Reno and Northern Nevada: Credit Where Credit is Due

Written and Photography by Jake Conlee

Living in Las Vegas, I have become completely spoiled in the notion that our mountainous neighbor to the north always played second fiddle to the nonstop amusement park that is our hometown. Last week, I was given the opportunity to really visit Reno for the first time, courtesy of the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) and the Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCoT.) I honestly didn’t know what to expect. The last time I had visited Nevada’s “second city” was in the early ’90s, and it was a mere glimmer of the shining city that I have witnessed over the past few days. I had to come into town with virtually no preconceived notions about this city and the outlying areas, because the city that I remember, isn’t the city that it is today.


I have to preface the fact that I am going to possibly get into a lot of trouble for the things that I am going to say in this article, but it is the first in a series of articles which talk about the visit to Northern Nevada that I have just experienced, I will say that there aren’t enough words in the English language to describe how my love for this magnificent state has grown. I am definitely going home to Las Vegas with a special place in my heart for Reno, Northern Nevada, the people and the culture.

First things first, if you haven’t been here, stop pre-judging Reno. I have heard it all, and I am sure you have too. It isn’t what Reno 911 would make you think it is. I love the fact that Reno residents take it in stride and actually love the show, and with the exception of b-roll footage, Reno 911 is filmed entirely in Southern California. I will say that Reno itself will not win any beauty contests, but it has charm and the geographical setting makes it an incredible setting for some really amazing features which set it apart from the rest of the state. My hosts, NDA and NCoT all referred to me as “The Southerner,” as I was the only person in participation from “Downstate.” Which was fine, because at first, I automatically thought I was the coolest person in the group because of my affiliation to Las Vegas. This was my biased view, on my first day, and in the first hour of our “Agri-Tour,” I mean, come on, Las Vegas is more awesome than Reno, right?! Keep reading.

I suppose the flight into town didn’t really have any indication of what this region of the Battle Born State has to offer. Reno and the Carson Valley sit in valleys nestled below towering mountain peaks in every direction, but from the porthole window of a Boeing 737, they looked like any other mountainous area of this state. I was wrong, really wrong in my assertion about this area. My home base for the week would be the newly renovated Peppermill Reno. I love the Peppermill in Las Vegas, it is historical, evocative and kitschy, and makes me feel a world away from the Las Vegas Strip outside, so there isn’t any reason why I wouldn’t love the hotel as well. I did a little bit of digging upon finding where my accommodations are for the week, so I found it a little odd that the powers that be decided to go in a very Tuscan direction in regards to the multi-million dollar renovations. Again, I was sadly mistaken. I will say this very bold statement about the Peppermill Reno, and the Tuscany Tower Suite that I have been (am currently) staying in: it is one of the nicest rooms I have stayed in, for a very long time. The fit, the finishes and the cavernous bathroom with massive whirlpool tub, and dual showerhead shower. Marble flooring and countertops, a vanity, dual sinks with flat screen 32″ television and dimmer switches on every light, this is just the bathroom. Ample seating areas, a generous workstation, 50″ flat screen television, comfy king sized bed, soft carpeting and central climate control with floor to ceiling picture window rounds out the room and makes you feel like you’ve broken into some rich person’s bedroom. The Tuscany Tower Suite is not to be missed, if you can at all help it. They property itself is sprawling and has over 10 dining choices, a great player’s club and sprawling gaming floor. The pool area is just spectacular and Peppermill Reno has a state-of-the-art fitness center, which I made full use of.


From the moment that I was checked into my suite, I knew this week was going to be different from what I had imagined it to be. The first hours in town, I was welcomed with open arms, by a city I haven’t seen in 22 years. This was ideal, because I knew that over the next two days, I was going to get to know Reno and Northern Nevada in a way that I had never expected. I had my itinerary, I had a plan, I was ready to see what this seldom publicized region; especially in Las Vegas, has to offer. Before I continue on and speak of the terrific food, charming people, beautiful scenery, and sustainable local food and beverage culture, I have to give credit where credit is due. I love this place, I love the area, I loved the experiences and I will be back. Don’t get me wrong, I love Las Vegas, with all my heart, but I will also say this, Las Vegas has a thing or two to learn from Reno. Read the next articles and I will explain myself and whole-heartedly defend that statement.


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