The Best Little Places in Reno, Nevada

It’s more than casinos! Reno has sushi buffets, local art, funky museums, and some great shopping. You can trust me — I used to live there.

555 S Virginia St, Reno, NV 89501, USA
Great Full Gardens is a great casual place for lunch or dinner with good food, friendly service. The menu offers a good selection of soups, salads, wraps, and sandwiches at reasonable prices. They have vegeterarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, and are very accommodating of dietary restrictions. Try their famous tomato basil soup with a grilled asiago cheese sandwich. Skip their underwhelming liege waffles and head to Batch Cupcakery next door for a sweet treat afterward.
160 W Liberty St, Reno, NV 89501, USA
The Nevada Museum of Art, in Reno, is the state’s only accredited art museum. The permanent collection is divided into four themes: Contemporary Art, Altered Landscape Photography, Art of the Greater West, and the Work Ethic Collection. Temporary exhibitions include sculpture, photography, and larger installations. The museum store features jewelry, art, apparel, and gifts that are a step above the “I <3 Reno” T-shirts downtown. We liked the chalkboard mug ($15), which sports the museum’s nifty logo and comes with a piece of chalk for your own artistic expression.
Peppermill, 2707 S Virginia St, Reno, NV 89502, USA
The Fireside Lounge is unapologetically, gloriously tacky — which is why we love it. Tucked away inside the Peppermill Casino, the little corner bar can be a bit hard to find, so it’s usually less busy. The banquette seats around the water-filled firepit (imagine a hot tub with an Olympic torch stuck in the middle) get snapped up first, but the cozy booth seats have individual TV screens playing music videos. This is the kind of place where you can, and should, order a drink served in a fishbowl-sized glass with gummi worms hanging over the side. Happy hour is M-F from 4-7 pm and features free shrimp cocktails with your drink purchase, and there are late-night specials after midnight.
955 S Virginia St
When you see the giant grinning Cheshire Cat head, you’ve found the entrance to Happy Happy Joy Joy, a wacky toy and novelty store for oddballs of all ages. You’ll find housewares, bags, gag gifts, party favors, collectibles, comics, art... and, of course, Shoezilla. The staff and clientele tend toward the intimidatingly hipstery, but they’re friendly and happy to help you find the Game of Thrones bobblehead of your dreams.
960 S Virginia St
Thrifters, costume lovers, and antique collectors can all find something to love at Junkee Clothing Exchange, one of Reno’s most charming vintage stores. You can bring your clothes to sell for store credit, or simply wander among the racks of sequined dresses, costume accessories, vintage boots, and fur coats. Don’t forget to admire the creepy-cool goth-circus artwork hanging on the walls, and the elaborate chandeliers. The other half of the store is a large antique mall with individual stalls run by separate sellers. You’ll find everything from vintage rhinestone jewelry to garden-party hats and World’s Fair souvenirs. Prices are reasonable and they carry clothing for men and women in a wide range of sizes.
1290 Plumb Lane J, Reno, NV 89502, USA
Sushi Pier, Sushi Club, Sushi Land... the sushi buffet names aren’t terribly inventive in Reno, granted. But what they lack in clever names, they make up for with unlimited quantities of nigiri, hand rolls, and long rolls. Sushi Pier’s claim to fame is that they also offer hot appetizers like chicken katsu skewers, mussels on the half-shell, stuffed calamari, and “sushi pizza.” (You can also order a la carte, but why?) “Dinner” is available all day, costs a few bucks more than lunch, and grants you access to the special “dinner roll menu” of premium sushi rolls, so it’s worth the extra cost. The kids’ menu has cooked items and less intimidating sushi combos for young foodies.
3800 S Virginia St, Reno, NV 89502, USA
As a former Renoite, I now get to enjoy playing tourist when I return, which includes staying at a hotel-casino. For my money, the Atlantis is one of the best choices in town. It’s located a bit south of downtown, very close to the aiport and far away from the traffic chaos that festival weekends can bring. The decor theme is a surreal fantasy undersea wonderland, as befits the Atlantean name. Toucan Charlie’s is my favorite hotel buffet, setting out a particularly extravagant spread for holiday brunches and dinners. Guests get full access to the tropical-themed indoor atrium pool, hot tub, and outdoor pools. They’ve even made the skyway to the parking lot an attraction, packed with video slots, a sushi bar, and an oyster bar. As shown here, however, the hotel’s rooms are understated and peaceful, far enough from the noisy racket of the main casino floor to get a good night’s sleep.
685 E Prater Way #101, Sparks, NV 89431, USA
Yet another sushi buffet in Reno, Ijji Sushi sets itself apart with a wider range of cooked dishes and more innovative fusion rolls with a variety of ingredients (which aren’t always successful), like the Tropical Roll — mango, jicama, and salmon topped with kiwi, strawberry, avocado, coconut flakes, and strawberry sauce. Not to worry, though, they have all the traditional rolls and old standbys you’d expect. Your meal includes hot appetizers like baked or grilled mussels, chicken skewers, and pot stickers, plus dessert. The servers are friendly and happy to work with sushi novices to find their comfort level. Ijji is a bit more expensive than some of the older sushi buffets, but the novelty factor and wide-ranging menu are worth trying. Ijji has three restaurants around Reno, so you can gorge regardless of your location.
138 Emerald Bay Rd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150, USA
Leave behind the powerboats roaring around Lake Tahoe and find your bliss by kayaking the sparkling waters of Tahoe’s biggest bay. The water is typically calm here, especially in the morning, so even beginners can have fun. Pick up a rental from Kayak Tahoe, located right on the beach next to Vikingsholm Castle, and start paddling around Emerald Bay. When your arms get tired, pull up on the shores of Fannette Island for a picnic lunch. If you’d rather go with a group, Kayak Tahoe also offers guided tours, including sunset and full-moon options.
1595 N Sierra St, Reno, NV 89503, USA
Rancho San Rafael is a sprawling 570-acre regional park that has plenty to offer visitors: walking trails, picnic areas, a rose garden and arboretum, the Wilbur D. May Museum (full of taxidermy and other creepy delights), a dog park, and the Great Basin Adventure water park for kids. Once a working ranch, the land is still mostly pastureland and sage, but there are plenty of walking paths and benches in grassy areas; you’ll see plenty of wild rabbits, birds, and insects as you hike. The park is also home base for the annual hot-air Balloon Races.
1590 S Wells Ave
Offering no-nonsense classic diner food and enormous portions, PJ & Co. is a Reno institution. They’re best known for their brunch — try the eggs Benedict, coffee cake, and the Bloody Marys. It’s a popular place and the wait can be almost an hour on busy weekend mornings, but once you finally sit down, you’ll be amply rewarded with more food than you can eat. Wednesdays are Bike Nights, when bikers are invited to show off their motorcycles and gather in the bar for drink specials and camaraderie.
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