Nevada is world-renowned for its nonstop casino gaming, top-name entertainment, and world-class dining, shopping and spas. But venture outside of the major cities and you’ll discover another side of Nevada that offers outdoor adventures like skiing, hiking, mountain biking, boating, golf and fishing in some of the country’s most picturesque settings, with deserts, mountains, valleys, lakes and rivers.
Las Vegas, Nevada’s most famous city, is the world’s preeminent gaming and entertainment destination, with dozens of properties ranging from budget hotels to luxury mega-resorts. Most of the major resorts offer gaming, entertainment, dining and spas, providing enough to keep visitors busy 24/7. For entertainment, there are seven Cirque du Soleil productions, concerts by headliners like Garth Brooks and Cher, Broadway musicals like “The Lion King,” and productions featuring Las Vegas’ famous show girls, in addition to magic and comedy shows and, of course, lounge acts. If that’s not enough, there are plenty of cultural attractions, like the Shark Reef Aquarium and the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art. And surrounding Las Vegas are scenic and recreational treasures, like Red Rock Canyon, Lake Mead and, a day’s drive or short helicopter tour away, the Grand Canyon.
In Nevada’s Reno/Tahoe area, the casino core is downtown Reno, with several more casino hotels throughout Reno and neighboring Sparks, and ski resorts with casinos at Lake Tahoe, about 45 minutes away by car. While there is no shortage of gaming and entertainment, Reno/Tahoe offers a plethora of recreational activities. Among them are 15 downhill ski and snowboard resorts; 10 cross-country ski areas; thousands of mountain biking and hiking trails, including the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail; several lakes, including beautiful Lake Tahoe; and rivers like the Truckee River for kayaking, rafting and strolling along the Riverwalk.
Smaller towns in Nevada are growing as destinations in their own right. Among them are Laughlin, which is set along the Colorado River south of Las Vegas; Elko in eastern Nevada; Mesquite, near the northern Arizona state line; Carson City, Nevada’s capital, between Reno and Lake Tahoe; and Primm, located at the Nevada-California stateline in the south.
Nevada has come a long way from 99-cent breakfasts. Today, top chefs from around the world operate dining establishments in Las Vegas. Visitors can get just about anything they want, from hot dogs to haute cuisine. Las Vegas also boasts several Michelin-starred restaurants, including the three-star Joël Robuchon at the MGM Grand. And three restaurants — Alex at Wynn Las Vegas and Picasso and Le Cirque at Bellagio — boast AAA Five Diamond ratings. And of course, buffets are still abundant in Nevada.
McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is served by more than 30 carriers. The airport, located near the south end of the Strip, offers ground transfers to major hotels via taxis, limousines and shared-ride shuttles. Rental cars also are available. The Las Vegas Monorail runs from the Sahara to the MGM Grand, providing access to many Strip properties. Up north, Reno-Tahoe International Airport offers service from seven scheduled carriers and one charter airline. Most casino hotels offer free shuttle service, although taxis, limousines and rental cars are available. For transfers to Lake Tahoe, the North Lake Tahoe Express and the South Tahoe Express offer scheduled departures.
Southern Nevada has a desert climate. The best time to visit is spring, when temperatures are mild. Northern Nevada has four seasons, with snow during winter. With mild temperatures, summer and early fall are good times to visit — except for visitors who ski and snowboard, in which case winter is the best time.