Visiting Reno - What to See and Do
(Reno Tahoe International Airport RNO, USA)
It may be no Las Vegas
, but travelers who want to add a little gambling to their winter ski holiday or summer hiking trip around the Sierra Nevada mountains can find it all in Reno
. The airport services both the neon-clad gambling Mecca of Reno, as well as the natural mountain landscape of Lake Tahoe, so suits all tastes for a weekend getaway.
Either way, this is the gateway between northern California
, with lots of outdoor attractions and recreational opportunities to go with the casino fun of the city. There is a touch of gold rush history here as well, epitomized by neighboring Virginia City, and a tiny dose of culture in Reno's Arts District.
The mountain town of Truckee is next-door for a more subtle scene, and Lake Tahoe provides several world-class ski resorts to play in all year round. However, Nevada's second-most popular tourist destination is all about the gambling. The casinos of Reno may pale in comparison to the glitz of Vegas, but they pay out nonetheless.
Ten things you must do in Reno
- The most pleasant part of the city is its downtown Arts District. It runs along the banks of the Truckee River, offering visitors a nice selection of art galleries, restaurants, boutiques, coffee shops and tourist attractions. Outdoor concerts are held at the West Street Plaza in summer, while First Street is home to historic cinemas and many other charming shops to explore.
- The Nevada Museum of Art is one of the state's top art repositories and easily the best space in Reno for classic artwork. The permanent collection revolves heavily around nature and the outdoors, while a steady stream of visiting exhibitions spotlight more cultural themes. The rooftop sculpture garden is a highlight, with the additional bonus of some very nice views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
- The oldest historical museum in the state is the city's very own Nevada Historical Society. Visitors can get an in-depth look into the rough and ready heritage of this frontier state. Its memorabilia, manuscripts, photographs and other relics are worth the visit to understand that Reno is more than just casino gambling.
- Around a dozen casinos line downtown Virginia Street, casting a red glow over the valley at night. Asides from the gambling, the city's casinos are usually the best places to find top-drawer entertainment options, as well as some of the city's best restaurants and bars. The Grand Sierra is the largest casino resort, although the interconnected cluster containing the Eldorado, Silver Legacy and Circus Circus is extremely popular.
- Within two hours of the city are no less than 18 ski resorts, some of them among America's best. They are all laid out in the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe, giving a unique slope to lake view. At Heavenly, you can literally see the casinos of Reno, while Squaw Valley is farther off and famous for its extensive terrain.
- Catch some culture in the city with the Nevada Shakespeare Company for local theater, or alternatively the Pioneer Center for touring troupes, opera and ballet. The Reno Philharmonic Orchestra and the Reno Chamber Orchestra perform classical concerts from summer through winter, indoors and outdoors.
- Car lovers won't want to miss the National Car Museum. Its collection of 220 or so vintage motorcars is one of the best in America, while its exhibits showcase the history and evolution of cars. Vehicles range from original cars owned by celebrities to rare items like a gold-plated De Lorean coupe.
- Golfers are going to be in heaven trying to choose from the 50 scenic courses within a 90-minute drive of Reno. Nevada's oldest course is here at the Washoe County Golf Course, built in 1934. Due to the tourist nature of the area, nearly all of the other courses are open to the public and most have very affordable greens fees.
- You won't have to even leave Reno to get out and enjoy the beautiful Alpine scenery that surrounds it. The Truckee River Trail follows the course of the crystal clear Truckee River for 14 miles / 23 km. The path is paved, making it ideal for leisurely bike rides, walks or some jogging. Hikers who want more challenge can hit the Peavine Mountain's trails just minutes from the downtown district.
- Reno is a great place to learn how to kayak or challenge yourself if you are already skilled at the sport. The Truckee River Whitewater Park is one the best in the country, featuring 790 meters / 2,600 feet of Class III whitewater right in the heart of the city. A slalom race course, 11 drop pools to practice maneuvers and easy access from the shore make this free public park one of the city's top attractions.