Reno, Nevada, known for its casinos, gambling, and nightlife, is taking on a new role. “The Biggest Little City in the World” is attracting younger generations and families who are looking for fun outdoor adventures – many of which can be found within the city limits and in nearby Lake Tahoe. Ditch the slot machines for kayaking through downtown Reno on the Truckee River, rock climbing up the side of a building, horseback riding in the Tahoe National Forest, or hiking to the University of Nevada’s “N” on the Miners Trail. Situated among the Sierra Nevada mountain range and sprawling desert landscapes, Reno is a dynamic, four-season resort destination.

Reno not only makes a great base camp for experiencing the outdoors, but also for exploring street art, tasting craft beers, and relaxing at a spa. The rise of tech giants, like Tesla, Google, and Blockchains, moving in has ushered in new energy, spurring the growth of its unique arts, culture, and culinary scenes.

Outdoor Activities

Adventure seekers can satiate their need for outdoor exploration downtown, in the desert, or downslope. Beginning with downtown’s Riverwalk District, where the Truckee River winds its way from Lake Tahoe, visitors can enjoy a multitude of outdoor activities like fishing, kayaking, and rafting. I tried kayaking in a single-person kayak for the first time and it was an exhilarating experience that combined views of nature and downtown skyscrapers.

Just 30 minutes southwest lies Lake Tahoe – the largest alpine lake in the U.S. Surrounded by acres of breathtaking Sierra Nevada wilderness, North Lake Tahoe is a spectacular outdoor destination primed for hiking, biking, and getting out on the water for boating and stand-up paddleboarding. I love riding the bike path that borders the Truckee River. It is scenic and serene, and one time I actually saw a bear swimming across the river.

From Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe and Diamond Peak, located just 30 minutes outside of the city, to Palisades Tahoe and Northstar, the Tahoe region boasts the highest concentration of world-class ski resorts in North America. Or, head north of Reno to Pyramid Lake, one of the top destinations for fishing.

If you’d rather climb, head to the Whitney Peak Hotel, which is home to Basecamp – a 7,000-square-foot climbing gym with indoor bouldering, a steam room and sauna, a fitness center, and the Guinness Book of World Records “tallest artificial climbing wall,” on the outside of the hotel, that measures 169 feet. It’s a doozy. I was only able to get a few feet high before my arms gave out.

Arts and Culture

Reno is the gateway to Burning Man, driving the region’s booming arts and culture scene. The Nevada Museum of Art, the only accredited art museum in the state of Nevada, has curated some of the country’s most talked about exhibits, including Seven Magic Mountains, an art installation of colorful boulder totems, set in the Nevada desert, outside of Las Vegas. The museum, in downtown Reno, has colorful, creative, and inspiring exhibits, including Rachel Hayes’, “Someday When We’re Dreaming.”

Reno’s art movement has also hit the streets, with a vibrant collective of over 100+ murals and art installations throughout the city, recognized among the largest concentration in the country. Explore Reno’s impressive street art and sculptures, from the nearby Burning Man festival, with a guided tour from Art Spot. Tour and learn about The Generator, a creative community with resources for local artists to build the projects of their dreams. Reno also strives to preserve and celebrate the Native American, Basque, and Western cultures influenced throughout the destination.

Food and Spirits

Reno celebrates food and spirits, offering a unique dining scene with a range of locally-owned establishments, from highly regarded restaurants like Atlantis Steakhouse at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa and La Strada at the Eldorado Resort Casino (the best homemade pasts), to casual farm-to-table spots like Old Granite Street Eatery and Liberty Food & Wine Exchange.

Get drinks and play yard games at the outdoor beer garden, The Eddy. The destination is home to a booming craft brew industry, including Great Basin Brewing Co., the oldest brewery in Nevada, and The Depot, the state’s first combined brewery and distillery, which is housed in a historic railway headquarters. Reno’s craft cocktail scene is also on the rise, with old faithfuls, like Death & Taxes, creating custom liqueurs for their bespoke drink menu in a swanky vibe (great non-alcoholic cocktails too), and new favorites, like Rum Sugar Lime, where bartenders create original concoctions on the spot.

The area’s passion for food is obvious from its festival schedule, with monthly pub crawls and wine walks through the Reno Riverwalk District, “Food Truck Fridays,” the popular “Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off,” and Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival, the area’s most prestigious food, wine, spirit, and brew festival. Or taste delicious delicacies throughout the destination’s top dining establishments with a tour from Reno Food Walks. 

Elevated Wellness

Many hotels and resorts in Reno have spa facilities that offer relaxing treatments – perfect after a day of outdoor adventure. The Silver Legacy Resort Casino, part of the three-property mega-resort THE ROW, features a 21,000-square-foot spa with a pink Himalayan salt room. The Grand Sierra Resort has a full-service spa and salon that offers treatments such as the Sports Massage, the Deep Tissue Massage, or The Grand Moroccan Oil Scalp Massage.

At the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa & Casino’s Stillwater Spa, guests can experience wellness through the power of nature, utilizing the detoxifying properties of Lake Tahoe’s natural resources, while enjoying an atmosphere of luxurious mountain elegance. The Refuge Spa at the Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel & Spa features the Rise Bar with hand-crafted cocktails and health elixirs and the Float Pod isolation experience.

The vintage motel turned design hotel Kramer’s Midtown offers partnerships with Sports West Athletic Club that is home to Spa of the West and The Studio Reno with spiritual healing and massage.

The Atlantis Casino Resort Spa has amenities that include an Experiential Shower, Brine Inhalation-Light Therapy Lounge, Laconium Relaxation Lounge, Rasul Ceremonial Chambers, Hammam Experience, and Weightless Flotation Soft-Pack-System®. The three-story, 33,000-square-foot Spa Toscana at Peppermill Resort Casino has hot and cold plunge pools, cascading deluge showers, eucalyptus steam and cedar wood saunas, SoSound acoustic resonance therapy, and Himalayan Retreat features soothing salt wall.

If you’re looking for a getaway that combines scenic outdoor adventure, wellness opportunities, gastronomic experiences, and various forms of art (as well as gambling), Reno should be at the top of your list.