Gambling in Reno
January 8, 2004 1:00 PM   Subscribe

Looking for some advice/thoughts on Reno. Is it worth going if you're only a casual (read: cheap) gambler? Is there other stuff to do that would keep us entertained for 3-4 nights? [more inside]

One of the reasons for going would be to check-out/ski Tahoe too (we're planning for March). Is there cheap and/or free transportation available from any of the hotels? Keep in mind that we've been to Vegas, loved it, but don't have any unrealistic expectations for Reno. Its a very cheap trip which is definitely key.
posted by trillion to Travel & Transportation around Reno, NV (6 answers total)
Personally, I found Reno to be one of the most depressing cities I've ever visited. The casinos are totally low-rent and as far as I can tell, they're the only attraction. (Take with grain of salt -- I was only there one night.) You might just want to skip Reno and spend your time at Tahoe--it's beautiful, lots of stuff to do, and they have casinos there, too.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 1:23 PM on January 8, 2004

I used to live in Truckee, CA and went to Reno five or six times during the few months that I lived there. I was never particularly impressed, either. It lacked the WOW factor of Vegas (or so I assume, I have never been) and the history/fun-style sleaze of Atlanta City (where I have been and like a lot). I've been to casinos, a couple dance clubs, and a bar with a mechanical bull (can't remember the names of any of it) in Reno and while those things were kind of fun, I was definitely not filled with a sense of awe at the greatness of the Biggest Little City in the World. Granted, I hated living in Truckee and was pretty miserable all the time anyway, so Reno really could have been great and I just didn't notice through my haze of surly resentment.

But I think that unless you want to go just to say that you've been to Reno, I wouldn't knock yourself out trying to get there. If it turns out you're having more fun hanging around Tahoe and decide to skip the side trip, don't go home feeling like you've missed something great.
posted by jennyb at 1:40 PM on January 8, 2004

i think it was last night that i saw an episode of Insomniac with Dave Attel (comedy central) which was from Reno. see if you can catch a rerun of that.
posted by edlundart at 1:46 PM on January 8, 2004

I lived in Reno for a year and a half, but I don't have much to say in its favour. The towering casino hotels make it look like a real city, but it's actually just a small town and there's not much to do. I generally entertained myself by going somewhere else. Reno doesn't have the overbearing spectacle you find in Las Vegas; unless you really like to gamble, or there just happen to be a lot of concerts by musicians you like on the days you happen to be there, 3-4 days will bore you silly.

There are lots of strange and beautiful things to see in the surrounding wilderness, though. You can drive about 40 minutes west up I-80 through some dramatic canyons to Donner Lake, a small but gorgeous alpine lake north of Tahoe. North and east up Highway 445, also about 40 minutes away, sits Pyramid Lake. It's huge - as big as Tahoe - but beautiful in a completely different way. It is a huge, desolate, wild place, almost scary in a desertish way, with lots of odd rock formations and a wide-open shore. You won't forget it quickly.

Southeast an hour or so there's Virginia City, an old mining town turned tourist attraction. Not a lot of depth, but fun for an afternoon. (I liked the mine tour.) And Lake Tahoe itself is only an hour away; it's a beautiful lake and there's plenty of skiing in the hills that overlook it.

If you have a lot of time to kill, you can try driving out I-80 east about two hours to Thunder Mountain Park, near Imlay, NV. This is two hours of mostly nothing, but it is a great, beautiful, wild mountain desert nothing, the like of which you will never see anywhere else. And the park itself is - well - weird, and best seen around sundown for maximum spookiness.
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:33 PM on January 8, 2004

I heartily recommend the cheese factor of The Peppermill. Just check out the theme rooms!

But yeah, not a whole lot to do in Reno when you're not gambling. Except the Bowling Museum. That's white hot, baby.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:09 AM on January 9, 2004

One restaurant I enjoy in Reno is the Pneumatic Diner, inside the Truckee River Lodge hotel, close to the casino towers downtown. It's mostly veggie with huge portions, and the atmosphere is very homegrown and friendly. The Godzilla 666 espresso/chocolate drink has more caffeine than you'll need in a week.

(Other than that, I've just used Reno as a preparation city for Burning Man, so I can only vouch for the Home Depot. And I like a sign on Virginia Ave. that has a illustration of a jelly donut and simply says JELLY DONUT, but that's not worth a visit in itself.)
posted by lisa g at 10:37 AM on January 9, 2004 [1 favorite]

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