Top 10 things to do in the 3rd Worst City in America

My hometown, Reno, Nevada, was recently put on blast by EscapeHere.com as one of the “10 Worst Cities to Visit in the United States.” Now, I wouldn’t exactly call Reno a travel destination, but there are many fun attractions, activities, and all around merriment to be had in The Biggest Little City. If you get a chance, check out The Biggest Little City Movement, which is a collection of Renoites stories and shared love of our biggest little city. Below is my list of top ten activities and attractions that are a MUST when visiting Reno, or even if you’re a Reno local.

1. Reno Aces Ballpark

The minor league baseball team, The Reno Aces, are a hometown favorite to many. If you want to catch a $1 hotdog on Sundays with your kids, or $2 beer specials on Thursdays with your friends, Reno Aceball is always a fun, relaxing summertime activity,

2. Reno River Wine Walk/Pub Crawls

Now I don’t want to portray Reno as a major drinking town as Time Magazine boasts in their article about America’s Drunkest Cities, but man do us Renoites know how to party! Every month, on the 3rd Saturday, the Reno River Walk presents a Wine Walk, filled with classy sips of wine and lots of walking to burn those calories. There are also many crawls that Reno is known for, the Zombie Crawl in October and the Santa Crawl in December are always highly attended.

Another favorite bar event of mine is Soul Night, happening the first Friday of each month. Each month, The Lincoln Lounge dusts off their oldies records and has a backyard party, lasting often to the wee hours of the morning. No bumping and grinding allowed!

3. River Float

While I have never floated the river (I can’t swim!), many friends of mine tell me how much fun it is to take a blow-up mattress to the top of the river, and float on down. Bring your sunscreen and water shoes, it’s going to be a long hike back up to your car!

4. Fleishmann Planetarium

How awesome was the planetarium when you took your 4th grade field trip there? Well guess what, STILL AWESOME! Plus, every Friday and Saturday night at 8pm, there is a Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon Light Show! Check out all the different shows they have here.

5. Tahoe

Although this list is about Reno, I couldn’t leave out our neighbors at Tahoe, just an hour drive away! In the summer time, Lake Tahoe is great for camping, water sports, swimming, or just hanging out on the beach with friends. There are also several amazing hiking trails. The winter is when I am there the most, with 7 world-class ski resorts. A trip to Tahoe is always a great mini-vacation, right in Reno’s backyard.

6. Artown

Artown only comes around once a year, but I needed to add it because it is the most event-packed, culturally exciting month. Each July, artists of all media come together for events all around Reno. Whether it’s an outdoor movie and concert at Wingfield Park, an Art Walk down Midtown, children’s crafts and painting lessons, or a concert given by the Reno Municipal Band, there is never a dull moment at Reno Artown.

7. Small Business

If you haven’t been to Midtown, you haven’t caught on to the true essence of the Reno experience, which is small local owned businesses and restaurants with quirky and fun characteristics all their own. My favorite is a new restaurant that just popped up called Great Full Gardens.

8. Food Truck Fridays

The first and third Friday of every month, the downtown Citicenter hosts an event called Food Truck Friday. Food trucks have hit the Reno scene in a big way, and this bi-monthly event brings all of Reno’s favorite food trucks together to create a delicious taste test of all the food trucks. You won’t want to miss this!

9. Sparks/Reno Events Season

Reno/Sparks is host to so many annual events, that really make our community what it is. Working in event planning, I can tell you that these events are what give The Biggest Little City it’s special charm, and a big reason why I have yet to leave my beautiful exciting town. Here are SOME of the hundreds of events put on each year:
Reno Rodeo
June 20 – June 26
Shakespeare Festival
July 12 – August 25
Hot August Nights
August 6 – August 11
I have been coming to Hot August Nights ever since I can remember, as my dad is a huge classic car enthusiast. I can’t even count the number of poodle skirts I have shoved in my closet from this fun blast from the past event!
Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off
August 28 – September 2
Of course I couldn’t leave out the Nugget’s original and widely attended event! Hope you’re all ready, I’ve been working on this one all summer!
Burning Man
August 26 – September 2
I’ve never been, but I hope to go one day. I hear it’s an experience you won’t want to miss!
Balloon Races
September 6 – September 8
Reno Air Races
September 11 – September 15
Street Vibrations
September 25 – September 29

10. My Breathtaking Little City

Reno has been given a bad rep in many different areas, but if you take a minute to look at the scenery and take it all in, you’ll realize how beautiful my town truly is. It’s a city, it’s a cowboy town, it’s everything you’d ever want in one small town, one big little city.

“Reno Nevada Sunrise” Copyright Scott McGuire Photography

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38 thoughts on “Top 10 things to do in the 3rd Worst City in America

  1. Pingback: Vacation: The Number Three Worst City in the USA and Why I Disagree | Reno Gal Says

  2. Hi there. Great article and I couldn’t agree more, Reno has tons of fun stuff to do! As the organizer of Reno Food Truck Fridays, I just want to clarify that it is held downtown, at Citicenter, the 1st & 3rd Fridays of the month. I’m so glad you enjoy it! Thank you.

    • Very cool that you organize the one downtown! I am confused because the one at Idlewild is also referred to, at least in the vernacular speak if not officially, as “Food Truck Fridays.” I think I saw it officially referred to as FTF on a faceook page, but maybe I’m imagining it. My impression is they’re at the same time and day in different places, organized by different people, but with the same event names.

      With a toddler in tow, I only go to the one at the park. 😦 Public restrooms, a play park, free parking (Casinos get anal about free parking when the Aces play), and the $2 train are hard to beat for families that don’t live downtown.

  3. My wife and I, and lots of our friends, love Reno. We go there as often as we can, and we even got married there this year just because we have so much fun there. Its our get away from things destination. Good hotel prices, good food and Reno Aces. The perfect combination! I ignore anyone that says anything negative about the city. They just don[t spend any time there.

  4. Kate I love your list. I would only add one thing– I like Chuey’s as well as Great Full Gardens, if not better. Thanks for taking time to put it together.

  5. Great list and thanks for mentioning biggestlittlecity.org! There’s also the Nevada Museum of Art and how many kick ass coffee shops can one city have?

      • Homage is AMAZING!!! Truly the best scones I’ve ever had in my life, coffee that is made with heart and soul put into it. I’m in Spanish Springs, but when I go to the Girl Scout office or take my son to his allergy doc near St. Mary’s, we stop in and grab a special cuppa and a scone.

  6. that article was totally bogus; that man has obviously never been to any of the places he was ripping part. I get really sick of people bashing Reno, or coming here and whining how it’s so small and there’s NOTHING TO DOOOOO. Seriously, how uninspired are you to not LOOK UP events in Reno or drive the few hours to Sacramento or San Francisco? People can be such idiots. Rock on, Reno, ROCK ON.

  7. Shhh… Quiet with all of the pro-Reno talk. I always tell people that it’s as wretched as they’ve heard – I love this place and I don’t want to share it!

  8. There’s Hot August Nights, the Reno air races, and Street Vibrations. I love the Reno Airport, one of the easiest and cleanest in the country. Sure it’s got it’s seedy areas, but so do all cities. The guy that wrote that article is very uniformed.

  9. There is SO much more to Reno! Like the previous poster Mike, my husband and I are in LOVE with Reno, we come there from the Bay Area as much as possible and think of it as home. We got married there last year and even own investment property in neighboring Lyon County. A couple of gems in the area that were missed in the article- 1) Animal Ark: an amazing place for animal and nature lovers, and beautiful scenery, definitely worth the drive. 2) The wild mustangs! We have been lucky enough to encounter them several times, mostly under the Virginia Highlands in South Reno, and even came across them while we were house hunting in that area. They were in residential areas on people’s lawns. They were beautiful and majestic. LOVE us some Reno! But like John S, let’s keep all this our secret ; )

  10. I lived in Las Vegas in the 50’s & 60’s when it was a small town. People in Vegas always put Reno down. Now I’ve lived her for 33 yrs. and I put Vegas down. What a great switch I’ve made. I love me some Reno, even tho I live in Sparks. LOL

    • Well you were probably broke and lonely because Vegas is 100000000 times nice than Reno. Come on out to summerlin and figure it out yourself, it’s a city made of money, Reno’s nothing

  11. Clearly the writer of the “10 worst cities to visit” article got his information from The Muppets movie and Reno 911. Shameful for a “travel writer” to write about a city he’s never visited. Reno may not be the best, but we’re far, far from being the worst, despite how the media portrays us.

  12. I can’t believe Reno would be named among the worst cities to live. I moved from Reno 3 years ago, and I always thought it was charming. The downtown has improved tremendously, too.

    The city of Reno needs to use this dogged label and commission the casinos to give back to the community. By God, the casinos owe it to the city to help make some necessary improvements!!

  13. Seeing as just about every other city its size it’s size has the same stuff….but better, I would agree with Reno’s reputation as a trash piece of shit filled with meth head low life’s. not to mention their police force continues to try to shut down the new thriving night scene whenever they get the chance.

  14. Excellent article Alli. What I love about visiting Reno is that it seems like the entire city are fans of UNR Football. On a Saturday in Fall you cannot go anywhere without viewing a sea of Blue and Silver.

  15. This list does nothing to redeem Reno from being the Third worst city in America. In fact it just solidifies its third place position even more! And NO, Tahoe doesn’t count as Reno, get a map!

  16. Great piece! Also, Tour De Nez, Scalleycat, the Lion’s Den, the Davidson Academy(world’s smartest kids), the University of Nevada (engineering, med school, football-Colin Kaepernick), and La Tomatina!

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