Reno may be renowned for its casino industry, but its best-kept secret is that there are also lots of places in Reno for people who don’t gamble. From rock-climbing the highest artificial rock wall in the world, to exploring thriving urban neighbourhoods, to hiking or biking the many parks and trails, you don’t need to gamble to have a good time in Reno.

    Reno is one of the largest cities in Nevada and sits at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains – which serve as an impressive backdrop to the many activities you can do outside the walls of a casino. You may regret the money you gamble away, but you’ll never regret the money you spend on a new experience or time spent in nature.

    1

    Rancho San Rafael Regional Park

    Play frisbee golf, tour a museum or hike the trails

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    Rancho San Rafael Regional Park is Washoe county’s largest park at 580 acres, a quick 5-minute drive from downtown Reno. If you’re a disc golfer, don’t forget to pack your discs so you can spend time working on improving your throws. You can also get some exercise on the trails while enjoying great views of Reno’s cityscape.

    This park is also home to the Wilbur D. May Museum, Arboretum, and Botanical Gardens, where you can immerse yourself in the lush gardens and see rare and exotic artefacts from the around the world. If you’re visiting Rancho San Rafael Regional Park in mid-September, mark your calendar for the annual Great Reno Balloon Race where you can see a sky full of multicoloured hot air balloons.

    Location: 1595 N Sierra Reno, NV 89503, USA

    Open: From sunrise to sunset, year-round

    Phone: +1 775-785-4512

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    2

    Idlewild Park

    Pack a picnic and take a breather in this city oasis

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    Idlewild Park is where you can take your lunch to go and grab a cab to drive 1.5 miles away if you need a break from the bustle of downtown Reno. A green oasis in a city neighbourhood, you can sit on a bench or on the grass and cool off in the shade of mature trees while watching ducks in the pond or enjoying views of the Truckee River away from the throngs of tourists. 

    Take a stroll in the Rose Garden and stop to smell the roses (it’s not just an expression!). If you’re a swimmer, you can bring your bathing suit to do some laps in the outdoor Idlewild lap pool. Idlewild Park also hosts events throughout the year like food truck festivals, so make sure to check their calendar when you’re in town.

    Location: 1900 Idlewild Dr. Reno NV 89509, USA

    Open: From sunrise to sunset, year-round

    Phone: +1 775- 334-2417

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    3

    Nevada Museum of Art

    Wander among one-of-a-kind exhibitions that merge art and nature

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    Nevada Museum of Art in Reno’s Midtown district is a contemporary and stunning escape from the glitz and glare of casinos. The 70,000-sq-ft building is impressive in both size and design – the angular shape was inspired by the geology of Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.

    Take time to revel in the mixed media exhibitions of both the permanent collections and temporary displays of this AAM-accredited and nationally renowned museum. If you’re hungry after satisfying your artistic senses, you can go downstairs to Chez Louie (a French-inspired restaurant located on the bottom floor of the museum) to savour cocktails and fresh seasonal eats while musing over the exhibitions you just walked through.

    Location: 160 West Liberty Reno, NV 89501, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +1 775-329-3333

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    photo by Rmart123 (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    4

    Midtown

    Go thrift store shopping, find unique street art, or take a food tour

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    Midtown is a funky neighbourhood in Reno where you can walk between unique restaurants, boutique spas, and interesting thrift stores. This is where you can find one-of-a-kind antiques and home décor or score some great deals on vintage and used clothing – check out Junkee Clothing Exchange and Antiques or Wildwood Trading Post.

    In the mood for a scavenger hunt? The Midtown Mural Map can guide you to over 70 murals and lots of street art painted in the alleyways between buildings, in parking lots, or on the sides of buildings along the main road. If you really want to get a taste of Midtown’s restaurant scene, you can book a food tour through Reno Food Tours or explore on your own – just follow your nose down the main street or small side streets.

    Location: S Virginia St, Reno, NV 89501, USA

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    5

    Basecamp

    Climb the world’s tallest outdoor artificial rock wall

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    Head over to the Whitney Peak Hotel in downtown Reno to scale 164 ft up the world’s tallest outdoor artificial rock wall – certified by the Guinness Book of World Records – literally next to the iconic Reno Arch. You don’t have to be a professional rock climber to enjoy Basecamp; you can take a class with certified instructors who will guide you and teach you the ropes.  

    In addition to the big rock wall, you can also pick your way up different bouldering courses and a cave area.

    Location: 255 N Virginia St, Reno, NV 89501, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 8 am to 10pm, Saturday and Sunday from 8 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 775-398-5443

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    6

    Sierra Nevada Zoological Park

    Visit the only zoo in Northern Nevada

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    Sierra Nevada Zoological Park is where you can spend time enjoying the company of lions and tigers while knowing your money is going towards animal conservation and not a casino. The non-profit organization is a 20-minute drive from downtown Reno. 

    There are over 40 species of animals to see from tigers to sloths and animals native to the area. If you’re travelling with kids, don’t miss the petting zoo where you can feed miniature cows and deer.

    Location: 10200 N. Virginia St. Reno, NV 89506, USA

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 775-677-1101

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    7

    National Bowling Stadium

    Visit one of the world’s largest bowling venues

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    If you’re a bowler, the National Bowling Stadium is a massive monument that’s worth checking out and it’s only a 5-10 minute walk from the Reno Arch.  Where else can you find a bowling stadium that has the largest and flashiest bowling ball you’ve ever seen embedded halfway through the front of the building? Once you’ve taken an obligatory selfie in front of the giant ball, you can stop by the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame on the first floor to get some fun factoids on the history of bowling.

    Unfortunately, the pristine 78 lanes are only available for tournaments, so this is not the place to work on your bowling form, but there’s a large spectator seating area for you to watch the pros. Don’t forget to stop by the pro shop where you can buy souvenirs and bowling gear.

    Location: 300 N Center St, Reno, NV 89501, USA

    Phone: +1 775-335-8800

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    photo by Ken Lund (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    8

    Explore the streets of Reno

    Take a self-guided tour through Reno’s historic neighbourhoods

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    The Historic Reno Preservation Society created an app featuring self-guided walking tours and stories designed to highlight the historical context to "The Biggest Little City in the World". Simply search for and download Reno Historical.

    From downtown to the city neighbourhoods and churches, these are the streets and buildings that make up the real fabric of Reno. There are a wide variety of walking tours to choose from based on either neighbourhoods or themes (such as Reno’s history as the divorce capital of the world or sacred landmarks) so make sure you scroll through the app to choose one that suits your interests.

    Phone: +1 775-747-4478

    photo by Roboman89509 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    9

    The Tahoe-Pyramid Trail

    Rent a bike and explore

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    The Tahoe-Pyramid Trail is a connected span of pavement and dirt trails that follows the Truckee River from Lake Tahoe, through Reno/Sparks, and ends at Pyramid Lake. If you’re in downtown Reno and want to explore the city by bike, you can stop by Sierra Adventures/Activities Reno and rent a bike to follow the Verdi to Reno/Sparks section (the West End).

    The route goes through downtown – you’ll know you’re on the trail by the Tahoe-Pyramid Trail aluminium trail signs and information boards. The Tahoe-Pyramid Trail website has specific maps of sections of the trails and Sierra Adventures will also be able to point you in the right direction if you need some help.

    Location: 11 N. Sierra St., #101, Reno, NV 89501, USA

    Open: Daily from sunrise to sunset

    Phone: +1 775- 825-9868

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    10

    Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts

    See a symphony or other performance

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    Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts is a one-stop location for a wide variety of entertainment, whether you’re in the mood to see a ballet performance, symphony, comedy tour, or concert. It’s conveniently close to downtown as well – you can easily walk or drive across the Virginia St. bridge from City Plaza to the expansive golden-domed concert hall.

    If you’re travelling with older children, this is a good stop for them as well as there are often family-friendly performances (make sure to check the venue events calendar). Once the performance is done, save some time to explore the many restaurants and shops around the Performing Arts Centre.

    Location: 100 S Virginia St, Reno, NV 89501, USA

    Open: Showtimes vary

    Phone: +1 775-686-6610

    Map

    photo by JERRYE AND ROY KLOTZ, JR (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    Lauren Siegel | Contributing Writer

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