Explore Reno-Tahoe

Reno: 'Little City' is Big on Things to Do

From the River Walk to Midtown, Reno has more than gambling to keep you entertained

From Sparks to Riverwalk to Midtown, the Reno/Sparks area surprises with new restaurants and shopping and entertainment districts that add to its famous casino resorts and shows. Fill your days and nights with all of the options the "Biggest Little City" offers or make it your basecamp for exploring this diverse region of high deserts, lakes and streams and the magnificent Sierra Nevada Mountains. 

Reno knows how to throw a party, too, so check the calendar for the myriad special events and festivals that happen here throughout the year. 

Riverwalk District 

The renovated heart of Reno, the Riverwalk District and Whitewater Park, provide something for everyone: shopping, dining, nature, sports, music and relaxation. The stretch of the Truckee River that splits around Winfield Park is now one of the top urban whitewater parks in the nation, playing host to world-class kayak competitions.

Walkways on both sides of the river stretch past restaurants with outdoor dining and more. Campo is one of the many popular restaurants and watering holes along the river bank. Or pack a picnic and enjoy one of the many free concerts scheduled in Winfield Park during the summer months.

Things to do in Reno
The Riverwalk area of Reno includes a pedestrian bridge over the Truckee River. (©Beth Woodrum/Flickr, Creative Commons)

The Reno Arch 

The Biggest Little City Arch remains Reno's signature, historic image. Reno has fulfilled that promise in spades over the past few decades by adding more restaurants, breweries, shops and new entertainment and diversions. Towering over the arch is the world's tallest artificial climbing wall, attached to the outside of the Whitney Peak hotel, plus a huge indoor climbing gym. Free acts and performers also are nearby at Circus Circus.

Things to do in Reno
The iconic arch welcomes people to the "Biggest Little City in the World". (©tusharkoley/Shutterstock)

Shopping Adventure

Reno has three large malls, indoor Meadowood Mall and outdoor Summit and Outlets at Sparks malls. Between them, most every major retailer and major brand store is represented, plus IMAX movies and great restaurants.

For the sporty, there's Cabela's and Scheels. Midtown Reno has many fun, vintage and second-hand shops led by Junkee Clothing ExchangeSippee's offers "gently used" children's clothing, and Recycled Records, just down the street, is a Reno institution.

Downtown Casino Core

Only steps separate numerous, popular gaming and entertainment complexes, including Circus Circus, Eldorado and Silver Legacy. Though the casinos have multiple dining choices, a more eclectic selection of ethnic and fine-dining restaurants are found along the side streets leading to the Truckee River.

Pop into the outdoor courtyard off West Street for a selection of eateries and bars, including popular Bowl. More than a dozen brew pubs—all within walking distance—are here, too, including The Depot and Silver Peak Brewery.

Things to do in Reno
The Eldorado is one of many casinos in Reno. (©Don Mammoser/Shutterstock)

National Automobile Museum 

This historic collection originally started by casino magnate Bill Harrah is a must-visit for car enthusiasts. Whether it's the Bat Mobile, Elvis's Cadillac, or the winner of the 1908 New York to Paris Auto Race, the multiple halls of this large museum hold an endless entertaining mix of wheeled treasures.

Things to do in Reno
Vintage and rare cars can be found at the National Automobile Museum in Reno. (©Victoria Lipov/Shutterstock)

Nevada Museum of Art

An award-winning modern architecture landmark, NMA has excellent permanent collections, including 20th-century painting and photography. The inspired spaces created by architect Will Bruder regularly play host to top touring shows in addition to NMA-curated exhibitions. Be sure to stroll the roof-top sculpture gallery.

Virginia City 

One of the West's great historic towns, created by the largest silver mining strike in American history, Virginia City has stood the test of time. Today, it's an entertaining mix of old saloons, museums and shopping, enjoyed while strolling wooden-plank sidewalks and streets straight out of the 1860s. About 20 miles from Reno, a visit to Virginia City can be extended to include a loop through Carson City or a ride on the V&T Railroad.

Things to do in Reno
Virginia City, just outside of Reno, was created by the largest silver mining strike in U.S. history. (©Patrick Nouhailler/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Lake Tahoe

One of the world's natural wonders, Lake Tahoe, sits just behind the towering peaks of the Carson Range, the spur of mighty Sierra that holds in Lake Tahoe's 1,600-foot depths. In fact, the elevation in Reno is almost the same as the bottom of this huge "mountain sea," which contains more water than all the manmade reservoirs in America combined. South Tahoe has the large casinos, beaches and skiing; North Tahoe has lakefront resort towns, beaches and skiing.

[You might also like Things to Do in Lake Tahoe in Summer and Fall and Things to Do in Lake Tahoe in Winter]

Things to do in Reno
A short drive from Reno, Lake Tahoe offers all kinds of water activities in addition to hiking, biking and more. (©topseller/Shutterstock)