Biggest Little City in the World… That’s Reno’s slogan. Does it fit? … Hmmm the jury is still out on that one. But I will say, the city is full of surprises.
If you are flying into the Lake Tahoe area, then you will be flying in and out of Reno/Tahoe airport. You’re already in the area, why not make a stop in Reno and see what the city has to offer? The Reno-Tahoe area is known as, “America’s Adventure Place”.
Can’t wait to share my adventures in the Wild, Wild, West with you in Reno and a day trip to Virginia City! Maybe you’ll find inspiration for your own trip!
[This post was originally posted July of 2020. Updated May of 2022]
Family Trip to Reno
The months of July and August are usually incredibly busy travel times for me. One of the reasons being that in addition to my usual traveling, it’s also a time that I get to see my family if we’re able to be in the same place at the same time.
Last summer, I would fly from the Bahamas to Reno, meet up with them and spend the week, head back to New York for a friend’s wedding, then, return on the following Monday, where we would head into Tahoe together.
FACT: Real Girls Don’t Have to Stick to a Schedule
The only thing that ended up changing is that we were having so much fun in Reno that we decided to spend a few more days there before heading to Tahoe. We also took a day trip to ghost town, Virginia City which you can read about in my blog here.
Where is Reno?
Located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Reno initially appears to be a run down, little city, especially when compared to the beautiful, lush landscape of Tahoe.. at least from my initial perspective.
It’s spread out with several casinos being focal points across the valley. Up at 5,000’, there’s no doubt that the climate is dry… and super hot. It is a desert after all.
More Than I Expected From a Desert
I’m amazed at how much of Reno I got to experience. Most people don’t spend so much time there. It’s a place you stop in on the way to Tahoe or to gamble..
I ended up staying at 4 different hotels in Reno. All so I could meet my family in between trips… sheeesh. Wonder if they realize how exhausting that was. LOL.. At least I got to relax at the spa.
Where to Stay in Reno: Hotel #1
Circus Circus, Reno
When I first arrived to meet my parents and sister, they were staying at Circus Circus and so I decided to stay there too.
Let me be real with ya’ll. At first, I was reluctant to stay there. If memories from my childhood were any indicator, Circus Circus would be a dump. I used to frequent their sister property in Las Vegas as a kid.
My memory is that it was very dirty, in desperate need of a renovation, and reeked of cigarette smoke. Looking back now, it’s not shocking that my dad only took us there to play the games, not to stay.
What to Expect at Circus Circus
So, imagine my surprise to find that Circus Circus in Reno was not a dump, but actually a really cute hotel! They even have a monorail that takes you to the casino, restaurants, and of course, the Circus. It was the complete opposite of what I expected. They did one heck of a $2 million renovation.
It’s set up with acts like a high wire, acrobats, and fire eaters on an hourly schedule.. in the middle of “carnival row” if you will.
You can test your skills on Carnival games as well as the modern arcade which are both at the heart of all this.
What makes Circus Circus so unique is that it’s attached to 2 other remarkably charming hotel casinos: El Dorado & Silver Legacy to form “The ROW”. The Row is a strip of restaurants, shops, bars, nightspots, lounges, casinos, and luxury rooms & suites.
It makes it convenient if you want to play games at different casinos without having to walk outside since they’re all connected. No wasting time in transit. I don’t know about you, but that’s a winner for me. 😉
They have great acts playing. One of my favorite shows was The Illusionists. Would definitely recommend whether you’re into magic or not! It was quite a performance.
So many to choose from!
El Dorado, Circus Circus, & Silver Legacy. Great resort-type stays. Not just another casino hotel.
The ROW is very convenient for experiencing what Reno’s top hotel-casinos have to offer in terms of nightlife, gambling, shopping, dining, & hotel stays.
The gym had the bare minimum. I would have liked it if it had more equipment.
Have you heard of Jacob Davis? How about Levi Strauss?… I thought so. 😉 In 1870, a customer came to Davis, (who was a tailor in Reno) for a sturdier pair of pants. To achieve this, he added copper rivets. Success! Not long after, he partnered with Levi Strauss to finance a patent on his new design. And just like that, blue jeans were born! Much needed during the Silver & Gold Rush.
This brings me to…
Where to Stay in Reno: Hotel #2
Silver Legacy, Reno
Upon my return to Reno the following Monday after my quick trip to NYC, we decided to stay at one of the connecting hotels, The Silver Legacy, where films Waking Up in Reno and Kingpin were filmed. Because why the heck not? I’m not exactly going to Reno on the reg. May as well experience as much as possible. And, kinda cool that it’s the tallest building in Reno.
What to Expect at Silver Legacy
Again, the primary focus of these hotels is the casinos, but they aren’t set up as an afterthought. They are actually well-planned out, resort-type stays.
What’s Not to Love About Themed Hotels?
I love themed hotels!
This particular hotel is themed after the silver rush that occurred in Nevada in the mid-1800s, specifically, the Lodi Mine find, hence the name, Silver Legacy. It added so much character to the hotel!
Tip: Make sure you ask for the renovated rooms. They were modern and new which was nice.
Silver Legacy has a 120′ mining rig that’s a replica of an 1800s version designed to stay in motion continuously to extract the ore without human hands having to touch it.
“Ore” in a nutshell
natural rock or sediment containing valuable minerals
Spa at Silver Legacy
I’m a spa girl so, that’s key to a good hotel for me. This hotel has a world-class spa which I had to check out.
From the interior design elements to the spa treatments, Spa at Silver Legacy really played into the nature vibes of Reno-Tahoe well by incorporating Tahoe’s snow and Reno’s sunny, desert-like atmosphere.
From the spa treatment area, you can head right outside to a relaxation area with coed soaking tubs. The swimming pool is located up on the roof.
Not gonna lie, it was hot as hell. I lasted maybe 10 minutes in the desert heat and that was in a shaded cabana-type bed. Too hot, much, much too hot.
Spa info & amenities here.
Loved the gym, 2 different rooms of equipment.
The spa gave several indigenous plants to a chemist and had their own specialty products made which they use in their services. Their signature treatment is the “Fiery Snow” massage & facial which plays the personality of both cities, Reno and neighboring Tahoe.
Entertainment at The ROW
The ROW wasn’t solely focused on the blackjack tables. At the Silver Legacy, they had great entertainment.
Luckily for me, they were performing during my visit. They’re one of my favorite groups.
At the third connecting hotel, El Dorado, they had a great little showroom where they feature world-class entertainment.
We were lucky to grab last-minute tickets to see The Illusionists, which is a Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group. It was an incredible magic and talent show. Seriously one of the best acts I’ve seen.
After the show, I met some of the magicians, one of whom was my personal favorite, Paul Krendl,
He performed an impressive escapist act while handcuffed and shackled, upside down in a Chinese Water Torture Cell like Houdini. Krendl escaped in less than 3.5 minutes.
At 9, Ehrich Weiss (a.k.a. Harry Houdini) worked as a trapeze artist. Then at 11, for a local locksmith where he learned to pick any lock. Not too long after, he followed in the footsteps of his idol, famous French magician, Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin. “Houdini” is an homage to him. He’s quoted as saying, “My mind is the key that sets me free”.
Foodie Finds at The ROW
There were some great ones…
Pearl Oyster Bar & Grill
We were going to go to Kanpai Sushi but unlike other sushi restaurants I’ve been to, they weren’t very accommodating to my mom who is deathly allergic to eel.
We went to Pearl Oyster Bar instead which was a great foodie find. Of course, we had to order oysters to start.
Was a little strange… not gonna lie, I was hesitant to use the lemon. If they forgot to remove the sticker, surely they forgot to wash it.
But, I was hungry… After oysters, we moved on to lobster and filet mignon.
We ate here a few times during our stay. Café Central is a great café perfect for late-night bites like burgers, steak, and eggs… Very casual.
More to Explore Downtown Reno
This part of downtown is also home to a cool hotel, Base Campo which holds The Guinness Book of World Record for “World’s Tallest Artificial Climbing Wall” and Outside Magazine’s “12 Best Hotel Gyms in the US”.
Many hotels offer live music. Harrah’s (who is sadly, permanently closed as of 2020) was doing an outdoor Summer concert series which was great fun.
Where to Stay in Reno: Hotel #3
Much to our surprise, we were having such a good time that we decided to stay a few more days. So, we booked rooms at Atlantis, another hotel in Reno further out from the downtown city center.
What to Expect at Atlantis
The hotel itself was a nice stay. I often have sleeping trouble and need perfect conditions to fall asleep. Sometimes it makes picking the right hotel when traveling tricky…
Imagine my surprise when I found a bunch of pillows on my bed. I sleep with 3-4 every night. If that wasn’t enough, they had a menu with 4 different pillows to choose from (Diamond Support, Bed, Buckwheat, Aqua Plush). It made for a comfortable and luxurious hotel stay!
I am hugely influenced by bloggers and magazine articles and happened to find that this hotel had a Forbes Travel Guide rated 4-star spa with many lovely amenities. Say no more.. I’m in!
I was pleasantly surprised to find they had so many different amenities all around the spa facility, both indoor and outdoor.
I got the Jacojupayan Opulence (Ja-co-ju-pie-an) treatment which was 90 minutes and incredibly relaxing.
My sister and I were able to have lunch delivered to us while we relaxing in the hot and cold soaking tubs, which is nice so you can enjoy the amenities all day without leaving the spa.]
Well let’s just say, I found my sanctuary back at the spa. The award-winning Four-Star spa was exceptional.
- Tour the spa facility virtually here!
- Get more spa info here
- View the Treatment Menu here
- View Spa Amenities here
- View Spa FAQs here
- Book your spa appointment here
The hi-tech gym was incredible, it’s crazy but it was such a relaxing experience. Rather than loud pop or rock coming from the speakers, they had soothing zen music and fruit-infused water while you worked out.
Indoor/ Outdoor Pools and Hot Tubs
These are for all hotel guests, not just for the spa.
For travel essentials, check out my Amazon shop page!
Where to Stay in Reno: Hotel #4
Plaza Resort, Reno
For our final stay in Reno, we headed back Downtown for a unique hotel find, Plaza Resort in the lively Riverwalk District.
What to Expect at Plaza Resort
What a cute hotel. Definitely has character.
I really enjoyed the old-fashioned vibes. There were novelties scattered throughout the hotel. It was very nostalgic.
The rooms were clean and spacious. I also enjoyed the bath products.
Indoor heated pool w/ nice pool bar, sauna, sun deck
Breakfast free after signing up for their email list. Or $8 per adult. It was decent.
They had a decent gym, but small. Had a cute old-fashioned feel to it.
You can book your stay here.
Spontaneity Leads to Exciting Adventures
A couple of fun timing coincidences happened while we were there, without even planning for it.
Hot August Nights
It’s super fun what happens when you don’t plan for it. Because we had extended our stay so long, we were now in Reno during Hot August Nights, a classic car lover’s dream. In fact, it’s the “Largest Nostalgic Car Show in the World”.
If you’re a classic car lover, this is right up your alley, literally! Ha! Even if you weren’t particularly into these cars before, it’s definitely an interesting time of year to come to Reno. Gives the city extra flare.
Within a few days, this seemingly quiet little city was fully packed with car-loving aficionados, 50’s vibes, and music scenes set up all throughout the city.
Gay Pride Parade
Unfortunately, I missed the gay pride parade in Reno as it occurred while I was back in NYC. My parents and sister had a blast.
Yeehah! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my Wild, Wild West adventures in Reno and Virginia City! Hopefully, you go inspiration to plan your own trip!
That’s a Wrap!
Would you go to Reno? I’d love to know! Comment below. Thank you so much for your continued love and support! I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
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Virginia City Nevada | Ghost Town in the Wild West
Miami to Key West Drive: What to Do in the Upper to Middle Florida Keys
3 Days in Seattle: Love at First Sight
Salt Lake City, Making the Most of a Bad Trip
At Real Girl Review, we value truth and always strive for accuracy. Posts are updated regularly. If you read something that still doesn’t sound right, contact me at email@example.com. I will investigate the facts and make changes as I deem necessary.
Thank you for reading the blog. I’m glad I could offer helpful suggestions. Hot August Nights is every year so you can catch the next one!
Great read. I’ll miss August Nights but will be there in September will check out your suggestions.
So happy I helped you discover Hot August Nights especially since you’re a big car lover. BBQ & Cars sound like the perfect Summer day. 😉
I wasn’t aware of Hot August Nights, but as a car lover, that intrigues me. I’ll have to plan a trip there. Reno has an annual barbecue festival in late August and/or early September. It would be fun to spend enough time there to do both!