It may be a travel writing cliche, but Reno Tahoe really is a destination of contrasts. Here, wildlife scratches at the edges of the urban grid. The country’s largest alpine lake abuts its biggest little city. The Sierra Nevada erodes into the sandy high desert. The Old West meets modern luxe.
Different personalities, different sides, different ways to explore. To mirror this, the region invited six influencers for a visit and paired them in three unlikely combinations — just like the contrasts of Reno Tahoe:
The Reno Tahoe spots these taste makers experienced are profiled below, broken up into three distinct ways to experience the city. Or the mountains. Or the desert. Or anywhere in between. Which will you choose?
Not so long ago, Hub Roasters Coffee was three employees in a garage…
What: Not so long ago, Hub Roasters Coffee was three employees in a 400-square-foot garage roasting up tiny batches of beans in their spare time. Now a mainstay in the community (and not in a garage), they source their beans straight from Colombia, making lattes — and latte art — as good as gold. And the gluten-free quiche? It’ll blow your gluten-free mind.
Where: 727 Riverside Dr, Reno
Friday isn’t Friday — it’s food truck day…
What: Friday isn’t Friday — it’s food truck day. Over 30 of ’em gather in Idlewild Park, forcing you to choose between options like Hawaiian nachos, grilled brussels sprouts, mango roses, and barbecued brisket. And, of course, Mr. Margarita. Don’t forget Mr. Margarita. Luckily, there’s always next Friday.
Where: Idlewild Park, 2055 Idlewild Dr, Reno
Whether you’re in Midtown, downtown, over in Sparks, or up around the shores of Lake Tahoe…
What: Whether you’re in Midtown, downtown, over in Sparks, or up around the shores of Lake Tahoe, there’s a pint glass and a bar stool with your name on it. A great place to start is Great Basin Brewing Co. — they’re Nevada’s oldest, and they have a long list of beers to prove it. You need to check out their “orogenesis” series — that’s fancy talk for “mountain building,” of which there’s been a lot around these parts. The latest is their Garnet edition, named for the garnet gems in the nearby Ruby Mountains, and it’s in the brewpub only.
Where: 846 Victorian Ave, Sparks
The Pignic Pub & Patio is basically your best friend’s house…
What: Pignic Pub & Patio is basically your best friend’s house — if your best friend’s house had a sweet patio, indoor sports parlor, and outdoor kitchen. Here, it’s about sitting on the deck with a frosty pint and some barbecue…that you maybe even grilled yourself. Seriously. Choose from the fresh local food displayed in their cases, and get to grilling. Or don’t, and come to mooch from the pros in the kitchen, who serve up dishes like tequila shrimp tacos. Talk about a handy best friend.
Where: 235 Flint St, Reno
The Eddy is what every bar should be: a true community space…
What: The Eddy is what every bar should be: a true community space. Bocce, cornhole, giant Jenga, and life-size Connect Four. Free live music and fitness classes. Local art. Thirty-four beers and wines on tap across three different bars. Come. Hang out. Enjoy the outdoors (and the food-truck pizza). Drink up, and be merry.
Where: 16 S Sierra St, Reno
The tallest outdoor climbing wall in the world is right in downtown Reno…
What: The tallest outdoor climbing wall in the world is right in downtown Reno, literally up the side of the Whitney Peak Hotel. It’s 164 feet (a Guinness record), and inside is a 7,000-square-foot bouldering park. So when you’re casually strolling around downtown, don’t push away that “Man, I sure wish I were rock climbing right now” urge. You’re just a few seconds away.
Where: 255 N Virginia St, Reno
Bring your sunscreen, sunglasses, water shoes, and workout gear…
What: Bring your sunscreen, sunglasses, water shoes, and workout gear — you’re going to whitewater raft through downtown Reno. Along the way there’s Class 2 and 3 rapids. No experience required — just a thrill-seeking, can-do attitude.
Where: Truckee River Whitewater Park at Wingfield Park (2 S Arlington Ave, Reno)
On the north shore of Lake Tahoe lies Incline Village…
What: On the north shore of Lake Tahoe lies Incline Village. There are mansions, fantastic restaurants, and great resorts, sure, but you also come to Incline for…the incline. And the water. And being in some of the state’s prettiest outdoors. From here, it’s easy to get into Crystal Bay, Sand Harbor, and plenty of other hidden coves. Kayak, canoe, jet ski, cliff jump, or raft away from town — just come back eventually.
Where: The north shore of Lake Tahoe
A quick hop south from Sand Harbor, you’ll find the trailhead for Chimney Beach…
What: A quick hop south from Sand Harbor, you’ll find the trailhead for Chimney Beach. Tall pines escort you to a rock-studded shoreline, where the “sea” recedes until it hits the 360-degree silhouette of the mountains. Apart from awesome hiking and swimming, if you’re on the hunt for one of those classic Tahoe sunsets, book it here. Just book it half an hour earlier than you’d expect, as those mountains cut down on your sun time.
Where: 2.6 miles south of Sand Harbor State Park
This is arguably the most popular trail in the area…
What: This is arguably the most popular trail in the area — and for good reason. Lush alpine meadows are the only thing between you and those views of Lake Tahoe, and most of the ride is an awesome downhill zoom. Most. The first four miles gets you climbing almost 1,000 feet — you’ll top out at an elevation of over 8,500 feet if you go the full 21 miles — but then it’s down, down, down…and down some more.
Where: Spooner Lake State Park
30 minutes from Reno you’ll find an old mining town — saloon, old jail…
What: 30 minutes from Reno you’ll find the old mining town of Virginia City — saloon, old jail, gun-fight show, and all. Swap the wooden sidewalks for a ride on the V&T Railway, or stay the night to make friends with ghosts (as one of the largest mining camps west of Denver, there should be a few). Alternatively, just pretend you’re in Westworld — but try not to lose sense of reality completely.
Where: 30 minutes southeast of Reno
Burning Man’s alternative city may fade into the sand every year like it was all a dream…
What: Burning Man’s alternative city may fade into the sand every year like it was all a dream, but the art it births doesn’t die with it. Playa Art Park showcases years and years of installations from past editions of Burning Man. And that’s just one part of the Playa Art Trail, a trip that certainly won’t leave you hurting for color or inspiration.
Where: Playa Art Park, Reno
There are 80+ murals hiding around Midtown Reno…
What: There are 80+ murals hiding around Midtown Reno — most in alleys, like they’re in on the scavenger hunt. A self-guided tour will take you about two hours, and the Midtown Mural Map makes them easy to find. There’s no better way to line your Instagram bench, and there’s no better way to see the true vibes of this city.
Where: All around Midtown, Reno
Who said art museums had to be dry? The only thing that’s dry here is the champagne…
What: Who said art museums had to be dry? The only thing that’s dry at the Nevada Museum of Art is the champagne. chez louie puts on a French-style brunch at the museum, which makes up the first half of the most sophisticated day of your life. Mimosas secured, it’s off to explore the paintings of Hans Meyer-Kassel, the nuclear photos of Carol Franc Buck, and live color explosions from area seismographs. $10 for this much class? A steal.
Where: 160 W Liberty St, Reno
How’s this for a day plan? Rent bicycles and head to West Street Market…
What: How’s this for a day plan? Rent bicycles and head to West Street Market — where you should definitely nab a scoop from Icecycle Creamery. Dink around, check out the smells (and the colorful Adirondack chairs in the artspace), and then take your wheels along the river — it’s right there. Like, right there. Follow the Truckee for as long as you want, and then swoop back for live music, wood-fired pizzas, and people-watching, Reno-style.
Where: 148 West St, Reno