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13 Fun Things to Do in Reno, Nevada

13 Fun Things to Do in Reno, Nevada

Adventuring in Reno is a journey that combines the thrill of the classic Vegas experience with the serene charm of the Sierra Nevada gateway. From world-class museums to unforgettable culinary experiences, here are 13 fun things to do in Reno, Nevada, that will make your trip sparkle with adventure and delight.

Known as the Biggest Little City in the World, Reno offers a unique blend of urban charm and outdoor adventure. Reno is located in the southern part of Washoe County, nestled on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in an area called the Truckee Meadows.

It is two hours northeast of Sacramento, California, and about the same size population-wise as Henderson and North Las Vegas.

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1. Eat and Drink in the Culture of Great Basin Brewing Co.

Kick off your Reno adventure with a refreshing stop at the Great Basin Brewing Co. This local landmark is a craft beer oasis, offering a vast selection of Nevada’s most award-winning craft beers brewed on-site.

Grab a pint (or a flight) and pair it with a hearty brewpub meal. The menu is chock full of great appetizer selections, including the Drunken Stuffed Jalapeños, Wild Horse Ale battered with bacon and honey jalapeño sauce. And you can’t pass up a tasty bowl of Wisconsin Beer Cheese soup.

Need a beer recommendation? Try Great Basin’s iconic award-winning Wild Horse Amber Ale or Icky IPA, which pairs wonderfully with the garlic Icky bread for an authentic taste of Reno’s flavor.

Visit one of the three other Minden, Sparks, or Carson City locations. Happy hour is Monday – Friday, 3 to 6 PM.

great-basin-brewing-co-restaurant

2. Delve into a Unique Shopping Experience at The Basement

Located in the heart of the city is Reno’s historic 1932 post office. The Basement has been transformed into an eclectic retail destination that shouldn’t be missed. This underground marketplace features over 20 retailers offering everything from one-of-a-kind vintage finds to the latest trends in independent fashion. 

the-basement-reno-local-shops

The creative and inspiring ambiance here is perfect for those who appreciate art, design, and offbeat shopping experiences. Abloom is one of my favorites, with hearty houseplants, disco ball planters, and many other fun things. Pick up handmade quality bath and body products from Soul Garden Bath and Body. These items are made without animal fats or palm oil.

Beautiful Bearded Man is a high-end men’s grooming space that is Instagram perfection, including the clients. Be sure to try a coffee or tea from Maple Moon Coffee Company or an exotic fruit beverage at Thania’s Juice Bar.

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3. Stay in The Little Blue House Airbnb

Reno offers its visitors unique accommodations to suit every style, and The Little Blue House is one such hidden gem. This charming and cozy Airbnb is filled with eclectic decor and charm, making it the perfect home base for your Reno adventures. It’s in a tranquil and walkable neighborhood, just minutes from downtown.

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The owner’s thoughtful touches and local recommendations add warmth and personalization to your stay. We loved the attention to detail and noticed the most in the kitchen and bathroom. Anything and everything we could have needed for our stay was there.

I also loved the patio and fenced yard, perfect for our dog. We spent most of our time in the media room, where the big flat-screen TV was, but the living room was a close second thanks to the enormous windows for viewing the epic scenery.

little-blue-house-living-room

4. Marvel at Car History in the National Automobile Museum

Car enthusiasts will find pure joy in wandering the marvelous aisles of the National Automobile Museum, easily one of the most fun things to do in Reno. Each car is a work of art, featuring more than 200 exceptional vehicles from the late 19th century to the present.

national-automobile-museum-reno

Highlights include iconic automobiles that have shaped the cultural landscape, such as cars from famous movies and prototypes of groundbreaking designs. If you need some fascinating vehicles to seek out, look for the 1913 Pierce Arrow, 1926 Pontiac, 1936 Hudson, and 1947 Kaiser.

Celeb cars include Pizza Planet Truck from Toy Story, James Dean’s 1949 Mercury (Rebel Without a Cause), Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me car, and Lana Turner’s 1941 Chrysler.

james-deans-rebel-without-a-cause-car

5. Try Your Luck at Grand Sierra’s Slots

A trip to Reno wouldn’t be complete without a flutter or two, and Grand Sierra Resort is the perfect playground for gaming enthusiasts. Whether you’re a seasoned player or a beginner, the vibrant atmosphere and myriad of games await you.

The Grand Sierra Resort property features luxury pools, a bowling alley, a movie theater, award-winning dining, world-class entertainment, and hundreds of slot machines, from the latest themes to classic reels. Upcoming concerts include Peter Frampton, Yelawolf, Gladys Knight, and Social Distortion, to name a few.

FYI: This hotel casino is in the same group as Sahara in Las Vegas and uses Infinity Rewards.

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Pro Tip: We continually won on the slot machines and enjoyed the vibe of a packed house over the weekend, including lots of things for kids to do. Splurge for the Grand Sierra buffet, and don’t miss the crab legs.

6. Take a Stroll Through Downtown Reno (Truckee River Walk)

The heart of the city is best experienced on foot. Embark on a stroll along the Truckee River Walk, which offers scenic views of the city and is home to various public art installations. The Truckee River Trail is 12 miles long, but this artsy portion is a mile long between two of Reno’s best parks: Idlewild and Wingfield.

From here, you can also explore nearby neighborhoods, each offering its own blend of history and modernity.

downtown-reno-truckee-river

7. Immerse Yourself in Art at the Nevada Museum of Art

Another fun thing to do in Reno is to explore the history and beauty of the state through the eyes of artists at the Nevada Museum of Art. This state-of-the-art museum features an impressive collection that spans classical to contemporary works, highlighting Northern Nevada’s role in diverse artistic movements. 

Allow a docent to lead your tour, explaining the artist’s pieces in a riveting way. The museum is about to double in size soon, so watch for even more amazing exhibits and programming after construction.

nevada-museum-of-art

Be sure to check out their featured exhibitions that often offer an innovative look into local and global art trends. The Nevada Museum of Art is closed on Mondays. An onsite cafe serves lunch Wednesday through Saturday and a Sunday Music Brunch from 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM.

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Past exhibit at the museum: Guillermo Bert: The Journey

8. Drive Over to Lake Tahoe (and Eat at Zephyr Cove Restaurant)

Nestled just a scenic 45-minute drive from Reno is the breathtaking beauty of Lake Tahoe. Spend a day exploring the clear blue waters, hiking the surrounding trails, or enjoying various water sports. Due to the winter weather, we were limited to just one quick visit, but Zephyr Cove is one of the most popular.

The resort offers lodging, cruises, snowmobiling, horseback riding, a restaurant and marina, and direct beach access.

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Pair your visit with a stop at Zephyr Cove Restaurant for a delicious meal with stunning lake views. Locals vote this eatery as “South Shore’s Best”. It is open daily, 8 AM to 8 PM. I had a delicious shaved beef sandwich with au jus, and my husband enjoyed the battered and fried fish & chips. 

Whether you’re a foodie, an adventure-seeker, or someone looking for relaxation, Lake Tahoe offers it all against a backdrop of unparalleled natural beauty.

zephyr-cove-restaurant-sandwich

9. Snag a Selfie at the Reno Arch

A trip to Reno isn’t complete without snapping a picture beneath the famous Reno Arch, marking the city’s main downtown intersection. Day or night, this iconic landmark is a must-see! Since 1926, the arch has welcomed millions of visitors and served as a backdrop for countless memorable photos.

Don’t forget to capture your own Reno moment under this historic sign.

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FYI: In 1926, a landmark that would come to symbolize celebration and progress was constructed—the original Reno Arch. It was erected as a tribute to the Nevada Transcontinental Highway Exposition, an event that marked a milestone—the completion of the historic Lincoln and Victory Highways. The Arch was an iconic gateway to new adventures on these open roads.

10. Elevate Your Culinary Skills with a Gourmet Cooking Class

Reno is a haven for food lovers, and there’s no better way to immerse yourself in its culinary scene than with a gourmet cooking class. Several establishments in the city offer hands-on experiences where you can learn new cooking techniques, sample local ingredients, and meet fellow travelers keen on exploring the palate.

From homemade pasta workshops to cocktail crafting sessions, there’s a class to please every palate, and Sierra Chef is where we would begin our search.

sierra-chef-cooking-class

11. Sample the Nightlife at Reno Casinos

Downtown Reno comes alive after dark, and the casinos are at the heart of the energy. Enjoy the vibrant nightlife with live entertainment, sophisticated cocktails, and bustling casino floors.

Whether you’re a high-roller at the tables or just there to soak in the atmosphere, the scene is guaranteed to keep you on your toes. Four of our favorites were Peppermill, Atlantis, Eldorado, and Silver Legacy.

At Peppermill, the hotel gets an excellent rating, and guests vote this the best casino (82,000-square-foot of gaming space) and “Loosest Slots” by the Reno community. Though we didn’t see it, I hear the pools are phenomenal. Take advantage of the premium shopping at this casino.

pepeprmill-casino-reno

Atlantis is noticeable from far away, with its pink, blue, and purple stripes and neon lights. The top things at this address are award-winning restaurants and an impressive spa. They offer 60,000 sq. ft. of casino space.

reno-casino-hotel

Downtown The Row Reno, three Caesar’s properties, Eldorado, Circus Circus, and Silver Legacy (the more modern), connect for a massive casino experience for 227,000 square feet of casino space. I couldn’t tell where one started or ended, but what’s inside is fantastic. 

Admire the stunning stained glass panels, even in a Starbucks coffee shop, and a 5th-floor outdoor pool at the Eldorado. Upcoming shows include Air Supply, Jerry Seinfeld, Derek Hough, Wanda Sykes, and ZZ Top.

Popular eateries include The Brew Brothers, El Jefe’s Cantina, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Watch for the circus performers and sign up for Reno’s only Topgolf Swing Suite.

As a travel professional, I found this property similar to the Gaylord in Nashville, without gaming. You can wander around and enjoy the scenery, whether gambling or staying there. There’s plenty to get into and fun for the entire family. 

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12. See Victorian Square in Sparks

In nearby Sparks, explore the eight-square-block area of Victorian Square, a newly fashioned area to play, work, eat, and live. Besides a handful of restaurants and shops is a water fountain where kids can frolic, the Sparks Heritage Museum, and Galaxy Theatre. Popular eateries include Blind Onion and Pinon Bottle Co.

Watch for special events in this area all year long, including Reno Craft Beer Week and Hot August Nights.

victorian-square-sparks-nv

13. Enjoy Reno’s Cutting Edge Art Installments

Expect many fun and colorful murals and eclectic art installments throughout Reno. Must-see Burning Man pieces are at the Riverwalk District and City Plaza, where the famous Space Whale is. Reno’s Neon Line is another address to check out the picturesque pieces that change every two years to keep you coming back for more. 

Other pieces punctuating the city’s landscape include bike racks, signal boxes, and kinetic banners.

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Reno, Nevada, is more than just a pit stop on your way to the Sierra Nevada; it’s a vibrant city with its own unique personality, teeming with activities and experiences to satisfy every traveler.

The next time you plot a getaway or road-tripping across the West Coast, consider this hub of culture, recreation, and good times a rich addition to your itinerary.

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