Top Free and Low-Cost Family Activities in Reno and Lake Tahoe


From rock climbing to playing volleyball or even paddle boarding, Reno has it all. Here are some of the top family-friendly activities the region has to offer for little to no cost. 

Enjoy the warmth and sun of summer, but take steps to protect your family from heat exhaustion or even worse, heat stroke.

As warmer temperatures begin to once again dominate the weather map, many parents are beginning to look ahead and plan for the summer months. To make planning easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of low- to no-cost family activities — all ideal for a visit for a few hours or a few days during your upcoming summer vacation.

  1. Sparks Marina

The Sparks Marina has endless things to do — including walking paths, playgrounds, volleyball courts, fishing piers, sandy beaches, picnic areas and a dog park. Recreational swimming, scuba diving and non-motorized boating are also permitted in designated areas of the marina.

Address: 300 Howard Drive, Sparks
Phone: 775-691-9130

  1. Lake Tahoe

kayakLake Tahoe has it all. With some of the bluest waters around, Lake Tahoe offers almost everything you can think of — from water sports and paddle boarding to skiing at world-class resorts. Hike mountain trails with spectacular views, catch some vitamin D on a sunny beach or go star gazing at night. 


  1. The Discovery Museum

The Discovery Museum is a hands-on science center and is designed to spark visitors’ curiosity, regardless of age. The museum has ever-changing galleries and exhibits focused on science, technology, engineering, art, history and invention.

Address: 490 S. Center St., Reno
Phone: 775-786-1000

  1. Rancho San Rafael Regional Park

balloon racesRancho San Rafael Park has a variety of facilities waiting to be discovered, including the historic Ranch House, wetland habitat, Wilbur D. May Museum and Arboretum, a dog park, barbecue areas, bird watching, volleyball courts, walking trails and much more. Rancho San Rafael is also home to the Great Reno Balloon Race, a true signature event for the area.

Address: 1595 North Sierra St., Reno
Phone: 775-328-2000

  1. Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center

The Fleischmann Planetarium is a part of the University of Nevada, Reno and is open to the public. Their science center is now one of the first around the world to use a high-resolution visualization tool that produces colorful 3-D images. It also houses a 10 meter dome theater. All children and adults are welcome to explore this fun planetarium.

Address: 1664 N. Virginia St., Reno
Phone: 775-784-4812

  1. BaseCamp at Whitney Peak

reno archWorld-class rock climbing is now in the heart of downtown Reno. BaseCamp is the world’s tallest rock climbing wall — coming in at 164 feet — and also features an area just for the kids. This attraction is perfect for any skill level, from beginner to expert climbers.

Address: 225 N. Virginia St., Reno
Phone: 775-398-5400

  1. Greater Nevada Field

This is the home of the Reno Aces — northern Nevada’s first and only Triple-A baseball team. The ballpark features restaurants, food, picnic areas, a kid’s play area along with a grassy seating area — and most importantly, baseball!

Address: 250 Evans Ave., Reno
Phone: 775-334-7000

  1. Reno Riverwalk District

Take a stroll along the Riverwalk, the cultural epicenter of downtown Reno, which includes 32 local restaurants, art galleries, theaters, shopping and more. The Riverwalk is one of the best ways to celebrate Reno’s vibrant arts and culture scene.

Phone: 775-825-9255

  1. Bartley Ranch Regional Park

Barley Ranch consists of 56 beautiful acres of walking trails, horse warmup areas, a horse arena, the Historic Huffaker School and Western Heritage Interpretive Center. Bartley Ranch offers something for every family.

Address: 6000 Bartley Ranch Road, Reno
Phone: 775-823-6501

  1. Nevada Museum of Art

The Nevada Museum of Art is Reno’s only accredited art museum, serving as an educational resource for everyone. All ages are welcome to explore and engage in a diversity of art experiences.

Address: 160 W. Liberty St., Reno
Phone: 775-329-3333

  1. Wild Island Family Adventure Park

Beat the heat at the area’s only outdoor water park, which features a lagoon with mini slides for younger swimmers, a lazy river, a wave pool and stomach-dropping slides for thrill seekers.

Address: 250 Wild Island Park Court, Sparks
Phone: 775-359-2527

  1. Slide the City

One day only — June 4 — 1,000 feet of vinyl will stretch across downtown Reno for a gigantic pop-up slip-and-slide. The family-friendly event will also feature music and food. Water guns, buckets and floaties are encouraged. 

Address: Ralston Street and University Terrace 

Reno Sparks Open StreetsAnd while all of these activities are perfect for spring/summer fun, anytime, here are a few free events to place on your calendar: Open Streets events in Reno and Sparks presented by Renown Health. These events are daylong community celebrations, where the streets are open to biking, walking, dancing, playing, and socializing while supporting local business — a healthy way for families and friends to interact, automobile-free.

This year’s Open Streets dates are:

Reno Open Streets: July 31
Sparks Open Streets: August 20, Victorian Square

RELATED:  RenOpen Streets: Inspiring an Active Community, Street-by-Street

Have any events or family-friendly destinations to add to the mix? Let us know in the comments below.