It’s no secret people want to get out of the San Francisco Bay Area on weekends.

Spend any time on the freeways – north, south or east – either leaving on Friday or coming home on Sunday, and you get first-hand the feeling people are trying to escape.

One popular region has always been the Sierra Nevada, with Lake Tahoe certainly thought of as one of the top destinations. But Reno has made a comeback and is now an attractive location for people to head to for the weekend.

The lodging and entertainment dollar is a competitive industry in Reno. As the city has re-invented itself, the quality of the resort offerings has kept pace with the area coming to life in this age of technology.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that Reno was a perhaps an overnight only destination, not known for its variety of entertainment options.

Now there are no less than six-eight, high-quality properties. As a result, those that continue to evolve are the ones finding the most success.

The three-headed destination option that is the Silver Legacy, Eldorado and Circus Circus has excelled and is one of the leaders in Reno.

Ever since Eldorado Resorts, Inc. has taken over the Silver Legacy, Eldorado and Circus Circus, the enticement of staying at one of the properties has increased 10-fold for the three located right in the middle of downtown Reno.

From one of the places available to stay for the night to a can’t miss property, the three are major players.

We recently spent Labor Day weekend at the Silver Legacy and had a wonderful time on all levels.

Between the three properties – all linked together by walkways – there are 4,108 rooms, 23 restaurants, 18 bars and lounges, eight nightspots and 226,500 square feet of gaming.

What makes the trio sizzle? It’s the variety of entertainment options. You can’t walk seemingly one block in Reno without hitting some sort of gambling options, so it’s the peripheral amenities that can make the experience a memorable one, as well as something that guarantees return business.

Following is a look at some of the highlights of Silver Legacy, as well as some from the Eldorado and Circus Circus.

Golf Packages

This has been the biggest change for the Silver Legacy. For years, the Reno lodging properties focused on the Reno courses, which while wasn’t the worst thing, but given the number of world-class courses within an easy drive of downtown Reno, it didn’t seem like the most prudent method of recruiting groups.

Recently many of the properties had no one specializing in golfing options. Reno is a tremendous location for a buddy trip, but you need someone well versed in what the area offers.


Deer cross over the 17th hole in view of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in June 2003 at Genoa Lakes golf course near Genoa, Nev. (AP Photo/Weidinger Public Relations, Rod Hana)

Enter Mark Conn. Conn has been managing golf courses in Michigan, Arizona and the Washington D.C. markets for the last 15 years. He was the golf sales manager at the well-known and highly regarded Wigwam in the Phoenix area before the new management group created the position Director of Sports Marketing for the Eldorado Resorts properties.

“The bottom line is I am a golfer at heart and understand each golf group needs based on their priorities,” said Conn. “Within 45 minutes we have a wonderful partnership with 30 courses.”

Instead of going through a bell/concierge type desk, Conn’s has a team put together that specifically deals with the needs of each individual group.

“We know the facilities,” said Conn. “You’re not talking to the bell desk – we have a dedicated sports booking team to take care of everything you need.”

With the courses that make up places like Truckee, Graeagle and the Lake Tahoe area, it’s an easy choice to make Reno the home base for your golf adventure.

The city is located right in the middle of the golf hotbed of the region, has many quality lodging properties, features around-the-clock gaming options and the night-life much better than anywhere else.


The lodging is very sharp on the property. Our king room had a wonderful view of the surrounding area, as well as a nice work space, with free WiFi available. The TV was great, as were the channel options. There was also a pair of relaxing chairs and most important during the summer months – the air conditioner was excellent.

The bathrooms have separate vanity area and shower/toilet facilities. Not a big thing you think? Then you are not married!

Our room was on the 32nd floor and offered a tremendous view back west towards the pass you go through to get to the city. The view east is a wonderful view, including the Reno Aces minor league baseball park.

When you are in a casino town, your room requirements are different from say, a coastal town. It’s all about maximizing comfort for the limited time you spend in your room each day.

Silver Legacy knocks it out of the park in all aspects.

Silver Legacy comes with all the bells and whistles, featuring a new fitness center, spa and pool (open May-October).

The rooms at the Eldorado and Circus Circus are undergoing renovations and when done promise to be as good as the ones at Silver Legacy.

Sports and Race Book

William Hill, the largest bookmaking organization in the world, runs the books at all three properties. The new area, that opened a year ago in Silver Legacy, is sensational. Of all the years of hitting a sports or race book, there is nothing like football season.

There are many games on and it’s always a high-charged environment. There are viewing areas for sports on either end of the area, with the race book right in the middle.

“(William Hill) really kick started it,” said Conn of the sports and race book. “Everything was outdated. Stuff was still hand-written on the board.”

What buddy golf trip doesn’t include a visit to the sports book? At Silver Legacy, you have a state of the art operation tailored to embracing the individual gambler or a group of wagering happy people.

Poker Room

A new one at Silver Legacy has meant the end of the poker room in the Eldorado, but it’s a small price to pay for the luxury of the one at Silver Legacy. The room is big and spacious.

Poker is one of my favorite games to play – next to sports wagering – and the new room at Silver Legacy is as good as I have seen in the area. If you want to test your skills against others, take a shot at Silver Legacy.


As is the case with most casinos, there are ample dining options. Silver Legacy is no different, but the variety is awesome.

The can’t miss is newly opened Canter’s Deli, located by the poker room. The famed deli from Southern California – an institution since 1931 – offers up not just its traditional pastrami, but a variety of menu items.

A must-visit for the celebrity crowd in SoCal, Canter’s carries north everything it offers in the south-land. While there may be more upscale or relaxed dining options at the properties, Canter’s is a can’t miss stop on your visit to Reno.

Sterling’s Seafood Steakhouse offers the high-end dining experience and in the past when I have dined there, I have walked away feeling content and thoroughly satisfied.

Pearl Oyster Bar and Grill has become a popular establishment, offering exceptional seafood. Of course, Flavor’s Buffet offers your traditional casino buffet experience and is always a popular spot.

Café Central brings that casino, open 24 hours dining option that becomes incredibly vital after 2 a.m.! At that point, or later – or earlier depending on your perspective – quality food is a key and you get that at Café Central.

Hussong’s Cantina is a knock-off of the world-famous Ensenada cantina and offers a relaxed and fun environment, with quality food and beverages. The night we dined there, there was a youth baseball team in as well and it worked without compromising our experience.

In the morning for those seeking their fix, there is a Starbuck’s on the casino floor, but the options in the lobby at Sips Coffee and Tea is well worth avoiding the lines from the brand demanding patrons at Starbucks.


It’s not like you need to ask in a town that never shuts down, but the clubs on the property are a lot of run.

Rum Bullion has always been a good time, providing a relaxed environment in the rum bar. Thursday nights offer Karaoke, with Friday and Saturday featuring a mix of live music and DJ offerings from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Those seeking the higher-end, more formal nightlife, would opt for the Aura Ultra Lounge. Dubbed as a “provocative, classy atmosphere,” the club is certainly nice- not my style – but I have buddies that love this type of club and the reviews have been very good.

Eldorado – it is hard to tell where Silver Legacy stops and Eldorado begins – offers options as well.

NoVi is the high-end spot, featuring a new interior that provides a hip and current atmosphere. There is a VIP section offering bottle-service, as well as other amenities.

Of all the offerings on the properties, my favorite has always been Brew Brothers in the Eldorado.  Laid back, yet fun, Brew Brothers offers eight custom microbrews and a food menu that includes wood-fired pizza, burgers, ribs, sandwiches and complete dinners. There Is live music and DJs nightly. I have watched many a sporting event at Brew Brothers over the years and it has always been a great time.

You’ve got many awesome options for places to stay when visiting the Reno area and most of them are a good time. But simply put, the three Eldorado Resorts, Inc. options give you more options to have a good time.

Book your stay there and you will thank me you did!

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By Dennis Miller