19 Best Things to Do in Reno, NV

19 Best Things to Do in Reno, NV

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

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.

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

Great Reno Balloon Race
topseller / Shutterstock.com

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.

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.

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

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

National Automobile Museum
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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.

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.

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

Casino at the Eldorado
Andrew Zarivny / Shutterstock.com

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.

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.

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

Mount Rose Ski Resort
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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.

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

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.

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

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 at Animal Ark
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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."

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 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

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.

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

National Championship Air Races
Jeff Schultes / Shutterstock.com

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.

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 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

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.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Have a Walk to Remember at Emerald Bay State Park

Emerald Bay State Park
Nicole H. Graham / Shutterstock.com

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.

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.

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

Lake Tahoe
CHRISTIAN DE ARAUJO / Shutterstock.com

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

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

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.

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

Pyramid Lake
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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.

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.