Reno, Nevada, is frequently overshadowed by its southern sister city, Las Vegas.
Reno is frequently referred to as the Biggest Little City in the World for a reason. Reno attractions add up to more than glitz and glitter.
Things to do in Reno include a lively downtown, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the awe-inspiring Lake Tahoe.
These attractions in Reno are close enough for a day trip and offer some of the best activities both in the winter and the summer. Reno's proximity to the best skiing and beaches makes it a year-round tourist attraction.
Of course, Reno has its own glitter, with slot machines ruling the town and casinos, along with fabulous cabarets, grand buffets, and more. Let's examine some of the top Reno attractions.
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The National Automobile Museum is to vintage automobile lovers what Mt. Everest is to climbers – one of the ultimate thrilling attractions in Reno with more than 200 incredible cars accompanied by genuine street sights and sounds.
It is one of America’s “top ten automobile museums.” Many cars are from the collection of devoted collector William Fisk Harrah (he of the Harrah hotels).
The museum proudly exhibits these antique gems and offers education on the history and impact of the automobile on our lives while pointing out artifacts from every automobile era.
The general admission to the museum is $15.00 for adults and $10.00 for children under the age of 15.
Address: 10 Lake St, Reno, NV 89501
Super-luxurious Peppermill Casino is a AAA Four Diamond Resort that has been voted one of Reno’s best hotels and is one of the major destinations in Reno.
Comfortable accommodations, a pool, retro video games, an indulgent spa, and a major shopping arcade make Peppermill Casino more than just a place to stay.
Guests can enjoy cocktails and music in the Fireside Lounge or relax in the Terrace Lounge.
Even the fussiest foodie will find satisfaction in one of Peppermill’s 10 restaurants, from the elegant five-star cuisine at the Bimini Steakhouse to the casual Café Milano.
Peppermill Casino has 24/7 gaming and has been named the “Best Casino in Reno," as well as being known for having the best Poker Room.
Address: 2707 S Virginia St, Reno, NV 89502
The Silver Legacy Resort & Casino is the tallest building in Reno, with 38 floors and 1,700 rooms and suites, making it one of the Reno attractions that shouldn't be missed.
The comfortable rooms are non-smoking, and some have a private whirlpool.
The large casino floor has 48 gaming tables and over 1000 slot machines. And the nightly shows, from cabaret to comedy, never end.
Happy Hour at the Silver Baron Lounge includes live music and daily drinks between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
The Sterling's Seafood Steakhouse has won many awards, including "Best Service," "Best Restaurant in Northern Nevada," and "Best Wine List."
After indulging in a delightful meal, guests can enjoy the nearby golf course, jogging trails, boating, and fishing.
Address: 407 N Virginia St, Reno, NV 89501
The fabulous AAA Four Diamond Atlantis Casino Resort Spa is one of the major Reno tourist attractions for visitors who are looking for style and elegance.
Forbes Magazine named it Reno’s sole 4-star spa destination.
The large suites offer options such as a private bar, a private spa with jetted tub, and the ultimate exquisite Atrium Paradise Suite with its wet bar, dining room, afternoon snacks, complimentary breakfast, and use of the 25th-floor Concierge Lounge.
Why would anyone ever want to leave?
There are several dining options, including the TripAdvisor-recommended Atlantic Steakhouse.
The casino comprises 60,000 square feet of gaming tables, 1,400 slots, and a poker room.
After a good game, guests can visit the spa with its lounges, luxurious treatment rooms, whirlpools, and indoor pool.
Address: 3800 S Virginia St, Reno, NV 89502
One of the places to visit in Reno to see exotic animals is the Animal Ark, nestled at the base of Reno’s mountains.
The 38-acre sanctuary is a safe place for injured and/or abandoned wildlife that can no longer survive on their own.
The animal residents consist of leopards, cougars, a bear, cheetahs, wolves, and more. The Ark is an educational destination for the entire family.
Children can learn more about these beautiful animals while enjoying this rare sight.
The entrance fee to the Ark is $11.00 for adults and $7.50 for children between the ages of 3 to 12. It is located 11 miles from Exit 78 off Interstate 395 North.
The Ark is open From March through November and closes during the winter. During the season, it opens at 10:00 a.m., closes at 4:30 p.m., and remains closed on Mondays.
Address: 1265 Deerlodge Rd, Reno, NV 89508
Planning a trip to Nevada? You might want to check out the top Las Vegas attractions, free shows in Las Vegas, and Las Vegas museums.
The Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts is one of the best places to go in Reno for all art forms: ballet, philharmonic, and theatre.
This is where Broadway meets Reno. The main (Broadway) stage has 1,500 seats, while the cabaret shows are performed in a 150-seat auditorium.
The plaza by the Pioneer Center is also frequently used for outdoor performances and is a must-see in Reno.
The building’s bold modern design of a gleaming gold dome is a piece of art in its own right and should not be missed.
From its dazzling gold dome to its gleaming mid-century modern interior, the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts is an unforgettable architectural and cultural landmark.
Some of the upcoming shows for 2024 are Pretty Woman, the Musical, and Disney’s The Lion King.
Wine, beer, and champagne are available before the shows and during intermission.
Address: 100 S Virginia St, Reno, NV 89501
Also Read: 20 Best Art Museums in the USA
One of the most avant-garde destinations in Reno is its Nevada Museum of Art. The 70,000-square-foot modern building itself is a cultural attraction.
It is the only Nevada museum that is accredited with its own permanent collection of 1,500 drawings, photographs, sculptures, and paintings spread over three floors.
The accreditation ranks this museum with museums such as the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
An interesting part of the exhibit is the ceramic plates and bowls created by Picasso. Go up to the fourth floor for a great view of Reno.
The museum's hours are 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays. It is closed on Monday.
Address: 160 W Liberty St, Reno, NV 89501
The University of Nevada’s Fleischmann Planetarium, open for planetarium shows every day, is one of the places to visit in Reno.
The planetarium’s 60-seat theatre is the first of its kind with dome-projected movies using bright 3-D images and state-of-the-art sound.
With so much to see and do in Reno, visitors can now take a look at the stars above.
The first floor has a permanent exhibit of rotating earth and moon globes, as well as replicas of black holes. The store is a great place to find solar-related books, toys, and clothing.
The planetarium is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Address: 664 N Virginia St, Reno
Taking in the Downtown Reno Riverwalk is one the most delightful things to do in Reno as it shows off the best Reno has to offer, especially along the Truckee River.
The Riverwalk includes Idlewalk Park (with its own tiny island), some of Reno’s finest dining, bar hopping, art galleries, and shopping.
For a quick break, there are comfortable coffee shops and wine bars. The Riverwalk is all about unwinding and rejuvenating. For the more physically active, there is swimming and jogging.
The Riverwalk is a destination for several Reno events, such as the summertime Great Eldorado BBQ and Brews Fest.
For theatre enthusiasts, there is the Bruka Theater and a multiplex theater. On the third Sunday of each month, visitors can expect stores to offer a glass of wine while they shop.
The Downtown Reno Riverwalk is available 24 hours a day and costs nothing to take in the sights. Individual restaurants, bars, and shops establish their own prices.
Address: Along the Truckee River
For places to go in Reno that have something for everyone, visit the Rancho San Rafael Regional Park.
What was once a working ranch is now a park and an ideal family oasis with picnic areas, a disc golf course, and a pond for fishing.
The park has an ambitious 7.0-mile hiking trail with a few streams to cross that takes approximately 3 hours to complete. The trail provides solitude and charming views.
One of the highlights is the Wilbur D. May Arboretum and Botanical Garden with gorgeous, manicured gardens – this will be discussed in greater detail.
The Wilbur D. May Museum contains ancient Japanese firearms and pottery. From Reno to Japan in just a few steps.
Address: 1595 N. Sierra Street, Reno
Mount Rose is within an easy day trip reach of Reno and Incline Village and is a true must-see in Reno and its scenic surroundings.
During the winter, Mount Rose looms as a 10,76-foot peak, the tallest peak in the Lake Tahoe Basin with skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and snowshoeing, or a snowshoe trek to Chickadee Ridge.
Take a hike to view the chickadees that will eat straight from people’s hands during the summer, when Mount Rose is a wildflower-laden hiking haven with breath-taking views of the lake and the Sierra Nevada.
Entry to Mount Rose is free, but campfire permits are needed. For specific information, contact the USFS Carson Ranger District.
Address: 22222 Mount Rose Hwy, Reno, NV 89511
Approximately 45 minutes outside of Reno, fabulous Pyramid Lake is known as one of the most scenic desert lakes anywhere.
It is named after the pyramid-shaped rock formation in the middle of the water and is a remnant of the Ice Age, now located within the Paiute Tribe Reservation.
This is one of those Reno tourist attractions with endless activities. There is prime fishing on the lake, as well as camping, swimming, birdwatching, boating, and many photography opportunities.
An island within the lake is home to pelicans, herons, and egrets. It is the largest breeding area for white pelicans.
Permits to explore and/or camp on the lake can be obtained at the Ranger Station at 2500 Lakeview Drive in Sutcliff.
The fees, set by the Paiute Tribe, vary from $26 for a day of boating to overnight camping at $32.00.
The lake is a natural phenomenon with no lifeguards, so caution is advised.
Address: Pyramid Lake, Nevada
One of the brightest spots in Reno is the Reno Arch, which is famous for welcoming visitors to the "Best Little City in the World."
Created in 1926 with 2,076 bulbs to commemorate Nevada’s Transcontinental Highways Exposition, its completion was celebrated with $410,000 (2023 value) of free whiskey and food for everyone.
The festivities brought people to Reno and put it on the map. All shimmering in blue and silver lights, it is Reno’s greatest and most photographed landmark.
It stretches 137 feet from the base to the top and weighs 200 tons. The arch is a part of the Downtown River Walk mentioned above and can be seen 7 days a week.
Reno is proud of its nickname Best Little City and has never ceased to spell it out in flashing lights.
Address: 345 N Virginia St, Reno, NV 89501
It started with the railroad and the westward movement. The Sparks Heritage Museum, one of Reno’s attractions, is a 4000-square-foot gallery highlighting the importance of the railroad to the growth of Nevada.
And how it changed the state from a ranching and agricultural region to a state of growing economic importance as immigrants followed the Truckee River to the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the city of Sparks (now three miles from Reno).
Once the railroad opened offices, the city of Sparks grew overnight with plots of land going at $1 per acre.
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Visitors can get a hands-on feel of the dispatcher’s office or the old general store and enjoy exhibits of 100 years of photos, artifacts, and toys.
Across the street, visitors can visit a memorial to Chinese railroad builders, a replica of the depot, a locomotive from 1907, a 1911 Pullman car, and more.
Address: 814 Victorian Ave, Sparks
One of the more unique Reno tourist attractions is the National Bowling Stadium.
There is no place in the world like it. Referred to as the “Taj Mahal of Tenpins,” it has 78 lanes, a bar, a pro shop, a theatre, and a stadium club.
It also has the hugest video screen in the world, which projects images across 440 feet. It can host events for up to 2,000 people.
As an extension of the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame in Texas, the Reno Museum has exhibits of past bowling champions and a training facility that provides training for future champions.
The Kingpin Club is filled with energic music, private bowling, a lounge, and a bar. Visitors to the 4the floor will find the pro shop and a computer evaluation of their bowling game. There’s always room for improvement, no?
Address: 300 University Way, Reno
The Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum (“the Discovery”) is one of the places to visit in Reno that thrives on awaking curiosity.
All 67,000 square feet offer thrills surrounding science, technology, history, art, and more.
It is conveniently located in the Downtown District and is Nevada’s most comprehensive, hands-on children’s museum. Inquiring minds rule here.
The Discovery includes an NAA research center, a towering jungle gym, the art and science blended Da Vinci section, and a special house for brainteasers with hidden clues.
Adults have not been forgotten here and have their own quarterly adult-only night.
The Discovery has earned accolades such as “Best Place to Take the Family” and “Best Indoor Activity.”
It is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except on Wednesdays, when it remains open until 8:00 p.m. Admission is $13.00 for adults and $11.00 for children over the age of 1 year old.
Address: 490 South Center Street, Reno
Sierra Nevada Zoological Park is one of the Reno attractions filled with exotic animals and nature’s magic.
When looking for things to do in Reno, spend some time in Nevada's largest zoo, home to big cats, monkeys, deer, baboons, lemurs, and many others.
These exotic animals live in this animal refuge because they cannot survive in the wild.
The zoological park helps educate the public about how to keep these exotic creatures from becoming extinct.
The entrance fee to the zoo is $12.00 for adults and $8.00 for children. The zoo is open every day except Christmas from noon to 5:00 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. It opens at 10:00 a.m. on weekends.
Address: 10200 N. Virginia Street, Reno
Also Read: The Best Zoos in the USA
The Wilbur D. May Center is one of the more popular destinations in Reno for a reason.
Wilbur May was a world-traveling adventurer who collected amazing artifacts for his museum.
These include antique firearms, tribal masks, Chinese pottery, exquisite glasswork, genuine shrunken heads, and much more.
Set within the Arboretum and Botanical Garden, the center is surrounded by luscious floral arrangements and is ideal for strolling. It is gorgeous in the fall with the 4,000 plants looking very colorful.
The Center is closed Mondays and Tuesdays and open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. the rest of the week, although it opens at noon on Sundays.
The entrance fee is $7.00 for adults, $4.00 for children, and $9.00 for seniors.
Address: 1595 N. Sierra Street, Reno
BaseCamp’s climbing Gym is one of the places to visit in Reno for some world-record climbing opportunities.
The 164-foot wall holds the Guinness Book record for being the “world’s largest climbing wall,” although smaller climbing sections are available. This Reno attraction promises quite an adventure.
The gym, located within the Whitney Peak Hotel, has been named one of the "12 Best Hotel Gyms in the U.S." by Outside Magazine. There is a separate room for children.
Non-members pay $50.00 for this climb, which includes a day pass and gear.
The gym also provides 1-hour lessons for beginners at $35.00.
Address: 255 N Virginia St, Reno
For bird lovers, Raptor Adventures is a must-see in Reno. Here, guests can learn about and handle falcons, hawks, and owls for a consummate thrill.
Experienced falconers will teach guests about the history and behavior of raptors. Then, guests, using a gauntlet, will take one of the raptors for a walk.
The raptors are accustomed to humans and enjoy their company.
Thirteen-year-old falcon Larry is the star of the show; Zuzu is a gorgeous 10-year-old female hawk; Tesla is a Harris Hawk and a bit shy; Sabey (nicknamed Sabey Baker) is a 4-year-old male falcon; and, finally, Wilma is a sweet female falcon and is Larry’s lovely daughter.
Louise, the owl, is probably everyone’s favorite.
Guests can feel the excitement of getting to know all these raptors while learning how to handle them.
Raptor Adventures is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Address: 1265 Deerlodge Road, Reno 89508
Reno is all too often compared with its superstar cousin, Las Vegas. In truth, visitors can find exciting things to do in Reno that they would not find anywhere else.
Reno attractions loom large in the cultural, historical, and natural environment, with many museums and other unique enticements.
Reno, established in 1859, is the older of the cities due to its proximity to the Comstock Lode and the introduction of the railway.
Visitors are frequently surprised to find that the "Best Little City in the World" can offer the excitement of casinos and the sheer beauty of Lake Tahoe within the Sierra Nevada Mountains, a lake considered one of the most majestic places in the world.
While visiting Reno, your luck never runs out!