Locals consider California Avenue to be the dividing line between the downtown casino district and the mansions and hip bungalows of Reno's tony Old Southwest neighborhood. The tree-lined avenue is home to well-regarded restaurants such as The Cheese Board & Wine Seller, The Blue Plate and The Chocolate Bar, as well as dozen or so upscale merchants. The Nevada Museum of Art, Truckee River white-water park, several theaters and a handful of hotel casinos are within walking distance.
Siena Hotel Spa Casino
Opened in 2001, the Siena quickly gained a reputation as one of Reno's more refined properties, featuring a Mediterranean aesthetic and modestly sized gaming floor. In contrast to some of the gaudier resorts, its hotel rooms are decorated in warm neutrals and provide views of the surrounding mountains; visitors will notice a relative absence of neon throughout. Notable dining choices include upscale Lexie's, which overlooks the babbling Truckee River, and Enoteca Bar & Lounge, which is modeled after an Italian wine cellar and features 35 wines by the glass. The full-service spa offers such exotic procedures as a full-body Balinese Body Polish using coffee and sugar. Siena struggled during the recession in the latter part of the first decade of the 21st century and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July 2010; the owners temporarily closed Siena's gaming floor later that year, but its lodging facilities remained open, as of October 2010. Of Reno's major hotels, it is the closest to California Avenue.
Club Cal Neva
For budget-minded travelers, Club Cal Neva offered rooms starting at $34 as of October 2010. Among locals, the Cal Neva is perhaps best-known for two things: the sports book operation -- voted "Best of Reno" by readers of the Reno News & Review in 2008 -- and its large neon billboard, which annually proclaims the arrival of the New Year to revelers in Reno's downtown plaza. Dining options are modest and targeted largely to sports fans; billboards around town in 2010 touted the Sport's Deli's "dog and a Bud draft for only $3.75" or the $4.99 steak and eggs special. The Top Deck coffee shop is open 24 hours a day, and lovers of Italian food can check out the Pasta Shoppe, which featured traditional entrees priced at less than $10 as of October 2010.
Eldorado Reno Hotel Casino
Located at the heart of downtown, the glitzy Eldorado Reno distinguishes itself on the Reno skyline with a sleek, shiny facade and bands of pink neon lighting. Owned by the Carano family -- of Ferrari-Carano wine fame -- the hotel offers three towers' worth of rooms and suites tastefully appointed with neutral tones and a minimum of fuss. The Caranos have long prided themselves on the property's dining options, which include what may be Reno's most extensive all-you-can-eat buffet and a half dozen other restaurants. La Strada and Roxy's will appeal to diners seeking top-notch Italian and nouvelle cuisine, while Brew Brothers offers microbrews, pub grub and live entertainment. The hotel hosts an Italian street festival every October. The Eldorado's showroom has hosted productions as diverse as Chinese acrobats and Celtic dance troupes. An sheltered indoor "mall" connects the Eldorado to its sister properties, the Silver Legacy and Circus Circus.
Harrah's Reno Hotel and Casino
Across the Truckee River from the Siena and adjacent to Reno's new baseball stadium, you'll find Harrah's. Rated three stars and three diamonds by Mobil and AAA, respectively, the hotel is less flashy than some of its competitors and offers solid mid-range accommodations. A fall 2010 special boasted rates as low as $49 per night. Harrah's Steak House is a high-end, traditional, mahogany-intensive restaurant favored by local business people and power lunchers. Other dining options include the Carvings Buffet and high-design Ichiban Teppanyaki steak house and sushi bar. The fifth-floor spa and salon provide services ranging from Dead Sea and chamomile body wraps to gentlemen's facials. A 60,000-square-foot gaming floor, showroom and casino cabaret round out the entertainment options, and the hotel offers skiing, golf and stay-and-play packages.