Phew! 2017 is here. It’s June and it’s getting hotter by the day. Looking for free or cheap kids activities in Reno, Nevada this summer? We got you covered.
Now that summer is just about here,if you’re at at a loss for coming up with kids activities in Reno, Nevada or Sparks, Lake Tahoe, we have you covered with some free, cheap/inexpensive ideas to get out there and explore the area around us in the area. Sometimes keeping kids busy during the summer months can get expensive with trips to Wild Island or the Grand Sierra Resort (GSR) to go bowling and/or golfing or visit Fun Quest, a trip to Lake Tahoe or Pyramid Lake with gas and the cost of food to keep your little ones fed, not to mention the always lingering question, “What’s next?”. These Reno kids activities can often find their way deep into our purse or pocketbooks. Well, here are some relatively inexpensive options that you might find worthwhile this summer and beyond. Let us know what you think or if you have others in mind that aren’t listed below. We’re always on the lookout for new things to do with our own kids in Reno/Sparks and beyond in Northern Nevada.
This year, we went bigger and upped the ante over our list last year with 35 ideas of things to do with kids in Reno, Nevada during the summer of 2017. We hope you find this list useful and please, by all means, share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and beyond. There are so many things to do this summer with kids in Reno, Nevada, the only challenge is, can you do them all?
Check out our list of the 2017 free/cheap kids activities in Reno, Nevada and the surrounding area to keep things inexpensive this summer
- Free Fishing Day – This year, Free Fishing Day is on June 10, 2017. Annually The Nevada Department of Wildlife’s holds a "Free Fishing Day" on the second Saturday in June. During free fishing day, you can fish in any public water within the state with no need to buy a fishing license or trout stamp. All catch limits and applicable laws do follow, so please make sure you know them before heading out to where the map turns blue. Here is a list of regulations on eRegulations.com.
- Discovery Museum – In case you have not already visited the Nevada Discovery Museum, now is a great time to visit as a great one among many others of kids activities in Reno. While this place is a little pricey for a one day trip, a family pass that lasts a year is currently $99, which is really reasonable, especially if you use it a bunch on those hot summer afternoons where you need some indoor fun to beat the heat and get inside under some air conditioning. Also, for a limited time, they have Sue the Dinosaur. A Tyanosaurus Rex fossil to see and enjoy. Not every day to you see a fossil of a dinosaur. Hurry, because this exhibition won’t last long at the Discovery Museum. Check out our review of the Terry L. Wells Nevada Discovery Museum, right here on Windy Pinwheel.
- Local Parks – Reno and Sparks have a lot of great parks. We even reviewed a couple on our site. This means fun that is entirely free for your kids and they always want to go back as often as you want to take them. My kids never get bored of going to the park. Find a complete record of Parks for each city on the City of Reno website, and City of Sparks website. My favorites are Damonte Ranch Park in South Reno, just a stone’s throw from where I live, Ranch San Rafael which has the Wilbur D. May Museum (discussed below) and arboritum, a hiking trail around the park, an off leash dog park and playground, and Pah Rah Park in Sparks. If you have a couple of dollars, you can always go to Idlewild Park in Southwest Reno and ride the train with your kids as well.
Pro Tip: Bring some bread and you can feed the ducks and geese that frequent Idlewild Park as well.
- Kimmie Candy Company Tours – At 525 Reactor Way Reno, NV 89502, Kimmie Candy is a candy factory right here in Reno. It is something we intend to try in our list of kids activities in Reno. They offer free tours by appointment and your little ones will love it. Now, keeping this low-cost means not buying too much candy after the tour. Can you make that happen? We’ll see.
- Farmer’s Markets – Farmer’s Markets are a great way to introduce good nutrition choices and education into your child’s life. They are free to attend, as long as you keep from buying any produce, but, in reality, the produce from local farmers markets is a healthy way to spend your hard earned cash. Also, my kids love to snack on a bite or two while we are strolling through one. You can discover a complete listing of Nevada farmer’s markets on the Nevada Grown website.
- Roller Kingdom roller skating – With rates anywhere from $5.00 to $6.50 per 3-hour session, $3.00 skate rental and $5.00 inline/rollerblade rental and often a special session for holidays, like Father’s day, this is a great spot to cool off indoors while your little ones can roller skate to their heart’s content.
- Home Depot Kids Workshops – The Home Depot provides free kids workshops on the first Saturday of the month in our next option among our kids activities in Reno, Nevada. My kids always enjoy them. The next one is Saturday, Jun 3, 2017, 9:00AM – 12:00PM. They’re going to be building a “Tic Tac Toe Game.” These are a great way to introduce your kids to arts and crafts and give them an opportunity to hold real work tools like hammers, screwdrivers and nails. Check out our write up about The Home Depot’s children’s workshops right here on Windy Pinwheel.
- Dollar Movies at Cinemark Theaters – Among our kids activities in Reno, Nevada during summer 2017 and a cheap moving-going experience over the summer with your kids, you can go to Park Lane, Century at the Summit Sierra, or Century Riverside all throughout the summer. See all of the locations and what is up next on the Cinemark website). They show 10 other films (one every week), and they’re only $1 each or $5 for all 10 movies.
- Deer Park Pool – Deer Park Pool offers a $3 – $5 admission for youth and adults (Check out the Deer Park Pool 2017 rates). The pool is open now until September 2017. Check out the Sparks Rec 2017 schedule for rates and times the pool is open to the public. There is even a deal where you can swim at both Deer Park Pool and Alf Sorensen Community Center with a single pass this year.
- Sierra Water Gardens – In another of our kids activities in Reno experiences, at Sierra Water Gardens, they have koi fish, ponds, and vegetation. Please be sure to note that children need to be supervised and can’t throw rocks in the gardens or touch the fish with out asking. If you have young children, this might not be the best place to take your kids unless they can listen and follow directions, but it is a great place for older kids to watch fish and listen to the soothing sounds of water splashing and falling down waterfalls.
- Free Bowling – High Sierra Lanes, among other kids activities in Reno is once more taking part within the Kids Bowl Free program. Kids get 2 free games per day (Monday via Friday, 12:00PM-4:00PM) all summer time long. Normal shoe rentals do apply, and in case you have a lot of kids, it will no doubt add up But, it is nonetheless less expensive than usual, and an effective way to introduce children to bowling.
- Wild Island activies like Coconut Bowl, High Ballocity, go karts and more – Speaking of bowling, as another of our kids activities in Reno, Nevada to do during summer 2017, you can always hit up Wild Island for some bowling at a cheap rate. You can even reserve a lane online and they have daily specials too. They have a bar contraption for little ones who can’t yet throw the ball to let it roll down the bars and onto the lane. Also, while at Wild Island, you can visit the water park or grab a round of mini-golf as well.
- Free Summer Concerts on the Quad at the University of Nevada, Reno – Voted number 1 amongst Reno Gazette Journal’s “Best Family Outings” category and another among our great kids activities in Reno list, sit down with your family and listen to a free concert at the University of Nevada, Reno on the upper quad on Wednesdays from 6:00PM – 8:00PM. Concerts go until August 9, 2017. Bring a blanket and settle in for an all-ages concert that is free to the public to attend.
As a bonus, the University of Nevada, Reno is holding Tuesday Night Movies that are free to attend on the quad as well from June 6 through August 15, 2017. Check out their website for a list of movies and dates to attend.
- Splash pads – There are a few nice splash pads in town. One is at Legends Mall in Sparks (my kids really like this one), and one is in Victorian Square in Sparks in front of the Century movie theaters and there is one in North Valleys at 8085 Silver Lake Road, Stead and a final one at Melio Gaspari Water Spray Park that is a part of Lazy 5 Regional Park at 7100 Pyramid Way, Spanish Springs. Each of these options are anywhere from free at Legends and Victorian Square to $3 at each of the two parks noted above. Each of these options is a great way to cool down in the summer heat. Be sure to bring towels and a lot of sunscreen to keep your kids’ skin safe and their bodies warm after they have cooled down. This one is one of our favorite kids activities in Reno to do with our kids over the summer.
- Fleischmann Planetarium & Science Center – Next in our kids activities in Reno list, spend a little time exploring the free exhibits outside of the planetarium theater and spend a $5/child on admission to an interactive show at the planetarium. Exhibits are free to experience and open 7 days/week.
- Wilbur D. May Museum– The Wilbur D. May Museum is located at the Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno, Nevada near the University of Nevada, Reno. This museum is
home to may taxidermied animals and a great option for those looking to expose their children to a lot of animals without going to a zoo. If you look up there is a taxidermied monkey in the center of the museum, I think his name is tunaep (peanut spelled backwards), at least that is what I remember anyway. Further, this museum is home to many traveling exhibits, year-round. This summer, I am excited about the Sherlock Holmes and the Clocktower Mystery exhibition, running from July to late October 2017. Please visit the Washoe County Parks and Recreation website on their Wilbur D. May Museum page for current prices for admission.
- Hike the Trails – Another, in our kids activities in Reno list is hiking. You can’t go wrong with a nice hike. Check out the interactive trails map for trails to explore in Reno. If you’re into getting out there and enjoying the scenery that Reno/Sparks has to offer, this is a great family activity for all. Bring your dog(s) too, they’ll love you for it. A trail I have personally hiked is Galena Creek Trail. It was a great quick jump up Mt. Rose Highway before you start to climb the hill and it has a paved half mile trail and a dirt trail where you can hike along side creek and enjoy the sound of falling water as you hike. Another great trail is the Hunter Creek Trail
- National Automobile Museum – The National Automobile Museum (The Harrah Collection) right near where the old Reno arch stands, just a block or two away from Greater Nevada Field where the Reno Aces play, lets you travel through time like few other places. At the museum, you can walk through period street scenes. View decades of fantastic and rare cars and view clothing from long ago on various maniquens.
The National Automobile Museum is open Monday – Saturday from 9:30AM to 5:30PM and Sundays from 10:00AM to 4:00PM. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $6 for children 6 to 18 years-old. Children age 5 and younger are free.
- Bower’s Mansion and go for a swim at the Bower’s Mansion Pool – If you have never taken a tour of Bower’s Mansion, now is the time to do it. This mansion is a part of our area’s history and and easy thing to do in our list of kids activities in Reno, Nevada during summer 2017. It is one of the first resorts in the area where people came to relax and find respite that supported the Nevada silver boom in its heyday.
Also, still open and a rather large pool is the Bower’s Mansion pool. For anywhere between $4.00 – $5.00 you can visit this pool and when you are done swimming, there is a large grass area and playgrounds right next to the pool where you can have a picnic or you can find a barbecue pit where you can bring hot dogs and hamburgers and have a cook-out right near the pool.
- Idlewild Pool – With drop-in rates between $2.00 – $5.00 this is a great location to cool off and get some energy out of your little ones. Located at Idlewild Park, you can also have a picnic outside of the pool area once you are done swimming at the nearby park.
- Lazy 5 Regional Park & Water Park – Noted above as a “Splash Pad” location, Lazy Five north in Sparks near Spanish Springs on Pyramid Way. There’s also a large library, huge park and grass field, as well as the water splash pad park. The cost of admission is currently $3 per person and a great place to host birthday parties as you can reserve a covered area for your gathering. If pools aren’t your thing or if your kids don’t enjoy the pool as much, this might be a great option. They can get out to the playground too if they are done playing in the water.
- Nevada Bugs & Butterflies – Next on our kids activities in Reno list at 413 Matterhorn Blvd., Reno, Nevada 89506 is the Butterfly House and Science Center and admission is free for individuals and groups. They are open during the 2017 season on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, from 10:00AM – 3:00PM, from June 22nd to September 9th (closed on Saturday, July 1, 2017).
- Washoe County Library Story Times – Just about all of our libraries offer free toddler time & free reading and story time events each and every week as another of our kids activities in Reno, Nevada that you can easily attend with your children. You’ll additionally to find Stay ‘n Play and Family Game Nights and Movie Nights at the time table of occasions for more than a few libraries. Check out their full schedule of events on the Washoe County Library website.
- Washoe County Library Summer Reading Program – Track your kid’s studying and earn level prizes, raffle tickets and much more. This is an great way to inspire studying straight through the summer. As a bonus, it is free of charge. Check out their full schedule of events on the Washoe County Library website.
- Mid Town Art Walk Free Admission at Nevada Museum of Art – Thursday, July 27, 2017, more than likely, as it was in past years, from 4:00PM-9:00PM with free admission to the Nevada Museum of Art as a part of the Mid Town Art Walk.
“By pairing artists with local merchants, this event stirs up senses with a variety of art, food and live performances. Walk through one of the unique shops and take wonder in the work of local photographers. Or enjoy a meal at the distinct eateries while listening to talented musicians. Enjoy free admission and extended hours at the Nevada Museum of Art. For a full map of the 2017 Midtown Art Walk, please click here.” – Nevada Museum of Art website
- Art Town – There are so many kids activities in Reno happening during the month of July that are free during the month of Art Town. From free movies on Fridays at Wingfield Park to art walks. This month is the best month to get out there and see, feel, experience and appreciate art. Check out their events and kids activities in Reno during Art Town on their Art Town website.
- High Ballocity at Wild Island – Next in our list of kids activities in Reno, Nevada to do during the summer of 2017 is Wild Island’s High Ballocity. Although mentioned earlier in this article, this is such an amazing attraction, it needs it’s own listing.
Located inside of Wild Island’s Coconut Bowl facility, High Ballocity is an experience of climbing structures, foam ball shooters and many areas to explore. This attraction at Wild Island is suitable and fun for kids ages 4 to 12 years-old. Children under 3 years-old are required to have an adult (18+) with the child at all times, but they can have fun too.
When I am there, I buy the all-day pass and sit outside at the tables near the entrance and read a book. I can’t tell you how relaxing it is to have my children contained in a location where constructive and imaginative play is possible while I read a book. There are televisions on nearby and they are mostly set to sports or news channels. There is a bar inside of Coconut Bowl as well. As long as you aren’t driving, by all means, have a drink while relaxing.
- Urban Roots – Located at 3001 W 4th St, Reno NV 89523, Urban Roots is a favorite spot for kids. They have gardening workshops for kids all throughout the year and drop in days too.
- Sierra Safari Zoo– Sierra Safari Zoo offers reasonable rates for your kids to get up close to majestic and exotic animals not native to the area as well as some that are. Kids 2 & under are free and there are annual memberships for purchase too.
- Michael’s Craft Store Kids Craft Events and Camps – Michael’s Craft Stores host kid craft events, "Camp Creativity" for the low price of $5 per kid per session or $12 for 3 sessions. Visit their website to sign up for crafting fun for your kids.
- Reno Food Truck Friday at at Idlewild Park – Skip making dinner and enjoy food from local food truck vendors at Idlewild park. This takes position each and every Friday night time from now until September 30, 5:00PM – 9:00PM. Kids can play on the playground at the park, get their faces painted, and you can listen to free music. It’s a fun event for the entire family.
- Bike Rides – When it comes to kids activities in Reno, Nevada during the summer, Reno has a lot of great scenery and the River Walk is among them. Grab your bikes and hit the road and bring your kids with you.
- The Ferris Wheel, shooting gallery, bowling, and play tubes at Scheels at Legends – Among many of the kids activities in Reno on this list, Scheels is an amazing experience that can’t be missed. Scheels has more than athletic equipment for sale, they also have things for your little ones to do that are really inexpensive. Take a ride or two on the Ferris Wheel, visit the taxidermied animal area upstairs, let your kids run wild in the play structure, watch the fresh and saltwater fish in the giant aquariums near the cash registers or play a game of bowling or go to the shooting gallery. There is so much to do at Scheels. I am sure you have been there already and this goes without saying, but this place is a great adventure for kids and adults alike.
A visitor’s experience on the Ferris Wheel at Scheels in Sparks at Legends
- Scheel’s Fit Kids Klub– Scheel’s has free Kids Klub activities/classes during the summer months. The next one is on June 10th from 7:00AM until 11:00AM PDT at the Sparks Marina for a free fishing day. The Rotary club will be there with fishing poles and other equipment for fishing. Experts will be there to guide your young budding fishermen as they learn to fish. Wow, free fishing and you don’t have to get your own gear, who could beat that free fishing experience? These are geared for kids ages 4-12.
They have a hiking and football event this summer too. Check out the Scheel’s website for more information on their events throughout the summer for kids.
- Hot August Nights – Finally in our 2017 summer free/cheap kids activities in Reno, Nevada list is Hot August Nights. every year, near the beginning of August, we all get to experience the awesome nostalgia of Hot August Nights. With classic car cruises all over the city, poodle skirts, hot rods, car auctions and swap meets, sock hops and more. With children, this event is a no brainer, when it comes to getting out there for some fun. Practically every event is free to get into. However, if you want some food or something to drink while you are out and about enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of classic car exhaust and grills, you may want to bring a couple dollars with you to the location you choose to attend. Events are happening each year at the Grand Sierra Resort, Victorian Square in Sparks, the Atlantis casino, downtown Reno on Virginia Street and more. Get out there and enjoy this great event this year.
Did we miss any important free or cheap kids activities in Reno and the surrounding area here on our list? Comment below and let us know what kids activities in Reno, Nevada you like to do on the cheap with your kids during the summer.
After all of that, are you looking for more?
Here are some more ideas of what to do when it is hot outside that are cool as a summer breeze. Check out our list of 5 air conditioned ideas of fun things to do with kids in Reno, Nevada and find out what else there is to do during the summer months with your children.