After all, when people think of Reno, they think of wrinkled old ladies with one hand clutching a cigarette and the other hand clutching a slot machine lever. They think of tacky casinos and cheap buffets and seedy motels. They think of Vegas' neglected little brother. And it's true, Reno does have an air of disrepair and shabbiness about it, of tackiness and tired glitz, especially near the downtown casino area.
But Reno is so much more than that. In fact, we never go to Reno to gamble (okay, Alfie does like playing poker, but he could do that just as easily in the Bay Area). Venture a bit further from the casinos, and you'll find all the comforts of home, aka shopping malls, Whole Foods Market and great ethnic restaurants. There's a planetarium and a kids' museum and an auto museum. The Truckee River runs right through town, and you can walk right along its banks. There are fun things to do throughout the year: BMX and Monster Truck relays in the spring, kayak races in the summer, balloon races in the fall, and Santa Pub Crawls over the holidays. The Wild Wild West Town of Virginia City and the quaint Carson City are a 30 minute drive away. The nearest ski resort is just a 30 minute drive, Mount Rouse, is 30 minutes away. North Lake Tahoe and Truckee are 40 minutes away.
We even found a place to stay that would hold up against any good hotel in Vegas (in comfort and style, if not size and scale). The Peppermill Resort & Casino reminds me of the Bellagio in Vegas: it has the Tuscan architecture, the Greek and Roman statues, the beautiful glass ceiling light fixtures. Their pool area is to die for; two of the pools and the jacuzzi are open year-round, and they keep the water warm enough for people to take a dip in the middle of winter. Seriously, we've been swimming while snow was falling on our heads!
The rooms are luxurious, clean, stylish, comfortable, everything you'd want in a hotel room (maybe a bit too much gold, but hey, this is Reno).
The best thing about the Peppermill? You don't have to wade your way through a smoke-filled casino to get anywhere. You can go straight from your car to hotel check-in to your room to the gym to the spa to the pool without ever having to see a slot machine. You do need to navigate through the casino to get to most of the restaurants, but there are 2 cafes, a bar and a nice restaurant beside the pool, well away from the smoke and the noise.
I seriously have to get over my Reno reluctance -- and this post is the first step. Forget peer pressure. You know what? I DO shop at Walmart. I DO eat at McDonald's. I DO stay at the Peppermill. And I DO like Reno. Try it -- you might like it!
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