Spotlight: Nevada

When you think Nevada, sometimes your mind immediately goes to Las Vegas. But the Silver State offers way more than just Vegas and unlike Sin City, what happens in Nevada doesn’t always stay in Nevada. 

Such is the case with the annual Burning Man (Aug. 29 – Sept. 5) festival. The buzz on it has gone way beyond Nevada’s borders and the event is now a mecca for 50,000 people who converge in the Black Rock Desert and set up a temporary city in that dusty terrain. It’s known for radical self-expression and self-reliance and includes the ritual burning of a wooden effigy, for which the festival gets its name. Burning Man has become so popular that it’s sold-out for the first time in its 25-year history.

Beyond the Black Rock Desert, Nevada has some devastatingly beautiful landscapes such as its oldest and largest state park, Valley of Fire State Park, just 55 miles outside Vegas. And if you visit Great Basin National Park, you might see wildlife like bighorn sheep or wild horses gallivanting around. This is also Pony Express territory. You can enjoy the solitude nature provides and the untouched West, or tour Lehman Caves or even look up at the stars with a ranger on astronomy nights at Great Basin.

For those who couldn’t get tickets to Burning Man and still feel left out, the National Automobile Museum: The Harrah Collection in Reno has something that might hit the spot – the upcoming Mutant Rides exhibit (Sept. 15 – June 21, 2012) which will features five art cars from this year’s Burning Man. The museum will also satiate the car lover in your family as well. It has several celebrity rides including Elvis Presley’s 1973 Cadillac Eldorado, Frank Sinatra’s 1961 Ghia, James Dean’s 1949 Mercury and John Wayne’s 1953 Corvette. For more info: 

There are many other exciting activities in Nevada coming up and much of it is happening in Reno. Foodies who like old-fashioned ribs, might like the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off(Aug. 31 – Sept. 5) at John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks, NV. Rib cookers from around the country compete in this end-of-the-summer event and there is always the obligatory rib-eating contest. For more info: 

Photo credit: GRBR

The visually dramatic Great Reno Balloon Race (Sept. 9 – 11) is supposed to be the largest free hot air ballooning event in the country. About 100 hot air balloons will participate and what’s new this year is the presence of a Darth Vader balloon. May the force be with you as you join an average of 150,000 spectators who attend each year to see the rainbow of hot air balloons in the sky over Reno. For more info:

If you’re already in Reno for the balloon race and you’re an airplane lover, you might want to stay a while and see the National Championship Air Races (Sept. 14 – 18). It’s five thrilling days of racing with six classes of aircraft that fly speeds exceeding 500 mph. For more info:

For enthusiasts of the two-wheeled kind, there’s the Street Vibrations Motorcycle Festival (Sept. 21 – 25) that ushers in fall. This festival is an intersection of music, metal and motorcycles. A portion of proceeds go to the Juvenile Diabetes Association. For more info:

CommRow opens Oct. 1 as a non-smoking, non-gaming, pet-friendly place that’s billed as Reno’s “first urban adventure destination.” It will offer what they say will be the world’s tallest competition climbing wall overlooking the Reno arch, a state of the art bouldering facility, two live entertainment venues, eclectic eateries, and a hotel that will open in 2012. For more info:

There are some wonderful deals for those who need lodging when visiting the northern Nevada area, such as $79 per person per night (that includes a round of golf) at the Sands in Reno. The D’Andrea has a one night package for $69 (that includes one round of golf and $30 in chips).

Harrah’s Reno offers 20% off two night stays until Dec. 29. Promo code: P20 It also offers 30% off three night stays. Promo code: P30. Also, check the Hot Deals page for room rates that start at $55. For more info:

Music fans might like the Carlos Santana show package at the Reno Atlantis Resort Spa Casino. Until Sept. 23, they’re offering a luxury room accommodation and two show tickets for $175 per person. Promo code: CONCRT091

If you’re in town for the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off, John Ascuaga’s Nugget has a special Rib Cook-off package of one-night in a deluxe room, plus 2 Rib Cook-off dinner tickets for $79 on Aug. 31, $159 on Sept. 4, or $59 on Sept. 5. Car lovers will like that there is a monthly MINI Cooper & Cash Giveaway. The next drawing will be Sept. 24 and will include the choice of a custom Arlen Ness motorcycle, in celebration of Street Vibrations. For more info:

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