Northern Nevada presents stunning contradictions. From snow-capped mountains to expansive desert valleys and flourishing urban centers. Chief among its cities is Reno. It continues to experience an exciting renaissance. Art and murals splash evidence of this revitalization across the civic landscape. But this creative energy fuels more than aesthetic improvements.
It also underpins a thriving entrepreneurial scene enjoyable year-round. Moreover, the downtown’s high density of small, locally owned businesses makes exploration convenient and centralized. Concentrations of whimsical boutiques, cozy cafes, homegrown pubs and bars, and mouthwatering restaurants invite discovery. In other words, Downtown Reno has everything you need for a fantastic getaway.
Where to start planning a merry time in the “Biggest Little City”? Keep reading for our favorite recommendations for things to do in Reno.
What to Do in Reno: Shop to Your Heart’s Content
The perfect outing in Reno, Nevada, starts at The Basement, a 100 percent local marketplace beneath the city’s historic 1932 post office. Fantastic boutiques include the children’s clothing brand Shay Co Shop and the crystal store The Helping Moon. Explore a wide assortment of eco-friendly soaps, lotions, and more at Replenish Refillery & Gifts. Or, seek natural inspiration at Abloom Floral, which sells one-of-a-kind bouquets, candles, journals, and much more.
Discover The Patagonia Outlet Reno, ten minutes from the whitewater park at Wingfield. The state’s only location sits in an old Hudson car dealership. There’s no better place to get inspired (and geared up) for outdoor fun in the Sierra Nevadas and beyond. But what if wading into hip-deep water floats your boat? Visit the Reno Fly Shop, where you’ll find everything for start-to-finish fly-fishing success. From gear to guides, fishing reports to classes and clinics, they have it all.
Stop by the Nevada Museum of Art’s Shop for eclectic gifts with an artsy vibe and artisanal flair. Whether you’re after whimsical collectibles, handmade jewelry, or books highlighting the Museum’s exhibitions and collections, the Shop has it. For the kids in your life, the Shop also features a colorful array of globally curated children’s gifts. The Museum Store at the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery is another great stop for families. It offers an impressive selection of educational gifts, toys, games, and gadgets.
Book lovers will fall head-over-heels for Sundance Books and Music. Described by staff as “a creative tavern of the soul where we can experience our best selves through reading and writing and listening,” you’ll savor a visit. Housed in the Levy mansion, a large white Classic Revival home from the early 20th century, the front portico’s columns make it instantly recognizable. Your one-stop shop for books, music, and gifts, the bookstore also hosts inspiring author events.
Where to Go in Reno: Wet Your Whistle at Local Cafes and Bars
A fantastic shopping day can lead to a serious craving for a satisfying beverage. Fortunately, you’ll never lack welcoming places to wet your whistle in downtown Reno. Walden’s Coffeehouse remains a Reno-Tahoe staple, with three locations. Their downtown cafe sells delish beverages and hearty breakfast and lunch plates. Or head to höma’ge to sample a delectable collection of fresh-baked pies, pastries, coffees, teas, and more.
If you’re closer to The Basement, check out Maple Moon Coffee Company. The café’s mission statement says it all: “Bring[ing] happiness to the community one handcrafted beverage at a time.” A small coffee shop with contemporary decor, it specializes in beverages to “elevate your tastebuds.” The neighboring Seven Troughs Speakeasy boasts a list of Prohibition-era cocktails showcasing locally produced spirits.
Don’t stop there if you’re a fan of the vintage bar vibe! Instead, explore Shim’s Surplus Supplies Speakeasy. History buffs, jazz lovers, and all-around cool cats flock to this discreet bar. The single entryway opens onto a jewel-toned lounge with moody lighting and handmade stained glass. An expansive marble bar takes center stage, surrounded by curtained booths for privacy. Step back in time as you sip classic cocktails or taste local craft beers.
What to Eat in Reno: Load Up on Delish Eats and Decadent Treats
When hunger strikes, head to Freshies in The Basement. The menu offers seasonal bowls and sandwiches in a friendly, quick-service environment. Other great spots for snacks and light eats include the Rubicon Deli and the Liberty Food & Wine Exchange. At Liberty, select from an inventive assortment of cocktails, fine wine, and fusion-inspired shareable plates.
What if authentic Italian cuisine is calling your name? Make a reservation at a Reno favorite, La Famiglia. Or go creative and casual in the River Walk District at Wild River Grille. Meat lovers should try the Churrasco Brazilian Steakhouse. But come prepared with a hearty appetite! The restaurant’s chef-driven cuisine and world-class bar encourage traditional “Rodizio” dining. (Think all-you-can-eat, South American style.)
Chef Brett Moseley’s Washoe Public House serves locally sourced, hand-crafted cuisine. This translates into seasonal farm-to-table eats. Served in a casual and friendly atmosphere, the restaurant has garnered national attention on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. And don’t forget about Pignic Pub & Patio, housed inside a 1916 craftsman home. Its Revision Tap Room features 28 draft beers, retail craft beer selections, and crafted cocktails. Consider it a fantastic intro to Reno’s Brewery District. And Pignic’s Gastropub features a wide selection of tasty shareables. They include pretzels and sausage, pub wings, and Pignic’s Firecracker Elote Shrimp.
Savor Downtown Reno’s Dynamic Spirit
You’ll never run out of irresistible options when it comes to things to do in Reno. From hidden gem boutiques and bars to welcoming cafes and farm-to-table restaurants, knowing where to start can feel overwhelming. But our recommendations will put you on the fast track to unforgettable experiences in Northern Nevada.
The Downtown Reno Partnership remains committed to making downtown Reno one of the nation’s most vibrant and welcoming metropolitan areas. Believing in Reno is more than a mantra. It’s the transformative energy that has and will continue to revitalize and reshape our fantastic civic center.
About the Author: Engrid Barnett is an award-winning freelance writer based in Reno-Tahoe. Recognized by the Nevada Press Association in 2019, you can find her work in Nevada Magazine, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Rova, American Trails, Northern Nevada Business Weekly, Tahoe South, and more.
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