You’ve probably heard of a hit comedy series called “Reno 911.” The show is a documentary-style series that follows the daily life and antics of policemen from the city of Reno. During the show’s 6 year run, we got to see how crazy things could get in that city in Nevada but of course, all of those were made for the show. The truth of the matter is that Reno, Nevada is an amazing place to visit and you don’t have to worry about the kinds of criminals portrayed on the show. Once you visit this city in Washoe County, you’ll see why countless tourists visit this place annually. Its proximity to Las Vegas also makes it an amazing side trip as well.
Reno is a city in the northwest section of Nevada and it approximately 22 miles away from Lake Tahoe. It is also known as “The Biggest Little City in the World.” What it lacks in mass it makes up for in a robust atmosphere filled with some of the happiest people you can find in the state other than Las Vegas.
Like most cities in Nevada, Reno started to grow as a city when the state legalized open-gambling on March 19, 1931. Since there was no other state that legalized gambling at the time, Reno, Las Vegas, and other Nevada cities had a boom in tourism and economy. These helped the little cities develop quickly. Some of the popular casinos in Reno at the time were Bank Club and Palace.
Aside from helping the city’s economy, the casinos also opened countless opportunities for the city’s citizens as well. The Bank Club owned by George Wingfield, Bill Graham, Jim McKay, employed thousands of Reno citizens and it was the largest casino in the world at a certain time.
When people think of Nevada, they immediately think of casinos, gambling, and all other things related to Sin City. Of course, that’s partly true in Reno but the city offers more than just these things. While its main front for tourism is gambling, there are also countless sites and attractions to visit in The Biggest Little City in the World and that’s what we are about to figure out in this guide. We’ve been to Reno and we know a lot about the place already. Before we take you to the things that you can do, let’s first go and talk about some of the important things you should know before visiting the city.
- 1 How to Get to Reno Tahoe
- 2 Getting Around Reno, Nevada
- 3 Best Time to Visit Reno
- 4 Exciting and Unusual Things to Do in Reno, Nevada
- 4.1 Explore caves inside a museum
- 4.2 Watch a race… in the sky
- 4.3 Explore the Reno Riverwalk District
- 4.4 See colorful hot air balloons
- 4.5 Watch a rodeo
- 4.6 See a glimpse of the state’s mining history
- 4.7 See more of Reno’s past
- 4.8 Try a turmeric latte
- 4.9 See vintage cars
- 4.10 Don’t forget the casinos
How to Get to Reno Tahoe
If you are coming from other major U.S. cities or even international cities, you don’t have to worry about getting to the city as the Reno Tahoe International Airport makes it possible to do so. This airport located near the downtown area offers direct flights from San Francisco, Oakland, and more. From the airport, you simply need to take a cab or rent a car to get to the main area of the city.
There are other ways to get to Reno including via train. Amtrak’s California Zephyr is one of the best routes in North America. It will run from Reno to Sacramento and into San Francisco. In February and March, you can take the Reno Fun Train which lets you party aboard the train while you are on your way to the city.
Getting Around Reno, Nevada
Like with most of the major cities in Nevada, getting around Reno is fairly easy. If you aren’t up for driving around with a rented car, you may want to take ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft which are readily available in the city. There are also cabs everywhere in Reno so you can catch one within seconds of waiting.
Reno also has a public transit system operated by the Regional Transport Commission. Aside from getting you to the main spots in the city of Reno, the buses that go around 24/7 will also take you to nearby areas within the Washoe County. While the bus service is available all day long, keep in mind that trips are fairly limited at around night time.
Since our trip will mainly consist of getting around this small city, we highly recommend renting a car instead as it is the cheaper and more convenient option. There are numerous rental companies in Reno including Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Thrifty Car Rental, and Budget Car Rental.
Best Time to Visit Reno
There are two best times to visit the city of Reno. The first is during the months of April to May. Springtime in Reno is not popular for tourists so you’ll be able to get to the attractions without waiting too long. Other than that, the room rates will be cheaper than in other months as well.
Moreover, the temperatures are fairly reasonable with average highs ranging from the mid-60s to the low 70s. What’s great about Reno during this time of the year is that it is the ideal time to hike nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains. Just make sure to go home before night time as the temperature can get to the extremes in high altitudes.
The other best time to visit the city is from the months of October to November. The weather is also ideal during this time as the summer heat has just died down but the cool winter breeze is yet to arrive. Like in April to May, visitors will be seldom during these months so expect cheaper rooms and shorter lines at attractions.
If you want to experience the city when it is truly alive, then it is imperative that you visit during summer. The casinos will be filled with hopefuls during this time. While it will be more crowded, you’ll get to enjoy the city more during the summer, especially at night time.
Exciting and Unusual Things to Do in Reno, Nevada
Reno is yet another city that has a lot of attractions and activities that one should not miss. From the most popular to the most unusual activities and attractions, Reno has plenty of things to offer. And there’s countless of things to try out for every type of traveler too. From kid-friendly to the most bizarre activities for adults, you can find one that fits you best here. So without further ado, here are some of the unusual things that you can do in Reno.
1Explore caves inside a museum
Museums, for many, are often boring. It’s understandable, though, because if you’re not much of a reader, you might not appreciate other displays in museums that would require you to read a bit about an artifact’s history or whatnot. But Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum offers a much more different experience, especially for kids, and exploring it is one of the fun and unusual things to do in Reno. Here, you have more than 60,000 square feet of Science center that doubles as a playground for kids. Needless to say, they will not just learn but they will have a lot of fun too due to the hands-on activities that Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum has to offer. The museum even has several caves and dark mineshafts inside that kids can explore. The museum can even take them back to the past with its exhibits. The place even has its own 80-foot-long river that will definitely leave you, as well as the kids, in awe.
2Watch a race… in the sky
You’ve heard of car and horse racing events but have you seen an air race? In Reno, you can and it is one of the coolest and unusual things to do in Reno that you will surely love. But remember to time your visit as this event, called the National Championship Air Races only happens in September. Don’t worry, this is a week-long event. During this exciting competition, you can get to see hundreds of crews and pilots descend on the city with their well-maintained aircraft. There is also a huge standing display of various aircraft. It’s a sight that you should see. You will not get to see such event anywhere else as the Reno air races are the last of its kind.
3Explore the Reno Riverwalk District
Another activity that you shouldn’t miss in Reno is exploring the Reno Riverwalk District. This is because it has a lot of exciting things in store for everyone. Here, there’s no shortage of activity for people of all ages. It has more than 30 bars, taverns, cafes, and restaurants. This area also has five studios and art galleries. Reno Riverwalk District also has three theaters and museums. And the best part of it all is that these attractions are just a stone throw away from each other, as well as the city’s historic monuments. And if you’re lucky enough, you might even witness street concerts, participate in kids’ face painting competitions, join wine wakes and even join food tours to explore the kind of cuisine that Reno has. Even if you just want to relax, you can do it here too as Reno Riverwalk District has plenty of benches to offer where you can just sit and watch the river and the world go by, especially as the sunsets.
4See colorful hot air balloons
Reno’s skies is already a nice sight to see. But it’s even better in September where it gets painted with colorful hot air balloons and seeing them in person is one of the best and unusual things to do in Reno. Sure there are a lot of places where you can get to see a number of hot air balloons in the sky. Arizona alone offers such activity and it’s also one of the unusual things to do in Tucson, Arizona. But apparently, it is much different when you’re in Reno. This is because the Great Reno Balloon Race, as what they call it, is actually the world’s largest hot air ballooning event. And the best part of it is that it is for free. See various hot air balloons and even take some of the most Instagram worthy photos; it’s definitely a sight that’s not to be missed.
5Watch a rodeo
Aside from the Texas State Parks, we often think about rodeos when we talk about Texas. It’s not much a surprise, though. After all, it is the official state sport of Texas. But if you’re not in Texas and want to see a rodeo, don’t worry, you can still see one in Reno and it’s one of the fun and unusual things to do in Reno too that the whole family can enjoy. You can also get to see cattle roping, barrel racing, steer wrestling, and bull riding. There is a carnival that kids will enjoy too. Plus, a parade that will keep everyone entertained all the more. And the best part of it is that you can get to enjoy a Western breakfast as you watch the cattle come through the town of Reno.
6See a glimpse of the state’s mining history
You’d have to dig deep to Nevada’s mining history (no pun intended) as the state actually has a lot of stories and things to offer. And you can do that by exploring the W.M. Keck Museum and it’s also one of the fun and unusual things to do in Reno. Here, you can get to see the tools and maps that are related to Nevada’s mining history. The best part is that you can also get to see an impressive display of minerals and geodes like amethyst, copper, gypsum, and quarts. The museum, of course, houses several gold and silver ores. In fact, W.M Keck Museum has more than 1,200 pieces of silver collection alone. If you want to see this, note that the museum is open from Monday through Friday. W.M. Keck Museum also opens on a Saturday once a month.
7See more of Reno’s past
If you want to know more about the city’s past, don’t forget to add the Nevada Historical Society Museum to your travel itinerary. But why, you say?
Apparently, what makes exploring the Nevada Historical Museum included on this list of unusual things to do in Reno is that it is the oldest museum in the State. But that’s not just it as it also houses several interesting exhibits such as “Neon Lights,” “Living on the Land,” and the “Riches of the Earth,” that all provide a fascinating insight about the human inhabitation of the city over the past 10,000 years (particularly from the early Paleo people to the Paiute, up to the coming of the Euro-Americans until today). Moreover, the Nevada Historical Society Museum has an impressive research library plus a book store for those who seek more knowledge.
8Try a turmeric latte
You are probably familiar with vanilla, peppermint, Irish crème caramel, cinnamon, hazelnut, and almond lattes but have tried a turmeric latte? In Reno, you can try it if you’ll head to the Great Full Gardens Café and Eatery and it’s one of the unusual things to do in Reno. Still, it’s delicious and healthy. But aside from this uncommon latte, the café also offers several dishes that we’re sure you’ll love not just because they’re delicious but they are really healthy. It is a haven, especially for people who have health concerns as they also have gluten-free, vegan, and Paleo dishes. The place also serves local craft beer and several wine selections rotating regularly. If you happen to come by, don’t forget to try their signature Great Full bowls and their special-recipe GinoTheSoupMan soups.
9See vintage cars
Reno also has a special spot for car enthusiasts and it is the National Automobile Museum. Here, you can get to see hundreds of cars. For some, it might be a common attraction already as other cities also have museums that house vintage cars. But what makes the National Automobile Museum different and worthy of this spot in the list of unusual things to do in Reno is that it doesn’t just houses vintage vehicles but some modern ones too. In fact, the museum is even divided into four galleries: the 1890s to 1910, teens to 1930s, 1930s to 1950s, and the 1950s and beyond. Also, some of the highlights in the museum are the luxury cars that were once owned by celebrities including the 1973 Cadillac Eldorado owned by Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra’s 1961 Ghia L6.4, as well as John Wayne’s 1953 Chevrolet Corvette, to name a few.
On top of that, you can also get to see two art collections about auto-related pieces, accessories, and costumes. The best part of visiting this place is that you will not just get to marvel at the car collections but you can also get to learn more about the history of cars.
10Don’t forget the casinos
Reno is also known for its casinos and your trip will not be complete if you haven’t seen a single casino that it has. While doing it is not one of the most unusual things to do in Reno, it is still an activity that’s unique for first-timers in the city as you’ll never find casinos as grand and good as Reno’s. In case you plan to visit a casino or two to complete your trip, here are some of the best ones that we highly suggest.
This place is one of Reno’s best as it is not just a casino but the place also offers luxury lodging, two nightclubs, a full-service spa, plus multiple dining options – from casual to fine dining. It is so grand and a total package for many travelers that it is even ranked number one among all of the hotels in the city. On top of that, it is an AAA4-diamond award winner, which means it is upscale, its accommodations are progressively refined and stylish, plus its physical attributes really reflect how high its quality is. On top of that, its staff’s service, attention, and hospitality are beyond measure. That said, if budget is not a problem for your Reno trip, don’t miss out on this one. You’ll definitely enjoy your time with the quality service and amenities that Peppermill Casino has to offer.
Silver Legacy Resort
The Silver Legacy Resort, as its name suggests, is a place for some getaway that has several amenities to offer. Here, you can get to enjoy high-end accommodations, a spa, fitness center, restaurants, bars, lounges, as well as boutiques and shops. It nearly has everything that draws in a lot of guests. It is even frequented by some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. But what makes people flock the Silver Legacy resort is its in-house casino. Here, you’ll find plenty of table games, slots, keno, plus an array of games with progressive jackpots. So don’t forget to add this to your travel list too. Who knows, you might come across your favorite celebrity or even win big at the Silver Legacy’s casino.
Atlantis Casino Resort and Spa
As its name implies, one of Atlantis Casino Resort and Spa’s highlights is its casino that draws a lot of locals and tourists alike. What makes it worth the drive is that it also has nice facilities to offer. In fact, like the Peppermill Casino, Atlantis Casino Resort and Spa also boasts of its AAA 4-Diamond award. Hence, you can expect to see and experience world-class accommodations and award-winning restaurants. The place also boasts of a 30,000-square-foot luxury spa that’s perfect for when you really want to relax. Here, you can also enjoy live entertainments such as cabaret shows and concerts.
Eldorado Resort Casino
Eldorado also has luxurious accommodations that are worth talking about. In fact, it has been voted “Best Rooms and Suites” by Casino Player Magazine. On top of that, it also has nine restaurants and all of them are award-winning. Plus, the place has a Broadway-style theater. But what draws flocks of tourists to this place is its casino that offers a lot of different tournaments where guests have more chances to win big prizes. So don’t miss out on this too.
Grand Sierra Resort Casino
If you’re traveling with kids but still want to experience Reno’s casino, don’t worry, Grand Sierra Resort casino got your back. Aside from the in-house casino (which is, by the way, the largest in Reno) that it has, you can also get to enjoy its world-class restaurants and luxurious accommodations. Plus, it has its own beach pool. Kids, on the other hand, can enjoy go-karts, laser tag, and mini-golf. Who says you can’t enjoy the casino with kids?