Reno Travel Information

United States > US City Index > Reno > History

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.

Downtown Reno

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 Reno Arch declaring 'The Biggest Little City In The World,' greet visitors as they enter downtown.

The boisterous casinos have been the main attraction along the Truckee River for decades. The Club Cal-Neva has been around since 1948, and is still going strong as one of the most popular gaming establishments in town. Harrah's opened as a full casino the same year and the action has never ceased. The National Automobile Museum, located two blocks east on Mill & Lake Streets, houses some fascinating antique cars collected by William Harrah on his ride to fame and fortune. Harrah's Events Plaza opened in 2000 and promises to be the center for downtown events and entertainment, as well as a great place to watch the cars cruising during Hot August Nights. The Circus Circus is a favorite for family fun with high-flying acts and a great arcade for the youngsters. The Silver Legacy is the new kid on the block and already known for sponsoring major events and adding to the revitalization of downtown. The Automated Mining Machine towering 120-feet over the casino floor is a wonderful attraction for visitors. The Eldorado and Fitzgerald's are also hosts for special events, as well as popular gaming venues. Two popular nightspots are housed in these casinos, BuBinga Nightclub and Limerick's Pub & Grill. Paul Revere's Kicks Nightclub is located in the National Bowling Stadium on Center Street, one block east of Virginia Street.

'Reno-vation' is taking place in the downtown area to make more open and attractive spaces for visitors and Renoites to enjoy. The Truckee River Walk is one of the first efforts. The major casinos are also expanding and renovating in an effort to keep downtown alive and well. The whole city gets into the act to host one of the major cultural events in the nation, the Reno Summer Arts Festival featuring Artown. The Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts presents the Reno Philharmonic, the Nevada Opera and Nevada Festival Ballet. The Washoe County Library System is second to none, with the main branch located on Center Street in downtown Reno. The University of Nevada at Reno hosts numerous cultural activities at the Nightingale Concert Hall and Lawlor Events Center. The Fleischman Planetarium is also on the UNR campus for stargazing and educational classes. Marvelous museums are lavishly dispersed throughout the area including the Wilbur D. May Center at Rancho San Rafael Park and the Nevada Museum of Art on Liberty Street downtown.

Some major hotel/casinos outside of the Virginia Street hub include the Peppermill and Atlantis on South Virginia Street. Both are relatively new and elegant. East of downtown resides the Reno Hilton, a high-rise city unto itself. Thrill seekers can enjoy the Ultimate Rush located on the casino grounds.


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 Sparks Heritage Museum displays artifacts relating to the beginnings of the town that is sometimes known as the 'Rail City.'

The hub of activity is centered in Victorian Square at Interstate 80 and Victorian Avenue. John Ascuaga's Nugget towers over the Square and the hotel sponsors many major events taking place there. Fine dining facilities in this establishment include Trader Dick's and Restaurante Orozko. Across the Square, you will find a great mid-sized hotel/casino, the Silver Club. Smaller casinos are to be found as one strolls along the Square, one of the most popular being Rail City Casino. The casinos along Victorian Square host major events almost every month of the year. Sparks Hometowne Christmas is a favorite, as well as Hot August Nights and Best of the West Rib Cook-Off.

A new addition to the area is the Sparks Marina at Interstate 80 and McCarran Boulevard. Fun for the whole family can be had at this huge 'fishing hole' with beaches and walking paths. Wild Island at Interstate 80 and Sparks Boulevard offers water slides, miniature golf and Formula K racing. A few other places to visit in the Marina area for casino fun and good food are the Alamo on Vista Boulevard, Sierra Sid's and Western Village on McCarran Boulevard.

On the southwest side of town, an enormous and handsome business park has expanded to the city limits housing light manufacturing and technology-bases enterprises. The friendly Nevada tax structure, as well as easy rail and east-west I-80 access, makes this a highly prized area for business and industry.

Lake Tahoe

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. Many of the major hotel/casinos have undergone significant renovation to blend in with the fragrant pine forests. The Cal-Neva, the favorite haunt of the 'rat pack,' is always popular for entertainment. The Hyatt Tahoe is perhaps one of the most elegant places to lodge and have fun. Caesar's Tahoe and Harrah's are also well known for fine dining and top entertainers.

Although the hotels themselves attract many visitors because of the fabulous gambling facilities and other amenities, the recreational activities remain the calling card. No matter what time of the year, the beauty of the lake cannot be matched anywhere in the world. During the summer months, the Zephyr Cove Resort beckons visitors to cruise on the M.S. Dixie. On the south shore of the lake, Hornblower Cruises offer sailing on the Tahoe Queen. The beaches and parks are popular for sunbathing and hiking. Sand Harbor presents the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival and Kings Beach hosts the Summer Music Festival.

The ski resorts in the Sierra Nevada mountains are unmatched anywhere. While some resorts offer more amenities than others, the skiing will be outstanding at all venues. Boreal is usually the first of the season to open because of snowmaking equipment. Granlibakken offers fabulous lodging and conference facilities, as well as fine slopes. Heavenly and Northstar are first-rate for challenging ski areas. Cross-country ski enthusiasts will find the best trails in North America at Royal Gorge Resort in Soda Springs. And, of course, there is Squaw Valley USA, famous for hosting the 1960 Winter Olympics and still a world-class venue for winter sports of all genres.


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