One of my favorite places to recommend to people visiting the Reno/Tahoe area is Bodie State Historic Park (a 2+ hour drive from Reno on US 395 S.). Bodie is facsinating ghost town even though only 10% remains from its height as a boomtown (1877-1880 ish). At its peak, the town boasted a population of almost 10,000, 60+ saloons, and a whole lot of unsavory characters.
Bodie is a wonderful glimpse at what life was like during the California gold rush. Things are left in a state of arrested decay, and the belongings that people left as the town was slowly abandoned are still in place, collecting lots of dust. You can read more about the park here and here.
Bodie is a great place to visit, and if you can spare a couple of days, I’d also recommend camping (or at least soaking in the hot springs) at Buckeye Campground and checking out the Travertine Hot Springs – all of these things are very close to the town of Bridgeport in northern California. Here are directions to both hot springs with links to great hikes in the area too. Enjoy!