Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Sparks, NV

  • Published 2023/02/25

The city of Sparks was named after Nevada Governor John Sparks in 1904 and was nicknamed “Rail City.”

Situated in Washoe County, Nevada, it was established in 1904 and incorporated on March 25, 1905, with a current population of 113,899 according to World Population Review.

As a suburb situated near Reno, it’s an exceptional place to stop by and explore various activities under the sun, in the water, or inside historic buildings such as museums.

Exceptional and family-friendly events that occur the entire year draw visitors to the city.

You’ll never run out of things to do in Sparks—test your luck at the casino, walk your dog to a park, fish in the lake, set up a camp, trek the trails, and more!

Don’t miss these free things to do in Sparks, Nevada.

Have a Memorable Family Outing at Sparks Marina

Boats at Sparks Marina

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Sparks Marina is a 109-acre area that offers a two-mile loop walking trail including the 77-acre Helms Lake which has two beaches and a fishing pier.

There are walking paths and trees that surround the lake, with approximately 1 billion gallons of water with a naturally existing aquifer, supplying the lake with 2 to 3 million gallons of fresh water every day.

The water is utilized for recreational activities from windsurfing to swimming, scuba diving, and fishing.

Your kids will love the Kid’s Free Fishing Day sponsored by the Nevada Department of Wildlife and Rotary Club of Sparks.

Trail at Sparks Marina

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Children under 12 years old can fish for free without the need for a license where they can also use free fishing poles and have a hearty lunch as well.

There are clean restrooms that you can use and a dog park where your furry pal can run and play.

Located on Howard Drive, Sparks Marina Park is overflowing with activities the whole family will enjoy including picnics, biking, walking, playing in the playground or volleyball courts, and more.

The waters of Sparks Marina

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Go Kayaking at The Rock Park

Rock Park spans five acres that stretch along the Truckee River and provide access to the Tahoe-Pyramid Trail.

It’s a 114-mile trail developed to create a bike trail across the full stretch of the Truckee River.

The park was acknowledged in 1979 together with other three parks to establish The Truckee River Greenbelt Park System which meanders from Fisherman’s Park to the Joint Sewage Treatment Facility.

You can either walk or ride your bike on the path along the Truckee River that connects the parks.

This beautiful 30-year-old park is a great place for kayaking, tubing, and rafting for all abilities.

Located on South Rock Boulevard, 4.49-acre Rock Park offers other amenities such as a playground, pavilions, restrooms, and a big turf area, to name a few.

Marvel at Gorgeous Artworks at Sparks Art Walk

Featuring a wonderfully organized collection, the Sparks Art Walk routinely showcases installed art, rotating them across Victorian Square in Downtown Sparks.

You’ll be inspired by the pieces of art that you’ll see at the Sparks Art Walk such as sculptures and murals as well as galleries and museums.

This program boosts public art by inviting artists to display their works in selected areas where collections will revolve every two years.

You can take a self-guided tour to learn more from the artists or have a guided tour.

Start your tour on Victorian Avenue.

Watch Sports Events at Golden Eagle Regional Park

Golden Eagle Regional Park spans 448 acres and features a huge outdoor artificial turf sports complex known to many as Golden Eagle Sports Complex.

Whether you’re an athlete or a sports fanatic, you must not miss going to this park to witness games such as baseball, football, lacrosse, and softball, to name a few.

Featuring 1.4 million square feet of turf, it is said to be the largest single-installation artificial turf project in North America.

The park also offers a playground for kids, climbing walls, trails, and tables and benches.

Golden Eagle Regional Park is located on Vista Boulevard, just east of Reno.

See the Bats at McCarran Bridge

Underneath the McCarran Bridge is a massive colony of bats.

At night, they present a magnificent show for the “bat watchers,” leaving them in awe.

Many people wait at dusk to see thousands of bats emerge from the so-called “The Bat Bridge” that runs over the Truckee River on S. McCarran Boulevard.

The colony size of these Brazilian free-tailed bats continues to drop each year; however, around 40,000 bats remain to live under the bridge.

You can either watch the bats from the top of the bridge or get a better view from under the bridge from the Truckee River Bike Trail.

Take Advantage of Various Learning Activities at Sparks Library

On 12th Street lies Sparks Library, a large urban library standing at 23,000 square feet, containing a varied collection of resource materials.

The building features comfortable accommodation, public-use computers, wireless computer access, and exclusive collections of car repair manuals and Rail City books.

The meeting room is a suitable place to come together during and after library hours; computer classes are also available at the library.

Don’t forget to visit the Young People’s Library which features a STEAM center, providing children and families with different learning activities.

The Sparks Library also has a lovely garden courtyard.

Go Birdwatching at Cottonwood Park

Located on Spice Islands Drive along the Truckee River, Cottonwood Park is a six-acre land that offers access to the Tahoe-Pyramid Trail.

There are a lot of activities for everyone to enjoy here; you can hike with your dog on a leash, picnic, and watch birds.

Don’t forget to bring binoculars so you can better see birds in the area including Canada goose, Cooper’s hawk, California scrub jay, white-crowned sparrow, mourning dove, great blue heron, California quail, and more.

You and your family can also ride a bike and play on the volleyball court or in the horseshoe area.

Cottonwood Park has clean restrooms, a wheelchair-accessible car park, and a wheelchair-accessible entrance, allowing all people with abilities to enjoy and have fun.

Enjoy Outdoor Fun at Van Meter Park

Situated on O’Callaghan Drive, Van Meter Park is a two-acre park with a large grassed area ideal for a picnic.

There’s a playground with slides and swings where your kids can play.

The magnificent large trees will shelter you from the heat of the sun because of their far-reaching shade while you rest or walk.

You can also eat on the covered picnic tables while your children explore the jungle gym or run with your dog.

The park has a wheelchair-accessible car park and a wheelchair-accessible entrance so the whole family can enjoy the place.

Van Meter also features a small exercise course where you can do some workouts early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Explore Sparks Heritage Museum

Side view of Sparks Heritage Museum's exterior

Almonroth, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sparks Heritage Museum is a 4000-square-foot indoor exhibit space highlighting a permanent gallery that showcases the history and culture of Sparks.

It’s also home to rotating galleries that feature a wide array of artistic, historic, and cultural themes.

Down the street, you’ll find an outdoor train exhibit that consists of a steam locomotive, a caboose, and a pullman business car standing adjacent to the significant Glendale Schoolhouse, both available for tours.

Exterior of Sparks Heritage Museum

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

See the Last Chance Joe, initially owned by Nugget Casino, a 32-foot-tall figure erected in 1857, which has become a landmark.

The exhibits illustrate the sweeping transition that northern Nevada went through, from tillage and mining to railroad development and into modern times.

Located along Victorian Avenue, Sparks Heritage Museum preserves and protects artifacts, pictures, and printed materials that illustrate Sparks’ and Truckee Meadow’s history.

Trek the Trails at Wedekind Regional Park

One of the last existing large-scale open space parks in Sparks is the Wedekind Regional Park.

Its central location makes it a major link to the Sparks Regional Trail System, an adjacent neighborhood urban trail system beside commercial and business establishments, and Washoe County’s Sun Valley Rim Trail.

The special ribbon-cutting in May 2013 at the park marked the completion of trailhead facilities and trail system advancements to the 250-acre area located on the eastern part of Pyramid Way and the southern section of Wedekind Regional Park.

You can park your car at the Disc Driver trailhead and get a spectacular view of the valley or take a rest after a leisurely walk on the trail.

Located along Disc Drive, Wedekind Regional Park also has a picnic pavilion for a family get-together and portable restrooms.

Play Frisbee at Shelly Park

Shelly Park is a four-acre park on North Truckee Lane, which is a great place if you want to take a short break from the busy city life.

Your kids will love using the spinner and jungle gym.

There’s a huge grass area where you can play soccer, football, or frisbee and a picnic area where you can grill your food.

The park also has street lamps and ample parking space.

Located on North Truckee Lane, Shelly Park is a small but cool park that allows dogs.

Let Your Kids Play at Aimone Park

Aimone Park may be small, but it’s a neat four-acre park with amenities such as a playground, a picnic area, a baseball/softball field, tennis courts, and pathways.

It’s a neighborhood park next to Lena Juniper Elementary School and was constructed in 1972.

Named after Earnest Aimone, this park is a wonderful place to stop by with family or friends and enjoy nature.

The lush grassy area allows your kids to run and play soccer and frisbee.

Your dog can also wander around as long as it’s on a leash.

Located along Queen Way, Aimone Park is a good place to visit to unwind, especially for your kids every weekend so they can go out and play.

Get Busy with the Family at Longford Park

Longford Park is another four-acre park that will keep you and your family busy with various activities.

There’s a playground for the kids, a basketball court, and two-lighted tennis courts so you can play even at night.

You can ride your bike on the pathways, take a stroll, fly a kite, or bring food and drinks for a snack in the picnic area.

This park has an elevation of 1,344 meters and sits near the districts of Vista and Glendale.

Longford Park is located on East Greenbrae Drive.

Take a Stroll at Silverton Shores Park

If you feel like taking a walk, why not go to Silverton Shores Park on Silverton Way?

This 29-acre park features awesome walking trails and various amenities that the whole family can enjoy.

Your kids can play on the playground, play football, or run around the vast open space.

You can challenge your teens or friends to a game on the basketball court.

Silverton Shores Park welcomes dogs on a leash as long as you clean up after them.

Spend a Day with Your Family at Oppio Park

Oppio Park provides a five-acre space for people who want to relax and spend a day with their families away from the bustle of city life.

The park has an elevation of 1,357 meters and lies near North Valley and Highland Apartments.

You can park your car at the Sparks Middle School parking lot after school hours.

Amenities in the park include tennis courts, multi-purpose fields, a playground, a volleyball court, a picnic area, tennis courts, and tables and benches.

Dogs are welcome at Oppio Park located on 18th Street as long as they are on a leash and you clean up after them.

Final Thoughts

Don’t let your budget stop you and your family from enjoying your trip to Sparks.

The city has numerous attractions that you can explore for free.

Take note of these free things to do in Sparks, Nevada, for a budget-friendly trip!

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