What are the best things to do in Reno?

Becky Bosshart

There’s plenty to do in the biggest little city in the world. From playing the slots to taking a hike — here are out Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the five best things to see and do in Reno:

1. Visit downtown. Reno’s downtown core has been rebuilt and refreshed over the past decade. Stay at one of the many downtown resorts and stroll along the Truckee River, where you can float on tubes in the warmer months, or rent a kayak (Truckee River Whitewater Park). Try to fit in a visit to the Nevada Museum of Art, which features four levels of art with an affordable entrance fee (most days $10) in a beautiful contemporary building that uses both light and space well. You’ll find a comfortable mix of local, regional and international art. Also a good stop for those on an art excursion is Bruka Theatre, which hosts the best community theater in town (with comfortable couches as seating), and is loved by locals.
 
2. See the Great Reno Balloon Race. Time your visit for the first weekend in September and you’ll find the sky full of hot air balloons, this is the Great Reno Balloon Race. You can rise early and experience dawn patrol with thousands of others. Walk amongst the inflating balloons at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, where you may suddenly find yourself assisting with a lift off. The park is a 15-minute walk from downtown and easily reached by public transportation.
 
3. Hit the tables. If gaming is your thing, here are plenty of casinos in Reno where you can play. Just keep in mind that most of Reno’s casinos were built and renovated in the 1970s and 1980s—you won’t find the modern glamor of Las Vegas. We recommend The Nugget downtown, where you can also try a famous Awful Awful, the culinary joy of many a college student and late night card player. The tasty all-night burger joint is hidden in a tiny corner of the casino. Nab a counter seat with your giant burger and fries and you’ll have plenty of fun people watching.
 
4. Grab a seat in the stadium. Sports fans will enjoy a game at the Reno Aces Ballpark, newly constructed (opened spring 2009) and within walking distance of the casino parking garages. The park is small – this is a minor league team – but there’s not a bad seat in the stadium, and it gives off a comfortable small-town vibe. It’s also part of the Freight House District, a year-round entertainment complex with retail, dining and nightlife.
 
5. Take a hike. Reno is a popular home for outdoor enthusiasts – even in the heart of the city you’ll find plenty of locations for a brisk hike. If you want to stay near the river, we recommend Mayberry Park. If you hoping for a western experience and are passing through Reno’s horse country, visit Bartley Ranch.

  • On July 31, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the five best Reno food experiences?

    1. Start Your Day The Mexican Way: This is the Southwest after all, and Peg’s Glorified Ham N Eggs has long been Reno’s breakfast favorite, with tis myriad Mexican selections.

    2. Go Euro: The weather is good much of the year, so enjoy a late afternoon or early evening on the rooftop bar at Brasserie Saint James with a house made Belgian beer and one of several mussel or charcuterie options.

    3. Think Red Meat: This is meat and potato country, and the best steakhouse in town in the one in the Atlantis Casino, with high quality USDA prime beef, and all the classic accompaniments, from jumbo shrimp cocktails to creamed spinach.

    4. Red Meat, Part 2: It may not look like much, but the Cactus Creek Steakhouse in the Bonanza casino consistently wins top spot in local readers polls, thanks to its standout prime rib – this is what you come for, thick, juicy and succulent.

    5. Basque in Time: Reno was once a huge sheepherding community and traces of its Basque heritage remain. Take a seat at one of the family style tables at Louis’ Basque Corner and dig in to either classic Basque specialties or the heaping mounds of American comfort foods served up in the uniquely convivial atmosphere.
  • On July 31, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    Where are the best places to stay in Reno?

    In Reno the options are pretty much limited to casino hotels, and while most of the ones downtown are somewhat faded, the stand alone trio, Atlantis, Peppermill and Grand Sierra are surprisingly impressive. Atlantis has the town’s only concierge tower, with large rooms featuring oversized whirlpools, and its spa is outstanding, truly world class, with all the usual amenities plus hammam, cold room, salt room, etc. It also has the best steakhouse in town. The Peppermill also boasts a large spa, excellent pool complex, and rooms with jetted tubs, while the revamped Grand Sierra has lots of family friendly amenities like a bowling alley, movie theater, and more, plus the city’s liveliest nightlife scene.
  • On July 31, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    Where are the best places to eat in Reno?

    It’s nice to get out of the casino hotels, and Reno’s culinary claim to fame is its Basque heritage, going back to sheepherding days. The classic spot is Louis’ Basque Corner, opened in 1967 – though its signature Basque cocktail, Picon Punch, dates to 1837, a blend of Amer Picon (bitter orange liqueur), soda, brandy, and grenadine (like a less sweet, less tart margarita). Food is served family style with at least one Basque special nightly (beef tongue, chicken Basquaise, oxtails, chicken and rice). The newest hotspot is Brasserie Saint James, a brew pub doing Belgian style beers and bistro, from mussel dishes to an Argentinean grilled platter. If you do go in for casino dining, it is hard to beat the Atlantis Steakhouse in the Atlantis, Reno’s most luxurious casino resort, a first-rate, old school masculine chophouse with all the trimmings.
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  • On July 31, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What is the best golf experience in Reno?

    Since the PGA Tour’s Reno-Tahoe Open is played at a private club (Montreaux), the premier course you can play in the region is Edgewood Tahoe, right on the water in Stateline, with its famous par-3 17th along the beach. It has hosted the US Senior Open and annually is home to the nation’s top celebrity tournament, the American Century Championship. Other top public choices around the region are Coyote Moon, Northstar at Tahoe, Red Hawk and the Dragon at Gold Mountain.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Becky Bosshart answered the question: Becky Bosshart

    What is the best golf experience in Reno?

    The Reno/Lake Tahoe area has more than 30 luxury golf courses that offer spectacular mountain vistas. One of the most beautiful courses in the city is Montreux Golf, the only Jack Nicklaus designed golf course in Northern Nevada. The 18-hole course features elevation drops, waterfalls and meandering creeks in a pristine environment. The course has been known to trouble PGA greats, so be prepared. In addition to Montreux, you’ll find beautiful rolling greens at Northstar at Tahoe (Truckee, Calif.) and a picturesque country setting surrounded by towering peaks at Genoa Lakes Golf Club (Genoa, Nev.). The area is renowned for its championship holes and impeccably maintained greens.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Becky Bosshart answered the question: Becky Bosshart

    What is the best thing to bring home from Reno?

    There’s no better souvenir than local art and there are a handful of galleries in Reno (including Powers FrameWorks on Kietzke Lane and the Artists Co-op on Mill Street) that carry a wide variety of Nevadan artwork. If you prefer bringing home local food to local art, we love Killer Salsa. There are four flavors of fresh Killer Salsa and seven flavors of shelf-stable salsa. This local salsa is made with fresh tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, onions, garlic and spices. It’s killer.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Becky Bosshart answered the question: Becky Bosshart

    What are the five best Reno food experiences?

    When you visit Reno, there are a few bites you can’t miss. And being a western town, many of them revolve around beef — steaks and burgers make an appearance on most menus in town. Here are the five best Reno-specific food experiences that Forbes Travel Guide’s editors recommend:
     
    1. Breakfast at Peg’s. Start your day with the best breakfast in town at Peg’s Glorified Ham N Eggs, located downtown on South Sierra Street. Try the chilaquiles or huevos rancheros. Be sure to ask about the secret “not on the menu” selections of the day.
     
    2. Devour the Awful Awful. For the messiest but most delicious  burger in town, we recommend The Nugget’s Awful Awful, the joy of many a college student and late night card player. The all-night burger joint is hidden in a tiny corner of the casino. Nab a counter seat and you’ll have plenty of fun people watching.
     
    3. Order up some waffles. Find unique vegan and vegetarian meals at the hide-away joint Pneumatic Diner (it’s upstairs with an entrance on Ralston Street). The waffles are a favorite; it’s also a good spot for creative drink concoctions.
     
    4. Sip Mexican hot chocolate. Finish up your evening with a dessert cocktail and chocolate fondue at The Chocolate Bar, a chic bar and dessert venue that gets crowded fast – send a couple of friends ahead to hold your table. The Mexican hot chocolate is also a spicy wonder.
     
    5. Experience the food trucks. To sample the best in local food, beer and music, hit up the Reno Food Truck Fridays. It’s the held throughout the city the first Friday of every month.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Becky Bosshart answered the question: Becky Bosshart

    Where is the best nightlife in Reno?

    Once nightfall hits, there’s plenty to do in Reno. If you’re not gambling, you can head to the clubs — Wet, an ultra-lounge at the Grand Sierra Resort, is quite popular with a modern club ambience and an intimate lounge. For a less clubby feel and more country one, Mustang’s is the country Western venue and features live music from local country bands, popular Western bands and deejays. The Edge nightclub in the Peppermill Hotel & Casino is the new nightlife hot spot — packed into the morning hours. Locals prefer the Freight House District – check out Duffy’s Ale House, Bugsy’s Sports Bar and 250 Lounge.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Becky Bosshart answered the question: Becky Bosshart

    What is the best way to see Reno in one day?

    Start a tour of Reno at the Nevada Historical Society’s “Biggest Little City in the World” exhibit, which focuses on Reno's interesting history. Once you have a better sense of this Nevada city and its surrounding area, it’s time to explore the outdoors. There are plenty of hiking trails with epic views of the city once you reach the piqué — we like the Hunter Creek and Mount Rose trails. After a hike, your stomach will likely be growling, so stop in The Nugget casino to devour the Awful Awful burger. While you’re here, play a few games; after all, Reno was once the gambling capital of the U.S. After lunch, hope on a bike to see more of the city — both Sierra Adventures or Adventures of Reno offer bike rentals. Sierra Rentals is located downtown, near the Truckee River trail. Adventures of Reno also offers sightseeing tours, and the popular motorcycle, ATV or snowmobile tours. After a full day of sightseeing, we recommend the 4th St. Bistro for dinner. Book a reservation in advance, since this romantic spot can fill up fast. Make sure to try the pork belly appetizer and one of the unique desserts before heading back to your hotel for the night.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Becky Bosshart answered the question: Becky Bosshart

    Where is the best shopping in Reno?

    A popular shopping destination in Reno is California Avenue, which is lined with locally-owned shops. In addition to charming boutiques, you’ll find several lunch and dinner stops, including The Blue Plate which is known for Greek cuisine, The Cheese Board, an American bistro, and My Favorite Muffin, a locally owned muffin and bagel shop, are other sound choices. Shop for a gift at Campbell Art Studio and Gallery, The Silent Hand Scriptorium or LIV Reno. Buy the perfect pair of designer jeans at Kalifornia Jean Bar, with brands such as Rock & Republic and J Brand on offer. Finish up your day of shopping with either a visit to the Zen spa or the Nevada Museum of Art, which is nearby on Liberty Street.
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