Las Vegas

9 Casino Resorts in Reno: How to Find a Sure Bet While Traveling in Northern Nevada

Why roll the dice? From restaurants to pools, these nine Reno resorts prove casino culture is about more than slots and table games.

The rushing waters of the Truckee River are loudest in Spring when the weather warms up and the snow begins to melt from the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountain range. It’s hard to miss. The Truckee runs through the center of Reno, dividing the old casino district to the north and the emerging Midtown neighborhood to the south.

It’s where two eras meet. The old and new. Yesterday and tomorrow. While Las Vegas markets itself on flash and sizzle, Reno is a different kind of gambling town. It isn’t quite as eager to sell you on the hottest new thing. Most of the big hotels have been around for decades with occasional renovations that are often more pragmatic than dramatic. Reno is changing, no doubt. That’s what makes it so exciting right now. But it’s comfortable in its own skin.

Perhaps that’s why I’m so drawn to the Riverwalk — the collection of shops, restaurants, parks, and sidewalks that line the edges of the Truckee in the heart of the city. It’s a place of quiet reflection one minute and an animated social hub the next. The combination of style and scenery is reflected in Reno’s most popular and appreciated casino resorts. Between accommodations, amenities, and attractions, each one offers an opportunity to fully experience the city as a tourist destination.

Roll the dice like a big shot at El Dorado

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El Dorado carries a certain stature in the Downtown casino district. If you take away its layered neon glow, it almost looks like an office building, which actually gives it a rugged dignity to match its history. The hotel dates back to the early 70s, but before it shifted focus to courting tourists, El Dorado was the go-to casino for locals. Reno’s power players would discuss politics over whiskey cocktails between the stone decor at Cin Cin and overflowing plates of pasta within the brick walls of La Strada — both still in place and still perfect for sharing a compelling conversation.

The infamous martinis at Roxy’s and the bottomless whiskey deals at Novi will give any gambler courage to place a bet on their favorite game. The casino floor is evenly spread out with slot machines mixing in with the tables games underneath low lighting. That’s okay. A little discretion never hurt anybody. Big spenders will gravitate toward the high limit area, where the dreams are a little bigger and a dedicated bartender is on standby whether it’s busy or not.

El Dorado is the signature property of The Row, which also includes Silver Legacy and Circus Circus — all connected by pedestrian bridges and walkways. You might not realize when one resort ends and another begins, making the entire complex feel like a sprawling mega-resort. It also allows guests to bring alcoholic drinks from one casino to another.

Highlights

La Strada

Where authentic Italian dishes meet Old Reno swagger.

 

Roxy's

More than a hundred martinis to keep everyone happy.

 

The Row

Walk freely between El Dorado, Silver Legacy and Circus Circus in a three-in-one deal.

Hotel Eldorado Resort Casino

Top rated
Reno, 0.2 miles to North Center Street
8.8 Excellent (21144 reviews)
Excellent Location 8.9 / 10
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Modern decor and fun attractions at this Reno Casino Resort

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Walking through the Grand Sierra Resort, you’d never know it first opened back in 1978, when it was the MGM Grand. There have been so many renovations over the years, the hotel legitimately feels brand new. The casino is big and bright with tall ceilings and large windows ushering in plenty of natural light — rare since casinos typically try to close off the outside world.

The Grand Sierra Resort — or “G.S.R”. as it’s known casually around town — is all about attractions. The pool and spa are among the best in Reno and Charlie Palmer Steak provides a taste of celebrity chef star power that’s more common in Las Vegas. The nearly one-acre stage at the Grand Theatre has enough size and technology to host national arena acts in a more intimate setting, while Lex is the most stylish and busiest nightclub in Northern Nevada. Step outside and drive golf balls toward targets on a small lake or ride the Ultimate Rush, which shoots thrillseekers nearly 200 feet into the air like a slingshot.

The hotel does well with California tourists and has some of the largest convention and trade show space in Reno. It’s also a quick five-minute drive from the airport, which is more valuable than you might realize after a long flight.

Highlights

Charlie Palmer Steak

Prime cuts and a semi-casual atmosphere makes fine dining approachable.

Grand Theatre

A large stage attracts headliners from around the world.

Grand Bay Driving Range

Hit golf balls on the water.

Grand Sierra Resort and Casino

Reno, 1.7 miles to North Center Street
8.2 Very good (25510 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.5 / 10
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Reno Casino Resort that delivers a personal touch on a grand scale

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With its own expansive conference space and a sky bridge connecting to the neighboring Reno-Sparks Convention Center, the Atlantis thrives on trade show tourism, but may actually be the most locals-oriented resort in town. It’s one of those places where any problem or request gets resolved quickly — with a smile — especially on the casino floor where it’s easy to find a manager. The lobby is always clean with the smell of fresh flower arrangements in the air. The three towers of the hotel were built at different stages over time, giving it almost a hodge-podge feel if you pay attention to the layout while walking through the resort.

At restaurants like the Atlantis Steakhouse and Bistro Napa, presentation is everything, but the Manhattan Deli is the biggest surprise, serving authentic Jewish delicatessen favorites within earshot of the slot machines on the casino floor. New Yorkers who’ve seen it all eagerly vouch for the chopped chicken liver, matzo ball soup, and even the black and white cookies. Otherwise, the buffet could be the best in town based on seafood alone. In a rush? Walk to the Sky Terrace Sushi Bar from the parking garage without entering the hotel proper. Yet if you choose to valet, don’t be surprised if you’re offered a chilled bottle of water. It’s those noticeable small touches that help the Atlantis stand out among regulars and locals while embracing its role as a mega-resort.

Highlights

Casino

Locals-oriented customer service gives a personal touch to the casino floor.

 

Manhattan Deli

New York-style deli is an authentic surprise. Try the matzo ball soup.

Sky Terrace

Bridge makes it easy to park or reach the convention center.

Hotel Atlantis Casino Resort Spa

Top rated
Reno, 3.1 miles to North Center Street
8.5 Excellent (10142 reviews)
Excellent Rooms 9 / 10
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Look for the dome and mine the Silver Legacy of Nevada

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Located between El Dorado and Circus Circus, Silver Legacy is the newest and largest of the three resorts at The Row. It’s also the tallest building in Downtown. The hotel’s instantly recognizable dome — a distinctive part of the Reno skyline — is home to the 120-foot-tall mining rig that pays tribute to Nevada’s early silver trade. It’s next to Rum Bullions Island Bar where sugary tropical cocktails go down easy and live music is heard throughout the evening. It’s a good spot to catch the dome’s laser and light show that runs on the hour. The scene is more sophisticated downstairs at Drinx. The bartenders are personable, the martinis are stiff and the weekend Bloody Mary bar knows no limit to what qualifies as garnish.

If you’re here to gamble, Silver Legacy is the only casino at The Row with poker. The hotel rooms are modern, but often small and tight. However, the views are good from either side of the building. A warning to those driving: never use the valet. It’s notoriously inefficient and gets overwhelmed easily. Try the one next door at El Dorado and walk over instead. You’ll actually save time — and a few headaches.

Highlights

Mining Rig

The 120-foot tall mining rig is the centerpiece of an hourly laser and light show.

 

Poker Room

Your destination for No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em at The Row.

Drinx

Sophisticated cocktails and a weekend Bloody Mary bar.

Silver Legacy Resort Casino

Reno, 0.1 miles to North Center Street
8.0 Very good (19657 reviews)
Excellent Location 8.8 / 10
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Run away with the Circus Circus

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Circus Circus, which is connected to El Dorado and Silver Legacy as part of The Row, plays up its big top theme in a major way. The adults enjoy their fun in the casino downstairs while the kids go wild in the Midway upstairs with carnival games, video games and live performances by acrobats, clowns and other circus performers.

The dining isn’t nearly as strong as in other resorts, but that’s the benefit of The Row — options are just a quick walk away without the need to step foot outside. Although if you do, local attractions like the Reno Arch, Riverwalk and Bowling Events Center are all easy to reach by foot.

Circus Circus is also the closest casino resort to the University of Nevada’s Reno campus, making it a popular choice for families visiting students. The rooms are efficient but not spectacular, so take advantage of the low rates to upgrade to a larger suite.

Highlights

The Midway

Carnival games and circus performers provide family-friendly entertainment.

Prices

Skip the basic rooms and upgrade to an affordable suite.

Circus Circus Reno Hotel & Casino

Reno, 0.1 miles to North Center Street
7.6 Good (7530 reviews)
Excellent Location 8.8 / 10
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Dive into the best pool in Reno at the Peppermill

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The Peppermill started out as a motor lodge and coffee shop before eventually growing into a full-fledged resort. The statues, paintings, and stone columns are inspired by an over-the-top Tuscan theme, but there’s also plenty of old-school casino kitsch, from the rows of chandeliers that rattle overhead to the Fireside Lounge, a throwback to the old days where you can sip on fruity cocktails by indoor fire pits and water features. It’s a true piece of Vegas history.

Some of the rooms have hot tubs. Ask for one in the Tuscany Tower, where you’ll find the newest and most luxurious accommodations. The pool deck, nestled between the hotel’s two towers, is easily the best of any Reno resort with two geothermally-heated pools, a waterfall, and large cabanas that are more like private rooms. Edge nightclub has a busy dancefloor, but the real action is on the patio lounge with sweeping views and the crackle of fire pits. The resort’s Old World European image is put to best use in the spa, where you can soak in the caldarium (or Roman-style plunge pool).

Highlights

Fireside Lounge

Historic lounge and bar mixes drinks and kitschy decor.

Pool

Tuscan-inspired retreat is the best pool deck in Reno.

Edge Nightclub

Skip the dancefloor and lounge by the fire pits.

Hotel Peppermill Resort Spa Casino

Top rated
Reno, 2.5 miles to North Center Street
8.5 Excellent (18010 reviews)
Excellent Rooms 9 / 10
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Step back in time at this Reno Casino Resort

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A ruffled red curtain rises as the waitress delivers a round of drinks to your table. Your chair is turned away from the stage — we can’t all face the same direction after all — but that’s okay. The view is still good.

You’re at Harrah’s and you’re sitting in Sammy’s Showroom, named after longtime headliner Sammy Davis Jr. It’s just one aspect of Harrah’s that feels like a trip back through time. Another is Harrah’s Steak House, with a service team that’s masterfully executed tableside presentations for years if not decades. The French Onion soup is legendary and if you ask about the “Snoopy Salad,” you’ll be treated like a true insider even though the dish was officially removed from the menu years ago. The Joy Luck Noodle Bar is also a locals’ favorite, where inexpensive dim sum and other Chinese favorites are served round the clock — and quickly rising in popularity with Reno’s growing market of Asian tourists.

The hotel rooms themselves have improved dramatically over the years, even if the decor could be generously described as “timeless.” The casino does the job, but the location is the main attraction here. Harrah’s is just steps away from not only the Reno Arch, but the Riverwalk and other smaller gambling spots around Downtown. The resort, which is the first-ever Harrah’s — making it something of a signature flagship property for the brand — is a solid value with reasonable rates. Its appreciation for entertainment is reflected in the more recent addition of the Plaza, an outdoor amphitheater that draws national headliners, often for free shows in the summer. It’s not quite Sammy’s, but at least everyone is facing the same direction.

Highlights

Sammy's Showroom

Concert venue is a throwback to the era of resident entertainers.

 

Harrah's Steak House

Vintage style and tableside presentations still draw regulars at this longtime restaurant.

 

The Plaza

Outdoor amphitheater is one of the best places to enjoy a concert.

Harrah's Reno Hotel & Casino

Reno, 0.3 miles to North Center Street
7.3 Default (11620 reviews)
Very good Location 8.2 / 10
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Discover a Western Village on the water in Sparks

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No towering skyscraper here. The Western Village Inn is more like a motor lodge with a scenic location by the water in Sparks. Just off Interstate 80, the single-story hotel is an easy, convenient break for drivers in the middle of a road trip or locals eager to spend hours in a small no-frills casino.

The rooms are clean and comfortable, but if you have time to kill, head outside and stroll around Sparks Marina Park, where you can sunbathe on the beach, take a swim, fish or rent a paddleboat. It’s an instant, inexpensive mini-getaway in the middle of the suburban sprawl that defines Reno’s neighboring sister city.

There aren’t a lot of amenities at the Western Village Inn, but why have a pool when the marina and park are right outside? The Steak House, which overachieves in atmosphere, portion size and service, provides welcomed relief from the chain restaurants that dominate the surrounding neighborhoods.

Highlights

Location

The Sparks Marina Park has a beach for swimming, fishing and boating.

The Steak House

Modest dining spot is where Sparks locals go to enjoy steaks and wine.

Hotel Western Village Inn & Casino

8.0 Very good (4200 reviews)
Excellent Food 8.8 / 10
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The Nugget elevates the casino scene in Downtown Sparks

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Downtown Sparks isn’t nearly as imposing or alluring as Downtown Reno, but you’ll discover plenty of charm and character in the shops and restaurants in tree-lined Victorian Square. It’s right by The Nugget, a resort that began as a coffee shop in the ’50s and grew to two hotel towers with amenities and infrastructure that actually run underneath Interstate 80. The rooms feel new and modern, making it one of the best values in Northern Nevada. Ask for a view of Reno’s colorful neon skyline to the west and don’t sweat the small bump in price.

The Steakhouse is the only fine-dining spot on the property, but you may find a more rewarding experience at the Oyster Bar, a historic seafood restaurant with vintage boating decor. It’s almost like having a meal on board an old pirate ship.

The casino feels brighter than ever, thanks to new contemporary light fixtures and carpeting. It’s a complete package with poker, keno and bingo in addition to the standard slots, table games and sports betting. Take a break from gaming with a dip at the Atrium Pool — an indoor oasis surrounded by tall decorative trees and large angled windows for soaking in natural light and Sierra Mountain views. There’s nothing else quite like it. Big-name touring acts perform in the ballroom or outdoor Nugget Event Center amphitheater, offering locals a great excuse to book a staycation while checking out a show.

Highlights

Oyster Bar

Seafood restaurant goes all-in with its vintage ocean theme.

 

Atrium Pool

Indoor pool enjoys natural light, trees, and a waterfall.

 

Nugget Event Center

Outdoor amphitheater welcomes national headliners.

Nugget Casino Resort

7.7 Good (28209 reviews)
Very good Cleanliness 8.1 / 10
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Feature image courtesy of Tomasz Zajda / Fotolia


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