Reno Travel Guide

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Free Things To Do in Reno

If you have extra time, Great Reno Balloon Race is worthwhile.
  • #1
    Things to do in Reno
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    #1 in Reno
    Natural Wonders, Skiing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    More than Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Natural Wonders, Skiing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    More than Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Sitting only about 40 miles south of "The Biggest Little City" on the border of Nevada and California, Lake Tahoe is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful places in the country, boasting soaring mountains and crystal-clear waters. It's best known as a skiing destination, where visitors will find top-notch facilities like Squaw Valley (which hosted the 1960s Olympic Winter Games) and the massive Heavenly Ski Resort. But Lake Tahoe also makes for an excellent summer getaway thanks to its sprawling beaches, ample boating and fishing opportunities and well-maintained hiking trails.

    For the best views (no matter the season), recent visitors recommend a stop at Emerald Bay State Park on the California side of the lake. According to one TripAdvisor user: "It was breathtaking! I now consider it my new favorite place … I got several great shots from Emerald Bay. Very picturesque!!"

  • #2
    Riverwalk
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    #2 in Reno
    Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Downtown Reno's updated Riverwalk area – located along the Truckee River between Arlington Avenue and Lake Street – draws art lovers and gourmands alike with its collection of galleries and restaurants. You'll find most of these up-and-coming establishments lining the southern end, which residents have come to refer to as CalAve. And if you're not sure where to begin, tag along on a Wine Walk. This event – hosted by the Riverwalk Merchants Association for $20 per person  takes place the third Saturday of the month from 2 to 5 p.m. and includes wine tastings at more than a dozen galleries and specialty stores.

    Recent visitors frequently described this area as a clean, pleasant reprieve from the casinos (especially during the fall and spring) and highly recommend it for those traveling with kids.

  • #3
    Great Reno Balloon Race
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    #3 in Reno
    Festivals, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Festivals, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Every September, more than 120,000 spectators grab their lawn chairs and head north of downtown Reno to Rancho San Rafael Regional Park for the annual Great Reno Balloon Race. During this three-day event, more than 100 brightly colored hot air balloons fill the northern Nevada sky, making this the largest event of its kind in the nation. The balloon's pilots race against each other; the first balloon to make it to Truckee Meadows (several miles south of downtown) wins.

    The race starts at 6:45 a.m. on opening day, and the balloons land as the sun sets on the third day. During the day, other competitions  including kid-friendly activities  take place at Rancho San Rafael and around the city. For the coolest photo ops, consider waking up early for the Glow Patrol (5 a.m.) and the Dawn Patrol (5:30 a.m.). During these early morning hours, balloons that have been certified for flying in the dark (thanks to their onboard lights) take to the skies, glowing against the dark landscape. 

  • #6
    Casino at the Eldorado
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    #6 in Reno
    Casinos, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Casinos, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Though a few recent visitors said this landmark casino has begun to show some wear, travelers still rate the Eldorado as one of the best places to gamble in Reno. Spanning 81,000 square feet, the Eldorado offers everything you need to test Lady Luck, including table games, slots, poker and sports betting. Plus, it also boasts 13 restaurants and bars — a point of major praise for visitors who appreciated not having to leave the casino to dine (they especially loved the buffet). Reviewers also offered compliments for the staff, who travelers found to be professional and friendly. If you're not up for gambling, the Eldorado Resort features several on-site nightlife venues and hosts regular concerts.

    The Casino at the Eldorado is open 24 hours a day. You don't have to pay to get in, but you should expect to spend money here. For more information, check out the Eldorado's website.

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