The dazzling lights of flashy Las Vegas have outshined their northwestern neighbor – "The Biggest Little City" – for several decades. But Reno is resurging, offering its visitors a broader spectrum of entertainment than it did in the past, especially for nongambling travelers. Now, there's a lively arts scene lining the downtown area's Riverwalk, which boasts dozens of independently owned galleries, boutiques, restaurants and more. There's even an eco-friendly boutique hotel (one of the only nongambling, nonsmoking properties in downtown Reno) that boasts the world's tallest artificial climbing wall. The city is also reclaiming its title as the "Gateway to Nevada Adventure." With the ski resorts of Lake Tahoe about an hour's drive to the south and the hiking trails of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the west and south, active travelers will find no shortage of heart-pumping activities.
But despite a citywide revitalization that's attracting tech startups and big data companies (take a stroll along Startup Row – on First Street between Virginia Street and Washington Street – to see what we mean), Reno remains first and foremost a gambler's hangout. It can't compare to its glamorous sibling (Sin City), but Reno does offer a bevy of slot machines and table games, all-you-can-eat buffets, cabaret shows and more for those who come to test Lady Luck.
The best times to visit Reno are April to May and October to November. That's when you'll find pleasant weather and few crowds. But there's a reason why so many travelers head to Reno during the summer and winter: The city's proximity to the lake, beaches and ski slopes of Lake Tahoe make it an ideal place to explore the outdoors. No matter what season you decide to go, consider visiting during the week. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year, hotels raise their prices and fill to the brim with weekend gamblers and visitors from Lake Tahoe.
Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center
Much like Vegas, Reno boasts plenty of all-you-can-eat buffets and upscale steakhouses, but it also offers some unique local eateries serving farm-fresh dishes. If you're craving a nice steak dinner, head to Sterling's Seafood & Steakhouse inside the Silver Legacy Hotel & Casino. It's one of the city's top-rated restaurants, along with the Atlantis Steakhouse at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa.
When you need a break from casino dining, locals and visitors suggest trying Campo, an Italian eatery best known for its wood-fired pizzas and tasty pasta dishes. Or, if you're in search of some healthy, light fare after too many steaks and buffets, head to Great Full Gardens. If its name didn't give it away, Great Full Gardens features a menu of healthy dishes, many that are gluten-free or vegan. Plus, many of the ingredients come from local farms, as well as the restaurant's own greenhouse. If you're looking for more seasonal, locally sourced fare, consider 4th St. Bistro, which receives praise for its extensive wine list.
Another foodie area to consider exploring is the Midtown District. Thanks to the work of small business owners, this neighborhood just across the Truckee River from downtown Reno underwent a revitalization that welcomed in new restaurants (try Old Granite Street Eatery), a microbrewery (Brasserie Saint James) and a sophisticated speakeasy (Death and Taxes), among other lounges, eateries and coffee shops.
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