Laura & Victoria Tour Reno Tahoe

Like a Local: Your Ultimate Reno Tahoe Weekend

Tahoe local Laura Lawson Visconti shows Seattle-based photographer Victoria Wright around Reno Tahoe for the first time. Here’s how they spent 48 hours.

There’s probably no better way to experience where you live than showing a newbie around. But when that newbie is my friend Victoria (photographer married to a bonafide winemaker!), the adventure is nothing short of magic. I knew Veeks would be captivated by the contrast of Reno’s quirky charm juxtaposed with the majesty of Lake Tahoe; and sure enough, it was a joy to witness her take it all in: from climbing over petroglyphs carved into granite to dining on bone marrow — I would say we did it right.

What I didn’t expect was to be so wowed by my own backyard along the way.

A Local’s Guide to Your Trip to The Biggest Little City in the World

Getting to Reno

I’m constantly amazed by the ever-growing plethora of nonstop flights coming into Reno these days — a quick 2-hour hop from Seattle, this is the easiest trip you’ll make all year. Make sure to grab a window seat to catch a glimpse of the Sierras upon the descent! If it’s not already, the Reno-Tahoe International Airport may soon become your new favorite airport, with its ease and quick security lines.

Where To Eat When You’re In Reno

I can’t emphasize Reno’s up-and-coming foodie scene enough. I had a lot of fun showing Victoria some of my favorite spots around town. We hit up Midtown for lunch — you can’t go wrong with any of the great restaurants in the Midtown District. For dinner, we dined on specialty cocktails, burrata and bone marrow (yes, really) on Centro’s back patio — yum!

Take Yourself on a Brewery Tour

You can’t talk about Reno and not mention beer. I enjoyed showing Victoria some of my favorite breweries in town: don’t miss Pigeon Head and Brasserie Saint James. The first afternoon, we passed a couple of hours catching up over delicious drinks at Brasserie. No better way to spend a sunny afternoon in Reno.

The Best Spots to Shop Local

Each time I visit The Basement, I marvel at how it continually transforms. We enjoyed poking our heads in all the shops in Midtown and picked up some cool vintage-inspired Reno postcards at West Elm. A day later, we found ourselves at the gorgeous Sierra Water Gardens (my first time!) for a rad social gathering where I introduced Victoria to some friends… I will definitely be shopping for flora and fauna from the “succulent bar” in the future. If you’re in the area, make sure to check out Wedge Ceramics and Strange Bikinis as well.

Waterfront Dining with Views of the Truckee River

Have you been to the Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel yet? While downtown admiring the Burning Man artwork on display, we wandered into The Shore Room at the Renaissance — with gorgeous views of the Truckee River, we were treated to a cacophony of Charred Grilled Octopus, Grilled Lamb Rack Lollipops and other delectables. Sipping a Mediterranean Mule and Raspberry Lemon Drop, with unparalleled views of the Truckee River, I felt proud to show Victoria my home. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Experiencing the Largest Alpine Lake in North America

Catch a Sunrise in Truckee

Always chasing pretty photo locations, I knew I had to show Victoria the token sunrise spot in Reno Tahoe. Wandering around Donner Summit in between pockets of light, we found petroglyphs in the granite and dodged bats in the Donner Train Trestles. Afterward, we kayaked Donner Lake — a typical morning for me — and it felt good to know that Victoria was getting a very authentic taste of my day-to-day life in Reno Tahoe.

Where to Find Best View of Lake Tahoe

There is no shortage of Insta-worthy photo spots in Lake Tahoe, but I had to show off some of my favorites. Any spot along Lake Tahoe’s Flume Trail will offer unparalleled views of the lake, but my personal favorite spot to show newbies is Monkey Rock, as it’s an easy hike with rewarding views. We parked in the parking area near Tunnel Creek Cafe, and after our hike went in for wraps and sparkling water — be sure to check out this cafe for a great post-hike meal. After parking, head up the fire road behind the cafe — you’ll take a dirt trail straight up the hill on your left after about a mile or so. Hiking shoes with proper grip will be helpful, unless you want to fall in the dirt like this local did!

Pack a Picnic and Do Lunch Like a Local

After purchasing snacks from Tunnel Creek Cafe, grab your favorite blanket (we found a gorgeous one from Bespoke) and head to Sand Harbor for iconic views of Tahoe, and innumerable boulders to choose from for the perfect Tahoe picnic. Bonus points for bringing a bottle of wine from Uncorked. After, drive further down Tahoe’s photogenic East Shore and park in the lot near Chimney Beach for access points to several coves down a short trail.

Cheers to Happy Hour at Lake Tahoe

Hands down, my favorite spot in all of Lake Tahoe is Lone Eagle Grille at the Hyatt in Incline Village. The perfect spot for date night, a birthday celebration, happy hour, whatever… situated on Tahoe with a gorgeous fire pit outside, it doesn’t get much better (P.S. it’s even prettier in the snow!). Victoria and I enjoyed champagne paired with the Roasted Cauliflower Pizza, and all was right with the world.


Written by Reno Tahoe local, Laura Lawson Visconti

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