It’s been a while since we went to Burning Man. Over 10 years ago, my friends and I would travel from ends of the globe to attend the festival. Coming from Dubai, London or Melbourne was quite tiring and the journey was over 24 hours long. Granted that it’s all worth it, we also thought it would be a waste to simply go all the way to Reno without exploring it’s surrounding history and magic. So here are a few tips on what to do when you’re visiting beautiful Nevada, for Burning Man or not.
Check out Reno
Up and coming, Reno has been developing in the last few years rapidly due to it’s burgeoning start up scene and craft beer culture. And where there’s talent, there ‘cool’. These start uppers have slowly created a buzzing, youthful environment that’s reminiscent of Austin TX or Brooklyn NY. It’s divided into ‘districts’, as the locals would share, typically the beer crafting, gaming, university, business and cultural. Reno’s unique hip scene downtown is anything but Casinos and gaming and here is where to explore:
- Nevada Museum of Art is one of the most perfect contemporary art museums you will find. It’s small yet huge with great exhibits all year round. I’ve found their installations quite dramatic and on par with international contemporary art museums. Bonus: The Cafe, Chez Louis has delicious eats in case you’re seeking a hip eatery and nibble.
- The Riverwalk is where it all happens. The whole district that surrounds the Truckee river epitomizes the art and cultural spirit of Reno. Easy to walk around for a stroll while checking out cute little shops, art galleries such as Stremmel, restaurants along side the river. Nearby, theres the National Automobile Museum with an impressive collection of cars. Also, there’s almost always something going on during the year.. check their website for listings.
- Basecamp at the Whitney has the world’s largest climbing wall, yep the-world. If you’re an avid climber or have no clue, here’s a great place to try it because these people are serious about climbing. You can’t blame them with all the gorgeous nature around! In addition, if you want to stay at a hotel that’s trendy and non-gaming, the Whitney Peak is it. You’ll find a healthy flow of buzzing creatives checking in and out of the hotel of preference 😉
- Pyramid Lake is quite mystical in a way. Centuries ago, this river was inhibited by the Native Paiute tribe that enjoyed it’s fish and waters. You may still see lovely Paiute would show you around. Beautiful and magicalThere’s plenty you can do here.. camp, hike, walk, swim, fish.. but most of all relax! If only someone can organize a yoga retreat here, I’m sold! Get something warm, it can be a little windy and nights can be chilly.
- Drive up to Virginia City, history fanatics, this is a spot for you. I highly, highly recommend a trip there before or after the burn. During the 1860s gold and silver rush, this was America’s first major silver deposit discovery in the US. Now, it’s literally a ghost town reminiscent of the wild west. Check out the Old Washoe Club, order a drink and wait for some ghost children to pull your hair.. not kidding, this has actually happened! Lastly but not least, don’t forget a visit to the Cemetery.. a must see.
- Visit Truckee: This is a nature lover’s paradise, full of hike trails, dirt biking sport, climbing, rafting, paddle boarding, boating and beyond. Here is where you enjoy nature to the fullest- elite atheletes from all over covet this spot in America and if you’re an outdoorsy person, this place is for you. It is also known as The Best Mountain town, near the Sierra Nevada and within 10 miles from 10 lakes! It’s also got a western feel to it, so you will notice historic western architecture throughout the town.Also, here’s a Map on what’s been developing in downtown and what’s each ‘district’ is about in Reno that you might find useful:
Check out North Tahoe: In less than an hour, 6000 ft above sea level and a breath taking scenic drive, we found ourselves in a mini heaven called North Lake Tahoe. Despite the journey and climb over Mount Rose (stunning, btw), I definitely recommend at least a night here before or after the burn. A serene, easy going and accepting community, locals are nothing but friendly and happy. Coming to Tahoe from larger metropolitan cities, you will notice the extreme difference in vibe and lifestyle; no wonder The God Father chose this location to shoot a big chunk of their movies but also bought a house on the lake during filming! Tahoe preserves a unique calm spirit that’s incomparable. Here are a few spots to hit while there:
- Get a massage: I’ll recommend Linda from The Sanctuary Spa. Having previously worked in tech, she understands the stress the body endures in today’s living. Her approach is holistic yet thorough and scientific with excellent knowledge on body anatomy. Their prices are also reasonable.
- Plenty of options on where to stay: The Ritz, Hyatt and other lovely hotels but the way to do it is to rent a typical American lake front cabin with friends. Plenty of options here.
- Hike or Bike up the Flume trail, a scenic trail that has several gorgeous view points off the lake. Breathtaking is an understatement, the trail is lined with trees and non- stop views of the lake and the spectacular mountains (Sierra Nevada).
- Crystal Bay is known for it’s new age/zen Crystals. There’s one thats very close to The Border House, just hanging there on the beach but you’ll also find a huge stunning crystal at the Bar by the Crystal Bay Casino. Theres so much peace and zen around Crystal Bay and I guarantee that you will ‘feel’ calmness and ease for meditation around the shores.
- Eat delicious Seafood at Gar woods, a chic restaurant that’s on the Pier facing the gorgeous lake and mountains. Friendly staff and a menu full of neighboring local beer and delicious bites. I’ve been told stories about their Tuna and I understood why… The flavors of the tuna and their special sauces mixed gave me a mouth party… I highly recommend their Tuna Poke.
Wishing everyone a stunning Burning Man & a tasty, fun visit to Nevada!