Nestled in the northwestern fringes of Nevada, Reno is sometimes seen as the little sister of Las Vegas. Yes, they both have casinos and a vibe all-around entertainment but Reno has quite a few unique spots to explore. In fact, there’s a heap of the best things to do in Reno that aren’t just within the city – the whole region has loads to see.
Relatively close to some of the best spots in California, and of course, the stunning Lake Tahoe – Reno is a great anchor point for a little city break as part of a wider road trip through Nevada or California.
It’s even got Burning Man that happens in Black Rock City each year around the end of August. It’s about a 150-minute drive away. This all makes Reno a pretty likely stop after a Burning Man adventure.
Whatever brings you to Reno, the most important thing is you maximise your time in the city. So, to help you get the most out of your stay, I wanted to share some of the best things to do in Reno once you arrive.
Take a look, below, at the top things to see and do in Reno. Have a blast in the city!
1.) National Automobile Museum
If you love cars and vintage rides, then the National Automobile Museum is gonna be right up your street!
Displaying more than 200 cars from the 19th and 20th centuries, along with exhibitions into their history and use, it’s the perfect spot for a morning visit.
Now, the museum splits up the car displays into four galleries. One of these sections houses the Off-road Motorsports Hall of Fame and several other race cars too.
Keep your eyes peeled for the Eldorado of the king, Elvis Presley. Oh, and the Ghia of Frank Sinatra, and the Lincoln Continental of President John F. Kennedy.
It’s a great place but if you’re not into your cars it’ll be best to give it a miss. It’s very car heavy and you might find it a bit of a bore.
2.) Nevada Museum of Art
It’s a misconception that is all about gaming!
Yes, it’s got a heap of that but it’s also got loads of other cool spots that sometimes get missed on a trip to the city. The Nevada Museum of Art is just one of these.
Known for its distinct collections and its role in hosting national and international exhibitions, the museum provides a deep, visual and cultural experience that’s totally cool to see.
Among the collections featured in the museum are E.L. Wiegand’s work and the Sierra Nevada/Great Basin art pieces. You’ll also get to see the museum’s signature exhibit, Altered Landscape: Photographs of a Changing Environment, a photography collection revolving around human interaction and interdependence with the natural world.
3.) Mount Rose Ski Resort
Who said you can’t visit a city and go skiing too?
About 20 miles away from Reno’s downtown area, the Mount Rose Ski Resort presents breathtaking scenery and exciting skiing runs that are great for a day on the slopes.
Now, Mountain Rose is considered one of the highest ski resorts in the Tahoe area. This all makes for some pretty perfect conditions for skiing.
Though, one thing to consider is the number of people who visited. During peak season, the number of guests increases and makes the resort quite crowded. Miss the weekends if you want to avoid the crowds.
4.) Truckee River Walk
The Truckee River District is one of Reno’s busiest areas and a great place to go for a stroll. Sitting along the banks of the Truckee River, it’s the kind of spot that’s well worth a gander (especially in the afternoon).
You see, you can easily head into the bars and cafes before exploring the art galleries, museums, and theatres in this area, too.
You can easily take a stroll here once exploring the Automobile Museum.
5.) Rancho San Rafael Park
For desert landscapes and mountain sceneries, Rancho San Rafael is the ideal place to be.
One of the park’s highlights is the two original ranch houses that remain standing on the property. Though, that’s not all that’s going on in the park. You can easily join the relatively easy Evans Canyon Trail or visit the Wilbur D. May Center that’s great if you want to explore their collections and botanic garden.
Also, if you’re visiting in September, be sure to check out The Great Reno Balloon Race that takes place within the park. It’s one of the best things to do in Reno and is one of the world’s largest balloon festivals.
6.) Idlewild Park
Beside the Truckee River is another of Nevada’s recreational gems. Idlewild Park is an almost 50-acre park that’s been around for almost 100 years.
Much more chilled than downtown Reno, it’s the kind of place that’s well worth a visit for a more relaxing day in the city.
If that’s not your thing, head over to the Reno Aces Ballpark to catch a game! Home of the Reno Aces, it’s a great way to get a taste of baseball.
Though, as a Brit, I have to be honest and say I had no clue what was going on. Still fun, though!
If you can’t catch a game, tours are also available in the ballpark.
7.) National Bowling Stadium
The National Bowling Stadium has coined the Taj Mahal of Tenpin when it was founded in 1995. With over 70 lanes, it’s a huge bowling stadium that’s pretty epic to visit.
Plus, the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame are stationed in the stadium premises to get a glimpse of Reno’s bowling history.
Again, bowling not your thing? Give it a miss!
8.) Reno Air Races
The Reno Air Races is a week-long air racing event in Northern Nevada. It makes the site of the former Stead Air Force Base a busy place every September and usually just after the Ballon Festival.
This all means you can easily see both around the same time.
It is one of the most anticipated occasions in the city as hundreds of pilots and crews bring their aircraft to participate in six hair-raising races.
Not only that, there are heaps of displays of aircraft and many civil and military flight demonstrations that are pretty cool to see.
9.) Pyramid Lake
Another of Reno’s best sightseeing spots is Pyramid Lake at the basin of the Truckee River. We actually visited here before heading to Burning Man and totally loved it.
Now, the lake earns its name from the pyramid-like, conical formations of limestone tufa rocks that rise over its still, dark waters. It’s so cool to see.
Plus, you might even spot the rare pelicans that call this area home.
10.) Hunter Creek trail
Just over 6-miles in length, the Hunter Creek Trail is one of the best things to do in Reno when you fancy leaving the downtown area.
If you’re a keen hiker, you’ll find this trail a breeze but for those newer to hiking, you’ll likely find this a moderate-paced hike. Whatever the case, it’s a gorgeous route and you’ll even get to spot the waterfall!
Just remember, like most popular spots around Reno, it can get busy. Avoid weekends and early afternoons if you want a quieter trek.
11.) Explore the Casinos
Reno might not be as glitzy or on the same scale as Las Vegas but it still has a fair few casinos that are something of an institution in the city.
Take a wander through Circus-Circus, head over to the Peppermill Resort Casino and visit the Silver Legacy Resort. Their all pretty vast and you can spend hours inside.
Oh and be sure to spot the Biggest Little City in the World Sign that adorns the street in downtown Reno.
As with all gambling, set yourself a budget before going in. Don’t go above it and remember these casinos don’t build themselves… the house usually wins!
12.) Washoe Lake
Around a 30-minute drive from Reno, Washoe Lake is well worth a visit whilst driving south to Carson City.
Here, you’ll be able to explore the totally unspoilt Washoe Lake State Park and even go boating on the lake itself.