west vibes. The entire boardwalk is a thoroughfare of historic buildings housing modern and past affairs. As you walk along, you will come across several 19th and 20th-century buildings, each with an identification sign and some history to talk about. While a few of them have now become a museum, other house shops, restaurants, and hotels. You may even find an 1863 barbershop, a few blacksmith shops, and place where the printing of the first newspaper of Montana (1863) was initiated. The best way to explore the boardwalk is via downloading a map and choosing spots you want to stop and visit.
3. Walk Till The Boot Hill To Grab The Best Views Around
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Virginia city, Boot Hill offers relaxing vibes and scenic views. Boot hill is basically a cemetery with five graves and the resting place of the infamous road agents who were hanged by the Vigilantes (1864). For several years, the grave went unnoticed until the only man A. B. Davis, who truly knew about the story, preached it. Soon enough, everyone started recognizing its historical significance talking about it, and visiting the hill. Besides that, Boot Hill is also known for its tranquility and the views it offers. Upon standing atop the hill, one can grab clear views of the entire Virginia City. Reaching the summit is a dirt drive, so be ready to have some of it on your face and mouth.
4. Go Riding on Horse Carriages
Once you are done with bird eyeing the Virginia City, next choose to ride the Vigilante Carriages. This touring service offers stagecoach tours, sleigh rides, dinner rides, carriage rides, and more. These tours operate throughout the year, 30 minutes to 1 hour each, encompassing the entire city. Operating from Wallace Street near the Opera House, every tour can accommodate large groups and are even available for anniversary, wedding, and other private occasions. While kids under 5 years can ride the tours for free, for children (6 to 12), it is $15, whereas, for adults, it is $20. If you are interested in dinner rides, then consider booking in advance as walk-ins are mainly full. Though horse carriages are fun throughout the year, they are most adventurous and pleasing during the winter, ideally snowing season.
5. Hop On For The Ghost Tours At Bale Of Hay Saloon
Bale of Hay Saloon is the oldest running saloon in Montana, which has been operating since 1863. It today operates as a restaurant and watering hall, serving the best of the town. Their menu contains non-alcoholic beverages, cocktails, and piping hot Virginia local dishes. For someone who is interested in visiting the historic buildings, especially for eating and drinking, this is indeed an ideal place for them. However, all this is the business for the day hours. But when it turns 10 pm the clock, the saloon operates for nightly ghost tours. The experiences might not be exclusively spooky but fine enough for taking a chance.
6. Go Gold Panning and Adventure
For experiences that are unique yet fun, choose the Gold Panning and Adventure when in Virginia city. All you need to do is, book an appointment with the adventure company while they will take you to Alder Gulch, between Virginia and Nevada City. On the location, there are mining pits where one can go for a whole interesting treasure hunting spree. Before the real adventure, visitors are taken for panning tutorials. Further, they receive a vial which they can use for storing the finds. All you can find include gold, fossils, fascinating minerals, and magical rocks. The best thing is no participants go back home with an empty bag. You can even dig gems and turn them into fashion jewelry at the same facility itself. The adventure service operates from late May through September.
7. Camp at the Rambling Moose Campground
Ditch the usual hotel experience and spend a night in the Rambling Moose Campground in Virginia City. The ground is on 1302 E Warren Street, ½ mile east of the town, offering peace and rejuvenation. It features a vast landscape with lush greenery, a few wooden structures, and RVing sites for both 30- & 50-amp hook-ups. There are even a few tenting sites both under the sun or in the shade. Some of the various amenities here include sewer, electricity, & water hook-ups, restrooms with showers, free Wi-Fi, a dump station, a laundry facility, and a small gift shop. The campground is pet friendly and has 11 acres for your canine buddy to run and have fun around. If you happen to reach here by evening, you can watch the most Spectacular Sunsets from our park. The owner of the grounds is mostly at the place and ready to offer all the services and facilities for visitors’ ease.
8. Drive an Afternoon Towards The Nevada City
Less than two miles from Virginia City lies the historic Nevada City, one of its neighboring wonders. Once a mining town, Nevada today has turned entirely into a living history museum. It is also commonly known as the Nevada City Ghost town, which is full of period buildings. Though the structures were brought here, they are still in their original form. As you tour around, you will come across cabins, houses, shops, museums, and a schoolhouse. Most of the buildings here are wheelchair accessible, so from toddlers to senior adults, everyone can have fun around with ease. Inside the buildings, you will find an awesome collection of player pianos, calliopes, and old-time music boxes. The Ghost town operates from Memorial Day Weekend through Labour Day from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm. A visit here will cost you somewhere between $8 to $12, depending upon your age. The prices during weekends are usually high.
Other Popular Places To Visit In Virginia City And Around
9. Montana Heritage Commission: It is popular for its town vibes and fascinating architecture. The facility includes heritage sites like McFarland Curatorial Center, a 19th-century dance hall, preserved stores, Gilbert Brewery, and several galleries.
10. Virginia City Players: A visit here will introduce you to amazing live performances and theatre acts. Some popular shows they present include Alice in the Wonderland, Zorro, and the Stygian Amulet.
11. Brewery Follies: It is a charming pub-style bar offering delightful local and premium beers. What attracts visitors here the most are the comedic live performances by resident actors. Your visit here will surely be filled with stomach hurting laughter.
12. River of Gold Museum: The collection here is home to fascinating objects exhibiting about history and culture of the mining industry.
13. J. Spencer Watkins Memorial Museum: It is known for exhibiting the history of pioneers, miners, ranchers, and farmers. The collection here will introduce artefacts like clothing, old weapons, and more. Besides that, you can also explore old print shop displays and a complete pharmacy.