GPS: 39°32'N 119°49'W
Reno and Tahoe are making a serious joint bid for the 2018 Olympics, but Reno has enough chops to merit consideration in its own right. Parked next to the aspen-fringed Mount Rose Wilderness, Reno's hospitality jobs, a refurbished downtown, and a new $1.5 million whitewater park—all reasons enough to stick around for awhile.
Rent a kayak with Tahoe Whitewater ($68 for a half day; www.gowhitewater.com) and hit the new Truckee River Whitewater Park for a Class II and III challenge right in the center of town (www.cityofreno.com). Or head to Reno's 8,266-foot (2,519-meter) Peavine Peak for a dose of singletrack within city limits ($89 for a guided day trip and bike rental; www.wildsierra.com). Come winter, Mount Rose Ski Area’s 60-plus runs are less than half an hour’s drive away (www.mtrose.com).
At the Silver Peak Restaurant, the Black Rock Blackberry ale is one to try: it’s a lighter, golden ale, fermented with 400 pounds of Oregon marionberries, brewed right on the premises (www.silverpeakbrewery.com).
Edith Palmer’s Country Inn is a cozy alternative to the casino-themed options you’ll find within city limits (Marilyn Monroe stayed here while she was filming The Misfits). About 40 minutes outside of Reno, in rural Virginia City, the 1863 Victorian home was originally used as a cider factory; today guests at the refurbished inn take their meals at the Cider Factory Restaurant (doubles from $99; www.edithpalmers.com).