Emerging as a city with a distinct culture of its own -- thanks to an economic turnaround attributed in part to Tesla’s move to the area -- Reno has come alive in recent years as an affordable playground for foodies and outdoor adventurers. There are now more ways than ever to get there, too, with a new direct flight on JetBlue from New York’s JFK, and the city earned a spot on our Top Budget Destinations of 2015 list. Even better, the thousands of hotel rooms throughout the area average less than $100 per night, offering remarkable value. Here, a deeper look at what's on offer, with four more great reasons you should visit Reno now.Outdoors Galore
In the high desert off the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Reno knows how to make the best of its average 300 days a year of sunshine. The Truckee River, Lake Tahoe’s sole outlet, serves as a base for many of Reno’s activities. It flows through the heart of the city, eventually connecting Reno to Lake Tahoe, and is popular with those looking to kayak, tube, and fish along the river banks. Kayakers looking for the ultimate challenge can traverse the Truckee waterway, a journey that’s estimated to take around 15 hours. Or, if you're looking to ascend to new heights, we love the Whitney Peak Hotel’s 164-foot climbing wall -- North America’s tallest rock climbing wall with the best views of downtown Reno, hands-down (day passes $10 for guests, $17 for non-guests).
We can’t get enough of the amazing breweries scattered throughout Reno, many serving brews made onsite. To experience the highlights of the city’s hopping culture (pun intended), we suggest taking a ride on the Reno Brew Bike. A custom build cycling oddity, the vehicle seats 12 at its circular counter setting, giving riders the option to help pedal along a route that changes often. Note: $25 fee does not include drinks. And if you don’t happen to make it to Brasserie St. James on your cycling journey, be sure to loop back to the celebrated gastropub, a Reno standout for its multitude of beers and exciting alternative menu.
Nightlife & Entertainment
Among the beautiful nature and indie breweries, there are plenty of chances to pick up the pace in Reno, too. The new LEX Nightclub at Grand Sierra Resort is a stylish 25,000-square-foot club that's pushing the nightlife boundaries with its $2 million sound and lighting technology. A glass dance floor partially covers a centerpiece pool, allowing guests to party on the water. Since its opening last year, LEX has attracted top name DJs from around the world, including DJs Pauly D, Vice, and Aero.
Of course, no trip to Reno is complete without at least a quick spin of the roulette wheel at one of Reno’s local casino resorts. Over the last decade, the local casinos combined have pumped $1 billion into their properties, renovating rooms, restaurants, nightclubs, and their gaming areas. We loved our experience at one of Reno’s most popular casino resort destinations, Atlantis Spa and Resort, and we also had a fantastic time exploring the gaming floors at the Peppermill Resort and Grand Sierra Resort.
Mark Estee's Culinary Empire
Chef Mark Estee is arguably the leading pioneer of the culinary scene in Reno, and his commitment to high quality, locally sourced food has fueled an entire empire of Reno restaurants that vie for the “must” list on a visit to the city. Estee had first started to gather a following after setting up shop on the Reno Riverwalk with CAMPO, a welcoming Italian eatery in a refined and rustic setting. Since, he's gone on to run Heritage, the signature restaurant at the new Whitney Peak Hotel; chez louie, at the Nevada Art Museum; and Burger Me, a burger chain with a few locations throughout the region. Don't miss his newest endeavor, Reno Provisions, a high-concept fresh food market and eatery that's been described as the “Holy Grail of Reno’s culinary culture.”