Before moving to California, I knew Reno was a city in Nevada, but I knew almost nothing else about the ‘biggest little city in the world’. While driving out to San Francisco from Wisconsin, we drove through Reno. We had talked about stopping real quick to play some slots, but it was pouring rain and we had our entire life in our car, so we drove on through. We did promise each other we’d visit again, for real this time.
Well, that day finally came over the Fourth of July holiday weekend! The Atlantis Casino Resort Spa invited us to spend a night with them and we jumped at an excuse to explore a new city.
9:30 AM: We left San Francisco in the morning and started our 3.5 hour drive to Reno – not too shabby at all!
Travel Tip: Make sure to constantly have Google Maps open when you are driving through East Bay to take alternative routes on the fly. There always seems to be a random crash – like this morning, the original route was backed up over an hour!
This drive takes you through Tahoe National Forest and through Truckee, the cutest little mountain town (more on the later!) Make sure to fuel up before hitting the forest and if you have a tiny car like us, make sure to stay in the far right lane and don’t push your car too hard. Our engine light goes on every time we drive in the mountains and a friend’s car just broke down while going to Yosemite.
2:00 PM: After an easy, beautiful drive through Tahoe (we made a couple of stops) we arrived in Reno at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa! It was bustling with activity and I channeled my inner Oceans Eleven swagger as we walked into the main lobby next to the casino floor. Check in is at 3pm, so we killed an hour by playing slots. My favorite one? The Kitty Glitter slot – really speaks to my crazy cat lady soul.
3:00 PM: Our room was on the 24th Floor in the Concierge Tower – aka, the part you want to book your room in! It can only be accessed by people who are also staying on the floor, so it’s peaceful up there. Plus, you get to have free breakfast and afternoon snacks.
4:00 PM: Pool time! The Atlantis has an indoor pool AND an outdoor one! It was over 100 degrees that day and it felt so wonderful to take a dip in their outdoor pool. There’s a bar out there, so we grabbed some drinks and relaxed for the day. That’s what vacations are great for, right?
WEAR THIS TO DINNER
7:30 PM: I had worked up a huge appetite and thankfully we had reservations at the Sky Terrace Oyster Bar at the Atlantis. Make sure to reserve a table beforehand – because of the top-notch seafood and great view this place offers, it’s always hopping. This was the highlight of the trip for us – eating all the seafood! We got a round of oysters to start with. Just look at the photos, these are HUGE! We also shared the crab sampler and cioppino, which were cooked incredibly. I won’t be forgetting about that crab for a long, long time! For dessert, we had a cheesecake covered in strawberry and I swear Robin almost had to roll me out of there because I was so full (in a good way!)
We only stayed one night, but if we had stayed more, we would have gone downtown Reno to the Riverwalk for dinner on the second night. There you’ll find lots of bars and restaurants in a charming setting.
9:00 PM: There’s nothing like a dip in an outdoor hot tub at night! It’s one of my favorite ways to unwind after a long day of traveling. It closes at 10pm, so make sure to get a dip in before then.
Midnight: You can’t visit Reno without hitting up the casino. Robin and I aren’t great at the card games, so we stuck to slots and Keno, which we learned how to play for the first time! Maybe it was beginner’s luck, but we won $21. Score!
7am: We woke up early, grabbed coffee from the Concierge breakfast room and headed down to the indoor pool. Zen music was playing and it was empty minus a couple of older gentleman reading. This place gets packed during the day with families, but I loved that we were able to slowly wake up in such a relaxing environment. We stayed for about an hour and then headed upstairs for breakfast.
10:30 AM: We checked out and headed to the Reno Riverwalk for a stroll along the river. Because it was July, it was really hot, but as I had mentioned earlier, I bet this spot is buzzing at night and makes a really fun area to grab dinner and bar hop. I’d recommend starting at the Silver Peak Brewery – their patio looked like a lot of fun!
Grab a cold black tea from Hub Coffee Roasters to cool down.
Noon: We would have loved to stay longer, but we were getting hungry, so we hopped in the car and drove 40 minutes to Truckee in Tahoe. It was PACKED because of the holiday weekend, but I imagine it’s less crowded normally. I loved Truckee. It has all the charm of a small mountain town, but actually has a lot of great food, bar, and shopping options.
We grabbed lunch at the Squeeze In, made famous for being on the Food Network a few times for their omelets. We each ordered burgers and a tall lemonade, which totally hit the spot for the hot day. This place is busy on the weekends, so make sure to put in a reservation ahead of time, or you could be waiting for an hour.
For something sweet, we walked down the street a block and grabbed a chocolate malt at Bud’s Old Fashioned Fountain. Why is it that little 1950’s style ice cream places in small towns always steal my heart?!
2:00 PM: Truckee is right next door to Donner Lake, so we decided to take a quick stroll by it. Our first plan was to take a longer afternoon hike around Donner Lake, but because it was close to 100 degrees, we only lasted for about 30 minutes. If you are looking for a lake day, but not up to battle the huge crowds at Tahoe, head to Donner Lake instead. I think we’ll be renting a cabin up there this fall or winter for a little nature getaway.
6:00 PM: We arrived back home in San Francisco. It was a whirlwind trip, but those are always my favorite! I can’t wait to return to Reno soon – this time, I’m going to win more playing Keno at the Atlantis!
If you have questions or anything to add, leave a comment below!
Thank you, Atlantis for a complimentary stay. All opinions are my own.