15 Best Things to Do in Washoe County, NV

Washoe County, NV

Washoe County is one of the most vibrant and one of the most populous counties in Nevada.

This county is situated on the state's western side near the California-Nevada border.

It's home to over 421 000 inhabitants, making it the state's second most populous county.

Established in 1861, it's one of Nevada's nine original counties.

Reno, the county seat, is a vibrant city of entertainment, arts, and diverse culture.

But beyond Reno, I explored some of the best places within its 6,600 square mile territory.

This county has over 50 parks, 161 miles of trails, and thousands of acres of natural area.

With all that in mind, Washoe County is a fantastic place to explore the outdoors.

So, here's my list of the things to do in Washoe County, Nevada, to get everyone excited.

About this article: This article was written by a local contributor based on their own experiences and those around them. While this list showcases some remarkable places, it's important to note that this is an opinion piece, and there are many other exceptional places to visit that are not featured here.
Our aim is not just to guide you to popular places but to encourage you to venture out and experience the county for yourself.

Step Inside the Bowers Mansion

Far view of Bowers Mansion
instacruising / Shutterstock.com

The Bowers Mansion is one of the most fascinating historical attractions in Washoe County.

I also had the chance to visit this fascinating historical mansion.

It's situated between Carson City and Reno.

The mansion constructed in 1863 once belonged to local millionaires—the Bowers, who prospered from the Comstock Lode mining boom.

In 1876, they were forced to sell their beloved home due to the diminishing mining industry in the area.

Exterior of Bowers Mansion
Hank Shiffman / Shutterstock.com

Still, the mansion was preserved to this day, and I saw myself through a guided tour.

Inside, I witnessed the original furnishings intact, including extravagant designs and European furniture pieces they acquired from Europe.

During the tour inside the mansion, I got to these historical artifacts, giving a glimpse into the extravagant lives of Nevadans during the mining boom era.

Bowers Mansion is a fascinating experience to transport back time and immerse myself in history.

Wander Through the High Rock Canyon Wilderness

Daytime view of High Rock Canyon Wilderness
DutyFree, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The High Rock Canyon Wilderness in the High Desert spans over 48,000 acres.

It's the first attraction I visited upon arriving in Washoe County.

Let me tell everyone this place is a genuine haven for outdoor enthusiasts like me.

Its rugged landscape, deep canyons, and towering cliffs left me in awe of the stunning natural beauty.

What captivated me the most was the wide array of wildlife thriving there.

It's home to herds of bighorn sheep, mountain lions, and various birds, making it a haven for animal lovers.

Exploring this pristine landscape was a splendid experience, whether on foot through hiking trails or aboard an offroad 4x4 vehicle adds more excitement.

I'll forever cherish my visit to the High Rock Canyon Wilderness.

For fellow nature lovers like me, it's a must-visit destination.

Ride the Electric Bike Through Lake Tahoe

A more convenient way to explore Lake Tahoe in Washoe County is on an electric bike.

So, grab the chance to participate in the Lake Tahoe: East Shore Trail Self-Guided Electric Bike Tour.

This unique activity allowed me to explore the sceneries of the lake and its surroundings like never before.

What makes this activity worthwhile is that this e-bike tour is special because of its pace.

In addition, the tour provided me with a map and a dedicated shoreline path, guaranteeing that I didn't miss out on any of the best spots in the area.

For those looking for a one-of-a-kind outdoor adventure at Lake Tahoe, I highly recommend the Lake Tahoe: East Shore Trail Self-Guided Electric Bike Tour.

It's a fantastic opportunity to immerse oneself in the area's natural beauty and share the joy with friends or family.

See Anaho Island

Scenic view of Anaho Island
Gchapel / Shutterstock.com

Anaho Island is a relatively small island in the middle of the Pyramid Lake.

Curiosity drew me to visit this enchanting island.

Despite its size, this small island in the middle of the lake is home to over 10,000 pelicans, other bird species, and mammals.

Fascinatingly, the island's massive bird population makes it the second most extensive pelican colony in the western hemisphere of the United States.

Armed with my binoculars, I had the chance to spot both rare and common bird species in their natural habitat.

Seeing black-crowned night herons, Caspian terns, California gulls, and Great Blue Herons was a satisfying experience.

Though setting foot on the island is prohibited, everyone can still have an enjoyable experience.

Boats are only allowed within 500 feet of the island shore.

Despite the distance, everyone can still have a nice view of Anaho Island to marvel at its thriving wildlife.

Indulge in Leisure Activities at the Thunder Canyon Country Club

One of the best golf courses and clubhouses in Washoe County is the Thunder Canyon Country Club.

This golf and country club offers a serene and picturesque setting at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The private golf course is complete with its pro shop to cater to all golfing needs.

As I explored the course, I couldn't help but be in awe of the stunning surroundings, making every swing even more enjoyable.

But Thunder Canyon Country Club has much more to offer than just golf. One of its most popular amenities is the restaurant and bar, where golfers and non-golfers can enjoy a wonderful dining experience.

After a day of testing my golf skills, I treated myself to a delicious meal at Thunder Canyon's restaurant.

Thunder Canyon Country Club is a worthy place to test one's golf skills amidst the gorgeous sceneries from the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

At the same time, indulge in delicious meals after.

Try Your Luck at the Circus Circus Reno

Neon sign of Circus Circus Reno
Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com

Circus Circus Reno is a premier entertainment destination in downtown Reno.

Besides outdoor activities, I enjoyed top-notch entertainment at this casino and hotel.

This massive casino and hotel spans over 66,616 square feet.

It's known throughout Nevada for its fantastic circus acts, with regular shows and 33 carnival games held throughout the year.

I stayed in one of its 1,500 cozy and upscale rooms and suites for a comfortable stay.

Entrance to Circus Circus Reno
Victoria Ditkovsky / Shutterstock.com

It is a convenient location that made me stay at this hotel and casino.

As a well-known tourist destination in Washoe County, Circus Circus Reno provides easy access to various attractions and activities.

For those planning to explore Washoe County for a few days, I highly recommend booking a room at Circus Circus Reno.

The combination of a top-notch casino, fantastic circus entertainment, an upscale hotel setting, and the convenience of its central location makes it a top choice for accommodation in the county.

Aerial view of Circus Circus Reno
SnapASkyline / Shutterstock.com

Join the Reno: Downtown Reno Pedicab Tour

Reno: Downtown Reno Pedicab Tour is an excellent way to explore this vibrant city.

I had an incredible experience wandering the city's best spots with this pedicab tour.

Reno, known as the "Biggest Little City in the World," is famous for its premier casinos, resorts, and hotels.

But there's so much more to discover!

The pedicab tour took me to iconic landmarks like the Reno Arches, Downtown Reno, Wingfield Park, and the Reno Strip.

I also enjoyed the convenience of seeing all these sights without the hassle of walking around.

Also, I noticed Reno's rich history, evident as the pedicab tour traverses Downtown Reno.

I saw historic sites, public art installations, and striking murals that add to the city's unique charm.

For those planning a trip to this city, look no further and book a tour with the Reno: Downtown Reno Pedicab Tour.

Take a Dip at Incline Beach

People at Incline Beach
Sean Xu / Shutterstock.com

Incline Beach is one of the three beaches in Lake Tahoe.

This scenic beach is part of the charming resort town of Incline Village.

It's the perfect destination for a relaxing outing or with family or friends.

It has a captivating beauty that visitors likely consider one of the best places to unwind and enjoy the peaceful ambiance.

Also, Incline Beach offers a wide range of outdoor activities for everyone with different interests.

Whether it's a refreshing swim, boating, kayaking, or paddleboarding, the beach has something for everyone.k

One of the things I liked at this beach, besides its relaxing ambiance, is its hiking trails.

I took time hiking through its trails, meandering the shores of Lake Tahoe.

It led me to various scenic locations in the area, providing breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding landscape.

Watch the Reno Aces Make a Swing

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

Reno's locals are also huge sports fans.

A testament to it is the popularity of its home team, the Reno Aces.

They're a professional Minor League Baseball team affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

They vie in the Pacific Coast League and host their home games at the Greater Nevada Field, constructed in 2009.

As a huge baseball fan visiting Washoe County, watching the Aces play live was a must-do.

The atmosphere of the fans at the stadium was electric.

Also, being surrounded by locals passionate about their home team adds more to my experience.

The Greater Nevada Field's stands can fill up to 9,500 patrons.

For those in Washoe County and huge baseball fans, watching a Reno Aces game at the Greater Nevada Field is a unique activity everyone mustn't miss.

Explore Local Breweries with the Reno: Brewery District Tour

The Reno: Brewery District Tour is an excellent way to explore how local brewers craft their best beers and ales in the heart of Reno.

The tour brought me to three different breweries in the district, known for their top-notch craft beer.

It was a fun experience as we learned about each brewery's unique brewing process and tasted their signature craft beer flavors.

Meeting the brewery owners and hearing their inspiring stories adds more meaning to the tour.

It was inspiring to learn how passionate they were about their craft and took pride in creating the best craft beer in the district.

The Reno: Brewery District was once a major thoroughfare known as the Historic Lincoln Highway.

Today, it remains a thriving area filled not only with breweries but also with a variety of restaurants and shops, creating a vibrant atmosphere.

So, remember to experience what the Reno: Brewery District offers for a splendid experience.

Hike Through the Shores of Marlette Lake

The waters of Marlette Lake
AlessandraRC / Shutterstock.com

Marlette Lake is situated east of Lake Tahoe.

I was fortunate to visit this unspoiled charm firsthand.

Majestic mountains and lush forests surround it.

So, it's a no-brainer that it's one of the top outdoor attractions recommended in the area.

Trail leading to Marlette Lake
AlessandraRC / Shutterstock.com

As I hiked through the 4.5-mile trail around Marlette Lake, I was captivated by the abundance of wildflowers that bursts of color into the already stunning landscape.

What made my experience at this lake more magical was boating on the tranquil waters and camping by the lake's shores.

Marlette Lake in Washoe County is truly a hidden gem worth discovering.

Stroll Through the Marlette Flume Trail

Marlette Flume Trail is one of the most popular hiking and biking areas on the shores of Lake Tahoe.

This 4.4-mile trail meanders above the stunning shores of Lake Tahoe.

I was swept off by its breathtaking views while hiking along the way.

The most memorable part of my hike there was its gentle descent and paved surface.

Despite the smooth trail, I ended up hiking for many hours after making plenty of stops to capture the gorgeous vista views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountain ranges.

The scenery along the Marlette Flume Trail is awe-inspiring, making it a must-visit attraction in Washoe County.

Climb Mount Rose

View of Mount Rose during winter
Dominic Gentilcore PhD / Shutterstock.com

Mount Rose is Washoe County's highest mountain.

It stands 1,800 feet on the Sierra Nevada Mountain ranges.

It beckons me to visit and experience the exciting outdoor adventures on this mountain.

As an outdoor adventurer, climbing this mountain is an experience I can't resist.

It's ranked the 37th most prominent topographical peak in Nevada and offers a challenging yet rewarding ascent.

The best time to climb this mountain is during the summer when the weather is right.

However, locals say Mount Rose becomes a skiing haven during winter, giving me more reasons to climb this mountain again.

No matter the season, Mount Rose has something to offer.

Celebrate the West Rib Cook-Off

One of Washoe County's most awaited activities during the Labor Day Weekend is the West Rib Cook-Off.

It happens in the City of Spark and is part of the Labor Day Weekend festivities.

This event is awesome because it is not the average local cook-off; it's renowned as the "Super Bowl" of rib cook-off competitions, drawing some of the nation's best barbeque pit masters.

Throughout the week-long festivities, I had the chance to watch these skilled pit masters in action as they cooked up their best barbeque recipes.

Of course, the best part of this event was tasting the 200,000 pounds of delicious barbeque ribs served.

I'm already drooling, thinking of joining next year's celebration again.

All-in-all, the West Rib Cook-Off is a mouthwatering and exciting event that I'll cherish and look forward to attending yearly.

Roam Inside the Pyramid Lake Museum

Entrance to Pyramid Lake Museum
Danita Delimont / Shutterstock.com

Pyramid Lake Museum is an excellent place for a worthy historical side trip.

Visiting this museum allowed me to dive deep into the history and culture of the Paiute People, the area's first inhabitants.

As I browsed through the museum, I was immersed in the rich and fascinating history of the Paiute People.

I also took time to learn about their traditions and way of life.

Exterior of Pyramid Lake Museum
Ken Lund, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The exhibits filled with historical and archeological artifacts are fascinating, giving me a glimpse of Washoe County's past.

And, of course, my visit to the museum was only complete after dropping by its gift shop to pick up some excellent souvenirs.

Overall, the Pyramid Lake Museum is an enriching and fascinating place to visit, regardless of interest.

Final Thoughts

Washoe County, Nevada, has so much to offer for everyone.

It isn't just one of Nevada's most populous counties; it's also home to dozens of unspoiled natural attractions, from mountains and forests to lakes and trails.

Washoe County has virtually everything an outdoor adventurer like me looks for.

For undecided travelers, just refer to my list of the best things to do in Washoe County, Nevada, to create an awesome itinerary.

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