Thanks in part to its wide-open landscape and sprawling interstate system, the United States has maintained a long-term love affair with the automobile. The romance certainly hasn’t waned over the years, as more cars were sold in the United States in 2015 than during any other year in history. Many of those sales were pragmatic vehicles like Crossover Utility Vehicles, but you don’t have to cover many miles to encounter far more interesting autos. So hit the highway and take the exit for these motor-friendly metropolises!
Portland may conjure up images of farm-to-table brunch spots and thick-bearded Millennials pedaling past organic coffee shops and tattoo parlors, but this hipster-friendly city knows how to burn some rubber. Portland International Raceway, just south of the Columbia River, features a full calendar, including Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) events, motorcycle road-racing, ⅛-mile dragstrip, karting, and unique events featuring vintage racecars, rally cars, British autos, and the surprisingly versatile Volkswagen Beetle. Sign up for their Pro Drive racing school and learn how to handle your car both on and off the track. If you’re more into aesthetics than pure speed, PDX Car Culture can point you towards the myriad car shows, cruise-ins, and custom builders in the area!
Often seen as Las Vegas’ smaller cousin, Reno provides a gearhead culture unlike anything Vegas has to offer. The National Automobile Museum presents The Harrah Collection, the eponymous casino-owner’s world-renowned collection of over 200 of the world’s rarest, most historic automobiles. Nowhere else can you see the 1938 Phantom Corsair, or the only original example of Buckminster Fuller’s “Car of the Future” – the 1934 Dymaxion – or the 1907 Thomas Flyer, the American-built car that conquered the world in the 22,000-mile 1908 New York to Paris Race. Once a year, Reno offers an adrenaline-pumping alternative to the static displays at the museum: the Reno Air Races, where some of the fastest propeller-driven aircraft in the world tear through the air at over 400 mph. At that speed, they could cover the 7-hour drive from Vegas to Reno in just over an hour!
Another Millennial favorite, Austin boasts something no other city in the contemporary United States can claim: a chance to see Formula One cars at full-tilt. This racing series represents the pinnacle of automotive technology, and, in terms of global popularity, is the soccer of the auto-racing world. The Circuit of the Americas also hosts a number of other high-octane events throughout the year, including a weekend of MotoGP in April (the motorcycling equivalent of Formula One), the Summer X-Games, and the Pirelli World-Challenge in March, contested by racecar versions of the world’s fastest street cars, including McClarens, Ferraris, Porsches, and American iron like Fords, Chevys, and Cadillacs. COTA’s Austin360 Amphitheatre also plays host to huge music and comedy events throughout the year, packing in upwards of 14,000 fans to see headliners like Duran Duran, Florence and the Machine, and Jeff Foxworthy’s RedFest.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is hallowed ground in the world of motorsport, and no tour of American automotive history would be complete without paying homage to ‘The Brickyard.’ Except for brief hiatuses during the First and Second World Wars, the world-famous Indy 500 has been run on this site every year since 1911. Contemporary racers cover the 500-mile distance in under three hours, at average speeds nearing 200 mph! The Brickyard also plays host to many other top-notch racing series, including NASCAR, MotoGP, and the Red Bull Air Race. For a more sedate experience, be sure to pay a visit to the Speedway’s Hall of Fame Museum, where a rotating selection of historically significant racecars, around 75 at a time, are on display.
Better known as the Country Music Capitol of the World, Nashville also offers a little something for those who prefer the music of internal combustion. While the Musician's Hall of Fame features musician-owned cars like Elvis’ Gold Cadillac, the true gearhead won’t want to miss the Lane Motor Museum. Featuring one of the most extensive collections of eccentric cars in the world, be sure to pay a visit to gawk at bizarre gems like their 1966 Citroen DS Ice Racer, the three-wheeled (and elegantly named) 1934 B.S.A. TW33-10-4 Cylinder, and the 1951 Hoffmann, which Jalopnik’s Jason Torchinsky gleefully dubbed "the worst car ever built." Who wouldn't want to see that?
No motorsport is more American than NASCAR, and no city in the United States is more steeped in it than Charlotte, North Carolina. Take a lap through NASCAR history at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, tour the headquarters of one of the many NASCAR teams who call Charlotte home, and feel the thunder of horsepower at the legendary Charlotte Motor Speedway. In addition to multiple NASCAR races and events throughout the year – including the only Saturday night race in the NASCAR Chase – the Speedway hosts events featuring monster trucks, MXGP motocross, World of Outlaws, and the 8,000 horsepower, 320 mph acceleration-machines known as NHRA Top-Fuel Dragsters. Let your gearhead flag fly, and don’t forget your earplugs!
This article was published on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on February 15th.
Reno might not get as much attention as its big brother Las Vegas, but that is a good thing. Reno has a more laid back, less frenzied feel that can actually make for a very nice vacation. Especially if you find the right hotel. Whether in the mood for posh pampering or a nice hotel with a casino that allows you to get the best of both worlds, these are the top boutique hotels in Reno, Nevada.
Located on the banks of the Truckee River in the heart of Reno, Siena Hotel is where you want to stay. Their rooms have amazing views of the city and river, with the Sierra Nevada Mountains providing the perfect backdrop. A basic room will only set you back $50, but they also have more plush, spacious suites available in the $200-$300 range. On-site amenities include a top-notch casino, full service spa, health club, outdoor pool with poolside bar, and three restaurants — including The Whitewater on the River, Reno's only riverfront restaurant.
If bigger is always better, than look no further than Sands Regency Casino Hotel. With a whopping 700 rooms, this is the largest hotel on this roundup of the top Reno hotels. Their casino is likewise equally expansive, and a great way to spend a few hours — or a few days, if you get sucked in. All rooms come with a balcony, making it an ideal hotel for enjoying the Reno skyline and relaxing in the evening breeze. They also have luxury suites available with queen bed, whirlpool tub, shower, and separate living room. Oh, and did I mention they are pet friendly, too?
The only hotel on this list that does not offer gambling, Plaza On The River is the ideal choice for family vacations or those who want to visit Reno, but have no wish to indulge in the gambling. Their rooms feature both city and Truckee River views and come with all the necessary modern comforts, including refrigerator and microwave. They also have suites available with a full kitchen and whirlpool tub, if you are planning a longer stay or looking for somewhere that feels more like home than hotel.
The battle between relaxation and excitement rages hard at Peppermint Resort Spa Casino. On one hand, their three-story spa is hard to resist and the perfect way to unwind while on vacation. In-room massages are equally appealing. On the other hand, their enormous 24-hour casino stocked with 700 video poker and slot machines, 48 gaming tables, and a separate poker room is beckoning, and for many, the call will be irresistible. Guests can also take a dip in one of Peppermint's two large pools and have all their food cravings satisfied in one of their 10 restaurants.
Some Reno hotels focus entirely on grown-up fun, like casinos and spas. But Harrah's Casino Hotel is different, because they realize that in order for parents to have fun, their kids also need to have fun. This is exactly why rooms at Harrah's come with a video game system, and they can even arrange babysitter service, if needed. After entertaining the kids, feel free to kick back the heels and enjoy the hotel's spa or casino. There are also many family friendly sights and activities nearby when the harsh fluorescent lights of the casino are too much. ;)
flickr // paraflyer
Reno's big sister Las Vegas may get all the attention, however that doesn't mean visitors to Nevada should skip Reno. The city and surrounding area has plenty to offer -- besides just gambling -- without the overwhelming crowds of Vegas. Consider these offbeat sights and activities when planning your Reno vacation:
This 78-lane bowling megaplex is a testament to how much the citizens of Reno love the sport. The National Bowling Stadium is the largest bowling alley in the world and as such plays host to all the big bowling tournaments. It was also used in the filming of the bowling comedy classic Kingpin. Go on by and test your skills at the "Taj Mahal of Tenpins."
Go karts, mini golf and the Ultimate Rush, oh my! Grand Adventure Land is a miniature amusement park located at the Grand Sierra Resort but open to the public, not just guests of the resort. The highlight of the park is a ride called the Ultimate Rush, a crazy combination of hang-gliding and sky-diving that is sure to get your adrenaline pumping!
Read More Reno Has More to Offer Than Just Casinos
Levi's denim jeans are an American icon known around the world and they got their start in Reno, Nevada. First designed by Jacob Davis using Levi's denim, the two patented the idea in 1871 and the rest is history. Although Davis' original factory no longer exists, a plaque commemorating this historic event can be found at 233 N Virginia Street.
I bet you didn't even know this one existed, eh? Neither did I before passing through Reno on a road trip with my off-road addict of a best friend. Turns out the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame is located downtown inside of the National Automobile Museum, making it a great destination for all sorts of motor enthusiasts. The amount of stuff inside will amaze you! Definitely a must visit and a great way to pass an hour or two.
2015 marks the first year of the Reno Offbeat Arts & Music Festival. This four-day festival is designed to highlight the burgeoning offbeat art, music and food not just in Reno, but found throughout all of Nevada. It will take place November 5th - 8th, 2015 throughout downtown Reno. Details and full lineup have yet to be announced, however you can find out more on the Reno Offbeat Festival web site.
This infamous brothel gained nationwide attention after the HBO behind-the-scenes special about brothel life, Cathouse. Needless to say this is not a family outing, but for all you solo travelers out there eager for a unique experience, this is for you. Expect the night to cost you a couple hundred dollars, however it is possible to spend several thousand here, if budget is of no concern.See More Offbeat Travel Guides United States Travel Ideas