Newly arriving families and students to Reno and UNR always ask: What is there to do in Reno on hot days? While summer evenings here in the high desert can be cool and comfortable, and the season itself is fairly short, daytime high temperatures in Reno can be hot. The brutal direct sun, as well as the dry air, can all lead to dehydration and sunburns, and can be especially difficult if you have children who want to get out of the house. Here are 10 places to go and things to do in Reno with your family during hot summer days:
1. Float down the Truckee river
This is likely the most popular activity for families, singles and couples during the summer in Reno. The Truckee River is a beautiful life-giving waterway within the Reno-Sparks area. It flows from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake. Within the city of Reno, it remains a cool yet fun way to enjoy the summer, in the fresh cold water from the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Grab a tube (you can buy at most stores, even grocery and drug stores), good shoes (it’s rocky throughout the river) and float the river- as long as you know how to swim!. A popular leg is the Crissie-Caughlin park put-in all the way to downtown at the whitewater park. You’ll enjoy fun, yet manageable rapids for families, for a fun ride, along Idlewild park, riverside drive and ending in some exciting drops and dips in the middle of downtown. Other famous put-in spots include Mayberry Park, and Rock Park in Sparks.
Downtown Reno’s riverwalk area also features a waterfall fountain display, and is near many of the well known summer events that Reno hosts, including Hot August Nights and Artown.
2. Visit the Nevada Discovery Museum
Cool, safe, and full of interesting exhibits about Nevada and science. It is especially fun for families and kids, where parents can have a break for an hour or two while their kids explore the leaf waterfall tower, and many mind-blowing magic experiments. Located downtown, the Nevada Discovery museum is a perfect indoor attraction when the weather is too hot or too cold.
3. Swim at Reno’s top swimming spots
Topping the list would be Wild Island water adventure park in Sparks. This waterpark featuring slides, a wave pool, lazy river and other attractions is not only fun for children and families, but others as well. College students, young adults and senior citizens can enjoy the varying array of wet, cool and fun ways to enjoy a summer day at a classic American waterpark.
If you are looking for a less expensive way to simply get in the water, Reno’s Idlewild park outdoor pool, along with the outdoor pool at Bower’s Mansion are popular.
Lastly, splash parks are becoming popular all over the USA. Lazy 5 park in Spanish Springs and North Valleys Regional Park in Lemmon Valley both have new splash parks guaranteed to entertain your young kids at a nominal low-cost fee.
4. Beat the Heat inside Meadowood Mall
This traditional indoor shopping mall provides a climate controlled reprieve from the heat (or cold in the winter). With approximately 80-100 stores and restaurants, throughout three wings, there is plenty to shop and eat, or simply walk around in, while you spend the afternoon window shopping. And the kiddie features like a play area, can be a nice break for weary parents.
5. Cool off in air-conditioned hotel casinos
Casinos and kids? Well, some of Reno’s well-known casinos have plenty for children to do, including arcades, restaurants, pools, and simply walking and exploring. Likely the most famous is Circus-Circus with a midway, sure to give plenty of affordable entertainment with families. And it is all connected seamlessly with Eldorado and Silver Legacy, for a large indoor air-conditioned destination downtown.
6. Visit Lake Tahoe
No visitor or resident of Reno will feel complete without a day trip to Lake Tahoe. The cold blue clear waters, along with the cooler temps in the forest, are a major summertime draw for Reno residents and tourists alike to relax in. And there are so many destinations around the lake that there is not enough time in a lifetime to even truly experience all of them. In the summer, a walk on the now-famous East Shore trail, including the Tunnel Creek trail and a visit to Hidden Beach is a must; or go even further to the highly photographed Sand Harbor beach.. King’s Beach, Tahoe City beach, and a family bike ride along the west shore trail along highway 89 are also top summer pics. And that is just North Lake Tahoe. South Lake Tahoe has its own plethora of summertime destinations to visit. And when Fall, Winter and Spring roll around, these seasons all have their own highlights and hot spots around the Lake to visit. No wonder it was rated a favorite lake in the USA.(1).
7. Hike in the Sierras
Reno is right on the edge of the Sierra-Nevada Mountain range. These famous granite-peaked rugged mountains along California and Nevada contain some fantastic hiking. Summertime in the west coast is fairly dry, which makes for abundant outdoor recreation, without too much mud, rain, and mosquitos, that are common in other parts of the country.
The Pacific Crest Trail, and Tahoe Rim Trail are both close and well-known. But there are plenty of other trails that are suitable for families and kids. Consider the Donner pass train tunnel trail, and trails along old highway 40 just west of the summit. All have safe and reasonable lengths, with amazing views and shade, along with cooler temperatures of the high-elevation.
8. Relax in the shade at these top parks
Some of Reno’s older parks are lined with beautiful old-growth shade trees. Idlewild Park is a long-time classic near downtown, with plenty of shady lawn areas to lay out a picnic blanket. As a bonus, there is a kiddie park, and a children’s train ride (on select summer weekends and holidays) that still operates from a previous amusement park. They also have a newly built jungle gym for kids, right next to the well-known Idlewild Park pool.
Other parks that are known for shade include Chrissie-Caughlin Park, Mayberry Park, Rancho San Rafael Park, Wheatland Park, Bartly Ranch, Galena Creek Park and Rock Park. Find some shade, stretch out and play, and cool off.
9. Get out in the morning and evenings
You can explore many of the trails and fun areas of Reno, like the Midtown District, or bicycling along the Truckee River together with your family, without the heat and burn, if you simply can get out and go before 9 am, or go out after 6 pm. The sun is less strong, and the air is wonderful. And kids will always remember a fun walk in the evening in some of Reno’s classic neighborhoods like Riverside Drive and Newland’s Manor.
10. Summer fun in your yard
If you live in Reno, or are staying at a home with a yard, this final suggestion is a classic American tradition. Get out some pool toys, turn the hose on, and cut up some watermelon. Kids have a blast playing in lawn sprinklers, and parents like watching (and getting wet too!). Sit back, relax, and have a drink. This dog-days-of-summer tradition can be a stay-at-home must for any family on hot days.
Summers in Reno are beautiful, sunny, and full of adventure. Taking kids can be a joy, when at the right spot, with a comfortable setting. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen, plan ahead, and make memories. Enjoy the high desert with all of the fun for families that Reno and its surrounding region has to offer.
About the Author
Mike Cutler lives and works in Reno. His family enjoys meeting international students and families and immigrants, along with exploring hiking and outdoors in Lake Tahoe. He is a native to the area, and works in business along with teaching at the University of Nevada, Reno - UNR. LinkedIn Facebook
Mike Cutler is a volunteer with the Reno International House and blogger of the local real estate housing development market in Reno. He likes to give advice for newly arriving students and immigrants, and report on the latest construction and housing needs around the University of Nevada, Reno.