15 Free Things to Do in Reno, NV

Free Things to Do in Reno, NV
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Known as the Biggest Little City In The World, Reno sits along the Nevada-California border as the county seat of Washoe County.

Reno has always been famous because of its casinos, but it is a great destination to enjoy a vibrant lifestyle.

Reno has everything from food and games to sights and museums.

But with the many things to do in the area, you might be unable to enjoy them all, especially when working on a tight budget.

Luckily, there are still dozens of things to enjoy in Reno without the expensive price tag.

Check out this list of free things to do in Reno, NV.

Go on a Waterfall Hike at Hunter Creek Trail

Scenic view of Hunter Creek Trail
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You’ll see a handful of scenic views while touring the streets of Reno.

But if there’s one place you shouldn’t miss, it’s the Hunter Creek Trail.

This trail starts on the west end of Reno at the Woodchuck Circle and spans 6.4 miles, covering the beautiful greenery and lush trees surrounding the area.

Narrow path along the Hunter Creek Trail
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Moreover, this adventure will not force you to shell out a couple of bucks to enjoy.

All you need is your gear and some supplies, and you’ll build some memories you won’t forget.

Hunter Creek Trail also leads to one of the biggest waterfalls in Reno, going as high as 30 feet tall.

Once you’ve reached the majestic spot, take a dip in the cool waters and enjoy the serene atmosphere.

Check Out the Local Scene at the Riverwalk District

Immerse yourself in Reno’s bustling city life when you make your way to the Riverwalk District downtown.

The Riverwalk District is all about blazing trails and enjoying unforgettable experiences, the perfect destination while vacationing in Reno.

There are many things to enjoy in the neighborhood district, such as great food and crafts, but you can still have a blast even without spending a dime.

Take a good walk around the neighborhood, and you’ll find out why the Riverwalk District is a popular spot for local art.

You’ll usually find splashes of color on the side of a bridge or building walls and even sculptures scattered around the area that give life to ordinary objects like bike stands.

If you ever visit the area, don’t forget to bring your camera to take Instagram-worthy photos.

Have a Picnic at Idlewild Park

Fountain at Idlewild Park
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Get some much-needed rest when you head to Reno’s Idlewild Park, and have a small picnic with your closest friends.

Idlewild Park covers 46 acres, allowing you to choose the best spot to lay down your picnic blanket and enjoy the calm and serene atmosphere surrounding Reno.

Besides reading your favorite book and sipping on a cool lemonade, you’ll also enjoy some of the park’s facilities.

Pond at Idlewild Park
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Get some much-needed exercise at the basketball and volleyball courts, or beat the heat at the swimming pool.

And if you’re looking to do something more calming, you can walk along the famous Tahoe-Pyramid Trail.

Visitors enjoying at Idlewild Park
Ken Lund, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take a Picture under the Reno Arch

View of Reno Arch
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Nothing says you’ve been to Reno more than having a picture underneath the city’s famous arch on N Virginia St.

The Reno Arch is an iconic landmark built in 1926 after the Lincoln and Victory Highways construction.

You might have also seen the Reno Arch in movies such as the Wizard, Sister Act, Kingpin, and Waking Up In Reno.

Reno Arch lit up during night
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You’ll get a couple of great shots under this historical landmark during the day, but you might also want to stop by at night when the signage is lit up to get a different vibe for your photos.

The Reno Arch underwent three renovations, with the retrofitted version as the current installment.

Traverse the Tahoe Pyramid Trail

Besides the fact that Reno is a city with bustling nightlife and a lively entertainment scene, it’s also a city where you can enjoy nature activities.

For example, you’ll find great joy in traversing the Tahoe-Pyramid Trail near Reno.

The Tahoe-Pyramid Trail runs along the Truckee River, so you’ll enjoy breathtaking views as you hike.

Ride your bike or walk along the trail to enjoy the view that runs for approximately 114 miles.

Take as many photos as possible with the many historic roads and picturesque views you’ll see.

Cleanse Your Aura at the Reno Psychic Institute

If you need spiritual healing while exploring the streets of Reno, head to the Reno Psychic Institute on Hillcrest Road.

You don’t need to pay anything to participate in the chakra healing class, but donations are encouraged.

Clear, rebalance, and adjust your energy channels. Feel rejuvenated and cleansed as you end the chakra healing class.

Each healing class will take about 15-20 minutes per person.

The classes are primarily non-intrusive so you can wear regular clothes.

After your session, you will feel that your aura has been cleansed and notice the difference in your chakra sensors.

Recharge your spirit at the Reno Psychic Institute!

Get a Glimpse of Downtown City Life at the MidTown District

Downtown areas always bring out the city’s vibrant atmosphere, and Reno’s is no different.

Reno’s MidTown District swarms with restaurants, boutiques, art hubs, and hangout spots guaranteed to help you immerse yourself in Reno’s city life.

The MidTown District is also Reno’s most unique neighborhood, housing over 150 local businesses and more than 50 art and historical installations.

Feel free to drink, dine, or even shop for local crafts and souvenirs while exploring the busy streets.

But if you’re working with a tight budget, don’t worry because you’ll still have a good time walking around, attending events, and listening to live entertainment.

Wander the University of Nevada

Fleischmann Planetarium in University of Nevada
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Doing something school-related is the last thing anyone would want to do on vacation, but touring the University of Nevada in Reno might change your mind.

Founded in 1874, the University of Nevada sits along N Virginia St, covering 290 acres of picturesque fields and fantastic architecture.

The university was a land-grant institution to the state of Nevada under the Morrill Act of 1862, which Abraham Lincoln signed.

Night view of University of Nevada
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It’s also one of the most prestigious universities in the state in terms of research, with more than 150 buildings, 60 research facilities, and 12 museums and galleries waiting to be explored.

School spirit is also alive inside the University of Nevada; events usually last an entire day, especially during basketball and football games.

Go Whitewater Rafting at Truckee River Whitewater Park

A man rafting at Truckee River Whitewater Park
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Situated along Reno’s S Arlington Ave is the Truckee River Whitewater Park, a popular destination for those who want to engage in watersports activities.

The Truckee River Whitewater Park sits in the middle of downtown Reno, so if you’re looking to do something other than explore the streets, this park is the perfect place.

Stand up paddle boarding at Truckee River Whitewater Park
Neil Lockhart / Shutterstock.com

Whitewater rafting is a great free activity for those with gear and other water sports like kayaking, canoeing, boating, and tubing.

Take your pick from a variety of class 2 and 3 rapids before embarking on your adventure, or take a plunge from one of the five drop pools in the area.

You’ll also get a couple of good seats from over 7,000 smooth rocks along the river, where you can relax and enjoy the view.

Top view of Truckee River Whitewater Park
Rick Cooper, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take a Breather at the Rancho San Rafael Regional Park

Hot air balloon race at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park
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You don’t need to shell out a bunch of cash to make your trip to Reno worthwhile because the city’s best views are free for everyone to see.

One of the finest places to enjoy Reno’s scenery is the Rancho San Rafael Regional Park on N Sierra St.

This regional facility is in Reno’s Washoe County and is the largest and most dynamic park in the area.

Vintage vehicle parked at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park
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Explore the park, and check out the scenery of manicured lawns and native pasture grasses paired with a wetland habitat.

You’ll also see other attractions at the Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, such as the Wilbur D. May Museum and Arboretum, Ranch House, and the Nevada Farms and Family Area.

Landscape of Rancho San Rafael Regional Park
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Catch a Game at the Greater Nevada Field

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

Get a glimpse of the local sports scene when you swing by the Greater Nevada Field on Evans Ave.

Reno’s Greater Nevada Field is a Minor League Baseball venue that doubles as an entertainment center for various city events.

Featuring state-of-the-art facilities, this home of the Triple-A Reno Aces makes an excellent venue for simply enjoying the local scene and participating in community activities.

Display of the home sign at Greater Nevada Field
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Meet new friends, have a blast, and experience Reno’s cultural diversity at its finest.

Some of the events you might want to look out for include concerts, parties, the famous Nitro Circus Live, and other national events.

Catch the Great Reno Balloon Race

See the world’s largest hot air balloon race at the Great Reno Balloon Race, held at the San Rafael Regional Park every September.

Take a good look at the myriad colors parading the Reno skies, courtesy of the hot air balloons that will stay in the air for three days.

The Great Reno Balloon Race started in 1982 with just 20 hot air balloons; it has now grown to 100 balloons yearly.

The event became so popular that it racked up several awards, including Best Special Event in Reno and Best Special Event in Northern Nevada.

If you want to visit Reno in September, you might want to book dates in time for the race.

Drop by the Wilbur D. May Center

Get to know one of the most celebrated personalities in Reno when you swing by the Wilbur D. May Center on N Sierra Street.

Wilbur D. May Center is an arboretum and botanical garden dedicated to Reno naturalist Wilbur May, an adventurer, philanthropist, rancher, artist, pilot, and soldier.

Learn about the diverse plant community inside the arboretum and botanical garden, along with exceptional garden layouts and seasonal foliage.

Spanning 23 acres, Wilbur D. May Center is home to 4,600 native and adaptive plant species between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Great Basin Desert.

This Reno attraction also hosts several educational family programs, mostly walking tours during the weekend.

Find Pieces of Hobo Art

Walking along the streets of Reno should be enough to entertain you with many pieces of art scattered across Reno.

Make your way along the Truckee River on Riverside Drive to see intricate works made out of stones stacked on top of each other, commonly known as Hobo Art.

Reno resident Hobo Cyrus made these works out of a knack for creating conversation pieces for the community.

The stone art might not look like much, but they bring something new to the usual scenes along the Truckee River.

Cyrus also makes it a point to recycle stone art pieces, so you’ll see new Hobo Art whenever you visit.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Step Back in Time at Virginia City

Wooden architecture at Virginia City
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Discover Reno’s rich history when you explore the streets of Virginia City, one of the most vintage and classic areas you’ll ever see.

You’ll love Virginia City if you enjoy sightseeing; enjoy its Old West aesthetic and 1800s vibe.

This historic town was once the world’s most prosperous city because of the Comstock Lode, the biggest gold vein ever mined.

Market at Virginia City
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Not much has changed in Virginia City, so you’ll still see the buildings and shops that have been around for decades.

These shops include the Bucket of Blood Saloon, the Castle, Fourth Ward School, Ponderosa Saloon, the old town cemetery, and more.

Virginia City, Nevada, is 35 minutes from Reno.

Shops at Virginia City
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Final Thoughts

There are hundreds of things to do in Reno, which can be overwhelming if you’re pressed for time.

However, the city still offers everything you need for an eventful vacation.

To make the most of your trip, stick to this list of free things to do in Reno, and you’re all set!

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