What to do in Reno

reno sign at night

I must admit, I was quite impressed with the so-called “The Biggest Little City in the World”.

About Reno

Reno is a city in the northwest section of Nevada, along the Nevada-California border. The Reno-Tahoe International Airport is approximately 12 minutes away from the Downtown Reno area making it incredibly convenient for travelers. Not to mention, North Lake Tahoe is about 35 miles away, which is ideal for those wanting to visit the majestic Big Blue.

Not only is Reno the largest city of Washoe County, it also sits in the High Sierra foothills, in the Truckee River valley, on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada. What does this mean? It means hiking adventures are just around the corner.

The weather is pleasant for the most part even though Reno experiences all four seasons throughout the year. The most pleasant months to visit include May, June, and September, when it’s not too cold or too hot.

What to do in Reno

I visited Reno for the first time during their annual Hot August Nights event, which was not on purpose, but I am happy it happened that way because it was a cool event to see in person! If you love cars, especially classic ones, I think you would enjoy visiting during this event too. I would describe The Biggest Little City in the World as a hidden gem because of its delicious food, friendly people, and beautiful weather. It reminded me a lot of southern hospitality because people were genuinely nice and friendly.

Having said that, if you find yourself in Reno, here is what to do…

Eateries & Drinks

What to do in Reno
Forged Coffee Roasting Company Lounge Area

I meeeean – everyone needs to eat, right? Below is a list of places my sweet friend, V, recommended. I visited each of these places, and highly recommend each one, and here’s why…

  • Homage – The Homage makes everything from scratch. They are known for pastries, baked goods, breakfast, and espresso drinks. I LOVED the quiche of the day, it was freaking yummy! The people were super nice too, I would hands down go back to this place again.
  • Forged Coffee Roasting Company – The Forged coffee bar is located inside The Jesse Hotel & Bar in Downtown Reno. If you love a beautiful aesthetically pleasing atmosphere, good music, nice people, and most importantly, delicious coffee, this is your spot. Promise. You won’t regret it.
  • Death and Taxes – If you love crafty and FRESH cocktails, I highly recommend to visit Death and Taxes. They have unique and delicious cocktails – peep their IG for proof.
  • Liberty Food and Wine Exchange – Love Italian?!? Come here. I recommend the Porcini Mushrooms Campanelle pasta dish – you will not regret it. I would go back to try their breakfast because it looks insanely delicious.
  • Perenn Bakery – If you are limited on time, and have no clue where to eat, Perenn (at the Rancharrah location) would be my number one pick. We came here for breakfast and wish I could go back to try other dishes.
  • Fireside Lounge – The Fireside Lounge is located inside the Peppermill Casino, and although we didn’t eat or drink here, I would still say to check it out. The environment was pretty cool and chill.
  • Oceano – Oceano is also located inside the Peppermill Casino. We came here for dinner and I decided to try their ramen, which ended up being good, but next time I will go with their famous sushi!
  • Mexcal – My friends took me here on my last night and HOLY MEXICAN FOOD, it’s actually pretty legit. Highly, highly recommend eating here for Mexican food. In fact, this is where you’ll find me next time I visit Downtown Reno.

Annual Local Events

What to do in Reno - Hot August Nights
Hot August Nights 2021

Reno is known to host popular annual events such as the Reno River Festival, Hot August Nights, Burning Man, The Great Reno Balloon Race, the Great Italian Festival, and other events. Here is a quick rundown of the most popular ones…

  • Reno River Festival (May/June) – The Reno River Festival is a free event featuring whitewater competitions, live music, food, and other outdoor experiences.
  • Hot August Nights (August) – Hot August Nights is a free annual event held in August from the 2nd to the 7th of the month. The event is around classic cars from 1970s and is based on Rock and Roll. I must admit, it was pretty darn cool to see in person. I hope to go again with the husband someday because he loves cars.
  • Burning Man (Late August to early September) – The Burning Man is a huge art festival held on the open playa of the Black Rock Desert, 100 miles north of Reno. Many of those larger-than-life pieces have found a home in various parts of Downtown Reno.
  • The Great Reno Balloon Race (September) – The Great Reno Balloon Race is an iconic (and free) event in the area. Each year, up to 100 colorful hot-air balloons float above Reno in the early hours of the morning. People can walk right up to them while the pilots prepare to take off, which sounds like a cool thing to see up-close.
  • Eldorado Great Italian Festival (October) – The Great Italian Festival is a celebration of Italian culture and traditions. This includes live entertainment, a sauce cooking contest, a grape stomp, wine walk, an Italian farmers market, and lots of pasta.

Riverwalk District

The Riverwalk District is located in the heart of Downtown Reno so it’s perfect to visit if you’re already in the area. It has different eateries, bars, shops, antique stores, etc., to choose from. For a pleasant stroll at the park, head over to Wingfield Park, where locals love to go swim, watch the sunset, have a picnic, dip their toes in the water, or kayak. It sits right in the middle of the Truckee River.

The Truckee River

The only river that runs across Downtown Reno. I like to think of it as the Guadalupe River of Texas where people go tubing, kayaking, swimming, etc. Pretty cool to have something like this in the middle of the city, if you ask me. If only the Bayou ran through Downtown Houston…

Having said that, if you enjoy outdoor water activities, add the Truckee River to your itinerary. Oh, and some companies offer professionally guided kayak tours!

Casinos

What to do in Reno - Fireside Lounge
Fireside Lounge at the Peppermill Casino

With over 20 casinos to choose from, Reno has a casino for you. There is a lot of casinos walking distance from each other and a few that are located outside the Downtown area. The only casino I was able to visit was the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino, which happens to be my friend’s favorite one. I thought it was great because it had plenty of restaurants, slot machines, bars, and games, to choose from. Thank you, V, for teaching me how to play 😉

Final Thoughts

The biggest takeaway is, Reno ended up being a pretty cool Biggest Little City in the World to explore. It was surprisingly charming and would definitely visit again. I visited to enjoy Lake Tahoe but little did I know what Reno had in store for me.

I hope this blog post inspired you to visit Reno. As always, if you have questions, please feel free to email me at sonia@mrsprofresh.com or send a DM on Instagram. I would be happy to help!

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Ps. If you would like to visit Lake Tahoe during your trip to Reno, head over to this travel guide for all of the tips and suggestions. 😉

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