Reno's longtime slogan, 'The Biggest Little City in the World' is an apt description for a place where you can hike or kayak by day and surf the slots by night. It tries mightily to promote itself as a hot gambling mecca, but its lasting appeal is its small-town demeanour.
The 1850s saw the first hotel and saloon built where Reno now stands. By 1868 the town scored a train depot and took the name of Jesse Reno, a Union general. The town grew fat on rail expansion and the mining boom, but when the gold got thin on the ground, Reno wagered its future on sin.
Featured Reno Hotel
What To Do
Lake Tahoe, near Reno, is Nevada's premier recreation area for skiing (cross-country and downhill), hiking, biking, swimming, boating and fishing. The Truckee River, right in the center of town, has a kayak-park, and a few places to fish, swim, or picnic.
Rink on the River
Downtown, the Rink on the River opens for ice skating in winter, when many hotels offer Lake Tahoe stay-and-ski packages.
Wild Sierra Adventures
The Truckee River Whitewater Park injects action into the middle of downtown with year-round kayaking. There's a mellow beginner's area, but most of the park is Class II or III rapids. Located on the valet level of Silver Legacy, Wild Sierra Adventures, run by the affable Jim Bell, offers tons of adventure: kayaking, tubing, mountain biking, skiing, horseback riding and snowmobiling.
Historic Reno Preservation Society
Dig deeper with a walking or biking tour highlighting subjects including architecture, politics and literary history.
What To See
Nevada Museum of Art
In a sparkling building inspired by the geologic formations of the Black Rock Desert north of town, a floating staircase leads to galleries showcasing temporary exhibits and images related to the American West. Great cafe for postcultural refueling.
Near Fitzgerald's, check out the landmark Reno Arch, built in 1926 to commemorate the completion of the first transcontinental highway in North America. The original has since been replaced twice (the last time in 1987) but still proclaims Reno as being the 'Biggest Little City in the World.'
Inside a former fire station right in the heart of downtown, Green Room comes with a big performance space where you can chill with free cult movies or a band most nights. Entry is usually no more than a couple of bucks and if you dig hip hop and indie grooves a little more than the casino has-been scene, then this is the Reno venue for you.
St James Infirmary
With an eclectic menu of 120 bottled varieties and 18 on tap, beer aficionados will short circuit with delight. Red lights blush over black-and-white retro banquettes and a wall of movie and music stills, and it hosts sporadic events including jazz and bluegrass performances.
Reno has a full-to-bursting calendar of special events. The Reno Rodeo, one of the country's largest, fills the Livestock Events Center with bucking broncos and bruised cowpokes in late June. Things heat up even more for Hot August Nights, a series of parades and concerts celebrating the cars and music of the 50s and 60s. At the end of August, the Nevada State Fair has, well, all the fun of the fair: rides, games and heaps of cattle. In September, Reno's skies come alive with the National Championship Air Races.
Food and Drink
Louis' Basque Corner
Get ready to dine on lamb, rabbit, sweet breads and more lamb at a big table full of people you've never met before. A different set-course menu is offered every day, posted in the window.
Peg's Glorified Ham & Eggs
Locally regarded as the best breakfast in town, Peg's offers tasty grill food that's not too greasy.
Sinfully delicious hot spot enjoys most-favorite status with Reno scene-sters for its wicked chocolate-themed drinks, urban-chic decor and awesome desserts.
Old Granite Street Eatery
A lovely well- lighted place for organic and local comfort food, old-school artisanal cocktails and seasonal craft beers, this antique-strewn hotspot enchants diners with its stately wooden bar, water served in old liquor bottles and its lengthy seasonal menu. Forgot to make a reservation? Check out the iconic rooster and pig murals and wait for seats at a community table fashioned from a barn door.