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How Reno is Making Its Case as More than a Tahoe Hub

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© Getty Images PHOTO: Aerial view of Reno, Nevada. (photo via photoquest7/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

By Will McGough, TravelPulse

If you think you have Reno figured out, think again. Those interested in urban development and revitalization will be intrigued by what’s happening in the “biggest little city in the world.” Here’s what we found out on our recent visit:

The City is Experiencing Major Growth

Like Boise and many other small cities in the west, Reno is drawing interest from companies and individuals in search of an affordable, livable city. One of the biggest drivers of the economy has been the arrival of Tesla.

It began construction on its Gigafactory back in 2014 and as of this time last year, it had brought more than 4,000 local jobs to the economy with projections for 10,000 in the years to come.

For a city with a population just short of 250,000, the impact cannot be overstated. What this, and other growth, mean for Reno is that it can peel back its reliance on the casino industry and allow its population—including its entrepreneurs—to branch out to other interests.

Old Relics are Finding New Roles

Several of Reno’s iconic buildings have taken on advanced roles in the community. The giant, still-in-operation post office on Mill Street has plenty of curb appeal, with its white exterior and long, rectangular windows.

It was also given a boost with the addition of a market called the Basement, which now resides underneath the grand building on the edge of downtown. The space features a Scandinavian design with close to a dozen local businesses, including a barbershop, workout studio, clothing store, and coffee shop.

Meanwhile, The Depot, a local craft brewery and distillery, has kept the old train station alive, repurposing its early roots as a hub of coming and going and transforming it into a gathering place. The beautiful, century-old brick building has to be one of the best-looking breweries in the country, but it scores for more than style—be sure to stop in and give the beer a try.

Ditching the “Other Vegas” Vibe for a Neighborhood-Driven Plan

If you’ve never been, you might think of Reno as the “mini Vegas” of Nevada, but that comparison is fading as Reno works to become a city of neighborhoods. Downtown Reno has the casinos, but it also has neighborhood-bar style eateries such as Liberty Food and Wine Exchange and the West Street Market.

Midtown flashes its community feel with the health-focused Great Full Gardens, featuring local produce and ingredients and a long strip of modern shops and bars. The Riverwalk District makes use of the Truckee River, which flows through the city, with a variety of water-side walking paths, public parks and outdoor dining.

The Casinos are Getting Cleaned Up

Though the emphasis—and the hope—is that gaming in Reno can fall in line alongside a myriad of other offerings, there is no getting around the fact that the casinos have always been the main attraction in Reno. They aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but with new competition abound, there seems to be an understood pressure that they must clean up their image and infuse new life into the city’s historically seedy nightlife.

Three of the major casinos, Circus Circus, El Dorado and Silver Legacy, are now operated under one owner. After recently completing a redevelopment project called “The Row,” the second-story walkway now connects the three casinos, while the walkway is lined with 25 restaurants, 22 bars and lounges and 11 nightspots.

The clean, modern design and the open-floored eateries aim to draw in a new, younger audience regardless of their gambling preferences, and should serve as a new beginning for the casinos and their relationship to the city.

Newfound, Undiscovered Outdoor Activities

If Reno’s mere 45-minute proximity to Lake Tahoe still flies too far under the radar in 2018, then I’m not sure what one would say about its other outdoor opportunities. Perhaps no one even knows they exist?

Mt. Rose Ski Resort is a half hour from downtown Reno; Bartley Ranch Regional Park captures the spirit of the old west with nature trails and a concert venue; hiking, mountain biking, and scenic overlooks can be found in Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, the largest national forest in the lower 48.

Don’t forget to float the Truckee River. For a slightly off-beat adventure, try rockhounding outside of Reno, or the Reno Rodeo Cattle Drive for a family-friendly, carnival-like atmosphere.

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