20 Best Things to Do in Reno, Nevada

20 Best Things to Do in Reno, Nevada

The flashing neon beams of Reno's casino have summoned high-rollers for quite some time. The city’s notorious rep around gambling has been very limiting to say the least- Reno is so much more than poker chips and noisy slots.

With a comforting and zero make-believe attitude, Reno’s charm is unparalleled. The city has sustained its Old West vibe even as a bevy of Tec giants have set their corporate space afoot.  All of that could be the reason why Reno is endearingly nicknamed as the “biggest little city” in the world.

With admirable vacation spots, excellent museums, thrift stores and natural attractions, you will practically never run of things to do in Reno. That is why we are here to narrow down your choice to the 20- best things to do in Reno.

Take a stroll around Reno's Riverwalk

Reno's Riverwalk
Ken Lund from Reno, Nevada, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Situated along Truckee River, Reno’s restructured Riverwalk area is the place to go to if you want to escape the heat and have some peaceful time for yourself.

You will find here a pleasant reprieve amidst a number of galleries, restaurants and several emerging establishments which have famously come to be known as CalAve. If you are clueless as to where to begin, we highly recommend tagging along the trails of Wine Walk.

It will cost you somewhere around $20 per person but is worth for the amazing wine-tasting experience you will get there. With a couple of galleries and speciality stores, make sure you don’t miss this place.

The visitors are free to stroll around the riverwalk district at any time of the day at absolutely no cost. As far as parking is concerned, there are plenty of public lots available across the district. If you particularly want to avail the nearby parking garage, you will have to pay a minimal amount for the ticket.

A walk to remember at Emerald Bay State Park

Emerald Bay State Park
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Sliced by passing glaciers thousands of years ago, the Emerald Bay State Park is a true beauty you ought not miss. Surrounded by towering trees, this place is for anyone who wants to take in the beautiful views of Lake Tahoe.

With its vibrant granite cliffs and gorgeous Emerald Bay Lookout, this inlet presents lovely photo opportunities anywhere you turn to. Hopping on a boat to Fannette Island, witnessing the marvellous Vikingsholm are some of the touristiest things you could consider doing while you are here.

If you are feeling adventurous, don some scuba gear and set out to explore Underwater Park.

Get your spirits high at Great Reno Balloon Race

Great Reno Balloon Race
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If you are in the hunt for a visually dynamic, family-oriented attraction, head to the north of downtown Reno.

This three-day at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park celebrates the joy of flight and is attended by thousands of people on the go. Another interesting fact to know about this annual event is that it is the world’s largest free hot-air ballooning event.

You can find the awed onlookers grabbing their lawn chairs and watching the attractively coloured soaring across the Nevada Sky. The pilots of the balloon race against each other to reach to Truckee Meadows- whoever reaches there first, wins.

If you’re visiting with kids, be sure to check out Rancho San Rafael. If you want to capture some cool photos, consider coming early to witness Glow Patrol and Dawn Patrol, where balloons take to the sky against a pitch-dark backdrop. The event is entirely free to attend, but the parking may cost you around $10.

Revisit history at Nevada Museum of Art

Nevada Museum of Art
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Standing at the Southern end of Truckee Riverwalk, the Nevada Museum of Art is a must-visit for a welcome respite from the casinos. Its architecture and interior easily impress the crowd.

From its exterior wall to the atrium staircase, you are sure to be awed.  Established in 1931, it is safe to say that this museum has placed a lot of importance on thematic works that range from permanent to temporary.

As the oldest established cultural centre in the state, there is a lot to be understood and explored here despite its small size. The museum is also notable for its outdoor sculpture gardens and research centre. As a cherry on top, you can also take in the beautiful views of the Reno skyline from here.

For guided tours along the museum, make sure to book in advance. The Museum is open for visitors from Wednesday through Sunday. The admission fee is $10.

Learn about cars at National Automobile Museum

National Automobile Museum
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Situated in downtown Reno, National Automobile Museum (more popularly known as The Harrah Collection), is for the true automobile enthusiasts.  

From horse carriages to celebrity rides, you will be impressed by the impressive collection of cars and artefacts from each era.  They have over 200 vintage, classic and special interest automobiles, out of which the majority are from Bill Harrah's own collection. These restored collections entertain as it educates.

As you stroll through the galleries of cars and exhibits in the museum, you will feel as if you’re travelling through time and discovering something new. If you want to get some memorabilia for yourself or your friends, be sure to check out the Museum Store.

The museum also offers room rental for birthday parties and as corporate training spaces. The local history museum is occasionally used for prom and wedding venues.

Get your feet wet at Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe
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Bordering Nevada and California, Lake Tahoe is as beautiful as it gets. With soaring mountains and clear waters, people throng here for its magnificence.

The region is famously known for its skiing destination and well-preserved hiking trails. They also present a wonderful opportunity for you to indulge in boating and fishing as well. All of these make Lake Tahoe the perfect spot for your summer getaway.

Test your lady luck at Casino at the Eldorado

Casino at the Eldorado
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If you are into the cheap thrill of gambling, this one’s for you.  Spanning across a staggering area of 81,000 square foot, this casino is a true entertainment hotspot.

Over the recent years this casino however has started to give in to the damages of time. Even so, it remarkably remains one of the finest places to gamble in the city. In addition to the infamous gambling scene, the Casino also offers several table games, poker and sports betting.

Now, if you want to experience the nightlife, head over to the Eldorado Resort- they regularly host on-site nightlife venues and regular concerts. If you want to munch some snack or grab a quick meal, the casino has in-house restaurants and bars.

Go up the Mount Rose Ski Resort

Mount Rose Ski Resort
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Standing at the height of 8,260 feet, it is the closest ski area and Tahoe’s highest base resort. If you’re feeling adventurous, head over to the varied terrains for an unparalleled skiing experience.

Because of its family-friendly skiing area, the region tends to get pretty crowded during the weekends. So if you want to visit, we highly recommend doing it during the weekdays.

Stand in awe at Greater Nevada Field

Greater Nevada Field
Ken Lund from Reno, Nevada, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The greater Nevada field is where you should come if you want to enjoy some fresh Reno air. Be warned though- if you are looking for breathtaking skyline views, you are likely to return disappointed.

However, not everything is bad news-the Greater Nevada Field boasts a fantastic vantage point of the neighbouring mountain range.  If you’re visiting any time from November to February, don’t forget to check out the ice skating rink set up in the ballpark.

Get geeky at Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum

Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum
Patrickaturner, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This proactive science centre is the perfect spot for you if you are interested in exploring everything science. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg- you will be spellbound by the vast attractions here.  

More endearingly called the Discovery Museum, it offers an expansive bevvy of permanent interactive galleries. Some of its most famous highlights include the jungle gym and an illustrious imitation of the Truckee River.

If you’re travelling with children, we would highly recommend making a stop here. The museum equally engages adults as well through its offers adults-only evening events. The museum is open from Saturday through Sunday from10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Meet the animals at Animal Ark

Black bear at Animal Ark
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Although it takes a bit of a drive from downtown Reno, visiting Animal Ark could be fun and exciting. Spanning across a whooping area of 38 acres, the officials describe the place as a “safe haven for nonreleasable wildlife.”

Animals- many of them either injured or abandoned, from different parts of the world have taken shelter here.

The ark also shelters some predators and exotic species from all around the world.  At this enclosure, visitors are provided with the opportunity to see and interact with these animals.

Most visitors opined that the best time to visit the place is in the morning. Besides the favourable weather, you will also get to witness the animals being fed. Another big highlight of the place is that you will get to hear the stories about how each animal found shelter there. The ark is open from Tuesday through Saturday.

Fleischmann Planetarium & Science Center

Fleischmann Planetarium & Science Center
Jeffrey Beall, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Initially built as part of the University of Nevada, Fleischmann Planetarium & Science Center is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings. It would be best if you came here for a wonderful observatory viewing and for its stunning architecture.

Set in a hyperbolic paraboloid design, the structural design is simply beautiful. Once you’re inside, you will get to see massive planetariums. If you have an avid interest in the sky and heavenly bodies, the centre also offers a stargazing program.

Explore Wilbur D. May Center

More popularly called the May Museum, this place is for anyone who loves travelling. This museum houses the private collection of D. May, including several rare and exotic artefacts that he accumulated during his adventurous travel.

Ever since 1988, this exclusive ethnographic collection has been put on display for the public to enjoy. Besides the museum itself, you get to witness and unwind at an arboretum and a massive botanical garden.

Greet the animals at Sierra Safari Zoo

Most people already know Sierra Safari Zoo as the largest zoo in Nevada. Situated in the north of Reno, the zoo provides shelter to thousands of animals from all around the world.

The zoo has themed areas according to the type of animals residing there. The visitors can also visit the many aquariums on site.

Hike the steep unpaved road to Peavine Peak
It is the highest peak that sits atop the Peavine Mountain and is among the most phenomenal sights in Reno. Despite its breathtaking views, it is a heavily trafficked loop trail. Other than hiking, people also come here for mountain biking and off-roading.

Plan a picnic date by the Pyramid Lake

Pyramid Lake
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Interestingly, the lake got its name from the pyramid-like, tapering limestone tufa formation that protrudes from the water. The lake covers a massive area and is one of the largest natural lakes in the state.

With an impressive scenery, you will never regret paying a visit to Pyramid lake. Some of the fun activities you can engage in by the lake include fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding.

Be John Mackay’s guest at W. M. Keck Museum

Keck Museum is an ancient museum that showcases an astounding collection of silver, gypsum, copper, and amethyst. The place has an expansive array of John W. Mackay.

Apart from that, the museum also seeks to educate and provide plenty of information on the state's mining history. There are plenty of maps and tools to facilitate the learning process.

Visit the historical McKinley Arts & Culture Center

You must plan your trip to McKinley Arts & Culture Center for its ornate design and architecture. This momentous building has two gallery spaces besides an art workshop.

It also has a massive auditorium and spacious rooms that you can rent out. Besides its striking interiors and design, this art and culture centre has been enlisted on the National Register of Historic Places.

Feel your adrenaline pump at National Championship Air Races

National Championship Air Races
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If you are visiting Reno sometime in September, make sure to check out the Reno Air Races- a high-stake, adrenaline-rushing event. Many people rush to Reno-Stead Airport to watch these races that happen throughout the week.

While you are here, you will also get to enjoy exhibitions where many different aircraft are put on display. In addition, you can also witness flight parades of military and civil multiplicity.

What’s an even more compelling reason to experience National Championship Air Races is that they are the last of their kind in the world-nowhere else will you find such races.

Appreciate the architecture at Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts

Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts
JERRYE AND ROY KLOTZ, JR, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This place boasts some of the most beautiful architecture in downtown Reno. Constructed in 1967, the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts has a gold-anodized geodesic dome (which is perhaps the most excellent highlight of the building).

Enthusiastic visitors throng here to see the architectural beauty and also to experience the passionate theatre community that features Broadway shows and other performances.