Reno, Nevada might bill itself as “the biggest little city in the world,” but the metropolis that sits less than a four-hour drive from the San Francisco Bay Area has a downtown that gets bigger and better every year. Autumn is a great time to visit, once the air is crisp but before the snow. Here are some of the best ways to spend your trip.
Things to Do and See in Downtown Reno and the Riverwalk
Reno is the closest major metropolitan area to the annual Burning Man festival, which means the city is teeming with art from the Burn. The two most accessible pieces are on City Plaza. One, dubbed Space Whale, is a life-sized sculpture of a mother and baby humpback whale; it’s made of steel lattice and hand-painted stained glass. The other comprises 12-foot-tall rustic steel letters with bird cutouts that spell out BELIEVE.
The performing arts scene in Reno ranges from Broadway performances and orchestral ensembles to racy screenplays with challenging world views—all within a 5-minute walk. The Bruka Theater, on the corner of Virginia and First streets, is known for its eclectic shows and an intimate theater setting that has audiences sitting on the floor. The Pioneer, two blocks from the river on Virginia Street, is known more for local spins on classic Broadway. The Eldorado Showroom, inside a stretch of interconnected casinos called The Row, brings in world-traveling acts like its current show, "Cirque Paris," which ends Nov. 11, and “The Unbelievables,” which runs through New Years.
Looking to relax? The Spa at Silver Legacy opened in 2018 and offers massages, facials, waxing, a full-service salon, a fitness center, and a boutique retail area. The spa director created two signature scents that incorporate indigenous plants such as Russian sage, Jeffrey pine bark, white pine, desert peach, and roseberry; the scents are used in treatments and are available for sale as oils in the shop. There’s even a custom tea-pairing program by Davidson’s Teas. In addition to 12 treatment rooms, the 21,000-square-foot facility comprises relaxation lounges, a salt inhalation chamber, and hydrotherapy soaking tubs.
No visit to downtown Reno is complete without exploring the Riverwalk District. Take a stroll along the 1.5-mile Raymond I. Smith Truckee Riverwalk that flanks both sides of the river and connects downtown to Wingfield Park, an island that doubles as an outdoor venue for concerts and other events. The district is home to numerous art installations and murals, boutique shops, more than two dozen restaurants, and local brews.