I’ve been to Las Vegas several times, but never had a desire to go to Reno. I always thought it was for the older crowd, and figured I’d check it out one day. When I had to fly into the Reno airport for my recent visit to Lake Tahoe, I could literally see the “strip” from the airport and made the short drive over there.
It’s famously called “The Biggest Little City in the World,” and for a good reason. When you first turn on the main street, it does look very similar to Vegas. Reno was actually the gambling capitol of the nation until Vegas became the hot place to be in the 1960s. It differs from Vegas in that all the casinos are clustered together within a few blocks. There’s a good amount of restaurants, from cheaper eats like Subway to higher end places. If you’re curious to check out Reno for a day or a weekend, here are a few items of interest to look into.
National Automobile Museum
This museum features cars from the early 1900s as well as through the decades. They’re constantly changing exhibits, which means you’ll most likely see different cars each time you go. With over 200 cars on display, give yourself a few hours to go through the museum. It’s right in the main area of town, which makes it a great place to stop at when you need a break from gambling.
This is a given, but Reno does have a good selection of casinos for how small it is. If you’ve been to Vegas before, you’ll recognize some names such as Circus Circus and Harrah’s. Several of them have shows or entertainers booked multiple nights a week. They do have buffets and restaurants to choose from as well. Due to the close proximity of Tahoe and Squaw Valley (another popular mountain for skiing), you can often find winter ski packages if you want to stay in Reno but ski during the day.
Harrah’s claims to be the liveliest casino in Reno. It’s owned by the same owners of the Las Vegas casino, and the staff tries to bring that vibe to Reno. Besides the usual table games and slots, they have events to appeal to younger crowds such as beer pong. Their event calendar is usually full of comedians or musicians in the evening.
Reno got a renovation and created the Truckee River Walk along the city. Walk along the river to see art galleries, craft shops, and restaurants. If you like wine, they host the Wine Walk on the third Saturday of every month. Walk along the river and taste wine at over a dozen different shops.
Pose With the Sign
Reno has the world’s tallest climbing wall, and it’s right next to the famous Reno sign. Not only does it make for a great picture, but you get views at the top of downtown Reno and the surrounding mountains. Climbers of all abilities are able to use the wall.
Burning Man Items
Burning Man may be 110 miles away in Black Rock Desert, but you wouldn’t know it with the amount of times for purchase Reno has. Local artists fill the surrounding galleries with their photography and paintings inspired by the event. Find costumes and accessories to wear in local shops. You can even see artwork in the Sculpture Park along the river walk. Stop here on your way to the event and you’ll be all set.
Reno Santa Crawl
I was sadly already in Lake Tahoe when this happened, but I saw it on the news. It’s exactly what it sounds like – thousands of drunk people dress up like Santa in December and go from bar to bar, causing chaos. It benefits a local charity to help out the schools, but just the imagery of that many Santas in one place is enough to make me want to go.
Although I personally prefer Vegas for the wider variety of activities and casinos/restaurants, I recommend stopping in Reno if you’re on your way to Tahoe or somewhere else. It’s worth it to see, even if just for a day!
Looking for more travel tips?
Sign up for my weekly newsletter to get travel tips, plus enter to win travel contests!