Let’s reel our travels back into the good old USA and chat about one amazing destination that houses several distinct regions filled with history, outdoor activities, gambling and so much more – the Reno / Lake Tahoe area.
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Jamie Lokan the Tourism Sales Manager from Reno Tahoe in one of my Travel Tuesday video segments. Jamie brought with her a love and passion for this area that was infectious – so infectious that I by the end I was seriously contemplating hopping in the car and doing a road trip there myself!
Getting There: The beautiful thing about Reno is that it’s super easy to get to thanks to all of the airlines that service the area with direct flights – including for my peeps in both Texas and New York City! You can also make it a road trip from anywhere in the US and I would love to help you plan things to see and do along the way. Or we can always make it a multi-destination vacation and include California – as San Francisco and Napa Valley are only about a three and a half to four-hour drive and its only five hours to Yosemite National Park. Bonus –
Jamie said the drive to Yosemite is probably one of the most beautiful drives you can experience as it’s on a scenic highway that takes you right up through Nevada. You may also consider adding Salt Lake City as a stop as it is just seven and a half hours away on the wide-open Highway 80. And if you aren’t into road tripping – how about the train? The Zephyr Line goes from Chicago all the way out to San Francisco with stops in Salt Lake City and Reno. So, in reality the options are plentiful as you can make it a fly, drive, rail or just a fly and drive or simply all rail! You decide.
Accommodations: With over 15,000 rooms just in Reno – that’s not including Tahoe – there are plenty of properties to choose from – everything from the well-known brands in both arears to four diamond and four-star casino hotels in Reno. Most hotels feature multiple restaurants at multiple price points with the major resorts also having spas, pools, health clubs and shopping – as well as complimentary round-trip airport shuttles and free self and valet parking.
Destinations: There are a couple of different regions that make up the Reno / Tahoe destination – each with its own distinct flavor.
- Downtown Reno and Riverwalk District: Here you are going to find a little bit of everything – including most of the casino resorts, shops and boutiques, art galleries and restaurants and bars along Truckee River. Unlike Vegas the strip here is only five blocks which makes it easily walkable and you can get from the casino area down to the river rather quickly.
- Sightseeing and Activities: And speaking of the Truckee River – that’s the river that goes right through the downtown region which comes from Tahoe and is incredibly clean and beautiful – so be sure to grab a tube and take a ride on it. Not feeling that adventurous? We can also book you a guided river tour via tube if you would like some knowledgeable company.
And if you prefer to stay on dry land – about a mile and half from the river you will find a really nice bike path that goes for about ten miles – which of course not everyone is going to do. But you can easily peddle up to the Hub Coffee Roasters shop for a cup of java and while you are there check out one of Jamie’s favorites – Dorinda’s Chocolate – which by the way is all homemade and features homemade ice cream sandwiches too. Yum! I’m in!
There are some great museums to be found in Reno too – including the Automobile Museum which boasts over 215 cars – none older than 1970. For my bowlers – Reno is home to the National Bowling Stadium and you probably already know this if you are a fan of the sport – but they also host a couple of really large tournaments every year.
Do I have any rock climbers out there? Well even if you aren’t you can still try out the rock-climbing wall outside of Whitney Peak which is a non-gaming, nonsmoking hotel. The wall is 150 feet high above the street and features panoramic views of Reno and in the surrounding area. So cool!
- Gastronomy: Home to over 1200 restaurants that you can easily eat alfresco here making that oh so important social distancing easily achievable. Plus, most of the restaurants are locally owned so you are the getting true, authentic flavors of the region.
- Midtown District: Here you are going to find craft breweries, locally sourced restaurants, museums, nightlife, locally owned boutique shops and tattoo parlors.
- Sightseeing and Activities: For you guys who love craft breweries and having a great nightlife scene you’ll find it all here! Jamie shared that during the recession this area really grew. Once an older section of town, local restauranteurs, brewery masters and distillery owners started opening up bars and restaurants here and it really took off. It’s become the new place to go and is super fun. There is only one casino here – housed in an Irish dive bar – come on – who doesn’t love an Irish pub?? For my shoppers – all of the shops are boutique style, so you are sure to find some unique treasures. Reno has also become a hot spot for art so you will come across different murals that have popped up both here and downtown – thanks to Burning Man. And again – you can do this on your own or I can hook you up with a guided tour of the fabulous art pieces.
- Lake Tahoe Region: The entire Reno / Tahoe region is about an hour and a half. Lake Tahoe itself is 72 miles around, 23 miles long and 12 miles from side to side – with half of the lake residing in Nevada and the other half in California. Included in this area is Virginia City, Carson City and Lake Tahoe.
- Sightseeing and Activities: So Jamie let us in on a little western history. Just 35 minutes from Reno you will find Virginia City – which is a cool, fun town to visit. If you ever watched Ponderosa as a kid this is the Virginia City that they would go to. In reality it wasn’t a farmer’s town though – it was a mining town. At one point in time there were 20,000 people that lived in this community that still features its original wooden boardwalks. And it was an extremely wealthy city as one mine here put out 64 million dollars in silver and gold – which would be billions of dollars today. Miners here were paid double or triple what other miners were getting paid in different cities so needless to say people really wanted to move here and work. The city was so financially well off that at one point in time there was a Tiffany store in Virginia City. This was due to the fact that the miner’s wives were impatient and didn’t want to wait for their Tiffany lamps and their Tiffany jewelry to show up – so Tiffany opened a store there.
One must see here is the Bucket of Blood Saloon which is very famous in the region and was so named thanks to all the fighting between the miners – every night when they cleaned up – or mopped up – it would be bloody water. Yuck!
There are quite a few different tours you can take here – including several train tours – there are 600 miles of train routes – that range from 25 minutes to an hour and a half. Jamie shared that one of her favorite things to do is the tour via a tram car pulled by a tractor. At just six dollars it takes you around town and gives you the history of all of the different buildings. It runs about 20 minutes and is very interesting as well as educational. There are also mine tours you can take and plenty of museums to see including The Way it Was Museum – which is also one of Jamie’s favorites. Here you can see what the mines were like above and below and how they crossed each other in different levels.
Hot air balloon rides are another great thing to do here. Most of them go out of Tahoe verses down in the valley. They also offer them in Carson City – from the airport – which happens to be the state capital and about 30 minutes from Reno. Carson City has some great museums too – including the Nevada State Railroad Museum and the Nevada State Museum.
The Truckee River also has some rapids so for my adventures there is the Truckee River Whitewater Park. And for my golfers you will find over 40 golf courses in the 90-minute drive around the area. And come winter there is even more to do! It’s home to the largest concentration of ski resorts in North America – including Heavenly Resort and Squaw Valley Ski Resort and there’s cross country skiing at Royal Gorge. Fun Fact: Something that’s fun to do – which not a lot of places can brag about – but that California and Nevada can – in the springtime you can ski and golf. And Jamie said she has done it – skied in the morning then golfed in the afternoon.
And of course – at the lake itself – there are many different types of water activities to partake in. There are many different paddle boat cruises to choose from – both during the day and in the evening – with dinner cruises as well – it just depends on how long you want to go for. The MS Dixie on the Nevada side has some that travel through Emerald Bay which is one of the most iconic photo areas in the Tahoe. Parasailing is also available – as is taking a guided fishing trip. Another fun thing in Lake Tahoe is viewing all of the Old Woody’s – or old wooden boats – even though you can’t rent them as they’re privately owned – but they are beautiful to see. But you can rent a powerboat for the day and when you get hungry – or thirsty – just pull up to a restaurant – they all have docks – and order it to go or dine outside! And the clarity of the water is absolutely amazing – it really is Caribbean like – though not quite as warm since it is snow fed! At it’s deepest it is about 1600 feet deep.
A visit to the Thunderbird Lodge is also amazing as they do really interesting tours that tell you how Lake Tahoe was settled. You can do this via foot, or you can do a kayak tour that will take you there to visit as well. They also do guided hiking and guided biking tours and there is plenty of mountain biking and road cycling as well as snowmobiling in the winter.
Updated COVID-19 Information: As of this writing the state of Nevada has strong systems in place to help protect Nevadans and visitors but continue to urge all those who have tested positive and not yet recovered or who are exhibiting symptoms to avoid travel to the state at this time.
So, wow – this is one destination that my active vacationers and my nature lovers need to get on their bucket list asap! And one of the best things about Lake Tahoe that Jamie mentioned – near the end of our chat – is how well it’s been preserved thanks to an abundance of rules and regulations. For instance – when it comes to building at the lake – to keep it clean you aren’t allowed to build in April because the spring runoff is happening, and they don’t want all of that dirt to go into the lake. Now – let’s get you booked to see this crystal-clear water for yourself!
For more details on things to see and do in Reno / Tahoe, where to stay, it’s price points and more – contact your Travel Guru! Oh, and if you need a payment plan to fund your travel adventure – we got those too!