Nevada Beyond Vegas

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Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe.
Photo courtesy of Lynn Rosen

Nevada may be known for gambling mecca Las Vegas, but there is more to the state than casinos on the Strip. Recommend caught up with Claudia Vecchio, director of tourism for Travel Nevada, to chat about some of the less-trodden destinations that should be on you and your clients’ radar. And with Travel Nevada’s new partnership with online media property BuzzFeed, Travel Nevada is showcasing the different types of adventures travelers can have in the state.

Lane Nieset: What are some of the trends you’ve seen in tourism in Nevada over the past year?

Claudia Vecchio: Nevada is well known as a gaming and entertainment destination, but we are also seeing significant trends in outdoor adventure. As our demographic is a little younger, we are sort of looking at families and millennials in driving travelers to enjoy Lake Tahoe and some of the extraordinary mountains. They are coming in to do a lot more adventure, which is fantastic because then they can combine adventure travel with entertainment and gaming, which makes for a much richer experience.

I think the fascinating thing about Nevada is that there are these gems out there that no one has heard of before and that’s the beauty of the kind of programs like BuzzFeed, which features posts about the state and an interactive map. From a travel agent standpoint and others planning travel to the state, I would encourage people to look beyond what is more of the known entities, which are great, but there are some extraordinary natural and historical opportunities in the state that are virtually at this point unknown.

LN: What are some of the places you would suggest that travel agents recommend to their clients?

CV: Within a couple hours of Las Vegas, there’s Valley of Fire, which is a state park. And that’s just up Highway 15, but you can’t see it from the road, so it’s like nobody knows that it’s there.

Also, if you flew into the Reno/Tahoe area, certainly Lake Tahoe is breathtaking, but come down to Carson City and then out to Virginia City, which is an old silver mining town. It’s definitely a cultural and historic trip, within 40 minutes of the Reno/Tahoe airport.

This is an opportunity for your clients to collect experiential merit badges by going out to cities and parks that no one has ever heard of before and coming back with tales and stories of extraordinary places.

LN: What are some of the other hot destinations agents should let their clients know about?

CV: I think Virginia City, just about a half-hour or so south of Reno, is a historic spot. It has a really cute main street, all in that flavor of the Victorian age. If you head into the middle part of the state, Eureka, which has this wonderfully restored opera house, is another historic location. If you get into Austin, which is even further into the state, your clients will see some wonderful hills and mountains.

Other Ways to Explore
• For travelers interested in the extraterrestrial side of Nevada, Vecchio recommends a visit to Area 51 and the nearby town of Rachel.

• The indoor/outdoor adventure recreation center, CommRow, in downtown Reno is undergoing a major renovation that will include a hotel, restaurant and nightclub. The center features the tallest climbing wall in the world (164 ft.) and an indoor bouldering room.

• Travelers looking to ski at Mt. Rose can stay in a cottage room at the Tahoe Biltmore and receive a lift ticket with a package for $79 pp per night, available from Sunday to Friday now through May 31. For more information, call (800) BILTMORE or visit

• In Reno, the Grand Sierra Resort features 2,000 guestrooms and suites, and a 24-hour, 85,000-sq.-ft. casino for travelers looking to hit the slots at any hour. From now through May 16, couples can book the Couples Retreat package featuring a 2-night stay in a Summit Grand II suite; one 50-minute hot stone massage pp; and one 50-minute Timeless European facial pp. Rates are $239 pp. For more information, visit

For more information, visit For more on Las Vegas, see What’s Hot in Vegas for 2013 in the January issue of Recommend.