Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in Reno, NV

  • Published 2022/08/04

The flashing neon beams of Reno’s casinos 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 tech giants have set their corporate space afoot.

All of that could be the reason why Reno is endearingly nicknamed 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.

These are the best things to do in Reno, Nevada:

Take a Stroll around Reno’s Riverwalk

Stoned path at 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.

Here, you will find a pleasant reprieve amidst a number of galleries, restaurants, and several emerging establishments that have famously come to be known as CalAve.

If you are clueless as to where to begin, you are highly encouraged to tag along the trails of Wine Walk.

Iron sculpture along the Reno's Riverwalk

Sundry Photography /

It will cost you somewhere around $20 per person, but it will undoubtedly be worth the amazing wine-tasting experience you will get there.

With a couple of galleries and specialty 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.

Get Your Spirits High at the Great Reno Balloon Race

Visitors gaping at the hot air balloons at Great Reno Balloon Race

topseller /

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

This three-day event 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.

Colorful hot air balloons at Great Reno Balloon Race

Steven Frame /

You can find the awed onlookers grabbing their lawn chairs and watching the attractively colored soaring across the Nevada Sky.

The pilots of the balloon race against each other to reach Truckee Meadows—whoever gets there first wins.

Funky balloons at Great Reno Balloon Race

Min C. Chiu /

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.

Admire the Displays at the Nevada Museum of Art

Black exterior of Nevada Museum of Art

Rmart123, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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 center in the state, it comprises a lot of things to be understood and explored despite its small size.

The museum is also notable for its outdoor sculpture gardens and research center.

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 Nevada Museum of Art is open for visitors from Wednesday through Sunday.

Learn about Cars at the National Automobile Museum

Antique jeep at National Automobile Museum

NaughtyNut /

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

As it houses automobiles ranging from horse carriages to celebrity rides, you will be awed by the museum’s impressive collection of cars and artifacts from various eras.

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 they educate.

Unique vintage car at National Automobile Museum

warasit phothisuk /

As you stroll through the museum’s galleries filled with cars and exhibits, you will feel as if you’re traveling through time and discovering something new.

If you want to purchase some memorabilia for yourself or your friends back home, be sure to check out the Museum Store.

Exhibit of old cars at National Automobile Museum

NaughtyNut /

The museum also offers room rentals for birthday parties and corporate training events.

The museum itself is occasionally used as a prom or wedding venue.

Try Your Luck at the Eldorado Resort Casino

Night view of Casino at the Eldorado

Andrew Zarivny /

If you are into the cheap thrill of gambling, the Eldorado Resort Casino is the place for you.

Spanning across a staggering area of 81,000 square feet, this casino is a true entertainment hotspot.

Dazzling interior of Eldorado Resort Casino

Victoria Ditkovsky /

However, over the recent years, this casino 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.

Gameroom at Eldorado Resort Casino

Victoria Ditkovsky /

If you want to experience Reno’s nightlife, head over to the Eldorado Resort, where they regularly host on-site nightlife events and concerts.

If you want to munch some snacks or grab a quick meal, the casino has in-house restaurants and bars.

Go Skiing at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe

Landscape of Mount Rose Ski Resort

Dominic Gentilcore PhD /

Standing at the height of 8,260 feet, Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe is the closest ski area to Reno’s city center and is Tahoe’s highest base resort.

If you’re feeling adventurous, head over to the varied terrains for an unparalleled skiing experience.

A young skier at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe

Joanna K Drakos /

Because of its family-friendly skiing area, the region tends to get pretty crowded during the weekends.

So, if you want to visit, it is highly recommended to do so during the weekdays.

Watch a Game at Greater Nevada Field

Top view of Greater Nevada Field

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

Greater Nevada Field is where you should come if you want to enjoy some fresh Reno air and watch a live baseball match.

The stadium is the home base of Trip-A Baseball’s Reno Races.

This sports and entertainment venue can seat over 9,000 people.

'HOME' sculpture at Greater Nevada Field

Gchapel /

Besides baseball games, it hosts events like live music performances.

Greater Nevada Field also boasts a fantastic vantage point of the neighboring 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

Nameboard of Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum

Patrickaturner, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This proactive science center 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 at Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum.

More endearingly called the Discovery Museum, it offers an expansive bevy of permanent interactive galleries.

Some of its most famous highlights include a jungle gym and an illustrious imitation of the Truckee River.

If you’re traveling with children, you are highly encouraged to make a stop here.

The museum equally engages adults as well through its adults-only evening events.

Meet the Animals at Animal Ark

Black bear eating fruits at Animal Ark

Michael Barajas /

Paying a visit to Animal Ark could be one of the most fun and exciting experiences you can enjoy in Reno.

Spanning across a whooping area of 38 acres, the officials describe the place as a “safe haven for nonreleasable wildlife.”

Fierce Jaguar at Animal Ark

DADPhotography /

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.

Mountain Lion resting peacefully at Animal Ark

Michael Barajas /

Most visitors share that the best time to visit the place is in the morning.

Besides the favorable 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 here.

Visit the Fleischmann Planetarium & Science Center

Glass exterior of Fleischmann Planetarium & Science Center

Jeffrey Beall, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Initially built as part of the University of Nevada, the Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It would be best if you came here for a wonderful observatory viewing and for its stunning architecture.

With a hyperbolic paraboloid design, the structure is simply beautiful.

Signage of Fleischmann Planetarium & Science Center

Elizabeth A.Cummings /

Once you’re inside, you will get to see massive planetariums.

If you have an avid interest in the sky and heavenly bodies, the center also offers a stargazing program.

Explore the Wilbur D. May Center

More popularly called the May Museum, the Wilbur D. May Center is for anyone who loves traveling.

This museum houses the private collection of Wilbur D. May, including several rare and exotic artifacts that he accumulated during his adventurous travels.

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 the Sierra Safari Zoo

Most people already know the Sierra Safari Zoo as the largest zoo in Nevada.

Situated in the northern part 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, which 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.

Glimpse the Famous Mackay Silver Collection at the W. M. Keck Museum

The W. M. Keck Museum is an ancient museum that showcases an astounding collection of silver, gypsum, copper, and amethyst.

The place is home to the breathtaking Mackay Silver Collection, which was designed by Tiffany & Co. for John Mackay in 1878.

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.

Tour the Historical McKinley Arts & Culture Center

You must plan your trip to the McKinley Arts & Culture Center for its ornate design and architecture.

This noteworthy building has two gallery spaces and 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 center has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Get Your Adrenaline Pumping by Watching the STIHL National Championship Air Races

Colorful air show at National Championship Air Races

Jeff Schultes /

If you are visiting Reno sometime in September, make sure to check out the STIHL National Championship Air Races (also known as the Reno Air Races)—a high-stake, adrenaline-rushing event.

Many people rush to Reno-Stead Airport to watch these races, which take place during the week-long event.

Aircraft flying over a valley during STIHL National Championship Air Races

Jeff Schultes /

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.

Colorful aircraft flying high in STIHL National Championship Air Races

Jeff Schultes /

What’s an even more compelling reason to witness the STIHL 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 the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts

Golden dome architecture of the 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 head here to see the architectural beauty and to experience the passionate theater community that features Broadway shows and other performances.

Explore Unique Artifacts from around the World at Wilbur D. May Center

Discover the biography and treasures of the philanthropist, rancher, pilot, and world traveler Wilbur D. May by visiting the Wilbur D. May Center.

Visitors stay ahead of the museum, arboretum, and botanical gardens to have a fun and educational experience.

Thousands of one-of-a-kind artifacts from Wilbur May’s numerous travels throughout his life are exhibited in the museum.

It was built with a ranch-style aesthetic in mind to honor May’s own ranch-style home.

The Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum is currently housed in the structure, where visitors may still explore the building’s original 1878 design.

Exhibits about storms, marine life, and lifesaving at Ocean City are on display in the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum.

Walk in Nature at Rancho San Rafael Park

A vintage tractor at Rancho San Rafael Park

VARK11 /

Rancho San Rafael Park provides stunning vistas of the desert and mountainous regions and a wetland ecosystem.

The varied environment features everything from well-kept lawn to native grassland, wetland habitat, and desert sagebrush.

Canadian Geese at Rancho San Rafael Park

Tanya Little /

Rancho San Rafael Park has a variety of unique events year-round, but the Great Reno Balloon Race is undoubtedly its most well-known event.

In addition to playgrounds, volleyball courts, walking pathways, fishing piers, and more, the park has picnic pavilions.

There is also a tourist center, the historic Ranch House, the Nevada Farms, and the Wilbur D. May Museum and Arboretum & Botanical Garden, among many other things.

Cars, Trucks, and RVs parked at Rancho San Rafael Park to watch the Reno Balloon Race

Min C. Chiu /

Enjoy Nightlife at Grand Sierra Resort and Casino

Exterior of the tall Grand Sierra Resort and Casino

BestStockFoto /

The Grand Sierra Resort and Casino offers everything, including almost 2000 rooms with opulent interior design and furnishings.

The Grand Sierra’s casino is the biggest in Reno and features a range of games for players of all skill levels.

Visitors may try their luck at sports activities at the casino’s 14,000-square-foot book lounge or test their talents at poker, baccarat, keno, or blackjack.

They offer seven on-site eateries with top-notch cuisine and a Beach pool encircled by shady cabanas.

Furthermore, the whole family may enjoy go-karts, mini-golf, and laser tag.

Tour around the Bartley Ranch Regional Park

Scenic view of Bartley Ranch Regional Park

David R. Daniel /

Bartley Ranch Regional Park is a magnificent 56-acre park accessible every day of the year.

Bartley Ranch Regional Park features acres of pastureland, a horse ring, an outdoor amphitheater, and several historic structures.

Rusty truck at Bartley Ranch Regional Park

David R. Daniel /

In addition, there are picnic shelters and walking pathways that are typical of parks.

It is possible to book the Western Heritage Interpretive Center, a venue with a western motif and a full kitchen, for gatherings and events.

Performance in the Robert Z. Hawkins Amphitheater is another option for visitors, as is a tour of the Historic Huffaker School after it has been rebuilt.

Huffaker School in Bartley Ranch Regional Park

David R. Daniel /

Have Lunch at Great Full Gardens

The healthful cuisine at Great Complete Gardens, which opened in March 2013, includes breakfast, lunch, and supper options.

They serve those who have particular dietary requirements and those who are just searching for good food with outstanding flavor.

Numerous products from farmers and local traders are supported and showcased.

Great Complete Gardens offers full barista services, beer, and wine in a relaxed full-service setting.

Additionally, the restaurant offers rotating taps of regional artisan beer and wine.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Have a Walk to Remember at Emerald Bay State Park

Picturesque view of Emerald Bay State Park

Nicole H. Graham /

Sliced by passing glaciers thousands of years ago, Emerald Bay State Park is a true beauty you ought not to miss.

It’s only an hour and a half’s drive away from Reno.

Aerial view of Emerald Bay State Park with Lake Tahoe and curvy road

Felix Lipov /

Surrounded by towering trees, this place is for anyone who wants to take in beautiful views of Lake Tahoe.

With its vibrant granite cliffs and the gorgeous Emerald Bay Lookout, this inlet presents lovely photo opportunities anywhere you turn.

Waterfall at Emerald Bay State Park

E Fehrenbacher /

Hopping on a boat to Fannette Island and witnessing the marvelous Vikingsholm are some of the most touristy 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 Feet Wet at Lake Tahoe

Claer water in Lake Tahoe


Bordering Nevada and California, Lake Tahoe is as beautiful as it gets.

This famous tourist spot is a 45-minute drive away from Reno.

Vibrant sunset in Lake Tahoe

Esteban Martinena Guerrer /

With soaring mountains and clear waters, people flock to this place for its magnificence.

The region is famously known for its skiing spots and well-preserved hiking trails.

A man paddle boarding along with his dog in Lake Tahoe

Rudy Mareel /

They present an excellent opportunity for you to indulge in boating and fishing as well.

All of these make Lake Tahoe the perfect spot for a side trip from Reno.

Plan a Picnic Date by Pyramid Lake

Landscape of the Pyramid Lake

Terry W Ryder /

The gorgeous Pyramid Lake is just a 40-minute drive away from Reno.

Interestingly, the lake got its name from the pyramid-like, tapering limestone tufa formation that protrudes from the water.

Drift wood on the shores of Pyramid Lake

Neil Lockhart /

The lake covers a massive area and is one of the largest natural lakes in the state.

Because of its 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.

Tufa rock formation on the Pyramid Lake shore

TFoxFoto /

Final Thoughts

With the flashing lights of the casinos, there are many other activities available, such as strolls along the city’s magnificent Truckee River and trips to museums, art galleries, and zoos.

Traveling to Reno offers you the encounter of the gorgeous and famous Lake Tahoe and hidden jewels, including parks, botanical gardens, and arboretums.

Get a taste of what this tourist hotspot has to offer by reading the list of the best things to do in Reno!

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