AAA Travel Tips / Why It’s Time to Rediscover Reno, Nevada

Why It’s Time to Rediscover Reno, Nevada
By Samantha Brown , Host of “Samantha Brown's Places to Love”
November 08, 2021
When I say Reno you say…Casinos! Neon lights! The capital of mid-century divorce! (seriously—people used to book six-week stays here just to get divorced!) Friends, it’s time to reconsider the Biggest Little City in the World.
From incredible outdoor activities to a thriving food and art scene, Reno isn’t what you remember. Here’s how to make the most of your stay.

For the Love of Snow

Reno-Tahoe has the highest concentration of alpine ski resorts in the country. The slopes at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe are located a mere 25 minutes from downtown Reno, and many others are within an hour’s drive. That means you can fly into the Reno-Tahoe International Airport in the morning and be on a chairlift in the afternoon! Many Reno hotel casinos offer inexpensive stay-and-ski packages complete with shuttle services. This offers flexibility if you’re traveling with ski bunnies and those who prefer hanging in town.
If downhill isn’t your thing, most ski resorts offer a variety of well-groomed cross country and snowshoeing trails. Sound too sweaty? Book a snowmobile tour for a fast and furious backwoods adventure, complete with stunning views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. And for a real adrenaline rush, get your mush on with a dog sled tour. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be sure.
flickr / CC BY /PunkToad

A Surprising and Inspiring Art Scene

When you think Reno, a thriving art scene probably doesn’t come to mind. However, this Nevada town is currently featuring one of the most epic art shows in the states: The Nevada Museum of Art’s “City of Dust: the Evolution of Burning Man.” This archive-based exhibition, shows the evolution of this now world-famous 70,000-person art festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Check out never-before-seen photographs, artifacts, journals, sketches, and notebooks. Great for those who adore Burning Man, or those of us who’ve always wondered what actually goes on at this out-there party on the playa.
With over 20,000 square feet of murals, Reno is becoming as known for its beautiful painted walls as its neon lights. Local and international artists create thought-provoking art mainly in the downtown and midtown neighborhoods. Colorful paintings line main thoroughfares and alleys, including the infamous Lover’s Lane, which earned its name due to the red light district that once operated here. Today, it’s all about the art. If you’re looking for a more in-depth experience, sign up for a docent-led tour by connecting with Art Spot Reno.
AAA/Inspector 33

Eat and Drink Your Heart Out

It’s all about good food made with integrity at Campo. This neighborhood restaurant focuses on wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, handmade pastas, and salumi made with farm-fresh, local produce. Casual and cozy, it’s a great place to relax with friends over a glass of wine or two. They operate two locations—one in Reno proper and one in nearby Sparks.
When you’re in a gambling town, sometimes you crave an old school steakhouse experience. Hit up the cleverly named The Steak House and Western Village Sparks Casino. It’s as classic as it gets, with table side Caesar salad, garlicky escargot, sides like creamed spinach and asparagus with béarnaise and whatever slab of meat you crave. Throw in a dirty martini and a big ol’ slice of cheesecake, and all will feel right in the world.
Indulge in that speakeasy vibe at Death and Taxes. This cocktail bar specializes in classic cocktails (I’ll take an old fashioned, please!), inventive creations that include ingredients you’ve never heard of (The Black Gates pairs gunpowder bourbon, Islay mist scotch, lemon and cardamom with Drambuie 15… don’t know what it is, so I better try one!) and a lengthy list of craft gin and tonics. If you’re hungry, head next door to Midtown Eats for a burger, brussels sprouts and fries.
Looking for a side of history with your libation? Take a road trip to Genoa. This settlement houses the oldest bar in the entire state of Nevada, the Genoa Bar and Saloon. Built in 1853, the bar has changed many hands but has operated continuously. It feels straight out of an old western, and in fact, a few have filmed here—including the John Wayne flick, “The Shootist.” Other patrons have included Teddy Roosevelt, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard and Raquel Welch.
Courtesy of National Automobile Museum (The Harrah Collection)

Honorable Mention

Gear heads can make a day of exploring the National Automobile Museum (The Harrah Collection). Dubbed one of “America’s Five Greatest Automobile Museums,” this collection showcases more than 200 vintage cars. Check out vintage, classic, rare and one-of-a-kind cars, plus their celebrity collection featuring cars owned by Elvis, JFK and Frank Sinatra. Most of the collection comes from the late Bill Harrah, whose name you may recognize from his other passion—making the big bucks from gaming.

About AAA and Samantha Brown

New places, different perspectives and heartwarming people around the world sharing their day...what’s not to love? That’s why AAA Travel is sponsoring Season 2 of “Samantha Brown’s Places to Love”—offering you added insight that brings our trusted travel information to life.