American Roadtrip | Nevada – Reno, Lake Tahoe and Nevada Day in Carson City

Usually when talking about Nevada the first thing that comes to mind for us is Las Vegas. Mainly because Logan is a big fan of this city, but our first time on this trip into Nevada was not to visit sin city.

After visiting the Bonneville Salt Flats just over the border in Utah we headed into Nevada and to “The Biggest Little City in the World”, Reno. This was a pretty good drive of around 645 kms (400 miles) and having been to Las Vegas previously (in 2010) and more recently, Macau, we were interested to see how Reno would hold up to this claim.

After some big days of driving and adventuring we didn’t really have too many plans while in Reno; we took a few walks around the streets to see what was what, but as we were there mid-week it wasn’t exactly buzzing. We found a strange mix in Reno, part of a street would look a bit sad and run down and then we would come across amazing art or newer looking areas.Reno Street Art_Nevada_AmericaOf course while there we stayed at a hotel casino and we had booked at the Sands Regency (see our review here). Reno is not laid out like Vegas and Macau though, in the sense that there are usually many casinos together in one area. Here you could walk blocks without any casinos, the major ones we found were ‘Eldorado’, ‘Harrahs’, ‘Silver Legacy’ and the classic, ‘Circus Circus’.Casinos_Reno_Nevada_AmericaLogan and I fondly remembered the big top/thunderdome at Circus Circus in Las Vegas so we took the boys in to see what attractions they had here. Sadly it was minimal and some things weren’t even open until later in the afternoon. So the boys played a few arcade games while we waited to see some of the fun ‘circus’ acts but they too were disappointing. We would all just have to wait until we were actually in Vegas to show them the Circus Circus that we knew.Circus Circus_Reno_Nevada_AmericaAnother thing in Reno that we introduced the boys to was the very classic, casino buffet!! When we were checking into the Sands, Lincoln spied a notice on the desk advertising that if you had a three-night stay and forgoed housekeeping services (which we often do anyway for short stays) we would receive two complimentary meals at the hotel’s buffet. This was a great bonus and by easily signing up for the ‘Sands Player’s Club’, (which you should always do if you stay at any casino or casino group) we got a few extra dollars off our meals as well. The Sands was by no means high-end, like some parts of Reno, it was a little dated and rundown, but the buffet was pretty good for the price. There wasn’t a huge selection but the food was of a good standard and still remains one of our top casino buffets. One thing you may not know is that casino hotels generally have much cheaper rooms from Sunday-Thursday and then Friday and Saturday nights are considerably more expensive, so naturally we tend to stay at these establishments during the week.

Buffet_Sands Regency_Reno_Nevada_America
Love a good buffet!!

After some nice quiet time in Reno we headed south to Lake Tahoe and on the way we stopped in to visit Virginia City, an old mining town in the hills. The museum was pretty interesting showing the techniques they used so long ago and so far underground. We strolled along the old wooden board walks as part of the main street still has many of the old buildings restored, but it’s very geared up towards the tourist dollar. After a short stay and a picnic lunch out the back of the car, we continued on towards the lake.Virginia City_Nevada_AmericaLake Tahoe is the third deepest lake in North America, approximately 1,600 feet (488m) deep, some of it is in Nevada and some in California. It was a pretty impressive sight and we enjoyed stopping at a couple of view points.Lake Tahoe_Nevada_AmericaWe actually crossed just over the border into California to stay a couple of nights at Super 8 by Wyndham South Lake Tahoe (see our Wyndham Properties review here).Roadtrip Map 3During our visit to the Bonneville Salt Flats earlier in the week we met a couple who told us about the upcoming Nevada Day and how there would be big celebrations in Nevada’s state capital of Carson City. We looked into it further and as we were staying just a 40 minute drive away we decided to get up early and arrive to Carson City by 8am to see the start of the day’s celebrations. Seeing 18-20 hot air balloons taking off from the centre of the city was well worth the early rise as we watched them float through the air and across the sky.Carson City_Nevada Day_Nevada_AmericaThis holiday commemorates the state’s admission to the Union on the 31 October 1864 and there was also an incredible four-hour long parade through the main street. There was a fantastic festival atmosphere with many people sporting Nevada or Carson City clothing and merchandise.Nevada Day Parade_Carson City_Nevada_AmericaAt times the parade did get a little exhausting to watch but there were also other activities and stalls to wander through and the boys made good use of their $7 USD/$10.38 NZD wristbands that gave them unlimited access to some blow up slides, obstacle courses, velcro walls and ride on animals in between watching parts of the parade. Fun at Nevada Day_Carson City_Nevada_AmericaBy about 2pm we were ready to head back to Lake Tahoe but we had an incredible day and it was very cool to be part of something so patriotic in a different part of the world.

Average Daily Spend for 5 nights – $258.04 NZD ($29.46 NZD under budget per day)

– Paula

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