Northern Nevada is undergoing major changes to keep up with the steady growth of both the population and new business coming into the Truckee Meadows. Once known only for the bawdy lifestyle of gambling, “quickie” divorces and instant marriages, the area is emerging as a well-known cultural center, as well as host to some of the “hottest” special events in the United States.
The Virginia Street corridor is the center of activity for not only gambling, but special events as well. The bright lights of the casinos and the famous
The boisterous casinos have been the main attraction along the Truckee River for decades. The
“Reno-vation” is taking place in the downtown area to make more open and attractive spaces for visitors and Renoites to enjoy. The
Some major hotel/casinos outside of the Virginia Street hub include the
Although it looks like its part of Reno, this is a separate, thriving city. Founded in 1904, it served as maintenance facilities for the Central Pacific Railroad. Named for then-governor John Sparks, the city has come a long way in establishing itself as not only a great place to visit but to live. The
The hub of activity is centered in Victorian Square at Interstate 80 and Victorian Avenue.
One look and you'll know why it is called the Jewel of the Sierras. The areas surrounding the largest alpine lake in the country offer year-round recreation and beauty. The
During the summer months, the
The ski resorts in the Sierra Nevada mountains are unmatched anywhere.
Reno runs the proverbial gamut when it comes to dining options. The "Biggest Little City" is one of diversity and choice; no matter what a diner's preference, it can be easily found. Couple all this with prices that are generally below those of comparable restaurants elsewhere and it is easy to see how Reno can quickly spoil diners. The low cost is due in part to the casinos and that well-known staple, the all-you-can-eat buffet. But today's savvy diners demand more than family friendly, easy on the pocketbook buffets that the casinos have long been noted for. In keeping with this trend, elegantly appointed rooms, first-class service, menus that pique the imagination, and substantial wine lists are being presented to patrons as the casinos scramble to stay on the cutting edge of dining excitement.
Downtown Reno has a lot of options for dining, usually with the best restaurants inside the hotels and casinos. At the White Orchid in the Peppermill Hotel Casino, wine connoisseurs have the opportunity to enjoy exquisite dining and wines in an elegant and romantic setting. Andreotti is a popular Italian restaurant located at Harrah's Reno. Carvings Buffet is also located inside Harrah's and provides a wide variety of food for the buffet. The Eldorado Hotel Casino has the acclaimed El Dorado giving diners an unsurpassed dining experience. The restaurant has received several prestigious awards including the DiRona Award for Excellence in fine dining and Best Gourmet Restaurant from Casino Player magazine. The award-winning wine list consists of 700 wines, and there are 102 different martinis offered.
At the Rapscallion, diners will discover a complete selection of seafood, pasta, and steak, all served up in a trendy West Coast atmosphere. Japanese cuisine is artistically prepared at the diners' table in Benihana Restaurant. Spiros Sports Bar & Grill is a sports and karaoke bar that serves American and Greek food.
The restaurants in the greater Reno area have a wide variety of dining. If you want elegant dining head to Tannenbaum Event Center on the Mt. Rose Highway and enjoy a spectacular view of the forest below. If you are in the mood for seafood Famous Murphy's Restaurant Grill and Oyster Bar features a selection of surf, turf, and pasta dishes. Bavarian World offers German-style family dining within quaint alpine-like settings. Texas Long Horn Bar & Grill serves up lip smacking barbecue ribs in a down home country atmosphere.
Viaggio is a fine Italian restaurant that features authentic Northern Italian cuisine and an extensive wine list. For the Italian food lovers who are watching their waistline, Zozo's is a neighborhood restaurant that serves low-fat Italian. Another neighborhood Italian restaurant that offers fresh pasta and sauces is the Skyline Cafe and offers diners delectable Italian food and a view of the city lights.
Anyone with a craving for south of the border cuisine is in luck in Reno. Authentic Mexican restaurants are commonplace. Within walking distance of downtown, Bertha Miranda's Mexican Restaurant offers its patrons authentic meals and entertainment. Los Compadres is located on historic Fourth Street, which was part of the old Lincoln Highway. They dish up some tasty fare with just a hint of fire. Fresh Tex-Mex style cuisine can be enjoyed at On The Border Mexican Cafe and Buenos Grill.
The steak, prime rib and fish crowd will discover several restaurants in the Sparks area to their liking. John Ascuaga's Steakhouse Grill in Sparks serves broiled steaks, prime rib and fresh seafood. The Nugget also offers diners Polynesian style dining with a South Sea atmosphere in its Trader Dick's Restaurant and Aquarium Bar restaurant. A 6,000-gallon aquarium filled with colorful and exotic tropical fish is the only entertainment necessary. True lovers of barbecue ribs cannot miss the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off held in Sparks every September.
Lake Tahoe Llewellyn's offers diners impeccable service, a fine wine list, exotic dishes and a breathtaking view of Lake Tahoe. One of the oldest restaurants in the area is Pfeifer House in Tahoe City. It offers the patron an extensive menu of freshly prepared dishes.
In 1844, John C. Fremont led a mapping expedition with the help of a Paiute chief who escorted the party through the wilderness of the Pyramid Lake region to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Two years later, in 1846, the ill fated Donner Memorial State Park party would rest on the banks of the cool Truckee before trying to cross the rugged mountains on their way to California. However, their disastrous journey did not discourage those who followed during the gold rush.
Soon the Truckee Meadows became the meeting point of the emigrant trail going east to west and the north-south passage. Ruts made by the wheels still remain as testament to the long, hard journey. During this time, entrepreneur Charles Fuller decided he could make money by building a toll bridge across the Truckee to accommodate the travelers going west. In a log shelter close to the crossing, weary travelers and prospectors could rest and compare travel tales. Card games where a favorite way to entertain themselves, usually for money.
In 1861, after having to rebuild the bridge several times because of floods, Fuller sold his business to Myron Lake, whose vision for the future was the start of a thriving community. His dream of connecting east with west by railroad would become reality. In March of 1868, the first train rolled into Lake's Crossing. Teamed with a gentleman by the name of Charles Crocker, Lake was able to exact a promise from the Central Pacific Railroad to build a depot on his property. Land in the community was divided into lots and auctioned to builders.
With more pioneers deciding to remain in the beautiful, thriving area, and spurred by the newfound wealth from gold and silver, gambling and other vices became the "hot button" issues of the day. In 1908 the Reno Anti-Gambling League was formed and they succeeded in their mission to outlaw gaming. It was not long until laws eased to allow very restricted, "civilized" games. Furtive, high-stakes gambling never stopped even with the ban on wagering. It was not long until the likes of Baby Face Nelson, John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd found the hidden gambling clubs to be useful in money laundering. Prostitution and bootleg liquor became big business under the guidance of these criminal masterminds.
With the decline of the gold and silver boom and the start of the Great Depression, a campaign was started by Mayor E. E. Roberts to ease the laws against alcohol, gambling and divorce. He rationalized that previous prohibitions did not work and revenues could be gained from licensing and taxing these establishments. A law legalizing gambling was signed in 1931.
Putting an end to matrimonial woes became big business in Reno during the 1930s. With only a six-week waiting period finally established, thousands of couples received a "quickie" divorce. The rich and famous had found the ideal place to gain their freedom. Elegant hotels and dude ranches sprang from the green meadows to accommodate the influx of those casting off the shackles of marriage. Soon the Truckee River Walk was flowing with diamond rings thrown in by happy divorcees. During World War II, weddings became the business of choice. Judges and clergy worked overtime to wed throngs of couples hoping for wedded bliss. In 1945 alone, more than eighteen thousand couples tied the knot. The first commercial wedding chapel was established in 1956 next to the Washoe County Courthouse. "In and Out" marriages became big business along the Truckee.
Bill Harrah and Harold Smith were among the first to realize the amazing potential in gaming establishments. Reno had the wealthy visitors and they might as well spend their money in the casinos. Starting modestly, the two soon built their individual establishments into the most popular places in town. Slot machines, crap tables and twenty-one games soon relieved many visitors of their money.
To this day, Reno is still growing. Hotels and casinos have been erected outside the "red-line" district of downtown. And downtown is restoring itself in new ways reflecting the diversity of the city. Unfortunately, many of the famous old landmarks have met their fate via wrecking ball and implosion. The Reno Arch still proclaims the town as "The Biggest Little City In The World" and will probably remain forever. The town has become a center for Artown and Lake Tahoe. Special events bring in as many visitors as the casinos. Gaming is here to stay, but Reno has so much more to offer. Respectability has come to the banks of the Truckee.
Considered a small town by most visitors, “The Biggest Little City” is full of surprises. The Truckee Meadows offers year-round entertainment, sports activities and special events. The town is undergoing Reno-vation and it shows; the downtown area has revitalized itself with major changes along Virginia Street and the Truckee River Walk. Business people will have every amenity necessary to make their stay pleasurable, while family vacationers will find activities for each member to enjoy. Accommodations are available to suit everyone at very reasonable rates compared to most vacation spots.
Downtown Reno is known for hotels that are combined with casinos. You can enjoy the conveniences of the hotel then go to the casino without ever leaving the building. Eldorado Hotel Casino is a luxurious hotel with a casino, ten restaurants and a nightclub. Eldorado also boasts comfortable rooms and great service. Most of the larger casinos such as Harrah's Reno have showrooms and entertainment, along with large hotel rooms. Another obvious choice might be Circus Circus Hotel Casino. Adults will love the hotel's casino and reasonable prices and children will love the daily free circus shows. Club Cal-Neva Hotel Casino also has moderate hotel room rates and a great sports book. If you're looking for a large meeting space the Silver Legacy Resort Casino offers 150,000 square feet of convention space and has excellent catering and convention services.
If you stay in the greater Reno, you'll be a short ride away from the downtown attractions while avoiding the larger crowds. The Grand Sierra Resort & Casino offers a large arcade and a bowling alley for both children and adults to enjoy. The Sands Regency has excellent choices for nightly shows and fine dining. If you want to stay near the Reno/Sparks Convention Center, the Atlantis Casino Resort & Spa is located directly across from it to make your commute a breeze. The marvelous Peppermill Hotel Casino is in the same vicinity with some of the best rooms in town. If you are a big spender in the casino or have an extra $5,000, you might want to spend a night in the Safari Suite.
Sparks is close to Reno and you can find some great hotel deals. Windsor Inn is close to Victorian Square, a central point in the city. Silver Club Hotel Casino is a beautiful hotel with Victorian decor. Most of the major casinos have huge convention areas including John Ascuaga's Nugget in Sparks with more than 100,000 square feet of meeting facilities, not to mention the fine casino and restaurants.
If you have the time, spend a relaxing and serene visit to nearby Lake Tahoe. The Sierra Nevada Mountains encompass this breathtaking crystal clear blue lake and you will find a multitude of choices for your lodging pleasure. Skiing is the big winter sport here, and most hotels offer ski packages that give you a ride to the slopes, an all day ski lift pass, a room to stay in and usually a free breakfast or dinner. The Tahoe Biltmore Lodge Casino and Harvey's Tahoe would both be good choices and offer such packages. The Fantasy Inn & Wedding Chapel is a great pick if you are coming up for your honeymoon or just a romantic get-away. The ideal place for combining a business trip with outdoor activities is Granlibakken Resort & Conference Center. If you like to walk along the beach or just soak up the sun, the Haus Bavaria is within walking distance of the lake. Consider a stay at the south shore where the majority of the casinos such as MontBleu Casino Resort & Spa and Harrah's Lake Tahoe are located.