We just went to Reno this past March for my husband's work trip. His boss was nice enough to get a hotel room at Circus Circus and let us tag along when the hubs had to take a quote for work in Reno.
Now I had only ever been to Reno briefly, driving through the town, when I was a little girl. So I didn't remember what it looked like but I had looked up Circus Circus and it had good reviews. Looked like somewhere the kids and I could have fun! So I was excited!
I'll just put this out there, but to me, Reno is a place you have to visit firsthand before you figure out how to do the trip. What we thought we'd have fun with didn't pan out and what we loved, we ran into by chance on our way home. So I'm writing up this guide of what we did (and didn't) to hopefully help you out if you're planning a Reno trip.
The drive getting to Reno from the South Bay Area in California is BEAUTIFUL. We just had a super wet winter and the snow coverage on the Tahoe mountains was just..breathtaking! I hadn't seen that much snow since I was a kid!
I'd definitely plan for a snow day with the kiddos if you're coming up in the winter/early spring. I really kicked myself inn the butt for not bringing the snow gear but won't hesitate to grab it next time.
Next, we found ourselves checking into Circus Circus Hotel and Casino. It's kid friendly in a sense that there is the midway which has some carnival games and play for ticket arcade games. I was excited most for the live Circus shows. Since we headed down early (4ish) and blew our budget within 45 mins on game cards for the arcade games, we only saw one act. They perform at certain times of day and I think we got there too early and waited around for a long time before finally checking the show times. Start there first! The kids' patience was shot by the time we finally saw anyone on stage.
I was really put off with the hotel because as soon as you walk into the hotel you smell cigarette smoke and it follows you all the way to the room. I was cringing at the thought of my kids having to smell it. (former smoker here, but I try to keep my kids healthy, no judgement)
We were booked for a 2 night stay......we left after the first night, bright and early. Why, you might ask? Well, if you have rambunctious children that get excited in new places, then they tend to get antsy sitting in a small hotel room. They did their typical game of tag and ninja training and our neighbors didn't like it. We got the pound on the wall to shut up. That's embarrassing! On top of having spent our budget quite quickly downstairs and not wanting to spend more on "chuck e cheese" games, there just wasn't a family type atmosphere that I thought there'd be. It was uncomfortable. So we left.
ANIMAL ARK or SIERRA SAFARI ZOO
I had planned on going to the Animal Ark Wildlife sanctuary while we were there. We were so bummed when we were heading out, due to snow it had closed for the day. It was first day of opening season and it was at the top of my list for what I wanted to do. I could just about cry at that moment. So check the schedule beforehand and pray it doesn't snow.
But kids always love seeing animals, and at the Animal Ark there is a little picnic area to enjoy you lunch if you pack one and a playground for the kids as well. Always a plus!
We grabbed our Starbucks and were just about to ditch that town when suddenly a donut craving hit my husband and it prompted him to request a new point of interest. I found a donut place that sounded witty.....Holey Schmidt Donuts. That was the one. Whether the donuts were good or bad, the name would've satisfied us alone. But let me tell you...they were GREAT donuts. Classic and gourmet. I had a german chocolate, my kids had a fruity pebble, a homer donut, cookie monster. OHHHHHH it was hard to choose! And there is a little window you can watch the donuts get glazed, bathrooms. What more could you ask for?!
By luck, it was also attached to The Discovery which is a children's interactive museum. It was pricey but it really did end the trip on a positive note. I think the kids had the most fun there and I'm so glad we stopped to get donuts, otherwise that would've been 2 missed gems in Reno.
There are a few other museums mentioned as a top attraction including the National Automobile Museum and the Nevada Museum of Art. The Nevada State Museum in Carson City is another one worth checking out.
If you're into nature there is the Truckee River walk and within short driving distances you have some historic sites and state parks such as; Tallac Historic Site and Emerald Bay State Park. It's a great trip to take some time to do outdoor activities-any season!
Of course, there is a whole strip of casinos if gambling is your forte and you and your spouse want to switch off with the kids. Personally, that's not my thing so I I don't have tips on that. But I did enjoy seeing the street art from murals to sculptures. They even have a street art excursion you can go on! I may do that the next time around!
What are your favorite places around Reno? If you have any Reno tips or knowledge for us, drop em' in the comments!