Long known to many as Las Vegas’ somewhat stunted little brother, “the biggest little city in the world” -- with its own Strip, pictured below -- is enjoying a surprising renaissance. Though short-shorts-wearing deputies are nowhere in sight (except in late-night syndication), there’s far more to Reno’s 411 than meets the eye.
A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT
Once a shadowy place that seemed best suited for hiding a body, the area surrounding the Truckee River downtown has been re-christened the Riverwalk District, which includes an ice rink, public park and a host of new shops and restaurants. With free Wi-Fi and vegetarian baguettes, Dreamers Coffee (17 S. Virginia St., 322-8040) feels miles from downtown Reno’s seedy past. For more upscale tastes, the dark and stylish Chocolate Bar (475 S. Arlington Ave.,  337-1122) features small plates and, of course, tempting desserts.
The south side of the river is also home to the city’s must-visit breakfast spot, Peg’s Glorified Ham & Eggs (420 S. Sierra St.,  329-2600). Open only until 2 p.m., Peg’s fills up fast, so arrive early or be stuck in the restaurant’s hopelessly undersized waiting area.
ROOM FOR THE FINER THINGS
On the Truckee’s north bank, you can browse La Bussola & Center Gallery (254 W. 1st St.,  348-8858) for art, jewelry and quirky crafts, and join the crowd next door at cozy Jungle Vino (246 W. 1st St.,  329-4484) for wine flights, microbrews and cheese plates.
Or get lit in a different way at Dharma Books (11 N. Sierra St.,  786-8667) while perusing its used fiction, nonfiction and art books.
GET A LIFT, IN A HURRY
Though Tahoe resorts like Kirkwood, Heavenly and Squaw Valley get Olympian levels of acclaim, locals and those who would rather spend time riding the snow than the highway get the best deal from Reno’s neighboring Mt. Rose (22222 Mt. Rose Highway,  SKI-ROSE), pictured below. Only 25 minutes from downtown, the mountain has 1,200 ski-ready acres, a kids-only area and an ungroomed, black diamond-rich “Chutes” section for those inspired by runs bearing names like “Cardiac Ridge.”
THE REAL DEALS
Most casinos offer ski and snowboard packages, but some of the best can be found at hotels off the Strip: the remodeled Grand Sierra Resort (2500 E. 2nd St.,  648-5080), the recently completed Atlantis (3800 S. Virginia St.,  723-6500) or the expanded neon kitsch classic the Peppermill (2707 S. Virginia St.,  821-9996). But maybe the best lift of all comes from the Tahoe Ski Shuttle (tahoeskishuttle.com), which for $23 picks you up in the morning from many casinos and brings you back for dinner.
WHAT’S FOR DINNER? YOU NAME IT
Few meals satisfy an apres-ski appetite like the “Awful Awful” double cheeseburger in Rosie’s Cafe at John Ascuaga’s Nugget in nearby Sparks, Nev. (1100 Nugget Ave.,  648-1177). For more well-rounded fare, Louis’ Basque Corner (310 E. 4th St.,  323-7203) is another classic, with hearty Basque-inspired cooking served on long tables. Pneumatic Diner (501 W. 1st St.,  786-8888, Ext. 106) serves vegetarian fare -- try the Super Deluxe Dave, a cheesy modified chile relleno -- and juices.
A BAR FOR EVERY CRAWL
A spiritual cousin to Spaceland in Silver Lake, Satellite (188 California Ave.,  786-3536) attracts unpretentious artist types and snowboarders with live indie rock and dance-punk DJ nights. In the Riverwalk District, the cavernous Imperial Bar and Lounge (150 N. Arlington Ave.,  324-6399) draws college students with the exposed-brick vibe of a gastropub.
SMALL SLICES OF VEGAS
The nightclub 210 North (210 N. Sierra St.,  786-6210), pictured above, and its after-hours counterpart Divinity Lounge deliver dress-to-impress dancing and drinks. Across town at the Grand Sierra Resort, All City Live ( 789-5369) draws the velvet rope tight with faux-gritty decor and booming club-pop.