Vegan Reno: The Biggest Little Wellness Weekend

Hikes through the sierras, massages in casino spas, dinners at quirky-hip eateries and fresh-pressed cocktails are some of W+A’s reasons to visit Reno for a weekend recharge. The city’s healthy offerings are some of the best anywhere as native chefs and artists join bigger city expats in an effort to turn the city into a cultural destination with a focus on local artisanship and sustainability.

Reno is an easy trip from the west coast: 3.5 hours driving from San Francisco and less than 1.5 hours flying from LA. As for traveling from the east coast, Jetblue’s just launched a new nonstop route between Reno and JFK. There’s no better high desert destination to soak in the great outdoors by day, and dine at sustainability-minded eateries by night.


While the historic casinos in the heart of downtown await a Palm Springs-style overhaul to restore their mid-century glory, the new Grand Sierra Resort is bringing a touch of Vegas-style glitz to Reno. On-property dining includes Charlie Palmer Steak and Rim, both of which offer an off-menu vegan dinner nightly(!). It’s also home to the high tech, freshly renovated Grand Theater, and the largest west coast nightclub outside of Las Vegas, LEX, whose dj lineup really does look straight of of Vegas. Joining GSR on the new hotel front will be a Renaissance property, replacing the Siena downtown in 2016. For a stay that’s less urban and more desert, rent an Airbnb in one of the mountain homes surrounding the city like this dome home around 15-20 minute drive from town.


Nearly every new midtown eatery qualifies as a healthy, stylish eatery. There’s Cafe Deluxe for a hipped up, mod-ed out breakfast, lunch or dinner; Laughing Planet for a quick wrap or salad on the way to the Truckee River, Lake Tahoe, or hike; The Seed at The Studio for amazing juices and smoothies and veg-friendly dining at local favorite Campo. Greatfull Gardens serves seriously sustainable vegan-friendly cuisines in an atmosphere that’s a little family casual, a little kitsch. Both Charlie Palmer Steak and Rim at the Grand Sierra Resort serve a (local’s secret) vegan menu upon request, and GSR wine bar Reserve serves glasses of top wines from California and farther afield using the Coravin system. For casual dining en plein air, Food Truck Fridays in the summer are a wonderful way to dine on vegan bowls from Electric Blue Elephant.


I tried my very first Mysore-style yoga class in Reno at Ashtanga Yoga Reno. The instructors are amazing and patient and I can’t imagine a gentler and more inspiring way to get into the practice. Vinyasa classes at Midtown Community Yoga are fantastic, and the new Soul Space offers yoga, kettlebells and a number of other group classes. Crossfitters can check out the Double Edge Fitness box which is about 15 steps from The Seed cafe, and if you want to try a less expected take on cardio and upper body strength Epic Pole Fitness in nearby Sparks offers a number of pole classes.


The crowd favorite seems to be the Atlantis Casino spa, where I received a top notch sports massage. The amenities are quite nice, though I wish there was a separate entrance for spa guests instead of having to trek through the cloud cover layer of smoke on the casino floor. Grand Sierra Resort has the newest spa, and offers a nice range of treatments as well as a fitness center with group classes that’s open 24/7.


My preference usually swings toward independent practitioners when it comes to facial care, and I met some amazing skincare experts in the Reno area. On the derm side, Sierra Skin Institute is the chicest dermatology office in town - led by Dr Laura Ostezan and her all-women staff. They are up-to-snuff on all of the latest cosmetic procedures, with a focus on lasers like Fraxel. Esthetician Cathy Blane performed a Dermasweep on me, a new school version of microdermabrasion developed in nearby Roseville, Ca, that I learned is a nice upkeep measure in between harder core laser appointments or before a big event to have perfectly smooth skin. For a more traditional facial, Corey Hames at Beauty Zone is a magician with her hands. Local derms trust her more than any other private esthetician in the area, and for good reason. She is precise, gentle, thorough and generally spends up to 90 minutes with each client.


Reno’s Nevada Museum of Art is a spectacular building with a gorgeous permanent collection and a combination of historic and contemporary exhibitions. The museum offers Friday lunchtime artist and expert talks called Art Bites and regular hikes organized in partnership with the Tahoe Rim Trail Association. As younger membership grows with the influx of new residents working for tech companies Switch and Tesla, the museum is responding with a 5.5 million dollar renovation of a rooftop space called Sky Room that will have sweeping views of the entire city.


The perfect Reno pack is a little bit camping, a little bit Vegas. Grab your most utilitarian hiking gear, cozy spa-day tees and knits and then your sparkliest bodycon for a night out. If you need any help with the hiking gear, be sure to check out the Patagonia outlet just outside of town. What not to pack? Don’t worry about a blow dryer or flat iron - the dry desert climate tames almost any crazy mane.