Just 30 miles inland from Lake Tahoe’s North Shore, you’ll find a booming urban oasis in this eastern Sierra town.
Like an indomitable cat, Reno—30 miles from the lake, though the drive can be long—has had many lives. It’s been an immigrant trail stopover, a casino gaming center, a gritty movie location, a quickie divorce capital, a Sierra Nevada gateway, and a good place for a drive-through wedding. A recent population boom (up 25 percent, to 225,200, since 2000) has spurred another reinvention, with new spas, galleries, concert venues, cafés, nightclubs, and the Reno Aces ballpark, all sealing Reno’s reputation as a quirky destination with distinct energy. Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority: 4001 S. Virginia St., Ste. G, (800) 367-7366, visitrenotahoe.com .
Area code is 775 except as noted.
To Do and see
At the National Automobile Museum (The Harrah Collection), more than 200 vehicles collected primarily by gaming pioneer William Harrah take you through a chrome-and-rubber history. 10 S. Lake St., 333-9300, automuseum.org . The Nevada Museum of Art mounts creative shows interpreting Western themes, from landscape photographs to provocative videos to large-scale sculptures. 160 W. Liberty St., 329-3333, nevadaart.org . In 2003 Reno built the $1.5 million Truckee River Whitewater Park at Wingfield, and tubers, kayakers, and stand-up paddlers have been plying its 11 drop pools ever since. The park is free year-round. visitrenotahoe.com/reno-tahoe/what-to-do/water-adventures/kayak-park . Every third Saturday, the Riverwalk District in downtown Reno hosts Wine Walk. Stroll a path along the Truckee River and nearby streets to more than 30 shops, galleries, bars, and restaurants offering wares, bites, and, of course, sips. 825-9255, renoriver.org/wine.html .
Reno entrepreneurs opened more than two dozen restaurants in 2010. Krumblz Deli Bakery pairs sophisticated lunches with European pastries baked daily. 80 Giroux St., Ste. 102, 284-0700, krumblzdelibakery.com . Old World culture reigns at Louis’ Basque Corner, where meat-centric family-style meals include such traditional fare as sweetbreads and tripe. 301 E. Fourth St., 323-7203, louisbasquecorner.com . At Peg’s Glorified Ham n Eggs, huevos ranchero and tamale & eggs arrive in sizzling skillets piled with black bean–corn salsa, pinto beans, cabbage slaw, and hash browns. 420 S. Sierra St. and other locations, 329-2600, pegsglorifiedhamneggs.com .
To find a place to stay, visit AAA.com/hotels . Swanky renovations put Reno’s casino hotels among the best anywhere for value. Newly designed rooms at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa feature marble accents and floor-to-ceiling view windows. Award-winning restaurants serve worldwide cuisine. 3800 S. Virginia St., (800) 723-6500, atlantiscasino.com . Bordering the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, Hyatt Place Reno-Tahoe Airport offers state-of-the art media and work centers and sleek, contemporary rooms. 1790 E. Plumb Ln., 826-2500, renotahoeairport.place.hyatt.com . A $450 million expansion at the Four Diamond Peppermill Resort Spa Casino features extravaganza rooms—from 550 to 2,200 square feet—filled with mahogany and marble. Nightlife rocks in 16 bars and showrooms. 2707 S. Virginia St., (800) 648-6992, peppermillreno.com .
Check out the rest of our Lake Tahoe Area  package:
Carson City : History tours and a lively restaurant scene
Incline Village and Crystal Bay : Twain meets Sinatra
South Lake Tahoe : Mountain recreation and lake access
Tahoe City : Squaw Valley skiing and the Truckee River
Truckee : Handsome historic buildings and tasty eats
Photography courtesy National Automobile Museum (The Harrah Collection)
This article was first published in January 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.