Reno: Nevada's Wild West Casino Town, Reborn for Great Getaways

World famous Reno Arch in downtown Reno, Nevada, NV.

Trip Savvy / Stan White

Reno used to be the place where Americans would go for a "quickie divorce."
Now, visitors come for Reno's entertainment and great outdoors—and Nevada's tolerant attitude. Visit Reno, Nevada, see for yourself and become an early adopter.

Reno Is Like Vegas Off Steroids

Of course, Nevada's go-to destination for casino high-jinks is Vegas.
But Sin City is big, crowded, and expensive (and undeniably fun).

Reno is fun, too, with casinos, a great hotel (Grand Sierra resort, described later in this article), dining, nightlife, culture, shopping.

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Why Visit Reno, Nevada?

Reno Nevada vintage postcard
©Wikimedia Commons

Reno (founded in the 1850s) has what Vegas (born in the 1950s) lacks: real Western feeling and flair. Reno is a Wild West boomtown, and its pioneer spirit surrounds you.

And so does Reno's beautiful setting, in a valley on Nevada's border with California. The climate is mild, and the untamed Truckee River flows through downtown.
• One thing you can do in Reno and not in Vegas: go whitewater kayaking through the center of town!

This slideshow will give you plenty of reasons why Reno you should consider a getaway to Reno -- and be the first in your circle to discover this uniquely cool place.
• So you have it: Visit Reno site
• Next slide: Reno is the city base for a little summer festival called Burning Man...

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Burning Man Festival near Reno, Nevada

People at Burning Man Nevada
©Dvsross/Wikimedia Commons

Burning Man: What Is It Besides Something to Brag You Did?

If you love festivals and cultural movements, you already know this. Burning Man is a legend in the festival world, and a bucket-list event for hipsters, groovers, ravers, communards, and other free spirits.
• This week-long annual bash takes place in Black Rock Desert 100 miles north of Reno
• Burning Man kicks off on the last Monday in August, and ends on the first Monday in September
• The name refers to the festival's signature: the ritual burning of a large wooden effigy, set alight on Saturday evening
• The burning symbolizes of the renewal of lifeBurning Man is an experiment in community, art, extreme self-expression,  radical self-reliance, the gifting economy, and living off the grid
• Burning Man website
• About's Burning Man photos

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Raging Dust Storms in Reno, Nevada

Reno dust storm photo
©Susan Kime

What's a Dust Storm, and Do They Really Happen in Reno?

They say that dust storms rage all over Mars. But you don't have to voyage to the red planet to experience a dust storm. You'll earn major dust-storm-chaser points by heading for Reno.
• Dust storm is the newer term for sandstorm
• What's behind this meteorological phenom? Dry climate, fierce winds, plenty of dirt or sand to blow around
• If it happens when you're in Reno, stay inside. You don't want that stuff in your lungs
• Historic photo of a dust storm

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National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada

Lana Turner's car, a 1941 Phaeton
©Susan Kime

A Sexy Ride at The National Automobile Museum 

The National Automobile Museum (also called The Harrah Collection) is a must-see for anyone who has ever admired or coveted a flashy, shapely vintage car. 

The museum flaunts over 200 dazzling vehicles. Each is displayed in an evocative period setting with music of the time.

You'll See the Cars that Superstars Drove

Here you'll find the world's best collection of celebrity-owned cars, and they are fabulous. These custom-made and/or extravagantly custom-detailed cars are like boutique hotel rooms on wheels. These star cars include:
• Elvis Presley's 1973 Cadillac Eldorado
• Frank Sinatra's 1961 Ghia L6.4
• President John F. Kennedy's 1962 Lincoln Continental
• John Wayne's 1953 Chevrolet Corvette
• Lana Turner’s 1941 Phaeton (shown above)

See & Find Out More

• National Automobile Collection website
• And sneak-peek photo galleries
• About's National Automobile Museum photos

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National Championship Reno Air Races

Reno Air Races planes
©Reno Air Races

The Reno Air Races

The National Championship Air Races are simply known in the West as the the Reno Air Races. These prestigious competitions draw pilots and flight buffs from the world over.

What Happens at the Reno Air Races

Every September, ace pilots take to the skies over Reno's Stead Airport.
• Some of their jets are new and cutting-edge; others are reconditioned vintage beauties

Some of the events are competitive and dedicated to pure speed.
• Racing categories include Biplanes, Formula One, Sport, North American, Jet with No Afterburner, and more

Other events include airborne exhibitions of skill and daring, military displays of precision formations, and more.

The best word to describe the Reno Air Races: thrilling.

Find Out More About the Reno Air Races

• National Championship Reno Air Races
• Reno Air races Sights & Sounds Gallery
• About's photos of the air races
• 2016 dates: September 14-28
• Phone 775.972.6663

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Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum in Reno

Nevada Discovery Museum in Reno
©Blackhawk Virtual Media

A Paradise for the Curious

If you love learning how our world works, you should not miss the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum, called "The Discovery." It's catnip to inquisitive visitors, whether toddlers, teens, or definite grown-ups.

Ever Wanted to Climb a Cloud? You Can Here (You Don't Have to Be a Kid)

• For many visitors, the museum's focal point is a cloud-climbing structure
• Surrounding it are cozy spaces hosting interactive activities involving art, music, movement, nature, inventions, Nevada history, and more

Find Out About "The Discovery"

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Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts in Reno, Nevada

Golden Dome, the-Pioneer Center in Reno Nevada
©Jerrye and Roy Klotz, Jr./Wikimedia Commons

A Roost for Culture Vultures

Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts is Reno's busiest cultural institution.
• It's home to the Nevada Festival Ballet, Nevada Opera, and...
• ...The Reno Philharmonic, the rare orchestra with a female conductor/music director, Laura Jackson
• The center also hosts limited engagements of Broadway road shows, film-festival highlights, theater revues, and more

An Architectural Icon

"The Pioneer" is known for its domed performance space. Built in 1967 as a now-classic geodesic dome, it was designed by a student of Buckminster Fuller, who invented the form.
• A honeycomb of lustrous aluminum panels, the dome is called "the golden turtle" by locals

Find Out More

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The Nevada Museum of Art in Reno

Nevada Museum of Art in Reno
©Nevada Museum of Art

Modern from the Outside In

The Nevada Museum of Art in Reno is the only art museum in the state accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. (The Liberace Museum in Vegas doesn't cut it.)

And this is a forward-looking museum that celebrates progress.
• Its space, designed by Phoenix-based architect Will Bruder in 2003, is an ultra-modern box with some rooms all-glass

Love Photography? This Is Your Museum

The Nevada Museum of Art's signature is art photography.
• Its primary collection is called The Altered Landscape, which examines human interaction with our environment.

Great Paintings, Too

The selective painting collection features 20th-century works by Roy Lichtenstein and Georgia O'Keeffe.
• Seasonal exhibits spotlight not-the-same-old art forms, like contemporary abstract works by Aboriginal artists in central Australia

Fill Your Eyes, Then Your Tummy

The museum's appealing eatery is a casual French bistro, Chez Louie.
• It serves breakfast and lunch Wednesday through Saturday, Thursday dinner, and Sunday brunch

Find Out More

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Riverwalk District in Reno, Nevada

Riverwalk in Reno Nevada
©Visit Reno

The Riverwalk District Is Reno's Original Pioneer Neighborhood

Reno was founded along the Truckee River, and one of its first structures was a bridge. Today, this historic area is known as the Riverwalk District.

The Riverwalk District calls itself "Reno's New Downtown," and it is indeed an all-hours hotspot.
• The Riverwalk Dining District offers dozens of international cuisines
• The West Street Market is an indoor-outdoor dining, shopping, and gathering place
• Special events at Riverwalk include art shows, running races, wine tastings, cookoffs, plus games and picnics at Powning Veterans Memorial Park
• The monthly, low-cost River Wine Walk is a don't-miss 

Truckee River Walk

The Riverwalk District's thoroughfare is the Truckee Riverwalk, which traces this roiling waterway for over a mile.
• Riverwalk was honored by Travel + Leisure as one of America's Top Ten riverside promenades
• Riverwalk overlooks patches of whitewater rapids where kayakers ply their skill. Do you dar

Find Out More

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Grand Sierra Resort & Casino in Reno, Nevada

Reno Nevada's Grand Sierra Resort and Casino
©Grand Sierra Resort and Casino

The Grand Sierra Resort and Casino: the Place to Stay in Reno

The Grand Sierra Resort and Casino is a Vegas-style resort that turns a Reno getaway into a total experience. This good-looking resort recently underwent a 60-million-dollar renovation

The resort is very big, with nearly 2,000 rooms on 27 floors. Yet, due to a sensible, calming layout, the space is accessible, interesting, and comfortable. You won't get lost here.

Rooms are available in several categories. The top level is Summit Suites, with views and club floor and lounge privileges.

Everything You Want to Do Is Here at Grand Sierra

Though just three miles from Reno and all its charms, The Grand Sierra Resort is a vacation in and of itself. Right on-property, guests can enjoy:
• 10 restaurants and seven bars
• A casino with table games, slots, poker room, race and sports book
• Headliner entertainment by names like Diana Krall, Havana Brown, Graham Funke
• An excellent spa
• LEX Nightclub
ª Family activities including Funquest, Grand Adventure Land, bowling, movie theater, more
• Fitness center
• Heated outdoor swimming pool
• Golf driving range
• Convention center 

Find Out More

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Charlie Palmer Steak at Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, Nevada

Best dining in Reno, Nevada: Charlie Palmer Steak at Grand Sierra Resort
©Grand Sierra Resort and Casino

Step Right Up for Reno's Top Eats

Charlie Palmer Steak brings this celebrity chef's famous way with beef to Grand Sierra Resort. It wins ongoing "best in town" awards -- in my opinion, deservedly.

Come Hungry to Charlie Palmer Steak

I'm glad I came with an appetite, because the food is so good you'll want more than a taste. I can heartily recommend Executive Chef David Holman's:
• Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Crisp Pork Belly, an appetizer
• New York Strip Steak (in two sizes, with slow-roasted onions and savory jus gravy)
• Not starving? The restaurant's lounge offers a snack menu with an excellent house burger

Find Out More

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Briscola Restaurant at Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, Nevada

Best Italian restaurant in Reno is Briscola
©Susan Kime

More Greatness from Charlie Palmer

Briscola is also overseen by Charlie Palmer. This cozy Italian eatery is modeled after a private Roman social club, with a vaulted wooden ceiling that makes it feel like a wine cellar.
• Does that sound atmospheric? It is. Even the lighting is sultry
• The name Briscola refers to a Roman card trick; watch out!

That's Italian

Briscola's menu offers classic, beloved dishes from The Boot.
• Favorite appetizers include fried calamari, shrimp scampi, Sicilian meatballs, antipasti
• Entrees tend toward hearty: Chianti-braised short ribs, osso buco, cioppino seafood stew
• And of course, there's pizza, pasta, grilled fish, and chicken breast many ways

Very Special House Specialties

• Briscola's stuffed lobster must be ordered 24 hours in advance
• Ours was about two pounds, and satisfied an entire table
• But we still made room for Briscola's tiramisu, which will remind you why the dish became a sensation when introduced to our shores

Find Out More

• Briscola site
• And menus

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Spa at Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, Nevada

Spa at Grand Sierra Resort in Reno Nevada
©Grand Sierra Resort and Casino

Spa Serenity: You've Found It

The Spa at Grand Sierra Resort is a soothing enclave that spotlights natural treatments and organic potions. A variety of pools and tubs soothe your weary bones.
•This spa reminded me of a giant lily pond: hushed and aquatic, with a gentle palette of earth tones and water hues

Indulge Your Inner Showgirl at This Spa 

The spa offers a full range of traditional massages and rejuvenating facials.  

But its spa menu covers indulgent glamour treatments also: dramatic body glitter, faux fur or diamond lashes, crystal hair extensions.
• And you can imagine what the manicures are like!

Find Out More

• The Spa at Grand Sierra Resort and Casino  (scroll down for spa menu)

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LEX Nightclub at Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, Nevada

LEX Nightclub in Grand Sierra Resort in Reno Nevada
© Grand Sierra Resort and Casino

LEX Nightclub is "Where Elegance Becomes Unruly” 

That's how LEX Nightclub in Grand Sierra Resort describes itself.

This is Reno's big-deal nocturnal hotspot. Club connoisseurs will approve of this impressive, 25,000 square-foot den of moonlit mischief.
• LEX reopened in 2014 after a high-style renovation
• It features a vast pool with a transparent dance floor over it, creating the illusion of dancing on water
• The club holds 1,100 revelers, with three vast bars
• 33 VIP tables cater to the high-roller bottle-service crowd
• The laser lighting and sound system are cutting-edge

Find Out More

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Under the Rose Brewing Company in Reno, Nevada

Under the Rose Beer Brewery in Reno Nevada
©Susan Kime

Under the Rose Brewing Company

There are hundreds of craft breweries today. But downtown Reno's Under the Rose Brewing is something special, and it's a source of local pride.

Why Locals Love Under the Rose

It's not only the tasty beers that attract Reno residents. They love the fact that the beers are brewed right here at this downtown brewery and bar.
• They're not trucked in from out-of-state like most beers, but piped over from the brewing tanks a few paces away. That's real Reno drinking

The Beers at Under the Rose

Founders Scott Emond and Jesse Kleinedler and brewmaster Eliot Hartley focus on classic suds styles, with their own spin.
• Overall, their creations are well-balanced and pleasant on the palate: neither too bitter with hops nor too sugary
• Under the Rose's beers reminded me of Champagne: soft on the palate and gently frothy, with more of a kiss than a bite, and real flavor
• Chocolate Rye Porter was not what I expected. Its mild beer taste develops a chocolatey finish that leaves you smiling. It's a true original

Find Out More

• Under the Rose Brewing Company site
• Look for Under the Rose beers on Reno restaurant beer lists...
• ...and keep an eye out in town for Under the Rose's food and beer truck 

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Great Reno Day Trip: to Carson City in Nevada

Nevada State Capitol in Carson City
©teofilo/Wikimedia Commons

Yes, Carson City Is Named for Kit Carson

Set 30 miles south of Reno, Carson City is a fascinating jaunt. USA Today has named Carson City one of “10 Most Travel-Worthy State Capitals In The Country."
• Carson City was a way station for California settlers until 1859, when the Comstock Lode of silver and gold was discovered. Then: boomtown!
• Carson City has been Nevada's capital since its territorial days, before 1864 statehood
• With 55,000 residents, Carson City is the United States' least populous capital

What to Do in Carson City?

• Admire the city's many historic districts, with many buildings and homes from the late 1800s and early 1900’s
• Look at the handsome Nevada State Capitol (pictured), and visit a Wild West museum
• Go mountain biking in the surrounding hill
• Absorb the Gold Rush excitement of the "Comstock strike" in a ride on the restored, 1800s V+T Railroad, along the old Virginia & Truckee route (see About photos)
• And eat at Adele's (described on the next slide)

Find Out More

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Cafe at Adele's Restaurant in Carson City, Nevada

The place to eat in Carson City Nevada is Adele's
©Cafe at Adele's

Cafe at Adele’s in Carson City

One of Carson City's most elegant Victorian homes was transformed into Adele’s. Today it's a cherished Carson City spot.
• Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served
• There's indoor and outdoor seating, plus a bar

A Family Place

Cafe at Adele's has been open since 1977 and is owned and run by the Abowd family.
• Charlie is Executive Chef and Karen is host

Cafe at Adele's Puts Earth First

The restaurant is committed to free-range, hormone-free meat, sustainable seafood, and organic produce, all local whenever possible.

Cafe at Adele's Menu Is Things You Love to Eat

Adele's extensive menu is filled with dishes you want to order and enjoy. Hearty recipes rule the dinner menu: excellent steaks; seafood jambalaya; aromatic orange-saffron chicken breast; rack of lamb chops with Cabernet-berry sauce, Gorgonzola cheese, caramelized pecans.
• Appetizers are mostly classics like baked goat cheese, nachos, crab cake, ahi tuna tartare
• House-made cakes, pies, and ice cream creations end an Adele's meal with flair
• Wines, mainly from California, are bargain-priced

Find Out More

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Frey Ranch Distillery and Churchill Vineyards in Fallon, Nevada

Colby Frey of Frey Distillery in Fallon Nevada
©Susan Kime

What's in Fallon, Nevada?

Fallon, 62 miles east of Reno, is farm country, where the principal crop is grain: alfalfa, corn, rye, wheat. Not many Reno visitors make it to Fallon. But you should.

OK, Why Drive a Hour to Fallon?

Out on a country road is a divine drinking destination: the Frey Distillery, Nevada's first distillery. This is a place where spirits are made -- vodka, gin, whiskey --  from the grain.

Grapes are grown on the ranch, too. Hence Churchill Vineyards. They're getting a name for very good white wines, especially Riesling and Gewurztraminer.

The Frey Family Are Your Hosts

The Frey family has been farming in this area since the early 1800’s. Colby Frey and his wife now run the distillery and winery
• They personally lead tours of their artisanal Frey Distillery and Churchill vineyards
•Afterwards, there's a tasting, and no one will rush you to get back on the road
• It's well worth the trip

Find Out More

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