Some people fixate on adult entertainment when they think of Nevada’s largest cities like Reno. But there’s a whole world of fun family adventures awaiting you and your kids in Northern Nevada. Many of these activities can be enjoyed year-round, making for unforgettable memories in some of the most scenic locations east of the Sierra Nevadas.
You’ll quickly realize that the Reno-Tahoe area is chock full of incredible parks, museums, and outdoor recreational areas, which make for meaningful family experiences year-round.
Keep reading for our breakdown of kid-friendly activities in Northern Nevada and where to start.
Tech-Friendly Robotics Camps
Every summer, the Nevada Technology Academy hosts a series of summer camps to introduce kids to age-appropriate aspects of technology. These include courses in robotics, Lego robotics, and 3D printing. Lego robotics has become especially popular recently and represents a serious upgrade to playtime. It involves the creation of programmable robotics relying on Legos and coding skills and is a challenge for both kids and adults. Nevada Technology Academy’s camp is designed for children ages five through 13, and the third session is coming up at the end of July. Click here for more information on the camp and enrollment.
You’ll also find plenty of fantastic ways to keep kids busy at The Discovery Museum, which features weekly camps all summer long. Camps are divided into age-appropriate classes that teach the science behind everything from making s’mores to engineering and even ultimate zombie survival. Classes fill up quickly, but you can search open spots and get on the waiting list here.
Reno-Tahoe Museums Kids Love
The Reno-Tahoe area contains notable museums that appeal to kids in big ways. These include the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum, which showcases technology and science. The museum consists of interactive exhibits and numerous opportunities to have fun while learning about everything from the human body to Nevada wildlife and the fundamentals of hydrology. Highlights of a visit to the Discovery Museum include the Spark! Lab Smithsonian, where kids will conduct experiments, learn about inventors, and invent their own creations. Find out more before your family’s visit.
Your family will also love visiting the National Automobile Museum, one of the nation’s top car museums. It houses the vast collection of William F. Harrah and much more. Marvel at race cars that broke world speed records in the deserts of Nevada and Utah. Explore celebrity cars up close and personal and enjoy discovering the evolution of vehicles from various timeframes. Kids will be especially fascinated by the current exhibit of Pixar’s Tow Mater and Lightning McQueen. Here’s what you need to know before a visit to the National Automobile Museum.
The Wilbur D. May Museum is another fascinating spot your family will get behind. It continues the tradition of the Victorian Wunderkammer (or Cabinet of Curiosities), bringing together artifacts from the four corners of the globe. These include everything from African tribal masks to Japanese samurai swords, Chinese snuff boxes to hand-blown Venetian glass. The collection spans six decades of exploration and discovery and is a veritable time capsule of the world during the early 20th century. The facility even includes an authentic tsantsa, or shrunken head, hailing from the Jivaro tribe. Here’s what you need to know before your visit.
Off-Winter Ski Resort Activities
Lake Tahoe provides year-round fun for families on the go. Whether you’re after an exhilarating hike or enjoying beachtime at crystal-clear Lake Tahoe, there are plenty of activities to enjoy, even when the snow melts and ski season is over. And this proves no less true when it comes to things to do with kids at local ski resorts.
For example, Heavenly Ski Resort doesn’t miss a beat during the warm weather months. Families will fall in love with the panoramic views afforded during a scenic gondola ride. Best of all, the ride is included in various adventure packages offered through the ski resort. The lift puts your family smack dab in the middle of Epic Discovery Mountain, where you’ll enjoy climbing walls, a ropes course, tubing without the snow, guided hiking tours, and a mountain coaster. Heavenly also offers full-day camps between 9 am and 4 pm for children ages five to 12.
Other ski resorts have a variety of recreational activities, too. At Kirkwood, check out a mountain bike park, hiking, and countless boating and fishing opportunities at nearby lakes, including Caples, Silver, and Kirkwood. But the fun doesn’t end there. At Northstar, kids will enjoy mastering skills at the mountain biking academy. And Summer Fun Day passes gain you access to roller skating, bungee trampolines, spiderweb climbs, gem panning, mini-golf, and rock wall climbing.
State of Nevada Parks’ 5th Grade Discovery Pass
For kids enrolled in Nevada schools, the Nevada State Parks’ 5th Grade Discovery Pass offers complimentary access to some of Nevada’s most beloved landscapes. This annual pass provides free entrance into all Nevada State parks, recreational areas, and historic sites. Passes can be picked up at local school district offices throughout the state and are made available to 5th graders and their family members. Learn more about the State of Nevada Parks system and how to take advantage of the Discovery Pass.
Coupled with Junior Ranger Programs, there’s no better way to get to know Nevada. After completing booklets of age-appropriate activities about land stewardship and the history of Nevada’s wildlands, kids will earn their Junior Ranger badges. Booklet activities include identifying animal tracks and scat, creating a sound map, interviewing a park ranger, picking up litter, exploring historical sites, and much more. Children of all ages are encouraged to participate in Junior Ranger programs.
The Highway 50 Survival Guide and Passport
Back in 1986, Highway 50 received the title “The Loneliest Highway in the World” because of the swathe the roadway cut through isolated and pristine wilderness areas. The highway runs through 17 mountain passes and endless tracts of high desert where the sky and horizon come together in a beautiful palate of impossible pastels. Along the way, you’ll follow a historic pathway that takes you through historically rich towns like Dayton, Austin, Eureka, and Baker.
A family-friendly road trip across the state culminates with a visit to Great Basin National Park near Baker, Nevada. Turn this journey into an epic adventure by grabbing copies of “The Official Nevada Highway 50 Survival Guide,” which includes a passport of the roadway’s highlights. Collect stamps from each stop listed in the passport and then send it to Travel Nevada to receive an official certification that your family has survived “The Loneliest Road in America.” Along the way, you’ll discover Highway 50 is anything but lonely.
Aerial Activities to Put on Your Calendar
Although Reno has something to offer for every season, fall represents an especially exhilarating season because of two iconic aerial events: the Reno Air Races and the Great Reno Balloon Races. Add The Great Reno Balloon Race to your family’s calendar for this fall. The event has been 40 years in the making and is the world’s largest hot air balloon race. Participants travel from the world over, including Finland, Greece, Israel, New Zealand, and Japan. Best of all, the race is free to attend and takes place at scenic San Rafael Regional Park.
The National Championship Air Races represent a multi-day event every September. Your family will enjoy plenty of opportunities to check out planes from various eras while watching the world’s fastest motorsport. Speeds can exceed 500 miles per hour, making this an event like none other. Outstanding performances include the Aviation Heritage Invitational, military displays, and a STEM zone where kids can explore the interactive fun.
Kid-Friendly Activities in Northern Nevada
You’ll never run out of year-round kid-friendly activities in Northern Nevada. Whether you’re longing to tackle a new hiking trail, zip-lining course, or gondola ride, Reno-Tahoe’s ski resorts provide compelling opportunities. Your family will also appreciate the area’s incredible collection of museums, state parks, and seasonal activities.
Are you looking for more educational activities in the Reno-Tahoe area? Check out our past articles about the Davidson Academy and The Discovery Museum.
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