The Biggest Little City has come a long way from its Wild West origins and bucked its reputation for being primarily a casino town.
With Nevada’s zero-income-tax status and proximity to an international airport, ski slopes and emerald waters of Lake Tahoe, Reno-Sparks has become a sought-after, year-round destination. From a business perspective, the area has seen the arrival of tech giants such as Tesla, Google and Apple in the last couple of years, which has drawn transplants from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond since before the pandemic.
On the real estate front, Mansion Global, a luxury segment of the Wall Street Journal in collaboration with Realtor.com® released its 2021 report which placed Reno number three in the luxury cut of the Emerging Housing Markets Index citing “strong housing demand and rising prices combined with robust economies, lots of good-paying jobs, a reasonable commute to work and the amenities that make a place desirable,” as contributing factors.
Reno-Sparks continues to progressively evolve in response to a changing demographic and lifestyle demands which include full-service, amenity-rich neighborhoods featuring everything from coworking clusters to food halls to green spaces.
Developers are pouring billions of dollars into new live/work/play districts with curated tenants and amenities. Casinos are jumping on board by giving way to non-gaming, mixed-use properties, such as Reno City Center where Harrah’s Reno once stood. (The same development firm soon to unveil Kimpton Hotel in downtown Reno.)
Reno’s Neon Line District is expected to soon be brimming with historic neon signs, Burning Man art, new hotels, retail stores and restaurants. According to their website, “This stretch of the historic Lincoln Highway is one of the largest redevelopment projects of its kind, transforming worn properties into a new pedestrian-friendly Reno arts district spanning an impressive 20 city blocks in downtown Reno.
Reno Public Market, another pending gem, reinvents Shopper’s Square with Sprouts Farmers Market, a food hall and Wyld Market for items by local artisans.
Across the way from the Reno Public Market on the corner Plumb Lane and South Virginia Street, a massive project called Reno Experience District or RED, is underway featuring apartments with community events such as DJs, pool parties and trivia nights.
As we wait for these and other highly anticipated projects to come to life, there’s plenty to see and do in the Biggest Little City. From shopping and dining to arts and culture, here’s a roundup of places and experiences to enjoy now.
Those who have only been to the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum, a.k.a. The Discovery, during its first iteration as a children’s museum are due for a visit. The institution has evolved into a leading science museum for people of all ages. Permanent exhibits “Inside Out: An Anatomy Experience” and “Mindbender Mansion,” as well as “Science Distilled,” the Desert Research Institute’s speaker series, are intended for teens and adults too. The “Energy/Energia” exhibit premieres in spring with approximately 20 hands-on displays that address our understanding of energy past, present and future, especially how sustainable innovations, including Reno-affiliated Tesla’s electric cars, will shape the future and solve global issues. nvdm.org
This popular Reno attraction takes you on a historic journey with 200 beautiful cars on display. Walk through historic street scenes and peruse galleries filled with automobile collections including hot rods, cars of the stars, and the famous Thomas Flyer, winner of the 1908 New York To Paris Auto Race. Honk the antique “ooga” horn, or put on a period hat and duster to create your own stories in their photo car. For details about hours and guided tours visit automuseum.org
Featuring local and traveling collections and exhibitions, the Nevada Museum of Art is the only art museum in Nevada accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). Michael Moore is among the featured artists this winter. Moore starts every day with the meditative ritual of painting his natural surroundings at Smoke Creek playa in Nevada, where he spends part of the year. His vast diary of watercolors makes up “Visions from Smoke Creek: Paintings by Michael Moore” at the Nevada Museum of Art through March 6, 2022. Another Great Basin artist is honored in the winter NMA solo show “The Art of Jean LaMarr” from January 29-July 17, 2022. The revered community artist-activist with ancestral ties to the Northern Paiute and Pit River tribes runs the Native American Graphic Workshop at the Susanville Indian Rancheria in California. More than 100 of her colorful prints, paintings and sculptures dating back as far as the Seventies reveal her serious to satirical outlooks on Native American stereotypes and colonialism. nevadaart.org
More than a traditional shopping center, the Outlets at Legends in Sparks excels in family-friendly entertainment and attractions. Visitors can catch holiday blockbusters like “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and Steven Spielberg’s remake of “West Side Story” at Galaxy Theatres IMAX, and take a spin on Scheels’ 65-foot Ferris wheel. With its arcade, Fuzziwig’s Candy Factory and 16,000-gallon dual aquariums for saltwater and freshwater species, Scheels occupies kids for hours. The center’s popular brand outlets including Oakley, Sephora and Vans have several new neighbors. Charming Charlie’s clothing and accessories appeal to Gen Z, and Great Full Gardens, a Reno-born healthy café chain for vegan and paleo bites, launched its first Sparks outpost. Reno brewery IMBIB also expanded here with its signature 20 beers on tap and top selling IMBÜBBLY pink guava and mango craft seltzer. On nice days, they throw open the garage doors for extra good vibes. reddevelopment.com
The Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts is host to several local and touring companies. This winter Broadway Comes to Reno presents the Tony-nominated revival of “Fiddler on the Roof”; “Waitress” adapted from the 2007 movie; the 50th anniversary of “Jesus Christ Superstar”; Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats,” and the Reno premiere of “Hadestown.” The Reno Philharmonic Orchestra’s Classix Series welcomes British violinist Chloë Hanslip to perform Jean Sibelius’s sole concerto—and one of the most difficult ever written—on January 15-16. Local composer Monica Houghton’s commissioned work premieres with Aaron Copland’s clarinet concerto and groundbreaking Black female composer Florence Price’s symphony on February 12-13. Violin and piano virtuoso Ray Ushikubo, soprano Jessica Rivera, Beethoven’s 250th birthday celebration, and Jimmy Lopez Bellido’s new symphony inspired by Nevada Museum of Art’s “Altered Landscape” photography collection round out the Reno Phil’s diverse program. pioneercenter.com
Home to the region’s only Apple store, the Summit outdoor mall also caters to upscale lifestyle brands including Orvis, Williams-Sonoma, Pendleton, and Lululemon, as well as a branch of the luxury real estate brand Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty. Special activations, holiday happenings and pop ups keep the offerings fresh. Shay Co, a locally-owned, direct-to-consumer children’s boutique, pop ups through the holidays; See’s Candies through January 4, and Lush for Intergalactic and Snow Fairy glitter bath bombs through January 15. In between shopping, warm up with Starbucks hot cocoa, or grab a wood-fired pizza at Reno favorite Noble Pie. thesummitreno.com
If you haven’t been to the Reno Midtown District since the recent completion of its $90-million Virginia Street Project, prepare to be wowed. The major undertaking’s pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly upgrades downsized the number of car lanes for bike and bus lanes, widened sidewalks, planted trees and installed a roundabout with public art. The safer setting enabled the historic neighborhood to launch “First Thursdays” monthly art walks, an expansion of its popular annual event during Artown. There are too many shops, galleries and eateries to mention, follow this link for a full list. renomidtown.com