This weekend marks the opening of the first Burning Man in Nevada’s newly legal recreational cannabis era. But as it’s been since the Burning Man gathering moved to the Black Rock Desert in 1990 after four formative years on San Francisco’s Baker Beach, it’s against the law to consume cannabis or possess drug paraphernalia on the federally regulated Playa in the Black Rock Desert.
Stop in for a Burner Box at Blüm, eat at The Eddy, crash at the Grand Sierra.
Of course, all manner of drugs—botanical, pharmaceutical and experimental—are openly consumed by thousands of people during the 8-day festival, to say nothing of the flaunting of state laws against indecent exposure, lewdness and obscenity. We just need to note the legal technicalities here.
With that in mind, if you’re Burning this weekend you’re probably going through Reno, which is about 125 miles south of the gathering. Allow me to introduce you to the cannabis side of town.
Cannabis Retailers: Begin your Reno-Tahoe cannabis trip a short walk away from Reno’s “Biggest Little City” sign at Mynt, downtown Reno’s only cannabis store and creator/purveyor of Kynd, the locally produced, widely available line of flowers, edibles and concentrates. Blüm, one of Nevada’s emerging multi-store retailers, has a location in midtown, and Sierra Wellness Connection is your best option if you’re staying at the Grand Sierra Resort, east of downtown. Silver State Relief, east of downtown in Sparks, offers delivery and discounts for seniors and veterans. Kanna, north of the city in Sun Valley, runs an edibles special (20% off) every Monday. Reef, one of the best-known shops in Las Vegas, has two outposts here; one is north of the city in Sun Valley, another is just off McCarran Avenue in Sparks.
Try a “Burner Box”: One of my favorite new product is available starting Friday, Aug. 25: Burner Boxes, a collaboration between Blüm and Vegas Weekend Box, a Sin City startup that curates and markets Nevada’s best-selling cannabis products packaged in consumer-friendly style for tourists. At $299, Burner Boxes aren’t cheap but they are loaded with cannabis oil, edibles, bud and joints from leading Nevada producers, along with a state-of-the-art portable vaporizer and a high-end mini-torch that’ll withstand desert windstorms.
Each Box includes a 500-mg Cannavative vape cartridge filled with limited-edition “Burner Blend” cannabis oil touted as stimulating euphoria equal to sunrise over the Playa; a four-pack of Kynd salted caramels hand-crafted by Reno’s top confectioner; Simply Pure’s Highly Edible gummy pucks; an eighth of Cannabiotix Strawberry Cough sativa flower, a 2016 High Times Cannabis Cup winner; two Tahoe Hydro terpene-enriched pre-rolls; a powerful high-end Colibri butane lighter; a VaporSlide vaporizer with a long-lasting battery; and a Burner-ized custom pack of KushKards, the Hallmark of stoner greeting cards featuring a handy match attached to each message, perfect for sparking up joints and striking up conversations.
Where to eat? Try The Eddy, an open-air constellation of shipping containers in downtown Reno that features three bars, food trailers, plenty of patio space and games like cornhole and bocce ball. It’s located on the Truckee River but feels like it’s plucked from the Playa.
Burner Hotel-Spa Deals: Grand Sierra Resort and many other hotels offer pre- and apres-Burn room specials. The corporation that owns Eldorado Resort Casino, Silver Legacy Resort Casino, and Circus Circus Hotel Casino in Reno and the Montbleu Resort Casino and Spa hosts in Lake Tahoe hosts an epic three-day, three-night Burning Man detox starting Sept. 4.
Burner Hostel: Blüm’s down the street from two major resorts — Atlantis and Peppermill — but for a taste of the Playa and its people, book a room at The Morris Burner Hostel, an artful Burning Man-themed 31-room lodge in downtown Reno. As is the case with Nevada hotels, you can’t smoke at Morris Burner Hostel. Enjoy edibles discretely.
Burner Art Park: With the Circus Circus’ clown as a backdrop, Burning Man art pieces fill a previously vacant lot in downtown Reno. Reno Playa Art Park features a self-guided audio tour via cellphone.
Burner Style: As of posting time, four-fifths of Gypsy Getaway Wagons’ fleet was already reserved by Burning Man-bound campers. But if you can snag the remaining tricked-out wagon, you can tow it or have it delivered to a private campground, where you can sequester inside the unit, hand-crafted by a Burning Man artist to resemble a gypsy wagon, for private smoke seshes.
More Eating and Drinking: Consider local options beyond the air-conditioned confines of casinos. Shopping for cannabis at Blum in Reno’s hip Midtown district? Stop by Brasserie Saint James, winner of the Great American Beer Festival’s 2014 Mid-Size Brewpub and Mid-Size Brewpub Brewer of the Year and the inspiration for the offshoot San Francisco brewpub. The menu features Belgian- and German-style beer and beer-friendly food like steak tartare, braised short ribs and oxtails and fried chicken and waffles. Walk three blocks and you’ll reach SixFour Growlers, a barebones taproom where you can get take-out growlers filled with 30 local and regional beers. For higher style and abstract art, Loulu’s serves a sophisticated New American menu.
In downtown Reno, a meal at the Nevada Museum of Art is a must. Tucked inside the museum, Chez Louie serves French-inspired fare — pate, terrines, bouillabaisse, crepes, tartines — for lunch and dinner and fortifies Sunday brunch with a Bloody Mary bar and live jazz. After brunch, enjoy a free guided tour of the museum, an arty gem that boasts rare accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums.
For Fun: For amusement, you could lose yourself in immersive video-game-style slot machines. For non-casino shiny-object fun, check out the classic collection at the National Automobile Museum. Or test your deductive skills and claustrophobic tolerance by locking yourself behind a door and playing an escape game at Puzzle Room.