Museums

Visiting a museum is always a unique experience, as each one has its own distinct characteristics, style, and of course, content. Museum subjects vary greatly from city to city, and can range from firefighter's museums to fine art, to sports. If you need help making a selection, our 10Best list highlights the top spots to visit in Reno.

10 Nevada Discovery Museum
This new museum is a celebration of the nature, science and weather of the Silver State. At this brand-new museum, children can visit a Native American tule house, learn about the early Pioneers, work on their own farm or ranch and study archeology. They can also climb around on a three-story-tall cloud climbing structure, get wet while learning about local water resources, or build structures and art while learning more about Leonardo Da Vinci. Older children can visit the Under the Stars exhibit where they can go fishing, go on a camping trip and meet Northern Nevada's wildlife. There is also an area for babies and toddlers with a tree house and slide, a mine elevator and tunnel and a place for nursing mothers. The Museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 am-5:00 pm and Sunday, Noon-5:00 pm. Daily admission is $8 and children under 1 year are free. There is a members program as well as art, history and science classes, birthday party options and corporate and special events. The museum store offers an excellent selection of educational toys, books and puzzles. ((775) 786-1000)

9 Nevada State Historical Society Museum
Founded in 1904, this facility ranks as Nevada's oldest museum. Its impressive collection of artifacts represents prehistoric times to the present, showcasing the state's role as a passageway to the west and as a locus of gold and silver mining and wealth. The presence and impact of Native Americans and European settlers is also fodder for exhibits. (775-688-1190)

8 Wilbur D. May Museum & Arboretum
This fascinating museum houses the personal collection of Wilbur D. May, department store magnate, rancher, and world traveler -it's been said that Mr. May traveled around the world 40 times. The May Museum's indoor garden houses ponds, waterfalls and a a variety of plants and flowers. The museum is located in the beautiful Rancho San Rafael Park. (775-785-5961)

7 W. M. Keck Minerals Museum
The W.M. Keck Museum at the University of Nevada, Reno, is home to the impressive Mackay silver collection. The museum also includes extensive exhibits of mining artifacts, rocks, fossils, and minerals. (775-784-4528)

6 Nevada Museum of Art
This award-winning museum is just south of downtown Reno and features permanent and traveling exhibits from various artists. This excellent museum is small, but packs in a wonderful selection of contemporary and traditional art, sculptures interactive exhibits, shows, and a rooftop sculpture with a view of all of Reno and the surrounding mountains. The outside area of the museum has several permanent exhibits including several pieces from the nearby Burning Man festival. Current and past exhibitions have included: To Live Forever: Egyptian Treasures from the Brooklyn Museum, Leo Villareal: Animating Light, Explorer, Naturalist, Artist John James Audubon and The Birds of America and the Baroque World of Fernando Botero. Experienced docent tours are available at the NMA as are special events, a Museum school for children, regular art classes and a cafe named Café Musée. The museum gift shop is a real delight. Numerous items based on current and past exhibits are available as well as learning toys for children, jewelry and art from local artists and a nice selection of books. (775-329-3333)

5 Children's Museum of Northern Nevada
Intended to be a source of fun, education, and discovery for young people, this facility presents colorful, wide-open spaces in which kids can explore and learn experientially. Exhibits are as basic as dress-up and as instructional as provoking interest in the scientific premises behind mirrors, gravity, and emergency medicine. Other displays focus on local topography and navigating a grocery store. In-house collections feature rocks and minerals, rocking horses, and trains. (775-884-2226)

4 Sparks Heritage Museum
The history of Sparks revolves around mining and railroads, and this museum provides great insight into the history of these two important resources, along with a fascinating collection of related artifacts and memorabilia. (775-355-1144)

3 Mark Twain Museum
Most people don't realize that Samuel Clemens, the famous American writer also known as Mark Twain, got his literary start in this Old West city. After a brief stint trying to strike it rich mining gold (he was ultimately unsuccessful), Mark Twain went to work for Virginia City's Territorial Enterprises newspaper. The original printing presses and work desks still remain in the basement, which is now a gift shop. It's a small place but impressive! (775-847-0525)

2 Nevada Gambling Museum
No trip to Nevada would be complete without exploring what's helped make the region famous and very, very wealthy. The gambling museum houses an interesting collection of gaming memorabilia, antique slot machines, cheating devices, and gamblers' weapons. A must-see for gambling aficionados and history buffs. (775-847-9022)

1 National Automobile Museum
Even if classic cars are not your passion this 100,000-square-foot museum is still a great place to view some of the most beautiful and unusual cars you will ever see. The museum houses one of the largest collections of antique automobiles to be found anywhere and it has been voted one of the top ten automobile museums in the country and one of the best 16 museums in the world. The cars are grouped by age in street settings appropriate to their time. These real-life backdrops include everything from Burma Shave signs to old gas pumps. See the cars that were originally a part of the Harrah collection including a Cadillac that belonged to Elvis Presley, a gold Delorean, the car belonging to Alice Ramsey (the first woman to drive across the U.S.) and the Thomas Flyer. There is also a copper Rolls Royce, a Phantom Corsair and s few horseless carriages. (775-333-9300)


Christina has lived in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area since she was a baby. A first-generation Nevadan, her Danish parents instilled in her an intense love of travel and the wild, rugged outdoors of the Western U.S. She spends her time hiking, camping, biking and kayaking in the mountains around her home, and snorkeling and boating in Lake Tahoe. Christina loves to visit the neighboring states of California, Oregon, Utah and Arizona but has traveled around the world including to Japan, Fiji, Turkey and Ecuador.   When she's not traveling or living outdoors, Christina is a graphic and web designer, writer and blogger. 

Read more about Christina Nellemann here.

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Maps and Directions

1
Nevada Discovery Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Museums
2
Nevada State Historical Society Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: RENO
3
Wilbur D. May Museum & Arboretum 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: RENO
4
W. M. Keck Minerals Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: RENO
5
Nevada Museum of Art 10Best List Arrow
Type: Art Museums, History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: Downtown
6
Children's Museum of Northern Nevada 10Best List Arrow
Type: Children's Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: CARSON CITY
7
Sparks Heritage Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: Sparks
8
Mark Twain Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: Historic Sites
Neighborhood: VIRGINIA CITY
9
Nevada Gambling Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: VIRGINIA CITY
10
National Automobile Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: Family Friendly, History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: Downtown