17 Things to Do in Reno
By Janet Benoir – October 9, 2023
Nestled in Northern Nevada, Reno is a must-visit destination for those seeking a blend of outdoor adventures, cultural attractions, and entertainment options. Easily accessible within a day’s drive from Las Vegas, this vibrant city showcases the beauty of the Sierra Nevada and offers an array of experiences that justify its nickname as “the biggest little city in the world.”
During your stay in Reno, you will find an abundance of activities to suit every traveler’s taste. From engaging museums to serene parks, world-class ski resorts, and captivating zoos, this city promises an unforgettable visit. Allow yourself to be captivated by the charm of Reno, Nevada, and explore the plethora of attractions this enticing city has to offer.
One of the largest freshwater lakes in the western United States, Lake Tahoe stretches 22 miles in length, straddling the Nevada and California state border. A renowned tourist attraction, it offers a wide range of activities that cater to various interests. Make sure to allocate ample time to fully experience its beauty; numerous hotels and Tahoe-based attractions await you. You may even venture across the border and explore the California side, which boasts skiing and snow activities.
Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, famous for its enticing beaches, provides hiking trails for those who prefer dry land exploration. Regardless of your interest in watersports, take a moment to marvel at the purity of Lake Tahoe’s water, which is nearly as pure as distilled water. Additionally, when in Reno, don’t miss out on other fun activities, such as the Ferino Distillery Guided Tour and a Private Distillery Tour by Pedicab.
Downtown Reno is the ideal destination for people of all ages searching for nonstop entertainment and excitement. The vibrant area, which operates 24/7, boasts an impressive array of amenities, including casinos, sushi bars, pubs, and cocktail lounges, ensuring an unforgettable night out.
Furthermore, the charming Riverwalk District features numerous shops, cafes, lodgings, and bars, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the Downtown Reno experience. The downtown hub also provides convenient access to popular attractions such as the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts, The Space Whale, Idlewild Park, and the Tahoe Pyramid Trail. Feel free to explore this bustling area at your leisure or, for a different perspective, consider taking a bike tour.
Eldorado Resort Casino
Located in downtown Reno, the Casino of the Eldorado has been a popular entertainment venue since 1973. Many consider it the premier casino in the area. Featuring slot machines, table games, and card tournaments, test your luck and experience the thrill it has to offer.
Not only does Eldorado boast a wide variety of gaming options, it also offers an array of amenities to ensure a memorable visit. Catch a show at The Row, indulge in delicious dining options, sip on drinks at stylish bars and lounges, or unwind by the pool on the 5th floor of the Skyline Tower. Don’t forget to explore the unique shopping boutiques available on the property as well.
National Automobile Museum
The National Automobile Museum, which debuted in 1989 in Reno, showcases an impressive collection of over 200 cars, including those once owned by William Harrah. The captivating street scenes within the museum recreate the ambiance of historic locales, allowing you to immerse yourself in the time and place.
In addition to the impressive automobile collection, the museum boasts an on-site cafe, a theater, and the renowned Be the Astronaut exhibit. This exhibit is presented in partnership with the Nevada Space Center and contributes to the museum’s reputation as one of the top ten car museums in the United States.
Nevada Museum of Art
The Nevada Museum of Art holds a distinguished position as a leading art institution in the Western United States. With a rich history dating back to 1931, it is the sole art museum in Nevada to have accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums and continues to be a popular destination for art enthusiasts.
As a visitor, you will encounter impressive exhibits and artwork showcasing contemporary pieces, along with landscapes and other western-themed art. If you are going to be in Reno for an extended period, consider becoming a member to enjoy complimentary admission and other exclusive benefits.
Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum
The Discovery, as it is fondly known by locals, is a highly recommended science center and museum situated in Reno. Visiting this interactive, hands-on museum is a must for those eager to gain knowledge through engaging with exhibits. Established in 2011, The Discovery is a non-profit institution that consistently brings unique experiences to its patrons.
Exhibits at the museum are periodically refreshed, so it’s advisable to check their website for current displays prior to your visit. One of the highlights is the permanent Truckee River replica, where children have the opportunity to learn while also enjoying some water-based fun.
Nestled in South Lake Tahoe within the Peppermill Resort and Casino in Reno, the Fireside Lounge is a classic destination in its 40-year history, deserving a visit when you’re in the area. Once part of the original Peppermint Inn Coffee Shop & Lounge, this delightful lounge has a distinct vintage charm, with welcoming staff members ready to make your experience an enjoyable one.
Moreover, the Fireside Lounge presents live music and various entertaining events frequently, ensuring a fun and lively atmosphere during your visit. Be sure to check their schedule to catch a glimpse of upcoming performances and acts aligned with your stay. This stylish lounge promises an unforgettable experience when exploring Reno.
Mount Rose Ski Resort
The Mount Rose Ski Resort, located near Reno, boasts a diverse and refined skiing experience for visitors. With 1,300 acres to explore, featuring slopes for all difficulty levels, you can enjoy skiing or snowboarding no matter your proficiency. Moreover, the resort’s proximity to Reno—just a 25-minute drive—makes it a convenient addition to your plans. If you anticipate frequent skiing in the area, consider purchasing a season pass to save on expenses.
Another enticing aspect of the Mount Rose Ski Resort is its status as the highest base elevation ski resort in Reno. This elevation provides stunning views for you to appreciate during your visit.
Hunter Creek Falls
Hunter Creek Falls is a captivating sight on the 6.4-mile Hunter Creek Trail, which boasts some of Reno’s loveliest cascading waters. This trail is perfect for both solo and family activities since it is well-marked, accommodating fast or leisurely walks as well as running.
As you approach the endpoint of the Hunter Creek Falls trail, you’ll be greeted with a remarkable 30-foot waterfall. The whole family can appreciate this hike’s beauty and ease, making it an excellent bonding experience amidst nature’s splendor.
Located in the heart of Lake Tahoe, Chickadee Ridge is known for its popular hiking trails and picturesque attractions. The ridge boasts breathtaking views of the lake and is even equipped with a sizable hill where families can enjoy sledding during the colder months.
Among the well-loved trails in the Lake Tahoe region, the Snowshoe Hike stands out. As the name suggests, this hike requires snowshoes during winter excursions. However, in summertime, you can embark on this journey without snowshoes. One truly unique feature of Chickadee Ridge is the opportunity to interact with some of the most approachable chickadee birds. Simply place birdseed in your hand and patiently wait for these friendly feathered companions to swing by.
Reno Air Races
Every September, over five days, the Reno Air Races commence in the Nevada desert. This spectacular event features the fastest motorsport on Earth, showcasing breathtaking airplanes racing at an altitude of 50 feet and reaching speeds of 500 miles per hour!
In addition to witnessing high-speed aerial competitions, you can enjoy performances by the National Aviation Heritage Invitational, military displays, the STEM zone, and STOL. The event also boasts a wide variety of aviation exhibits that will captivate any aviation enthusiast in your family.
Idlewild Park, a 49-acre oasis in downtown Reno, provides the perfect spot for a tranquil day immersed in nature’s beauty. As you explore the park, be sure to visit the attractions designed for children, such as the pool, skate park, duck pond, and renowned rose garden.
While spending quality time with family and friends, don’t miss the chance to take in the scenic Truckee River nearby. Additionally, be sure to partake in Idlewild Park’s annual festivities like the Reno Earth Day celebration and various summer festivals. Your culinary senses will be delighted by the popular weekly Food Truck Friday event as well.
Rancho San Rafael Park
At Rancho San Rafael Park, you can explore 570 acres of diverse outdoor experiences in Reno. Enjoy the picturesque hiking and biking trails, take in the history and culture at the Wilbur D. May Museum, and marvel at the natural beauty of the Wilbur D. May Arboretum and Botanical Garden. You’ll also find a visitor center, historic ranch house, Herman’s Pond.
The park is equipped with additional facilities to ensure a fun-filled visit. Bring your furry friends to the dog park, let your kids play at the playground, or have a delightful picnic in the designated area. Don’t forget to stop by the enchanting rose garden to complete your Rancho San Rafael Park experience.
Animal Ark, located in Reno, strives to provide a secure environment for injured, non-releasable, and orphaned animals. As one of the top attractions in the area, it focuses on the preservation and well-being of endangered species.
While visiting Animal Ark, you can participate in various educational and entertaining events organized throughout the year. Ensure you examine the schedule before heading off to this remarkable sanctuary.
Sierra Safari Zoo
Located north of Reno, Nevada, the Sierra Safari Zoo, also known as Sierra Exotic Animal Park, opened its doors in 1989. This zoo is home to some of the most unusual and intriguing creatures in the state, including sloths, primates, and bobcats. If you’re eager to explore the world of exotic animals, this destination should be at the top of your list when you’re in the area.
Although the variety of exotic animals at the Sierra Safari Zoo is impressive, the establishment itself is relatively small-scale, which makes for an easy visit. And, as an added bonus, the breathtaking mountain views at this zoo will surely leave a lasting impression.
Fleischmann Planetarium & Science Center
Located on the University of Nevada campus, Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center was established in 1963 and remains a highly-regarded attraction. Notably, it was the first planetarium in the United States to utilize 360-degree projection technology through time-lapse imagery, offering visitors the experience of seeing an entire day’s weather in just minutes. If you’re passionate about science, this planetarium is a must-visit destination.
The 60-seat Dome Theater offers an immersive experience, where you can explore various exhibits and learn more about scientific topics. Additionally, the center features a SkyDome-style movie system, engaging science exhibits, and even a meteorite weighing over a metric ton.
Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum
Located just 35 miles northeast of Reno, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum and Visitors Center offers a fantastic opportunity to discover and explore the rich history and culture of the Paiute Tribe. The museum focuses on the significance of Pyramid Lake, a vast 125,000-acre body of water admired for its abundant fishing opportunities and striking rock formations. Often regarded as North America’s most picturesque desert lake, it has captivated countless visitors.
At the Visitors Center, you’ll find a wealth of information about recreational activities available at Pyramid Lake, such as fishing, swimming, and camping. Delve into the fascinating world of the Paiute Tribe and uncover the unique allure that this beautiful desert lake has to offer.
Greater Nevada Field
For sports enthusiasts, Greater Nevada Field is a must-visit attraction in Reno. This impressive stadium serves as the home ground for the Triple-A Reno Aces, a celebrated team in the Pacific Coast League of Minor League Baseball.
Situated near the picturesque Truckee River, Greater Nevada Field welcomes over 500,000 fans each year and is conveniently located close to Downtown Reno. After enjoying a thrilling ball game, you can easily venture to nearby entertainment spots to make the most of your time in the area. Don’t miss out on the excitement of a Reno Aces game when you’re in town—it promises an unforgettable experience.