Reno is home to Nevada’s only accredited art museum, the Nevada Museum of Art (775-329-3333 / www.nevadaart.org). The building itself is a work of art, and the in-house restaurant, Café Musee, is a culinary masterpiece. The museum has a permanent exhibit and brings in three major traveling exhibits. Past exhibits include the Wynn Collection, Ansel Adam and Maxfield Parrish. The current exhibit, which will be on display through Jan. 22, 2006, is In Stabiano, a collection of Italian antiquities.
Reno is also home to one of the most breathtaking car collections in the world, the National Automobile Museum (775-333-9300 / www.automuseum.org). Visitors will often overhear fellow visitors say, “I don’t even like cars, but this museum is fascinating!” The four-gallery museum is a walk through time, from the original horseless carriage of the 1880s to current hot rods and everything in between.
Top the evening off with a bit of magic at Magic Underground (775-324-6007 / www.renomagic.com) one of only two theaters in the country devoted entirely to magic. The show is family friendly and held in a small old-fashioned theater located below Virginia Street in downtown Reno. Above ground is the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts (887-840-0457 / www.pioneercenter.com) which annually hosts “Broadway Comes to Reno,” a series of professional traveling Broadway shows. On the marquee for the 2005-06 season is “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Cats,” “Oklahoma” and “Hairspray.”
A short drive from Reno is Incline Village, perched on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. Visit the Thunderbird Lodge (775-832-8750 / www.thunderbirdlodge.org), 1930s home of San Francisco tycoon and eccentric George Whittell. Tour reservations must be made through the Incline Village Visitors Center (800-GO-TAHOE / www.gotahoe.com). Then head down the road to Sand Harbor State Park for an afternoon of relaxing on the beach. If you’re there in July or August, be sure to catch the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival (800-74-SHOWS / www.laketahoeshakespeare.com). The festival presents two professionally presented plays every year on the shore of the lake in a million-dollar sand amphitheater. Get there early to claim a good seat (Bring your own low-back chair or blanket or pay extra for fixed seats front and center.) and share a bottle of wine before the show begins.
The scenic drive around Lake Tahoe is enough reason to visit Nevada. Take your time circling the east side down to South Lake Tahoe, where the hotel-casinos of Stateline, Nev., are lively all year long. First on the to-do list is a ride on the Heavenly Ski Resort
Gondola (www.skiheavenly.com). The gondola rises 9,000 feet from the street to an observation deck on the mountain. This is the place to get out and take in awe-inspiring views of Lake Tahoe. Then climb back in for a ride to Adventure Peak, the hub of activity with a restaurant, bar and live music throughout the ski season.
Now that you’ve seen Lake Tahoe from the air, explore it up close and personal on a paddlewheel sightseeing boat. Lake Tahoe Cruises (800-23-TAHOE / www.laketahoecruises.com) runs daytime and dinner-dance cruises all year long. An ongoing narration explains the historic and geographic sites along the way. After all the sightseeing, it’s time to rest the eyes and let machines do the work – slot machines, that is. Head back into Stateline for a night of 24-hour, Nevada-style gaming, including slots machines, blackjack, craps and roulette.