Vacations & Travel - - Contents - BY LANA BOGUNOVICH

Ven­tur­ing off the beaten neon-lit path and into Nevada’s west­ern frontier proves all that glit­ters ain’t gold in the Sil­ver State.

When it comes to Nevada, the first things that usually spring to mind are casi­nos, clubs and ho­tels, and while there’s plenty of those, ven­tur­ing off the neon-lit path prom­ises to be highly re­ward­ing.

Reno-Ta­hoe ter­ri­tory in the State’s west is a world of con­trasts, where past and present col­lide with ghost towns along scenic high­ways rem­nant of a rich min­ing past and mod­ern-day cow­boys strut past walls of street art.

It’s where high desert plains set against the mag­nif­i­cent peaks of the Sierra Nevada moun­tain range pro­vide the back­drop to more out­door ac­tiv­i­ties, fes­ti­vals and events, and world-class spas than any other re­sort des­ti­na­tion in Amer­ica.

En­joy­ing 300 days of sun­shine, it’s a year-round, road-trip friendly des­ti­na­tion, where you can eas­ily ski at Lake Ta­hoe in the morn­ing, golf in Car­son Val­ley at noon and let loose in Reno once the sun sets behind the Sierra, dis­cov­er­ing plenty of hid­den gems along the way.

Ven­tur­ing off the beaten neon-lit path and into Nevada’s west­ern frontier proves all that glit­ters

ain’t gold in the Sil­ver State.


After suf­fer­ing a sig­nif­i­cant blow dur­ing Nevada’s tough­est re­ces­sion ever, ‘The Big­gest Lit­tle City in the World’ has rein­vented it­self, breath­ing new en­ergy into its dis­tricts to offer a thriv­ing foodie and arts scene mixed with eclec­tic bou­tiques, mu­se­ums, galleries, and dy­namic nightlife.

Once run­down and seedy, MidTown

District to­day is hip and happening, with funky restau­rants and cafès, quirky bou­tiques and street art adding a cool hip­ster edge.

Down­town’s vibrant River­walk District is where the his­tory of the city’s birth­place meets the present day. Right along the Truc­kee River, you’ll find a va­ri­ety of restau­rants, shops, galleries, pubs and brew­eries, many of them housed in re­stored and re­pur­posed her­itage build­ings.

Orig­i­nally built in 1870, the old River­side Hotel, with its no­to­ri­ous his­tory of cor­rup­tion, quickie di­vorces, a fire, and a mur­der mys­tery, was des­tined for de­mo­li­tion in the late

nineties but the Sierra Arts Foun­da­tion in­ter­vened to save it. To­day this brick beauty is the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s head­quar­ters along­side artist res­i­dences, a re­tail space and Wild River Grille res­tau­rant, which serves up fresh Amer­i­can fare, cock­tails, craft beers and live mu­sic in an am­bi­ent al­fresco set­ting.

Nearby, the city’s 1933 US Post Of­fice on Vir­ginia Street has re­tained many of its orig­i­nal fea­tures after becoming

‘The Base­ment’, a col­lab­o­ra­tive mar­ket­place fea­tur­ing 12 ven­dors (in­clud­ing ex­cel­lent barista-made cof­fee at Global Cof­fee), and an art gallery.

Fur­ther down­town, stop by the Burn­ing Man Playa Park to see art in­stal­la­tions from the pre­vi­ous year’s Burn­ing Man Fes­ti­val, or check out the Na­tional Au­to­mo­bile Mu­seum’s collection of more than 200 vin­tage cars, in­clud­ing fa­mous casino mogul Wil­liam Har­rah’s collection and the win­ner of the New York to Paris race, the leg­endary 1907 Thomas Flyer. For a hit of action, con­quer the world’s tallest climb­ing wall at Whit­ney Peak Hotel’s ‘Base­camp’, or kayak the river at Truc­kee River White­wa­ter Park. After dark, there’s plenty of nightlife, en­ter­tain­ment and din­ing to ex­plore.

Vir­ginia City

Just 40-min­utes’ drive south-east of Reno, this old min­ing town was the largest city be­tween San Fran­cisco and Den­ver dur­ing the 19th cen­tury min­ing boom thanks to the first ma­jor dis­cov­ery of sil­ver ore in the country – the Com­stock Lode.

Beautifully pre­served, its Vic­to­rian build­ings are frozen in time, and with each step along its creaky wooden board­walks, you’ll feel like you’re walk­ing back in time. The Old West is deeply felt here and leg­endary tales of cow­boys, hard­work­ing min­ers, gang­sters and ill-fated madams offer a glimpse into the town’s colour­ful past. Have a pint at The Delta Saloon and see the “Sui­cide Table” where peo­ple re­port­edly shot them­selves upon hefty gam­bling losses, or Bucket of Blood Saloon, said to be named after the brawls that took place here, which were ap­par­ently so vi­o­lent, the bar­keeper would sweep out buck­ets of blood the next morn­ing. There are some in­sight­ful tours you can take, in­clud­ing the fa­mous Vir­ginia & Truc­kee Rail­road, which still runs to­day, chug­ging along a slow and steady route from Car­son City and run­ning sum­mer­time

tours to Gold Hill. But for a good his­tor­i­cal over­view from a local guide, hop on­board the charm­ing Vir­ginia City Trol­ley, which loops around the town and fea­tures many ma­jor sites along the way, in­clud­ing a stop at the an­nual Way It Was Rodeo, held ev­ery Au­gust.

Car­son Val­ley

Whether it’s hik­ing epic trails, hit­ting a round at a cham­pi­onship golf course, or sim­ply em­brac­ing the re­laxed local way of life, here it’s all about find­ing your very own ‘sweet spot’.

Take a scenic 45-minute road trip from Reno, where you can ex­pect to see wild horses and deer along­side breath­tak­ing Sierra moun­tain vis­tas, be­fore stop­ping at Car­son City, the State’s cap­i­tal. Ex­plore its Vic­to­rian build­ings, leafy streets, Nevada State Mu­seum in­side the former Car­son City Mint and the Nevada State Capi­tol build­ing with its glim­mer­ing sil­ver dome cap and lush gar­dens.

Nes­tled into the base of the Sier­ras, Nevada’s old­est town Genoa, will truly charm you. Proudly known for its

“three Hs” – his­tory, hik­ing and his­tory, its small com­mu­nity of around 220 res­i­dents has worked hard to pre­serve the town’s her­itage. Orig­i­nally set­tled as Mor­mon Sta­tion in 1851, Genoa’s past is felt all around, start­ing at the Mor­mon Sta­tion State His­toric Park, which was es­sen­tially the town’s birth­place. There’s a small mu­seum in­side the old log trad­ing post (a replica of the orig­i­nal) and a mon­u­ment of John ‘Snow­shoe’ Thompson, the leg­endary mail­man of the Sierra who would carry the mail from Plac­erville, Cal­i­for­nia to Genoa, mak­ing the gru­elling jour­ney on skis through the snowy moun­tains for 20 win­ters in the 1880s.

Stroll up the road to the lov­ingly re­stored Town Hall, quaint cafès, a quirky an­tiques store full of trin­kets to take home and the fa­mous Genoa Bar – Nevada’s old­est bar, dat­ing back to 1853. Or­der a Pi­con Punch – a classic Basque cocktail and, when hunger hits, head to the pretty streets of Gard­nerville for a hearty help­ing of traditional Basque cui­sine at J.T. Basque Bar and Din­ing Room.

For a thrilling, and in my case, a white-knuckle ex­pe­ri­ence you’ll never for­get, go soar­ing in an en­gine­less glider plane with Soar­ing NV at Min­den-Ta­hoe Air­port. Thanks to the unique at­mos­phere cre­ated by the sur­round­ing moun­tains, Car­son Val­ley is among the top three places in the world for soar­ing, and once you and your pi­lot have been towed aloft by a small plane, you’ll soar above the moun­tains and over spec­tac­u­lar views of Lake Ta­hoe. Top off the day with a soak in one of the geo­ther­mal pools at David Wal­ley’s Hot Springs Re­sort and Spa.

Lake Ta­hoe

Shim­mer­ing blue wa­ters, iconic grey boul­ders, pine tree forests and snowy peaked moun­tains – Lake Ta­hoe’s land­scape is breath­tak­ing and, while it’s the largest alpine lake in Amer­ica, there’s plenty to do both on and off the water.

Start off easy with a scenic cruise on­board the his­toric pad­dle wheeler M.S. Dixie II from Ze­phyr Cove in South

Lake Ta­hoe up to Emer­ald Bay, then take it up a notch with a gon­dola ride from Heav­enly Vil­lage up to Heav­enly Moun­tain Re­sort’s Epic Dis­cov­ery. Lo­cated on the Cal­i­for­nia-Nevada bor­der, this ad­ven­ture play­ground of­fers plenty of ac­tiv­i­ties for all ages, from hik­ing and sight­see­ing to ex­cit­ing zip line tours and ropes cour­ses.

If you’re after a live­lier nightlife scene, stay South, which of­fers bars, restau­rants, clubs and con­certs, as well as casi­nos such as Hard Rock Hotel and Har­rah’s. Fri­day’s Sta­tion on the top floor of Har­rah’s is a top choice for fine din­ing, ex­cep­tional wines and photo-wor­thy sunset views.

North Lake Ta­hoe is great for fam­i­lies and ad­ven­tur­ers, with beaches like Sand Har­bor ideal for swim­ming, pad­dle­board­ing and kayak­ing, and a range of hik­ing and bik­ing trails. The iconic Flume Trail, which was cleared and opened by cy­cling cham­pion Max Jones in 1983, of­fers some of the most re­ward­ing views of Lake Ta­hoe. However, at a length of 22.5 kilo­me­tres and plenty of steep in­clines, it is rated as dif­fi­cult, with the high al­ti­tude adding an ex­tra chal­lenge; so if you’re less experienced, opt for an eas­ier route. There’s def­i­nitely a trail for ev­ery­one, and Flume Trail Bikes, also owned and run by Max Jones, will sort you with a bike and point you in the right di­rec­tion. After­wards, re­ward your­self with a cold craft beer at one of the many Ta­hoe Ale Trails that con­clude with a wa­ter­ing hole such as Alibi Ale Works, which has a range of in­ter­est­ing and in­no­va­tive flavours on tap. We’ll drink to that.•

Open­ing im­age: You can’t miss the iconic Reno Arch if you’re trav­el­ling along Vir­ginia Street in Reno, © Kaitlin God­bey/Trav­elNe­vada. Clock­wise from top: Vir­ginia City Red Dog Saloon, © Chris Mo­ran/ Trav­elNe­vada; A young cow­boy watches the an­nual...

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