Reno Travel Guide

Words by Laura Lawson Visconti
Photos by Laura Lawson Visconti

My husband and I often say it: thank God for Reno.

Living in Truckee, a remote mountain town nestled in the Northern Sierra Nevada, our daily life is juxtaposed somewhere between world class ski resorts and ludicrous gas prices. While we certainly believe in supporting local, the reality for us and many others who call the region home is that we simply can’t afford the overpriced food and fuel luring wealthy tourists from the Bay Area. So we take our business to Reno, a short 40 minute drive away, for just about everything from toilet paper to oil changes to date nights.

Aside from being a cheaper destination for errands and shopping, Reno is rad. The biggest little city in the world is currently undergoing an entrepreneurial makeover, with more businesses calling Reno home every day, including craft breweries, coffee roasteries and tech centers. While casinos still rule downtown, this is far more than your grandparents’ vacation destination. With endless nonstop flights landing daily at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, consider the biggest little city in the world for your next getaway.

Home Away From Home

Stay at Whitney Peak Hotel, tucked downtown and across from the iconic arch. Reno’s first boutique non-gaming hotel, Whitney Peak is also home to Basecamp, the world’s tallest outdoor climbing wall: I dare you to saddle up! I also love the brand-new Renaissance Hotel, which boasts a gigantic bocce ball facility and a photogenic bar that sits right on the Truckee River. If you’re looking to try your luck at the gambling tables, stay at Atlantis Casino Resort (home to the best spa in Reno!).

Indulge & Imbibe

Reno’s trendy Midtown District is chock-full of American farm-to-table eateries like Midtown Eats and Centro, sourcing fresh ingredients from nearby Nevada farms. Slightly more surprising: Reno’s thriving Basque foodie scene (don’t miss Louis’ Basque Corner) and all-you-can-eat sushi joints dotted all over the city (our favorite: Hiroba). For your morning caffeine fix, stop by See See Motorcycles for a cup of Stumptown Coffee and rad moto vibes. For craft breweries, add 10 Torr and Under The Rose to your list.

Surprising Finds

The Nevada Museum of Art hosts excellent art exhibits and events — plus, the rooftop is the best place to catch sunset in Reno on a clear night. Within Ubering distance is The Basement, a hidden cache of eateries, glow-in-the-dark boxing and unique shops, situated in the basement of a historic 1933 post office (today a West Elm). For supreme vintage shopping or Burning Man inspiration, Reno is home to scores of eclectic second-hand stores. My favorite is Dick Diamond’s Golden Jackal, where you’ll find everything from vintage wedding gowns to cheap graphic tees.

Lake Tahoe

You’d be amiss to come all the way to Reno and not pay a visit to the largest alpine lake in North America. Sharing real estate in both California (the western shore) and Nevada (the eastern shore), Tahoe is actually typically categorized by its north and south shores. North Shore is my haunt, with bustling mountain towns, Squaw Valley Ski Resort, endless scenic hikes and outdoor activities. South Shore has more of a nightlife and also boasts Emerald Bay, which is arguably the prettiest part of the entire Lake. No matter how you slice it and dice it, Lake Tahoe is stunning and worth visiting again and again… or just do what I did and move here!


While Reno’s nightlife isn’t as ostentatious as its sister city Las Vegas, it has plenty of quirk and charm. Rub shoulders with UNR students while barhopping in Midtown, or head to the Galaxy Legends+ IMAX theater in neighboring Sparks to catch the latest blockbuster after having enjoyed a glass of pinot noir in a plush recliner, other movie theaters will never be the same! Reno also plays host to fabulous concerts and theatre: both smaller shows at The Saint in Midtown as well as larger acts at the casinos. Over the holidays, don’t miss the Christmas variety show at Eldorado Resort Casino.

While Reno’s amenities are surprisingly vast, its proximity to gorgeous high deserts, snow-capped mountain ranges and sparkling alpine lakes truly make it a diamond in the rough. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: thank God for Reno.

Keep up with Laura’s adventures in Reno and around the world on her blog her follow her on Instagram.




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