Situated northeast of Lake Tahoe near the California border, Reno and its nearby neighboring town of Sparks have long enticed gambling enthusiasts and lovers of the great outdoors. Its location near the rugged mountains of the Sierras has made it a popular playground, while the casinos in town keep revelers up at all hours.
Nevada High Life
With an elevation of around 4,400 feet, Reno sits about a 15-minute drive from the California border. Interstate 80 crosses through town, connecting to Sacramento (about a two-hour drive away) while getting to Las Vegas takes nearly seven hours by road. Lake Tahoe is a mere 45 minutes away by car. Weather here is milder than in Vegas, with winter highs in the mid-40s and summer highs in the low 90s, and the city usually gets a bit of snow every year. The area is surrounded by wetlands, with a number of small lakes in the area that attract anglers. The Truckee River runs through town and serves as a fun gathering spot.
Fishing, Hiking, Boating, Hunting
There’s no dearth of outdoor activities in and around Reno. Hiking is huge here, and trails include the 5.7-mile Hunter Creek Trail, which leads to the lovely 30-foot Hunter Creek Falls. The Huffaker Hills Trail is an easy 1.8-mile loop for folks who want great views but prefer an easier time on the trail.
For those who’d rather spend their time in water than on land, the Truckee River offers plenty of opportunities to go whitewater rafting and kayaking without even having to leave town. Anglers won’t feel bored here, as world-class fishing abounds in the area, both on the Truckee River and on the nearby Pyramid Lake, a desert lake filled with Lahontan cutthroat, trout and local cui-ui. It’s located about a 45-minute drive north of the city.
Gaming and Gallivanting
Reno was historically the gambling capital of the United States, and while Las Vegas holds that title today, the city still draws its share of gaming tourists. While casinos run by local native tribes in California have cut into gambling revenues in the city, there are still quite a few large casinos in the area, including the Peppermill and Atlantis. While casino culture certainly still has a presence here, the city is starting to feel more and more like a tech hub, with lots of startups in the area.
While many people think of Reno as nothing more than a casino destination, this smallish city has a surprisingly vibrant arts scene, with public art displays found everywhere (there are over 100 murals just in the MidTown District area). Reno boasts some great museums, too. These include the National Automobile Museum, full of gorgeous old cars, plus the Nevada Museum of Art. A great choice for families, the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum features a huge selection of hands-on exhibits with heavy focus on science and technology. The Wilbur D. May Center is also worth a visit both for its lovely arboretum and variety of botanical gardens and groves along with a large collection of art pieces and objects from places as far-reaching as Egypt and China. There’s even a shrunken head from South America on display
Just 4 miles east of downtown Reno lies Sparks, a fun-filled spot for folks who want outdoor recreation without traveling too far outside of the city. Rock Park, located along the Truckee River in Sparks, features premier whitewater rafting, kayaking and tubing adventures. Sparks Marina Park, with its 77-acre lake, is the go-to spot for swimming, boating, fishing and even scuba diving. Visit Sparks in the summer for the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off, with top barbecue chefs cooking up mouth-watering cuts.
Reno bustles with events throughout the year. Popular attractions include the Reno River Festival, held every year over Mother’s Day weekend and featuring whitewater rafting competitions and live entertainment. In June, the Great Eldorado BBQ, Brews & Blues Festival showcases beer and music. Check out the Reno Rodeo, also in June, and the Artown festival of arts and culture, held annually in July. Rev your motor for Hot August Nights, the largest nostalgic car show in the country, as well as the Great Reno Balloon Race, a spectacle that fills the sky.
Rolling in Reno
Feeling like a kingpin? Then lug your bowling ball over to the National Bowling Stadium, home to 78 lanes complete with Pro Shop, Kingpin Club and 172-seat I-WERKS Theater. Watch bowling stats on a 440-foot-long video screen — the longest video screen in the world — or rent the club out for a group event. If you’d prefer to watch, the stadium hosts several pro bowling events throughout the year. Notably, the stadium was the setting for the bowling action in the film, “Kingpin,” starring Woody Harrelson, Bill Murray and Randy Quaid.
Wellness in Nevada
Reno is a great spot for getting away and getting pampered. Major resorts like Atlantis, Peppermill and Grand Sierra Resort all have lovely spas, and there are plenty more in nearby Lake Tahoe, such as the Stillwater Spa at the Hyatt Regency. For those in search of something more rustic, there are plenty of hot springs in the area. The Hot Springs Healing Center & Spa in nearby Steamboat is one such option, with pools fed by natural springs. Families will enjoy Carson Hot Springs, which offers a large spring-fed pool as well as a number of smaller spa rooms for up to four guests.
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