Virginia City and Nevada City are two Old West towns in Montana located very close to each other. They are a fun side trip from Yellowstone to learn some history, enjoy entertainment, and eat some good food.
The towns were once gold-rush towns and have a very wild past with criminals, hangings, shootings, and other stereotypically Old West things.
Virginia City and Nevada City are located about 1 hour and 15 minutes from Bozeman or West Yellowstone.
- Learn more things to do between Bozeman and Yellowstone.
Virginia City vs Nevada City
Virginia City is an actual town with commercial activities and residents who live there.
Nevada City is a preserved ghost town and is a Montana state park. It requires an entry fee to visit.
They are only located about 5 minutes from each other by car. Both are about 20 minutes away from Ennis, Montana, a town famous for fly fishing.
Historic buildings on Main Street
Walk up and down Main Street in Virginia City to see many authentic old west buildings.
One of our favorite things about Virginia City is that there were actual stores and businesses mixed in with some buildings set aside just as museum pieces.
The museum buildings had exhibits inside to make them look like they did back in the day.
Vaudeville Show: The Virginia City Players
We debated between taking the train ride or watching the vaudeville show, and I’m really glad we chose the show.
The Virginia City Players play in a quaint, old-timey building.
The quality of the play wasn’t on par with West Yellowstone’s Playmill Theater, but it was a fun comedy show with a little improv.
Our kids loved it and we still talk about some of the songs they played that day.
We didn’t have the time for a stagecoach ride, but we saw this thing going up and down the road during most of our visit!
Historic Tour on a Fire Truck
This closed right as we arrived, so we didn’t get to do it but it looked like something our kids would have enjoyed quite a bit.
You can take a train ride from Virginia City to Nevada City. Driving between the cities takes just a few minutes and the train ride takes about 15 minutes.
The train will drop you off in Nevada City (see below), where you can browse around for a while before catching the train ride back. When booking your tickets, you’ll choose which times you want to ride there and back, depending on how much time you want to spend in Nevada City.
The train looked a little too small and childish for our liking, so we opted for the vaudeville show instead.
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A short drive will take you to the top of the city, where you can overlook the valley from Boot Hill. This is a cemetery where some of the early outlaws were buried.
Cousin’s Candy Shop
This large candy shop was, of course, a hit with our kids. Cheryl loved the fudge, and it was just fun to browse the store and pick out some treats.
This reminded us of the huge candy shop in Phillipsburg, Montana.
Old Time Photo
As I was walking down Main Street I saw this group of people just sitting inside a building. The photographer had left, and I just thought the building was kind of a museum piece.
We looked at each other like we were crazy for a minute when I asked them what the heck they were doing in here all dressed up.
They said they were waiting for a photographer so I told them they were in luck and I took their photo!
St Paul’s Episcopal Church
We found this little chapel in town and walked in to check out the beautiful stained glass window.
Virginia City Museum
We arrived too late to check out the museum, unfortunately.
The Village Pump
The Village Pump was a nice old-timey touch. I was legitimately almost out of gas, so I actually used the pump – though it was the modern one in between the two set pieces.
Where to eat: The Road Agents’ Roost
There are multiple restaurants in town, but a local recommended the Road Agents’ Roost.
Interestingly, this is a German restaurant, with western theming.
You can see the bizarre mix of Bavarian Western here!
The food was really delicious – we got pierogies and sauerkraut, and our kids got hot dogs.
A few minutes away is the even-more-authentic Nevada City, which is a preserved state park.
Getting into the park requires an entry fee.
We arrived near the end of the day, so the worker told us it just wouldn’t be worth it to pay to enter the park because we wouldn’t be able to see much.
There are many buildings and a few people told us it takes a few hours to do it justice.
Where to stay: Red Bear Inn
Virginia City offers combo packages where you can stay in town and some attractions are included.
However, we stayed nearby in Ennis, at the Red Bear Inn. This was a simple place but the owners were very friendly and even accommodated me when I rescheduled our trip due to someone in our family getting COVID. We definitely recommend this affordable and friendly place.
If you want to book, we recommend using booking.com. Note: We get a small commission from if you book through our link, but please know that we aren’t sponsored by Red Bear Inn. We pay our own way so our opinions are always our own.
Things to do nearby
Visiting Yellowstone and need a game plan?
Yellowstone is confusing because it’s huge and there are so many things to do!
Need a game plan so you don’t miss out on the best things to do? Check out our itinerary.
Most travelers want to visit the most popular sites and still avoid the crowds. We have a detailed itinerary that gives you a step-by-step game plan so you can get to the best places at the right times!
But that’s not all! Our itinerary includes a free audio guide to listen to while driving with over 3-hours of stories about the park!
- Yellowstone Itinerary
- Yellowstone Trip Planner
- Montana Trip Planner
- The Top 10 Things to Do in West Yellowstone, Montana
- Yellowstone’s West Entrance (West Yellowstone, MT): Everything you need to know
- Bozeman to Yellowstone: the best routes and things to see in Southern Montana
- The Tragic Story of the 1959 Hebgen Earthquake in West Yellowstone
- Virginia City & Nevada Official State Website