Updated: Mar 7, 2019
Prior to marrying my husband he wanted to go on a pre-wedding trip in hopes to get our minds off of the stress of wedding planning and to explore somewhere new together before we became Mister and Misses. Reno was initially on the list as it was similar to Vegas but with a much prettier view. We didn't even plan on visiting Lake Tahoe until we learned how close it was to Reno. There isn't a real easy or direct way to get to Reno so the flight is much longer than Vegas (at least coming from Michigan it was). We Landed in Reno to find out the only cars available to rent were luxury or sport cars at the same price as a full size (bummer, haha). We ended up with a drop top bright orange Ford Mustang (winning) and we were on our way. As soon as we left the airport we had clear view of the desert and snowcapped breathtaking mountains. I had no idea, I hadn't done much research before I visited and the view just blew my socks off. Our drive was short to our hotel, the Atlantis, which was one of the largest on the strip. Reno is small, not large like Vegas but they still had a nice size strip. There were lots of bars, casinos and great places to eat as well as shopping. Just like Vegas, Reno has a downtown area which is actually a riverwalk (rather than just desert and street). Lots of local bars, restaurants and local swimming holes. Although it looked like Vegas it sure wasn't Vegas prices which made it that much more fun (who doesn't like cheap?). We bar hopped along the river walk and enjoyed the scenery before returning to our hotel for a night of gambling, spa and drinks (not in that order).
The next day we ate breakfast at our hotel buffet which was amazing and then grabbed our car to really explore but then the valet let us in on a little secret. Lake Tahoe, amazing hiking (we didn't come prepared for that or we would have definitely done that) was under an hour away and so was the Bunny Ranch which was on the way to Lake Tahoe. Our eyes lit up as we prepared for a day of unknowns. We got in our vehicle and first stopped at the Bunny Ranch. If you are unfamiliar with the Bunny Ranch, its a brothel. Prostitution is legal in the state of Nevada so these Brothels are everywhere. This particular one is very popular because they were on a TV show many years back showing you the underground world of brothels in America. Just so you know, you don't have to engage in "full brothel" activity to visit a Brothel. They will let you go into the facility for drinks, dancing (they do have a DJ there) and absorption of the atmosphere. My fiancé and I were greeted at the door by beautiful women who gave us a tour of the place (completely unexpected as we didn't have an appointment or anything). The tour ended in a gift shop area where we could buy shot glasses, t-shirts, postcards, etc. We did end up staying to have a few rounds and talk with some of the regulars at the bar. The drinks were really strong and the vibe was good at this place. If you are a single, I can definitely see how easy it is to get wrapped up in this place for hours. We literally spent 3 hours there without even thinking about it.
After we left the ranch we sought out for Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe was a nice short drive but the weather started to change extremely as we drove from very warm to slightly chilly to coat weather (we visited early May). As we made it to the look out point of Lake Tahoe, I couldn't believe my eyes. It was like a painting, the view of the lake and the snow capped mountains with thousands of trees and cabins beneath us. We pulled our vehicle over to take it all in and capture our memories before descending down to the cabin near the water. We made it to the nearest public beach where we camped out for a few hours to enjoy the scenery and the sounds of the lake as it brushed against the shoreline rocks in the crisp cool air. This trip was definitely a way to escape from stress. I went home the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to tackle my work week.
Reno is an absolutely stunning, forgotten about, jewel. It has desert, snow capped mountains, lakes, rivers, hiking, gambling, partying, good eats, plenty of amazing scenery to bring you back to nature and calm your mind. After having been there, I would say this is more for couples or small families. There are endless things to do and I wish I would have had more time to really explore the two areas more (we went on a short weekend trip). Lake Tahoe had a lot of cabins that could be rented and if the weather were warmer during my visit I could definitely see how this could be a campers/cottage dwellers dream with or without family. Get back to nature with these two twin cities and be prepared to be wowed like Vegas but in a completely different way.