Reno Travel Guide

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Reno has always been a bit of a black sheep. It is not as hip as Portland and Seattle and not as chic as Los Angeles or Las Vegas, but in its own way it's dynamic and funky in a small package. The one thing to understand about Reno is that it's NOT Las Vegas. Reno is more popular for its outdoor sports than its gambling, but it also has a thriving art, music and theater scene sprinkled with great restaurants and bars. The downtown area, famous for the Reno Arch and several casinos has hit on hard times with the bad economy, but look a block or two south around the Truckee River corridor for caf├ęs, farmer's markets, bike trails, street performers, ice rinks and roller derbies. This is the Reno Arts District and this is the real Reno. Locals are friendly and open, and will be happy to let you in on their town's many secrets.

One of Reno's best assets is being central to the Western U.S. San Francisco is a three or four hour drive to the west, Yosemite is a four to five hour drive to the south, Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles and Las Vegas are about an hour or two plane ride away. Reno and the surrounding areas also straddle several different types of terrain. When you visit Reno, you have access to the mountains with its rivers and alpine lakes, ski resorts and hiking trails, you can visit the wide open desert of central and southern Nevada, and the Pacific Coast is only a few hours away.

Downtown Reno

The Virginia Street corridor is the center of activity for not only gambling, but special events as well. The bright lights of the casinos and the famous Reno Arch declaring "The Biggest Little City In The World," greet visitors as they enter downtown.

The boisterous casinos have been the main attraction along the Truckee River for decades. The Club Cal-Neva Hotel Casino has been around since 1948, and is still going strong as one of the most popular gaming establishments in town. Harrah's Reno opened as a full casino the same year and the action has never ceased. The National Automobile Museum, located two blocks east on Mill and Lake Streets, houses some fascinating antique cars collected by William Harrah on his ride to fame and fortune. Harrah's Events Plaza is a center for downtown events and entertainment. The Circus Circus Hotel Casino is a favorite for family fun with high-flying acts and a great arcade for the youngsters. The Silver Legacy Resort Casino is known for sponsoring major events and adding to the revitalization of downtown. The Automated Mining Machine towering 120-feet over the casino floor is a wonderful attraction for visitors. The Eldorado Hotel Casino is a major host for special events, as well as popular gaming venues. A couple very popular nightspots downtown include Roxy's at the Eldorado and Limerick's Pub and Grille.

"Reno-vation" is taking place in the downtown area to make more open and attractive spaces for visitors and Renoites to enjoy. The Truckee River Walk is one of the first efforts. The whole city gets into the act to host one of the major cultural events in the nation, the Reno Summer Arts Festival featuring Artown. The Pioneer Centre for Performing Arts presents the Reno Philharmonic, the Nevada Opera and Nevada Festival Ballet. Marvelous museums are lavishly dispersed throughout the area including the Wilbur D. May Museum and Aboretum at Rancho San Rafael Park and the Nevada Museum of Art on Liberty Street downtown.

Some major hotel/casinos outside of the Virginia Street hub include the Peppermill Hotel Casino and Atlantis Casino Resort & Spa on South Virginia Street. East of downtown resides the Grand Sierra Resort & Casino, a high-rise city in itself.

Sparks

Although it looks like it's part of Reno, this is a separate, thriving city. Founded in 1904, it served as maintenance facilities for the Central Pacific Railroad. Named for then-governor John Sparks, the city has come a long way in establishing itself as not only a great place to visit but to live. The Sparks Heritage Museum displays artifacts relating to the beginnings of the town that is sometimes known as the "Rail City."

The hub of activity is centered in Victorian Square at Interstate 80 and Victorian Avenue. John Ascuaga's Nugget towers over the Square and the hotel sponsors many major events taking place there. Fine dining facilities in this establishment include Trader Dick's Restaurant and Aquarium Bar and Restaurante Orozko. Across the Square, you will find a great mid-sized hotel/casino, the Silver Club Hotel Casino. Smaller casinos are to be found as one strolls along the Square, one of the most popular being Rail City Casino. The casinos along Victorian Square host major events almost every month of the year. Sparks Hometowne Christmas is a favorite and the very popular Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off.

Carson City

The capital of Nevada is about 45 minutes south of Reno. The historical main street and homes give this small town its charm. Several great restaurants and the great Nevada State Museum are the main attractions. Carson City is also the start/end of the infamous Hwy. 50, or the "Loneliest Road in America" across Nevada. Just east of Carson City is the historic mining town of Virginia City where you can step back in time and mosy down on wooden sidewalks, dress up in Western wear and have your photo taken or jump on an authentic steam train for a ride down the mountain.

Lake Tahoe

One look and you'll know why it is called the Jewel of the Sierras. The areas surrounding the largest alpine lake in the country offer year-round recreation and beauty. The Cal-Neva Resort Hotel Casino, the favorite haunt of the "rat pack," is always popular for entertainment. The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa & Casino is perhaps one of the most elegant places to lodge and have fun. MontBleu Casino Resort & Spa and Harrah's Lake Tahoe are also well known for fine dining and top entertainers.

During the summer months, the Zephyr Cove Resort & Marina beckons visitors to cruise on the M.S. Dixie II. On the south shore of the lake, Lake Tahoe Cruises offer sailing on the Tahoe Queen. The beaches and parks are popular for sunbathing and hiking. Sand Harbor presents the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival and Kings Beach hosts the Lake Tahoe Music Festival.

The ski resorts in the Sierra Nevada mountains are unmatched anywhere. Boreal Mountain Resort is usually the first of the season to open because of snow-making equipment. Granlibakken Resort & Conference Center offers fabulous lodging and conference facilities, as well as fine slopes. Heavenly Ski Resort and Northstar-at-Tahoe are first-rate for challenging ski areas. Cross-country ski enthusiasts will find the best trails in North America at Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort in Soda Springs. And, of course, there is Squaw Valley USA, famous for hosting the 1960 Winter Olympics and still a world-class venue for winter sports of all genres.

Where to Go in Reno

TOP PICKS BY OUR LOCAL EXPERTS

Staybridge Suites Reno

user rating

10559 Professional Circle

Quiet short-term suites

Nevada Museum of Art

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expert pick

160 W Liberty St

One of Reno's pride and joy, this distinctive building just south of downtown Reno was inspired by Nevada's Black Rock Desert and is also a work of art. The various collections in this award-winning museum change every couple of months and some of the featured exhibits are not to be missed.

Peg's Glorified Ham & Eggs

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expert pick

420 S Sierra St

Eat at the breakfast spot the locals rely on. The crowds at Peg's Glorified Ham & Eggs will prove that this place is one of the best in town. Bring your appetite and don't plan on eating the rest of the day...the portions are huge.

CommRow

expert pick

255 N Virginia St

The CommRow is located in downtown Reno, but it is not a casino. It's an urban club, hangout and rock climbing wall extravaganza. Tough to describe.

Reno Blog Posts

UPDATES FROM OUR TRAVEL TEAM

Reno Outdoor Recreation
All year long, Reno is a center for outdoor recreation. From the mountains and the rivers to the lakes and the desert, there is a multitude of outdoor sports to choose from in the Biggest Little City. Some of them (like fly fishing) can even be done downtown on the Truckee River.  Read more

Reno's Public Art
The City of Reno has a nice selection of public art scattered around the town. From graphic murals to statues of colorful fish, the city (which becomes Artown during the month of July) has been adding in more displays of art every year.  Read more

Reno's 10 Best Hikes
Reno is a natural place to take a hike. The city is surrounded by mountains on all sides and any level hiker will be able to experience high mountain desert and sagebrush or alpine meadows, waterfalls and lakes. Animal life such as coyotes, squirrels, bears and birds are also abundant in these hiking... Read more


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