Welcome to Reno

By Bryan Akerley

How is it that a city once only known for gambling in seedy casinos, cheap divorces and a Johnny Cash song was hit square in the jaw during the Recession, sparking an era of rebirth and renewal that led to a complete revamp, where a weird reputation has been slowly chipped away to reveal perhaps the most thriving and cultured town in the West?


We’re living in a renaissance – or “Reno-issanse" – where some of the most interesting restaurants, bars, art galleries and music venues have grown out of decades-old, history-filled buildings. It’s a mingling of a deeply rich past and a hip, vibrant present that has resulted in what I believe to be the most unique corner of the United States, unlike anything anywhere else. This is the new Biggest Little City in the World, and you’re invited to explore.

Welcome to Everything Nevada’s take on the glitziest, wildest town Northern Nevada, where I’ll be your guide to the weekend music shows, premier restaurants, divey hangouts, exclusive parties and community-wide gatherings. Whether it’s reminding you Jay Leno is coming to the Grand Sierra Resort or making sure you head to the Depot for a pitcher of mimosas and brunch on a Saturday, this is your one-stop shop for the best stuff happening every weekend, and there’s always something going on.

For starters, let’s take a look at some of my personal favorite recurring events in Reno.

Throughout my own time in school at the University of Nevada, The Jungle (formerly Java Jungle) was the place to be on Monday nights. For Outspoken, an open mic night of music, poetry and comedy, it still is. Drop in anytime Monday night from 7 to 10 p.m. and see some of the best rising local talent show off its stuff in this little coffee shop and bar on the Riverwalk. The mix of open mic acts range from the self-assured to the wildly strange, though there’s always something to inspire and no such thing as a boring night.

Those keeping up with the monthly wine walk just a few miles south in Nevada’s capital surely know about Downtown Reno’s version. The Reno Wine Walk every third Saturday of the month is the perfect chance to tour the Riverwalk District if you’re unfamiliar. With almost every bar, restaurant and boutique in the area taking part, pick up a custom glass and walk the town, seeing such iconic Reno staples like Silver Peak Restaurant & Brewery, Imperial Bar, Liberty Food & Wine Exchange and the Basement, located below Reno’s historic former post office building and what is now undoubtedly the coolest West Elm you might ever visit. This is one event you’re sure to experience month after month.

Photo: Reno Wine Walk Facebook

As for nightlife, nowhere is quite like Downtown Reno. The biggest draw to the streets season after season are the now famous themed bar crawls. Year after year, thousands flock to Virginia Street to impress for the Halloween Zombie Crawl, where (in just a few weeks!) people don their bloodiest undead makeup, lurch from bar to bar and even take part in a massive choreographed dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” under the Reno arch. Or the December Santa Crawl, a time for winter-themed partygoers to load up on eggnog and take to the streets in red and white masses – but definitely not the midnight kind. While these are certainly the most popular, people come from all around to take part in Pirate Crawls, Superhero Crawls and so many more all throughout the year. Call it a Reno nightlife signature.

Photo: Reno Gazette-Journal Facebook

From the outside, you may be surprised to learn that Reno has such a strong, well-supported independent music scene. But if you know where to look, there are shows happening every weekend. Take the Holland Project, for example. Midtown Reno, the epicenter of the city’s rebirth and home to the best and brightest bars and farm-to-table restaurants in town, has a special spot in this hipster’s paradise. The Holland Project is an art gallery by day and an indie music hall by night, featuring some of the greatest touring acts around as well as the tightest local bands. Not far is The Saint, a bar and venue offshoot of the Brasserie St. James-St. James Infirmary institution. Here you’ll find live local blues every Wednesday night, a new band every weekend and the Brasserie’s award-winning brews on tap. What more could you ask for?

Photo: The Saint Facebook

It turns out, so much more. Reno is huge, layered and full of something for everyone – be it a family-friendly weekend of museum visits and park tours or the home of the greatest party you’ve ever seen, and these events just scratch the surface. Each week I’ll let you right in on the action, so you’ll never again spend a weekend in Reno wondering what there is to do or see or experience.

Reno moves fast, so strap in, open up to some new events and ideas and have the time of your life in the biggest little city.

And for a breakdown of each week’s happenings, be sure to also check out our Daytime, Nightlife and Community pages.  

About the Author Bryan Akerley
Bryan was born and raised in Northern Nevada and is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno. When he’s not writing, he’s keeping up with pop culture as a lover of movies, TV, music and books or out exploring the area through its restaurants, bars and nightlife. Then he’ll unwind by playing the drums or piano or spending time with his corgi, Teddy.