Best Things to Do in Reno

10 Best Things to Do in Reno (and Beyond)

Whether you want to be relaxing inside or playing outside, Reno has plenty to do for every age. Starting with the entire family, visit some of the area's museums including the wonderful Nevada Museum of Art in its award-winning building and the Nevada Discovery Museum where children of all ages (and adults) can interact with various exhibits depicting Nevada. Another excellent museum is the National Automobile Museum that includes some of the most beautiful cars you will ever see.

If you want to spend some time outdoors, visit some of Reno's parks including the popular local parks of Rancho San Rafael, near the University and Idlewild Park near the Truckee River. If you are near the river you have to visit the Truckee River Whitewater Park which is located right downtown. Just down the street from the river is the Reno Aces baseball stadium, which is a great way to spend a spring or summer evening.

If you want to get out of town, visit the Wild West town of Virginia City in the foothills above Reno and ride the Virginia & Truckee Railroad, an authentic steam train. If you've made your plans and have gotten tickets, about three hours north of Reno is one of the area's most famous events: Burning Man.


Wild Island is located just east of Reno in the city of Sparks. This water park has a tropical feel and features a tide pool, a lazy river and a plethora of water slides including a four-story drop slide. There is also an area for children under the age of 5. Also on-hand for entertainment purposes are a 36-hole miniature golf course, bumper cars, a video arcade, and food vendors. This small, but jam packed park includes many activities for the whole family. The water park is usually full on hot summer days, but there is still parking available nearby.

Recommended for Best Things to Do because: Wild Island is a smaller waterpark, but great for children, teens and adults.

Christina's expert tip: Go to Wild Island after 4 p.m. until about 8 p.m. and pay less than half price.

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Built in 1927, this park is another of Reno's largest parks. It is located just West of downtown on the Truckee River. This park features several picnic areas, some tennis courts, a bike trail, some lakes and water features and access to the river. There is a Lions Club park for children with lot of fun equipment and a small train. The Rose Garden and the public art including some colorful trout jumping from the lake are popular as well as the seasonal Idlewild Pool. This pool is outdoors and is only open in the summertime, but features a lap pool with diving boards and a kids pool. The park has plenty of parking in many areas of the park and the bike path leads out of the park and into downtown and Verdi.

Recommended for Best Things to Do because: Visit the park for Food Truck Fridays during the summer and fill up on local food truck goodies.

Christina's expert tip: The park also has a skate park for teens.

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National Automobile Museum
Photo courtesy of Christina Nellemann

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, and a Phantom Corsair.

Recommended for Best Things to Do because: The National Automobile Museum is always getting in new exhibits and has regular special events.

Christina's expert tip: The 1936 silver Mercedes Benz is one of only three ever made (they are all in Reno).

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Greater Nevada Field
Photo courtesy of Christina Nellemann

The Greater Nevada Field is a baseball stadium in downtown Reno, Nevada, and the home of the Triple-A Reno Aces in the MiLB Pacific Coast League. The ballpark is located next to the Truckee River and is the centerpiece of a planned downtown Reno redevelopment effort, named the Freight House District. The Reno Aces Ballpark features all the amenities you would expect in a major league park: luxury suites, restaurants, food, several beer gardens, picnic table seating, a grassy area to stretch out on, and a kids play area complete with bouncy castle and jungle gyms. There are giveaways and audience-participatory fun at every game, and it's a great way to spend the evening downtown. A parking lot is available across the street or you can park at any of the casino hotels downtown.

Recommended for Best Things to Do because: During Reno Aces games you can get a feel for the friendly vibe of the city.

Christina's expert tip: For $15 extra you can watch the game at the Baseball Mountain and get a full picnic with drinks.

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The Truckee River Walk winds its way along the Truckee River and offers great views of fountains, restful park benches, kayakers, summer tubing fun, and access to downtown Reno's restaurant and bar scene as well as outdoor plays and movies. The walk plays host to many of Reno's special events including July's Artown. The walk is a great way to experience Reno's vitality. You can also bike along the river along the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway, which uses part of the walk for a path. The Bikeway can be accessed in Verdi and ridden through downtown to Vista Blvd. in Sparks, Nevada.

Recommended for Best Things to Do because: The Truckee River Walk is a vibrant part of the city. Every third Saturday it plays host to the Reno Wine Walk.

Christina's expert tip: The Truckee River Walk is part of the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway.

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Ouside the city

It's very difficult to explain this annual event in words. Burning Man takes place every year the week before Labor Day in the Black Rock Desert three hours north of Reno. Reno is the staging location of many participants who use the city to store up on supplies before heading out to the desert. The event gets more elaborate every year and photos of dust covered participants, giant Trojan horses, nude artwork, and a wooden effigy of a Man pop up all over the Web. There are literally millions of things to do at Burning Man from viewing art and the amazing camp structures in Black Rock City to jumping on trampolines and riding the spinning Teeter Totter of Death.

Recommended for Best Things to Do because: Burning Man has helped to put Reno on the modern map. Attending may change your life.

Christina's expert tip: You will need tickets to attend Burning Man. These go on sale in January. Please check the website for more details.

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Take a trip back to the old Comstock days and enjoy a ride on this authentic steam train. You can go on a six-mile round trip from Virginia City to Gold Hill or take the train all the way down the mountain to Carson City. The ride is narrated by experienced docents who will take you through the heart of the Comstock mining region. As you travel along, the guide will fill you in on some of the town's tall tales and historical facts. Check the website for schedules and current ticket prices. The Virginia & Truckee Railroad runs from May to October and takes visitors on a tour of the Comstock, Gold Hill and the Carson River Canyon. Each trip is on a historic steam engine train. During the holiday season, the train becomes the Comstock Christmas train complete with lights, elves, hot chocolate and cider.

Recommended for Best Things to Do because: The Virginia & Truckee now takes passengers down into Carson City.

Christina's expert tip: Cover your ears when the train whistle's loud!

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Truckee River Whitewater Park
Photo courtesy of Christina Nellemann

The Truckee River Whitewater Park is right in the middle of downtown Reno, just a few blocks from the casinos. It's 2,600 feet long with class 2 and 3 rapids for kayakers, canoes and boats. It is easily accessible from the shore and from the nearby Wingfield Park. There are five drop pools and 7,000 tons of smooth rocks to sit on along the river. Boaters and tubers can start anywhere along the park and go through several rapids, drops and marked tracks. Maneuvers include freestyle, front and side surfing, cartwheeling, throwing ends, blunt moves, spoofing and splatting, flat spinning, loops, front flips, slalom racing. There are random boulders in channels. The Whitewater Park is a great place to hang out during the summer where there are weekend concerts and events including Artown.

Recommended for Best Things to Do because: In the Truckee River Whitewater Park you will see kayakers, swimmers and tubers – all within a few steps of downtown.

Christina's expert tip: There are shallower areas for children to play, but this is still a river and they must be watched.

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The Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery 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.

Recommended for Best Things to Do because: The Nevada Discovery Museum is great for both children and adults--especially during hot weather or in the winter.

Christina's expert tip: The museum is very popular on the weekends, get there early for a parking space.

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Nevada Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of Christina Nellemann

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.

Recommended for Best Things to Do because: The Nevada Museum of Art is a smaller museum, but the exhibits and displays are top notch.

Christina's expert tip: Admission to the museum is free on every third Saturday.

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Meet Christina Nellemann

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...  More About Christina