Known for its past as an audacious gambling hub complete with brightly lit neon-signed motels, Reno has evolved beyond its “smaller Vegas” stereotype to host a thriving and dynamic arts culture (thanks, in part, to its proximity to Burning Man). Stay away from the gaudy nightlife of the casinos and instead dive straight into the heart of the city, where locals are friendly and good times are aplenty.
FOOD + DRINKS
To indulge like a true local, head to The Little Nugget (233 N. Virginia St.), a classic throwback to ’50s diner culture, for their famous “Awful Awful” burger. The name’s origin is a secret, and a misnomer—it’s Reno’s favorite greasy late-night meal. For healthier options, you can’t go wrong with the variety of eateries at West Street Market (148 West St.). For Reno’s freshest wood fired pizza, check out the Pizza Collective. Vegan food lovers should try The DeLuxe, where you can relish savory dishes such as vegan bahn mi and mushroom tacos. Stop by Sol, Reno’s one and only kava bar, where they mix up tasty and healing herbal tonics and teas with the plant, known for its calming properties. Top off your market trip with dessert at Icecycle Creamery, whose ice cream bar is stacked with signature flavors like honey butter cornbread and rosemary chocolate chip. Just down the street, grab drinks at The Eddy (16 S. Sierra St.); with an open courtyard and games like bocce ball, it feels more like an adult playground than a bar.
COFFEE + TREATS
For a sweet morning treat, take a peek at the glorious array of options at Holey Schmidt Donuts (490 S. Center St.). With flavors like Oreo, red velvet, and cheesecake, this shop will titillate the taste buds of any fried dough fiend. Walk by the river and grab coffee from Hub on Riverside (727 Riverside Dr.), which has the best view of any coffee shop in Reno. If you’re looking to step up your typical latte, Old World Coffee Lab (104 California Ave.) houses the Mocha Dragata, a double shot espresso with milk and a cinnamon, cayenne, and allspice blend—this signature drink is unparalleled!
Reno is famous for effortless natural beauty, including its gorgeous, rosy pink sunsets—catch one while walking through Reno’s Riverwalk District along the Truckee River. For something a little more adventurous, try BaseCamp Climbing Gym (255 N. Virginia St.). Once a colossal casino, the building now hosts the largest climbing wall in the world. For a trip outside the city limits, the easily accessible mountains are perfect for day hikes and weekend camping (Lake Tahoe is only 45 minutes away!).
For the best treasure hunting and most unique finds, walk through Reno’s midtown district. With a host of fresh female-owned shops, you are sure to find a statement piece or gem of a gift. One of the most iconic spots is Junkee (960 S. Virginia St.). Reminiscent of a colorful New Orleans parade, the large space is a truly eclectic source for all things costume and vintage. For more curated vintage and the latest trends with feminist flair, check out Bad Apple Vintage (1001 S. Virginia St.). For an unexpected gift, hit up Natural Selection (39 St. Laurence Ave.), a contemporary taxidermy shop with hanging succulents, petrified bugs and spiders, and a myriad of bones.
As one of the most distinguished architectural achievements in the city, the Nevada Museum of Art (160 W. Liberty St.) is a visual masterpiece both inside and out. For a far less polished, much more intimate experience with Reno’s underground arts culture, check out the music at The Holland Project (140 Vesta St.), where you can hear everything from electro synth pop to neo grunge, a true rebel girl’s fantasy. See local plays and art exhibits at the PotentialistWorkshop (836 E 2nd St.), or hit Dickerson Art District (Dickerson St.), which houses a series of artist collectives and creative businesses including Reno Art Works (1995 Dickerson Rd). The creative space hosts regular art installations and also sells work from resident artists, who create everything from jewelry to multimedia wall hangings. No matter what you’re into, there is bound to be a place for you in the biggest little city!
By Yolo Mana Yarrow
Photographed by Elspeth Summers
Top photo: Reno Arch
This article originally appeared in the October/November 2018 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
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