Fun Things to Do in Reno, “The Biggest Little City in the World”

Amanda Williams Avatar

Reno’s got a reputation. A good one. It’s considered a top ski destination. But there’s way more to discover off the slopes. Like Vegas, this Nevada city has casinos and nightlife on a smaller scale. And Reno’s great outdoors is a rich playground with tons of natural places to explore. Located on the western border of the state, Reno’s a short drive from Lake Tahoe, so you can see both of these spots in one trip. Here are 10 of the top things to do when visiting Reno.

Take a Selfie at the Reno Arch

One of the most iconic spots to snap a pic while in Reno is of course the historic landmark known as the Reno Arch — you’ll find the sign stretching over Virginia Street where it intersects with Commercial Row, claiming the title of “the Biggest Little City in the World.”

You’ll see the famed Circus Circus, inspired murals, boutiques and lots of bright lights while in this part of the city. The Grand Sierra Resort and Casino is only two miles from this downtown collective of entertainment in Greater Reno. There are enough things to do in Reno’s downtown area to fill an entire trip.

Truckee Riverwalk in Reno
The Truckee Riverwalk in Reno, NV. Photo credit: Travel Nevada

Stroll Along Reno’s Truckee River

The bustling Riverwalk district is lined with Reno’s best bistros and cafes. My favorite spots in the neighborhood are the giant Space Whales sculptures (currently being repaired) and remnant art relics from Burning Man 2016. The Reno Riverwalk is very near the Reno Arch. Also in the downtown Reno neighborhood and along the Truckee Riverwalk:

  • The Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts (offering local and Broadway productions)
  • Adventurous tours along the Truckee River like rafting or kayaking
  • At the end of the Riverwalk opposite downtown is a green space called Idlewild Park
slot machines in Reno Nevada
If you want slots, there are so many options ringing and flashing at the Atlantis Casino Resort! Photo credit: Amanda Williams

Try Your Luck at the Atlantis Casino

Not only does this expansive Atlantis Hotel, Casino Resort and Conference Center have plenty of table games and slot machines to keep you dancing with Lady Luck, but it’s also a really inexpensive spot to base your operation for the trip. Atlantis has a children’s arcade, a full service spa and a salon on-site. This property has many restaurants on-site, including:

  • Purple Parrot (breakfast, diner-style food)
  • Red Bloom (Asian food)
  • Sky Terrace Oyster and Sushi Bar
  • Bistro Napa (lunch fare)
  • Toucan Charlie’s buffet
  • Atlantis Steakhouse
  • Manhattan Deli

SheBuysTravel Tip: There are over 50 types of nigiri and maki sushi and a lovely view. I can never pass up this nosh spot when in Reno.

Stay at the Peppermill Casino

Across the street from the Atlantis Casino is the Peppermill Casino, another non-chain resort property with all the bells and whistles to be considered a one-stop base of operations while in Reno. Some Peppermill notables are:

  • Toscana Spa
  • 10 restaurants and bars

Other Spots In and Around Reno to Explore

Rancho San Rafael Regional Park

This is a giant park with tons of trails and is home to special events like The Great Reno Balloon Race. The 570-acre Washoe County Park has:

  • Year-round restrooms
  • The Wilbur D. May Museum
  • The Wilbur D. May Arboretum & Botanical Garden (see more on that below)
  • Visitor center
  • Historic Ranch House
  • The Nevada Farms and Families Area
  • Herman’s Pond
  • The Basque Sheepherder Monument

Rancho San Rafael Regional Park offers access to miles of hiking and biking trails.

Check Out the National Automobile Museum

This is reported to be one of the most popular car museums in North America. It includes cars owned by Elvis Presley, John F. Kennedy and John Wayne.

Admire the Beauty of Nature at the Nevada Museum of Art

Another spot to visit is the Nevada Museum of Art where the theme is the preservation of nature. This is not your typical art gallery. Instead of being organized by style or era like most art museums, the Nevada Museum of Art focuses on how humans interact with their environment.

See Stars at the Fleischmann Planetarium

To hit this must-see spot located on the University of Nevada, Reno grounds, you’ll really need to time your visit around its hours. A mid-week trip like mine just didn’t allow the stars to align for a dome show here. It’s definitely a place you can take the whole family to see the stars shine while in Reno, including programs on planets, stars, space and time.

Wilbur D. May Center Museum and Arboretum

I had blocked off an entire morning for a little side trip to visit the Wilbur D. May Museum and Arboretum, but the weather had other plans. Freezing rain turned to snow and quickly had me back at the table games at the Atlantis Casino. I will return to see this amazing collection from an eclectic former Reno resident, adventurer, philanthropist and traveler.

The property is in Washoe County and includes a museum filled with tchotchkes and artifacts as well as a 23-acre botanical garden. This space is part of the Rancho San Rafael Regional Park.

Catch a Ballgame

The Reno Aces are the local Triple-A minor league baseball team affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks and play their innings right in Reno at Greater Nevada Field — northern Nevada’s premier venue for sports and entertainment. Head to the ballpark and cheer on the team!

Mount Rose Ski Resort

Just 20 miles from Reno’s downtown is this breathtaking ski resort with thrilling runs, so close to the city! It is also one of the highest ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe area. Mt. Rose might be rather crowded on weekends and holidays since it’s pretty epic. This mountain is a gem of the Sierra Nevada mountain range as the highest and most prominent peak in the state of Nevada.

Reno truly has year-round fun with skiing, gambling, hiking, guided tours, wine walks and more. If you’re interested in more Nevada adventures, check out this travel guide to Nevada’s National Parks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *