Although many people associate Reno, Nevada, with casinos and gambling, there’s actually much more to do in this vibrant Nevada town and surrounding region than just feeding coins into a slot machine. It’s a pretty outdoorsy place, with adventure opportunities for all seasons—from whitewater rafting through downtown, rock-climbing and hiking in summer to skiing or snowshoeing in winter. And Reno also boasts a cultural side, with a number of great museums that appeal to adults and children alike. Here are eight favorite things to do, both active and cultural, in and around Reno during the summer season:
1. Experience the Truckee River Whitewater Park
Whether you want to ride the rapids in a kayak, canoe or inner tube or you just want to chill on the smooth rocks lining the banks of the Truckee River and watch the action, the Truckee River Whitewater Park—which runs through downtown Reno—is the place to go. The park is 2,600-feet long and has class two and three rapids and five drop pools. You can start anywhere along the park and catch a couple of rapids, drops or marked tracks. In summer there are also weekend concerts and events at the park, making it quite the scene and a total contrast to the casinos just a few blocks away.
2. Check out the Nevada Museum of Art
This small museum in the CalAve District has a great collection of traditional and contemporary art, interactive exhibits and a rooftop sculpture garden with amazing views of Reno framed by mountains. There are both permanent and traveling exhibits. Permanent collections unique to the museum include an outdoor section with several installations from the Burning Man festival.
3. Wander the Reno Arts District and Riverwalk
Just south of the casinos in the central downtown area (where the whitewater park is located), you’ll find the Reno Arts District and the Reno Riverwalk, which are great for an extended late afternoon or evening stroll. The area is filled with lively bars, restaurants, coffee houses, an al fresco beer garden, and shops. You’ll also find Wingfield Park here, which is found on an island in the middle of the Truckee River. There are also a few good swimming holes in the vicinity for hot summer days. The district hosts a number of events throughout the year including the popular Artown in July.
4. Go rock-climbing
Reno is also home to the world’s largest man-made rock climbing wall that stands 164-feet tall. Right on the same strip as the casinos, it’s located at the Whitney Peak Hotel, at the just opened Basecamp rock climbing gym, which also has a 7,000-square-foot indoor component. The wall has auto belay and top rope options, and inside you’ll find lots of bouldering routes for all levels of climbers and even a separate space just for kids.
5. Visit the National Automobile Museum
Housing one of the largest and most unique antique auto collections anywhere in the world, the National Automobile Museum is obviously a favorite with classic car aficionados, but even the general public can’t help being impressed with its 100,000-square feet. Here you’ll see one-of-a-kind automobiles displayed in cool street settings, from old gas stations to barbershop backdrops, that match their historical time in the spotlight. The museum also hosts a number of cars with famous past owners like Elvis Presley’s Cadillac and a gold DeLorean that belonged to Alice Ramsey, who was the first woman to ever drive across America.
6. Go for a hike
There’s some great hiking in the mountains surrounding Reno, with trails for beginner and expert hikers and all in between. One of the most popular summer hikes is the 5.2-mile roundtrip Hunter Creek Trail, which takes you to a gorgeous high desert waterfall in the Sierra Nevada foothills that runs year-round, which is rare. The trail passes flower filled meadows, colorful rocks, and cottonwood and pine trees and also offers city skyline views from points along the way. It’s best to get an early start to this hike as temperatures rise quickly on long summer days.
7. Explore Midtown
Located just south of downtown, Reno’s Midtown District is in a period of urban renewal and now hosts a mix of art studios, boutique shops (there’s even one that’s perfect for picking up Burning Man gear), restaurants, and bars. It’s also fun to explore at night when foodie restaurants like Feast and Great Full Gardens come alive as do music venues like the Mountain Music Venue, where you can dance the night away to live tunes.
8. Take a stroll around Virginia City
It’s about a half-hour drive from Reno to the historic town of Virginia City, but it’s worth the commute if you’re interested in Wild West lore. In its mid-1800s heyday, Virginia City was referred to as the richest city in the world thanks to the largest gold vein that was ever mined, the Comstock Lode. Today it’s a restored ghost town of sorts, and little has changed throughout the years. Top attractions here include the Bucket of Blood Saloon, Mark Twain Museum, the Castle, Fourth Ward School, Piper Opera House, and the old town cemetery.
For more on travel to Reno, visit visitrenotahoe.com.