A chill travels down Virginia City's streets, where it meets a group of unsuspecting men and women on the sidewalk. Maybe it's just the wind. Maybe it's a sudden drop in temperature. Or maybe it's something else—something from another time. After all, the group had followed their tour guide's advice and dressed warm for the Comstock's cool nights. When the guide and group arrive at the Silver Queen Hotel, something else seems a bit off. A large painting of a woman stands before them, her evening gown made of thousands of silver dollars. The group stares into her eyes, and they seem to stare back, as if she knows they're there and that they need more change for the parking meter.
The guides at Virginia City Ghost Tours specialize in this sort of paranormal activity. Several nights a week, they lead tours up and down Virginia City's streets, stopping to tell spooky stories at old 19th-century buildings, including Mackay Mansion and the Washoe Club Haunted Museum. They also host the occasional special event, such as investigations with professional ghost hunters.
Engineered by a television broadcast specialist, Grimes Castle enlists a cast of more than 30 undead volunteers to skulk through the 6,000 square feet of its haunted house, where intricate presentation and lighting effects elicit chopper chattering. Plucky visitors embark on a 20-minute tour through the corridors of the castle's dungeon, where condemned spirit hosts regale them with a series of petrifying performances and an adventure as twisted and chilling as the abominable snowman's DNA. Some proceeds from the house are donated to the ROTC to alleviate ghosts of the guilt they feel over haunting so many residences without ever contributing to cable bills.
Each year, a demonic cast of undead creatures emerges from the woodwork and enters The Dungeon, putting on grotesque displays and freakish haunts to scare all those who dare enter. Monsters lurk in an 8,000-square-foot haunted space, jolting wayfarers with gruesome props and startling surprises as they try to escape the carnage. There's a communal side to the haunt too: A to Z Haunted House encourages guests to donate canned food for its charity, the most considerate act performed by monsters since Dracula donated his lunch to the Red Cross.
At 6,200 feet above sea level, Sailing Ventures' certified captains lead small groups into Lake Tahoe's waters, teaching them the skills needed to navigate their own aquatic adventures. The instructors can ferry students from beginner to advanced levels, with lessons catered to everyone from families to seasoned sailors wanting to make practical use of their anchor tattoos. Alternatively, the crew charters yachts into the lake, leaving passengers to enjoy the scenery.
Carved by glaciers, Lake Tahoe's bays and coastline set the perfect backdrop for Sailing Ventures' expeditions. Snow-capped mountains and dense forests paint the horizon as boats float atop waters clearer than the windows at a dermatologist's office.