Reno, baby
May 15, 2024 8:38 PM   Subscribe

What's fun to do and where's fun to stay in Reno? We are a middle aged mom and young adult child; queers, nerds, enjoy history, fun facts, stuff that we won't see at home.
posted by latkes to Travel & Transportation around Reno, NV (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Circus Circus in Vegas is a dump but the one in Reno is not bad as far as the budget places go. Booking through Priceline etc. is generally significantly cheaper than going through the Ceasar's site. I don't know if the circus stuff would be of interest to your child but figured it's worth mentioning.

If swimming is of interest, there's several hotels with nice pools like Peppermill.

I generally just get an AirBnB when I'm there (twice a year). There's not a lot of places I'd categorize as "fun" to stay there - the most interesting hostel didn't survive the pandemic and most hotels are casinos, generic low end motels, or dive motels.

The entire downtown area has gotten slightly sketchy in the past few years. If you have a car, don't leave anything of value in them. I'm a large man with resting murder face and have not felt unsafe walking around at night but YMMV.

The art museum is small and low budget but very nice for what it is. There's a nice oldschool bookstore right around the corner that's worth a trip to if you're nostalgic for before Barnes and Noble and Amazon ate up the market.

If you have a car and are up for a day trip, Lake Tahoe is lovely and parts of it are around an hour away. If you want to do a longer driving trip with some spectacular scenery, the main side road that goes by Donner Pass is gorgeous. Virginia City is about 40 minutes south of Reno and has some historic ghost town stuff that I loved as a kid. There's other ghost towns in the area as well.

The Truckee River Walk is nothing terribly special but shows off some of the revitalized downtown and if it's of interest, there's some Burner art at one of the plazas by it including the Space Whale. It's especially nice at night but see previous comment about sketchy. There's lots of nice little coffee shops and cafes along the river.

There's a bunch of nice hiking in the area, particularly if you don't live in that type of environment. Washoe Lake State Park is nice but not terribly exciting.

Pyramid Lake is pretty and there's a museum nearby.

There's a science museum, planetarium, and animal sanctuary but I've never been to them so can't say whether they're worth a trip to but they're something to look up.
posted by Candleman at 3:11 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]

If you're into old cars you've heard of the Harrah's casino collection. That casino is long gone, assimilated by Caesar; but the collection was auctioned off years previously. However, the most interesting vehicles wound up in what's now the National Automobile Museum, still in Reno. They've got a Tucker, Frank Sinatra's Dual Ghia, Bob Hope's Scimitar and the Phantom Corsair, reasons enough to visit Reno. Plus I've become partial to the upper-level seafood restaurant at the Atlantis casino there, the Sky Terrace.
posted by Rash at 7:35 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]

Just an update on a few previous suggestions. Unfortunately, Sundance Books and Music will be permanently closing on 5/31/24. Also, the Nevada Museum of Art is currently under construction for an expansion. I think it remains open during this time, but please visit their web site to confirm.

If you enjoy plants, the downtown public library should not be missed. The Discovery Museum is also just a block away from the library. Nearby (directly across the Truckee from the Space Whale) is the old post office, which has been turned into a shopping/dining area called The Basement.

The museums, library and post office are all walkable distances from each other and would make a great day in the downtown area, combined with a stroll along the Truckee. Also of note, downtown Reno (although as noted is definitely sketch at times) has tons of murals and art installations, including some that originated at Burning Man (like the Space Whale).

The University of Nevada, Reno is just north of downtown, across I-80, and could be worth a visit. There are a few small museums and exhibits available. The quad at the south end of campus is a shady haven when it's hot and a great place for a picnic.

Midtown is a walkable stretch of Virginia Street that has many restaurants, pubs, shops, etc.

I should also mention the Reno Public Market which opened a couple of years ago. It has been a fun (if expensive) place to grab a bite or a drink, but in the past month some of its retail spaces have announced their closure. Not sure I can recommend it now.

Okay, finally, some of my retail favorites: Grassroots Books, Coyote Supply Co, neighbors Atelier/Sierra Water Gardens, Urban Scout, Coffee N' Comics and Perenn Bakery. If you're vegan, you might want to check out House of Mexica.

Sorry for the infodump. Please feel free to drop me a MeFi Mail if there's anything else I can help with.
posted by at 9:55 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]

If you'll be there in July, there's lots of arts and music in the downtown area in a month-long festival. There's also other smaller street art/music events other times of the summer, so if you have a specific date in mind you can check the event calendars. One thing to note with them is in my experience, the street closure information often doesn't make it into Google Maps for some reason, so it will nag you again and again to turn onto closed streets.

Unless you want to experience Burner culture by proxy (and long lines and irritated locals), avoid the weekend before Labor Day and Labor Day weekend.

Bummer on Sundance closing. :/

If you want to stay in a hotel downtown and not have to deal with gambling and smoking, you might consider Whitney Peak. But it's more expensive than the ones subsidized by gambling. There's another non-gambling hotel downtown that Ceasars owns that I'm blanking on the name of that would probably recognize - I don't remember if they're non-smoking or not. But it's definitely in the sketchy vibe area - doors are locked at 9, security guard, you have to check an ID just to get a luggage cart. But it's cheaper than Whitney Peak.

Lastly, if you're not used to being in a hot and dry environment, make sure that sunscreen and water are in your everyday carry.
posted by Candleman at 10:20 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all! Your advice was the backbone that allowed us to have a great trip!

We stayed at the Whitney Peak which was fun, wandered around the downtown casinos which was entertaining, took a day wandering around midtown and downtown including looking at the public art, going to the Basement (enjoyed grits at Papa What You Cookin'), the car museum and some vintage stores. I checked out the library, the art museum (which is open although seemed like limited galleries' - I was still satisfied with my experience!) Really liked House of Mexica. Had a side trip to Fort Churchill and had a picnic and a beautiful walk around the grounds. I did get to Sundance books - they still have some stock left - I could see it was an amazing place. Can recommend the amazing turkish delight at Pangolin Cafe..

Overall it was a great road trip - it is the right sized city for a long weekend visit. Thanks all!
posted by latkes at 8:29 AM on May 28 [2 favorites]

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