Why Reno + Tahoe Adds Up to a Great Winter Getaway

Nov 3, 2020
If you feel like the last several months has been life on repeat, then your next vacation should be to a place that has options... tons of options. Reno Tahoe has just that: it’s the self-proclaimed “Biggest Little City in the World” just minutes from North America's largest alpine lake. It’s winter sports at its best meets vibrant river town. It’s après-ski and artsy scenes. Bottom line: It’s a great pick for your winter escape.

Read on for three ways Reno Tahoe will help you maximize your vacation—whether it’s a quick weekend stay or a weeklong winter break.

Get a move on

With the highest concentration of ski resorts in North America within a short drive of downtown, it's no surprise that Reno Tahoe has a wide array of winter sports at the ready, including skiing (downhill, backcountry and cross-country), snowboarding and snowshoeing. It's well-positioned for fresh powder; the area routinely gets 200 inches of snow a year, and the mountains can get twice that amount.

A mere 25-minute drive will get you to Reno's nearest ski resort. Mt. Rose boasts Tahoe's highest base elevation at 8,260 feet and offers 1,200 acres of skiing and snowboarding. Nearby is Tahoe Meadows, a perfect spot for snowshoeing through pine trees and spying sweeping views of Lake Tahoe. On the way back to Reno, stop in to The Lodge to warm up with a coffee or post-slopes libation.

If you're seeking sapphire-blue water views while working your way downhill, Diamond Peak is a good bet. It also has the reputation of being one of Tahoe's friendliest mountains. It's great for beginners as it's typically not crowded and offers plenty of magnificent lake vistas. The more experienced skiers won't be disappointed either: this resort is known for its incredible tree skiing with 75% of the skiable area featuring tree runs.

For a different way to move, try a crawl... a beer crawl. This boozy oasis in Northern Nevada is deep in the craft beer scene. In fact, downtown Reno has an entire Brewery District dedicated to the craft, with historic ties to the early 1900s. Any tasting tour worth its hops should include a few of these stops. Record Street Brewing Co ferments beers onsite and serves scratch-made pizzas out of their historic building. IPA lovers are advised to head directly to Lead Dog Brewing; beyond the hoppy brews on tap, Lead Dog is worth visiting for its live-in pup Roxy (for whom the business is named). Don't miss your chance to pay homage to Reno’s first distillery and brewery: The Depot, which is housed in a former, century-old train depot. And for the beer fanatics with eclectic taste, there's Piñon Bottle Co with their self-ascribed library approach; head to the outposts in Midtown or Sparks to discover a new ale (or lager or amber or stout or pils).

Take it easy and soak it in

After a long day on the slopes, kick back at a comfortable downtown Reno hotel. We won't play favorites, but, personally, we're partial to those that feature outdoor fire pits. The city has outposts from the hotel brands you know and love, plus a few boutique properties that are absolutely worth checking out—and room rates are very affordable, especially if you travel midweek. No matter which property you choose as your home base, rest assured that they've committed to enhanced cleanliness standards.

If you're more of a water than a fire sign, get cozy in one of the area's hot springs instead. Nevada has more hot springs than another other state in the U.S., so hot springing is a thing here, with its own set of ground rules. Depending on your level of adventure, you can visit a managed hot spring for a soak, or get yourself a topographic map and start hunting for rural springs on public land.

You can book a private tub room at the area's only volcanic natural hot springs: Steamboat Hot Springs. For budget-minded families, we recommend Carson Hot Springs where fees are $15 or less for the outdoor pools. Or if you prefer to spend the day luxuriating, visit David Walley's Resort Hot Springs with a day pass for access to the five mineral hot springs plus steam rooms, dry saunas and a geothermal-heated swimming pool.

For a day of city relaxation, spend the afternoon ambling around town on foot and hit the boutiques along the Reno Riverwalk District and in Midtown. The burgeoning Midtown District is also where you'll find more than 100 street murals (many painted by local artists). Reno is the nearest city to the annual Burning Man event and has the distinct honor of hosting sculptures from past years. You can find many works at City Plaza, but they're also scattered around town at various locations. Another great spot to find several is at the Guardian of Eden outside of the Nevada Museum of Art. If you pop inside the museum, don't miss the current exhibition by Reno artist Nancy Peppin. Her favorite subject to paint: Twinkies.

Eat someplace new (or very old)

The food scene features everything from new, buzzy spots to the old school classics. On the classics side of the spectrum: Casale's Halfway Club. The name 'Halfway' comes from its location: halfway between Sparks and Reno. The family-owned joint began as a fruit stand in 1937 and today serves up handmade Italian food. The ravioli is made fresh daily, using the same dough cutter that the family's matriarch brought to America from Italy in the early 1900s.

Newer to town is Kauboi Izakaya, a casual Old West meets Japanese tavern that centers its menu around the yakitori grill, a tool perfect for cooking up chicken skewers. Don't skip the deep-fried rice tots—just trust us on this. For an upscale treat by the same restauranteurs, visit LuLou's. Specializing in New American fare with an ever-evolving menu, the folks at LuLou's are pioneers of a different kind: they opened in Midtown in the late 1990s (before it was popular) and helped prove that Reno was more than a meat and potato town. 

Back to classics: Louis' Basque Corner opened in 1967. It's a beloved local spot that features family-style dining and a meat-centric menu that includes traditional Basque dishes like sweetbreads, tripe and picon (a cocktail combining brandy, amer, grenadine and orange peel). Just a warning: the hometown feeling in this spot may have you looking into local real estate.

Ready to go? Start planning your winter escape to Reno Tahoe.

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