Reno has long been known as "little Las Vegas" and visitors tend to imagine the city filled with casinos and gaming options. What people are surprised to see is that this city of around 233,000 people is set in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains famous for skiing, hiking, camping and fishing. In fact, more people visit "The Biggest Little City" every year for its clean air, outdoor sports and quality of life. Reno is also fast becoming known for its local art scene, craft breweries and distilleries, locally sourced food and famous annual events like Burning Man.
Must see in Reno
Visitors to Reno should still go downtown to see the casinos, but the downtown area is also home to the Truckee River, the Truckee River Whitewater Park, the National Automobile Museum and the Nevada Museum of Art. The MidTown district has been featured in The New York Times for its bars and restaurants.
Where to stay in Reno
Downtown Reno is still one of the most convenient places to stay in the area if you want to walk around downtown. The casinos offer inexpensive and luxurious rooms. The non-gaming hotel Whitney Peak has stylish rooms with recycled furniture and an indoor climbing wall. Various homes in the area are available on sites like Airbnb. Families may like the Grand Sierra Resort with its pools, go-kart park and bowling alley.
Best and worst time go to Reno
The best time to visit Reno is from late spring to early fall. The high altitude weather is pleasant and cools off at night. During the month of July, the annual Artown festival features artists, art and wine walks and musical events. The worst time to visit is during the winter, Reno can get cold and windy. However, this is a great time to visit Lake Tahoe for some skiing.
Where to get lost in Reno
There are some great hiking trails around Reno including Hunter Creek and the Bartley Ranch/Windy Hill area. Both offer high desert and forest hiking as well as views of the entire city.
The best deal in Reno
The Nevada Museum of Art has free entry every second Saturday. Also, every third Saturday is the Reno Wine Walk. For $20 you can enjoy wine tastings at dozens of Reno businesses and see a bit of the city at the same time.
Transportation in Reno
If visitors are staying downtown, Reno has a convenient bus system that goes all over town. Visitors can also rent bikes and ride along the river path. It is more convenient to rent a car if you are visiting nearby areas like Lake Tahoe and Virginia City. Summer weather is excellent for motorcycles.
Getting In from Reno-Tahoe International Airport
The Reno-Tahoe International Airport is located right in the middle of town and any bus or cab company will take you into downtown in about 15 minutes.
Local tip for visitors to Reno
The Awful Awful burger at the Golden Nugget in downtown Reno has been featured on various TV shows including Travel Channel's Food Wars. This 60-year old tradition might be one of the biggest and best burgers you will ever have. The Golden Nugget diner is a dive, but the burger is heaven.
Author's bio: Christina Nellemann has been living and writing in the Reno area for over 30 years and tries to consume an Awful Awful burger at least a couple times a year.