15 Best Things to Do in Reno (Nevada)

Written by Veronique Raes
Updated on
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When people think of gambling and casinos in the United States, they usually think of Las Vegas. As such Reno is often overlooked, which is great shame for anyone travelling here and missing out on the best that this city has to offer.  Along with the bright lights of the casinos here, there are a wealth of other things to do including walks by the city’s mighty Truckee River, as well as visits to museums, galleries, and zoos. If you venture out of Reno slightly, then you will come to the amazing and iconic Lake Tahoe, worth the trip in its own right, but even within the city limits you can expect to find gems such as Mount Rose as well as parks, botanical gardens, and arboretums.

If after all this you still want to try your luck, then Reno also lives up to its reputation as the place to come for some gambling fun, and you will find a number of iconic casinos here such as the Atlantis and the Eldorado. It is true that these may not be as glamorous as anything found in Vegas or Atlantic City, but they are still packed with gaming tables and games like sports betting, and with dining options and live shows galore, you won’t ever have to leave a casino if you don’t want to. If you do however, you will be rewarded with everything that this dynamic and diverse city has to offer.

Lets explore the best things to do in Reno:

1. Lake Tahoe

Lake TahoeSource: flickr
Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is technically about 40 miles outside of the city of Reno, but it is still on the biggest draws in the area. Located between Nevada and California, Lake Tahoe is known as one of the most beautiful places in the entire United States and visitors flock here from all over the world to see the azure waters of the lake surrounded by majestic mountains.

Around Lake Tahoe you will find beaches and hiking trails and you can go boating on the lake and enjoy typical aquatic pastimes such as fishing.  Certainly, given its fame, if you find yourself in Reno then you shouldn’t miss the chance to make the short trip to Lake Tahoe at the same time.

2. Mount Rose Ski Resort

Mount Rose Ski ResortSource: firsttracksonline
Mount Rose Ski Resort

For some gorgeous scenery within the boundaries of Reno, look no further than Mount Rose Ski Resort which is only about 20 miles away from the downtown area of this city. Mount Rose stands at over 8,000 feet, and this makes it the highest resort in the Reno/Tahoe area.

The biggest reason to come to Mount Rose is for the skiing opportunities that abound here, and there are runs that are suitable for skiers of all levels of experience which means that it can get quite crowded during the high season. If you come at other times such as during the week however, you will be rewarded with a serene and tranquil skiing paradise.

3. Eldorado

EldoradoSource: flickr

The Eldorado is one of the most famous casinos in Reno and is also known as one of the premium spots to gamble here, if you feel like testing your luck while you are in town. The Eldorado first opened its doors in the early 1970s, which means that it has seen a lot of change in Reno over the years, and it still has a kind of period charm to this day.

If you want to try your luck, then there is everything you need in order to do it here, including table games, poker tables, slot machines, and other activities like sports betting. If you want to take a break and are feeling hungry, then you will find over 10 bars, cafes, and restaurants here, so you won’t even need to venture further afield if you don’t want to, as everything is onsite.

Even if you don’t fancy your luck, then there are also live music concerts and other events held here and as this is such a cultural icon, some people come here just to soak in the atmosphere.

4. Aces Ballpark

Aces BallparkSource: flickr
Aces Ballpark

For something completely different that gets you away from the casinos, consider a visit to Aces Ballpark in Reno, which is also the home ground of the Reno Aces, a minor league baseball team.

The ground is surrounded by gorgeous Reno scenery and, as well as the towering mountains in the background, it also sits on the Truckee River and for this reason it can be a great place to take in a game if you are in town.

If you can’t catch a game in action, there are also tours available of the ballpark where you can learn about the history of sport in Reno and can take in some of the best known sights in the grounds.

At the front of Aces Ballpark you will also find Aceskating, a fully equipped ice skating rink that is open in the winter months.

5. Riverwalk

RiverwalkSource: flickr

Snaking alongside the Truckee River in the downtown area of Reno is the Riverwalk. Here you will find a plethora of cultural activities on offer, and this area is particularly well known for its art galleries and restaurants.

You can either explore Riverwalk by yourself or join one of the many guided tours in the area such as Wine Walk where you can visit local galleries and wine shops and sample some of the best blends in the Reno area.

6. Nevada Museum of Art

Nevada Museum of ArtSource: flickr
Nevada Museum of Art

The Nevada Museum of Art first opened to the public in 1931 and as such is one of the oldest and most important museums in this area of the United States. The museum was renovated in the early 2000s in order to reflect a more modern design and to that end was modeled after the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.

At the museum you will find four different areas, each with a different theme, and you can expect to find photograph, paintings, drawings, and sculptures here. As well as the actual interior galleries that feature both static and rotating exhibitions, you will also find sculpture gardens to stroll in.

There are guided tours available if you want to know more about the artwork on display here, or you can wander around the museum on your own, and take in some of its signature features such as a suspended staircase which looks out over the skyline of this city.

7. National Automobile Museum

National Automobile MuseumSource: flickr
National Automobile Museum

If you are a fan of all things related to automobiles then consider a visit to the National Automobile Museum that has its home in Reno.

Here you will find over 200 items on display that stretch across the history of the automobile industry, and these include old fashioned carriages, celebrity vehicles, and even racing cars.

One of the most famous pieces here is the Mercury Series 9CM which dates from 1949 and was the car driven by James Dean in the film ‘Rebel Without a Cause’.

8. Animal Ark

Animal ArkSource: flickr
Animal Ark

Animal Ark spans 38 acres in the north of Reno and prides itself on being a safe sanctuary for animals, rather than a zoo or wildlife enclosure.

To that end Animal Ark rescues animals that are no longer able to live in the wild, and you will find a mixture of different species here, including some that are indigenous to the Reno area.

You can view the animals that live here in this semi-natural habitat, and there are dedicated feeding times when visitors will have more chance of catching sight of some of the furry residents such as bears.

As well as seeing the animals, the Ark also tells the story of how they came to be here and aims to educate visitors on animal preservation and ecology.

9. Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum

Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery MuseumSource: pinterest
Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum

If you want to know all about science, engineering, technology, math, and even art, then the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum is the place to come.

Known for its range of interactive exhibits that aim to teach visitors about science, this discovery museum is perfect for those who are looking for something to do in Reno other than visit the famous casinos, and is ideal if you are travelling with a family.

There are rotating and permanent exhibitions here, and the emphasis is on hands-on learning, with signature pieces such as a replica of the Truckee River than spans 80 feet.

10. Wilbur D. May Center

Wilbur D. May CenterSource: flickr
Wilbur D. May Center

For anyone looking to get back to nature, a trip to the Wilbur D. May Center is not to be missed. The center is nestled in the tranquil Rancho San Rafael Regional Park and is made up of a museum and botanical garden area.

The museum itself is packed with items that used to belong to Wilbur D. May who was a rancher and a prominent figure in the Reno area in the early part of the 20th century.

May was also a prolific traveler, and as such you will find items from all over the world in his collection. As well as the museum, you will also find an arboretum and botanical garden here which cover 12 acres of property and features a range of flora and fauna from the region.

These include a variety of gardens such as English style flower gardens, the Songbird Garden, and the Evans Creek which bisects the middle of the botanical gardens.

11. Sierra Safari Zoo

Sierra Safari ZooSource: flickr
Sierra Safari Zoo

Located in the north of Reno, the Sierra Safari Zoo first opened in the 1980s, but has grown in prominence and is now the known for being the largest zoo in the entire state of Nevada.

The zoo has a large variety of animals from all over the world, as well as showcasing animals that are indigenous to the Reno and wider Nevada area.

Visitors who come here can expect to find different themed areas according to the groups of animals that live here such as reptiles, big cats, and primates, and there are also aquariums and even a dolphinarium on site.

12. Idlewild Park

Idlewild ParkSource: flickr
Idlewild Park

One of the best loved parks in the region, Idlewild Park spans an impressive 49 acres of land and is conveniently located next to the downtown area of Reno and along the Truckee River.

The park is known for its signature features such as a rose garden and decorative duck ponds, and for younger visitors there are children’s play areas.

There is also a swimming pool for those who want to cool off in the warmer months and a skate park for anyone who wants to practice some skate moves.

13. Atlantis Casino Resort Spa

Atlantis Casino Resort SpaSource: flickr
Atlantis Casino Resort Spa

Atlantis Casino Resort Spa is one of the best known casinos and luxury hotels in Reno, and was built in 1972, making it something of a stalwart on the casino scene in this city.

The casino floor at the Atlantis sprawls over 60,000 square feet, and you will find a range of games here including poker tables, blackjack areas, roulette tables, and slot machines.

The casino and hotel are also known for their design aesthetic, and, as the name suggests, the buildings are meant to resemble those of the lost underwater city of Atlantis.

14. Peavine Peak

Peavine PeakSource: flickr
Peavine Peak

Peavine Peak has the claim to fame of being the highest peak that sits on top of Peavine Mountain, and it is one of the most iconic sights in Reno.

The peak and mountain are so named because of the pea vines that grow here.

Visitors come here for the various activities on offer which include exploring the area using off road vehicles, as well as hiking along designated trails.

15. Fleischmann Planetarium

Fleischmann PlanetariumSource: flickr
Fleischmann Planetarium

The Fleischmann Planetarium opened its doors in the 1960s and is actually located on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno’s premier university.

The planetarium is however open to the public and features a dome theater that has shows that are put on daily where visitors can learn all about the planets and the solar system.

As well as films of the galaxy, there is also a star gazing program that is run for members of the public who want to learn more about the night sky.

15 Best Things to Do in Reno (Nevada):

  • Lake Tahoe
  • Mount Rose Ski Resort
  • Eldorado
  • Aces Ballpark
  • Riverwalk
  • Nevada Museum of Art
  • National Automobile Museum
  • Animal Ark
  • Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum
  • Wilbur D. May Center
  • Sierra Safari Zoo
  • Idlewild Park
  • Atlantis Casino Resort Spa
  • Peavine Peak
  • Fleischmann Planetarium