Along the Nevada and California border sits the “Biggest Little City in the World” — Reno, Nevada! Its iconic nickname comes from the numerous cosmopolitan aspects that converge in such a small space. The town was named after Jesse L. Reno, who was a major general in the Union Army during the Civil War. A popular crossing point of the Truckee River, which flows west to east from Lake Tahoe into Pyramid Lake, the area saw many settlers in the 1840s when prospectors made their way to California for the Gold Rush.
After gambling was legalized in Nevada in 1931, Reno became the “vice” center, notable for games of chance, quick divorces, and — in neighboring communities — legal prostitution.
Times have certainly changed, and there are other attractions for visitors to the city. Taking a walk along the Truckee River is an activity in itself, with art galleries, museums, and restaurants galore. The entire trail along the river is 3.5 miles long, and guided tours are offered. Don’t forget to ask about the famous scene from The Misfits with Marilyn Monroe and the Truckee.
One of the places you may want to visit along the river is La Galleria. They’ve been around for 30 years, offering handmade jewelry, metal art, home décor and other interesting items.
When you’ve explored the river area for a while, head up — way up — Mount Rose! For outdoor/camping lovers, this is the place. Paths galore can lead you all the way from the bottom to the top. Many call it quits on their hike when they reach the waterfalls 2.5 miles up, but for those who keep trekking, the view is well worth it. From the top you can see — depending on the weather — Lake Tahoe, Yosemite and Lassen Peak. Mount Rose is open year round, but during the spring and summer it can be an especially welcome escape.
For those who want to get their camp on, there’s a small area near the base that includes space for tent or trailer camping, as well as picnic tables, toilets and most important — drinking water. With a price of $22 per night, $40 for two nights, and $50 for an entire weekend, this can be considered a camping steal! Reservations are required and you can make them by booking online at Recreation.gov or calling 877-444-6777.
Now let’s get into what Nevada is known for — casinos. There are several classic facilities here, but the one that sticks out the most is Eldorado at the Row.
Opened in 1970, and now owned by Caesars, a lot has changed at the Eldorado over the years, but it retains its decades-old appeal while appearing thoroughly modern. Along with slots, table games and a sports book, there also are shows every night, clubs, restaurants, a lovely spa, and a pool.
There are 10 different restaurants and cafés within Eldorado, including fancy Italian La Strada, Ichiban Japanese Steak House, upscale Roxy, and classic breakfast spot Millies. In other words, everyone will have their hunger satisfied.
Away from the casino, there are plenty of places to eat as well, especially along the Truckee River.
Campo is a fancier restaurant offering gourmet Italian cuisine. Open seven days a week, 4-9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and
1-9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, this place is fit for a big dinner feast.
Start with some appetizers such as the crispy polenta — marinated and covered in fresh pesto and balsamic. Their legendary meatballs or charcuterie and cheese board also may make your must-try list.
Entrées include shrimp Florentine, in a delicate butter lemon sauce; lobster and scallop risotto with saffron, sunchokes and a beurre blanc sauce; or for vegans, an Impossible Burger. What Campo really takes pride in, however, is their six different pizzas, and an equal number of pastas. Both offer the option to “build your own,” allowing you to have it just the way you like it.
Desserts include budino, a cookie-crunch caramel pudding topped with whipped cream; a smores brownie sundae; and tiramisu. There’s also a sampler of three treats if you can’t make up your mind. For the quality of this restaurant, the prices are not over the top. It’s a great place to get all dressed up and go out for a nice dinner one night in Reno.
Depending on how much time you have for your vacation, Lake Tahoe — with all of its recreational opportunities and connections to Rat Pack history — is only 63 miles away. And historic Virginia City, a once rough-tough mining town that claimed Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) as a resident, is only a mere half-hour of driving time away.
With so much to explore in the area, you may need to add another day or two to your travel plans to experience all the big things this little place has to offer.