The world-renowned Artown Festival, which takes place over the month of July in Reno is in full swing. This arts and music event features hundreds of free things to do for every age. However, there are many other free things that you can do in this city at the base of the Sierra mountains. Many of these free things are within walking distance of the downtown area, or you can hop on the bus for a short ride to local parks, the river and outdoor events.
Step into your walking shoes and head down to the river walk along the Truckee River. From here you can walk all the way along the river to Sparks or into the nearby town of Verdi, at the base of the mountains. If you want to save your shoes, rent a bike at several places in town and ride along the river instead. If you want to get wet, rent a tube at the river and splash around at the Truckee Whitewater Rafting Park.
Surprisingly, Reno has a lot of great local parks and the best are along the Truckee. Check out the wildlife and birds at Oxbow Park, do some river tubing around Wingfield Park and Idlewild Park or hike and walk around the various gardens at Rancho San Rafael near the University of Nevada, Reno. Just a bit farther south of downtown is Virginia Lake Park where you can walk around the lake in the shade of trees and the local Peppermill casino.
Several other parks like Bartley Ranch and Audrey Harris Park have some great hiking trails and opportunities to ride horses or take in nature talks or other special events. The McKinley Arts Center near downtown Reno usually has free art displays or event on their beautiful front lawn. The University of Nevada in the center of town offers free art exhibits at the Church Fine Arts building, the Matthewson/IGT Knowledge Center and a free gem and stone museum at the Mackay School of Mines.
If you have small children and the weather is warm, they will get a big kick out of the fountain in front of the movie theater in downtown Sparks. This fountain sprays random spurts of water out of jets in the ground, so little ones can run through safely. For something a little unexpected, visit the Lavender Ridge farm in Verdi for the delightful aroma of the little purple flowers. The farm also offers free entertainment on some weekends, lunches and a small artists’ shop.
Photo Courtesy of [morgan.holmgren/Flickr]