I will admit to having a perceived notion about Reno. “Oh, it’s just like Las Vegas, just on a smaller scale”, I would say to myself. This was the primary reason for my excitement in visiting this city (and surrounding areas) for the first time. I wanted to see if the hearsay had any merit and there is no better way than to see it for yourself. Tahoe, on the other hand, has been on my bucket list for many years as a winter destination, but I had not thought of it as an option for a summer vacay. My excitement was now doubled. For my extended weekend, my plans were to start in Reno, travel southbound towards Virginia City, stop in Carson City, spend some time in Lake Tahoe, and make my way back to Reno by way of Gardnerville. Whew!

What initially began as a slow progression towards reviving the city of Reno, has now become a full blown movement to revamp the “Biggest Little City in the World”. Take the accommodations as an example, where Reno offers a blend of hotels that range from those that have been around for a while like Harrah’s, to larger more upscale lodging like the Silver Legacy, to new age accommodations at Whitney Peak Hotel, that just opened its doors this past May and is the home to BaseCamp, the world’s tallest exterior climbing wall.

Although Reno holds on strong to their history, which is clearly seen across many of Nevada’s territories including Virginia City, Genoa and Lake Tahoe, they have found a way to balance that with new found activities in those same areas. Take Virginia City for example with the International Camel & Ostrich Races which is a fun event to attend at least once in your life. Reno is also known for their festivals like the Great Reno Balloon Race Super Glow Show & Mass Ascension which will completely blow your mind. Starting in the wee hours of the morning, this event was worth the early rise.

Tahoe has always been a popular destination but the volume of visitors seems to decrease in the summer months. Yes, you will have the time of your life during the winter floating down the mountains on skis and snowmobiles, but the summer can be just as exciting. The area is so breathtaking one could find a cozy spot near the water and partake in a little one on one or “me” time. Tahoe is limitless and is only “limited” by how much time you have available.

Here are a few recommendations for places that I enjoyed during my “tour”:

Gold Hill Hotel – Located just outside of Virginia City, Gold Hill is the oldest hotel in Nevada. It is said to be haunted so if you choose not to stay overnight you can always drop by to enjoy a few drinks at a great dinner.

JT Basque Bar & Dining Room – Traditional Basque (Spanish or French) restaurants can be found all over Nevada. Served family style, the menu will most likely start and end with Picon Punch and the meal will mostly likely include lamb, garlic, garlic and mountain of French fries!

National Automobile Museum – I never knew I was a lover of cars until I stepped foot into the National Automobile Museum. If I had only been able to visit this place, I would have left Reno a happy camper. Also known as “The Harrah Collection”, there are over 200 vehicles on display with standing and changing exhibits.

Campo – Your visit to Reno would not be complete without a little “Campo” in your life. This is a true farm to table restaurant that highlights locally sourced ingredients from farms across the region. The handmade pasta will change your life.

In my visit of five days I still did not see everything I wanted to see and definitely did not get to do everything I wanted to do. Well, that just means one thing…I have to go back! I am personally looking forward to “redefining” my view of these towns and can’t wait to see what’s next.

Trip hosted by the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs.

Shanna Jones

Shanna is the co-founder and editor of Urban Swank. She focuses on food and travel.


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