Smaller than and often overlooked by Las Vegas, Reno has quite a lot in common with its older sibling while keeping its own charm. While Reno also has its own share of hotels with casinos, the landscapes couldn’t be any more different. Vegas is nestled in the dry Mojave Desert, whereas Reno sits on Truckee River and near the Sierra Nevada mountains, about 22 miles away from Lake Tahoe. This makes Reno the ideal destination for those who love snow activities.
But what if snowboarding or skiing aren’t your jam? Don’t worry, you can absolutely still enjoy Reno and Tahoe during the warmer months! If anything, you’re going to want to dress accordingly for the summer, because Reno gets hot (not as hot as Vegas, but you will work up a sweat), especially when you are walking around and doing a lot of activity. Summer activities include rafting, kayaking, hiking, and the like. That is why I have provided an epic Reno summer bucketlist for you!
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Know before you go to Reno, Nevada
The Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) is located about 3 miles southeast of Downtown Reno. It’s a very small airport, but there are other options:
- Sacramento International Airport (SMF), which is a 2 hour drive
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO), which is a 4 hour drive
While Reno is cold and snowy for the majority of the year, it realllyyyy heats up during the summer, with the temperatures going as high as 91°F (32.8°C), and no lower than 50°F (10°C).
It’s pretty easy to get around Reno by car (even through Downtown). However, if you don’t have a car, the RTC Washoe system has buses that takes you anywhere and everywhere you need to go in Reno and Washoe County.
Hotels in Reno
Reno has a plethora of hotels ranging from budget to luxury, mostly located in Downtown (but you can find more outside Downtown if that’s your preference!). Most hotels will have casinos, swimming pools, and spas. Here are the hotels I recommend:
- Peppermill Resort Spa Casino
- Grand Sierra Resort and Casino
- Circus Circus Reno
- Atlantis Casino Resort Spa
- El Dorado Reno
- Nugget Casino Resort
Summer Bucketlist in Reno for your next adventure
Explore the Riverwalk District
At the heart of Downtown lies the Riverwalk District, overlooking the Truckee River and lined with restaurants, bars, coffee shops, murals, and boating rentals. The area is walkable and bikeable, perfect for strolling on that sunny day 🙂 Most restaurants have outdoor dining patios where you can enjoy the breeze and the glistening waves of the river.
Water activities on the river
In that same vein, summer is perfect for getting your legs wet on the Truckee River. Whether you want to wade along the waves or go rafting, tubing, or kayaking. Sierra Adventures has a wide variety of water equipment for you to rent out, and they have a shop in the Riverwalk District.
Climb the largest artificial rock wall in the world
Whitney Peak Hotel is home to Basecamp, a rock climbing park with the tallest artifical climbing wall in the world at 164 feet. The rock wall is located on the side of the hotel overlooking the cityscape and the Sierra mountains. Not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure! (Although I definitely want to try it out sometime).
Explore Midtown Reno
Get out of Downtown for a bit and head over to Midtown, filled with more local restaurants, breweries, art galleries, and clothing boutiques. For brunch, I highly recommend Homegrown Gastropub *chefs kiss* and 20/30-something-year-old women will LOVE Nomad Boutique.
Bring Fido to Rancho San Rafael Dog Park
Situated near the UNR campus, Rancho San Rafael is an off-leash dog park with wide open fields, small creeks and ponds. If your dog loves adventure and doesn’t bolt while off the leash, this is perfect to take him/her. For naughty dogs like mine, they have to stay on the leash (okay, I took Liara to a fenced dog park and she did great without it, she has that leash aggression. She can’t go here because she’s a bolter). If you don’t have a pup, it’s nice to walk and enjoy the ones roaming and running around.
You can also visit Wilbur D. May Center within walking distance, which has a museum and an arboretum.
Eat a buffet dinner
Okay, so maybe this isn’t exclusive to summer…it’s always a season to chow down! Most of Reno’s casino resorts have an all-you-can-eat buffet for lunch and dinner, with specials on some days. It’s the perfect way to end a day of exploring or dipping in the hotel pool!
@justhannaheunice You can’t go to Reno and not eat at one of their many hotel buffets #foodie #renonv #vlog #foodtiktok #tiktokmademebuyit #travelblogger #buffet ♬ Taste It – Ikson
Mini Day Trips from Reno
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about Reno’s surrounding areas, especially Tahoe! Be sure to keep these itineraries in mind for your Reno summer bucketlist.
Head over to Incline Village for beach time
The small town Incline Village is an hour away south of Reno, nestled on the north shore of Lake Tahoe and is home to some of the most pristine, turquoise beaches. Sand Harbor Beach is the most well-known one, and is a haven for paddleboarding, jet skiing, and taking a dip on a hot day. You’re going to want to come early (like around 6 am), because parking at Sand Harbor fills up really quick. Sand Harbor Rentals is available for you to rent out a kayak or paddleboard.
Outdoor activities (especially fishing) at Pyramid Lake
About a 50-minute drive northeast of Reno lies Pyramid Lake, home of the Paiute tribe. The lake has unique rock formations and covers over 125,000 acres. Pyramid Lake is known for world-class fishing along with kayaking, paddleboarding, hiking, and camping.
Hike or camp at Donner Pass
Located on the California stateline, Donner Pass is a 45-minute drive from Reno boasting epic views of the Sierra mountains and Donner Lake. Start with a hike along the summit and learn about the dark history of the Donner Party resorting to cannibalism while stuck in a snowstorm. There is a plaque dedicated to the victims of the storm and cannibalism. Reward yourself with a paddle or dip in the Donner Lake (which has stunning water like Tahoe but on a smaller scale). For those interested in staying overnight, there are campgrounds sprinkled across the summit.
Don’t forget to have fun in the sun in Reno!
While Vegas rules when it comes to glitz and nightlife, Reno’s outdoorsy lifestyle can’t be beat. You can enjoy everything the city has to offer, especially during the summer if you aren’t a huge fan of snow. From leisurely window shopping to strenuous activities, Reno has something to offer you during the warmer months.
Before you forget, pin and save your ultimate Reno summer bucketlist!
Hannah is a travel writer, graphic designer, and the founder/editor of Hannah on Horizon. She is based in Sacramento, California, living with her husband and two adorable dogs. She shares tips on how to experience luxury travel on any budget, and how to maximize time at each trip or destination, no matter what your budget or amount of vacation time at work. She enjoys making you feel like you have visited each destination with her through her storytelling and informative writing style.