Reno Introduction Walking Tour, Reno

Reno Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Reno

Curbed by the Californian border in the northwestern part of the U.S. state of Nevada, the town of Reno is "where the heart of the Wild West still beats." This quote, loosely attributed to the legendary musician Johnny Cash, captures the essence of Reno as a place that embodies the adventurous and independent spirit of American pioneers.

Reno, nicknamed "The Biggest Little City in the World", is indeed big on casinos, in keeping with Nevada's overall gambling theme. One of the most popular local casinos, the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, offers a wealth of gambling options, entertainment shows, fine dining, and nightlife.

Reno's history dates back to 1868 when it was founded as a small trading post along the Truckee River. The city was named after Union Major General Jesse Lee Reno, who died in action during the American Civil War.

Reno quickly grew with the discovery of a major silver deposit nearby. In 1905, the construction of the Western Pacific Railroad and the Virginia and Truckee Railroad further boosted Reno's growth and attracted more visitors. With the legalization of gambling in Nevada in 1931, the city became a popular destination for tourists seeking fun. Over the years, it has experienced economic ups and downs but has consistently maintained its status as a hub for entertainment and gaming.

Still, there's more to Reno than just that. If you're into cars, the locally-based National Automobile Museum showcases a remarkable collection of over 200 vintage vehicles, including cars from the 19th century to the present day – a fascinating glimpse into the history of automotive engineering.

Reno's Riverwalk District is a vibrant area along the Truckee River, offering scenic views, shops, eateries, and entertainment venues. Located downtown, the Nevada Museum of Art is the only accredited art museum in the state.

Unlike Las Vegas – wherein "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," – whatever happens in Reno, usually ends up on YouTube, they say. This playful twist on the well-known phrase highlights Reno's reputation for being a bit more laid-back and less secretive compared to its larger Nevada counterpart. To see what else the city of Reno has to offer, follow this self-guided introductory walk and find out.
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Reno Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Reno Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Reno (See other walking tours in Reno)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 Km or 1.9 Miles
Author: ellen
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Reno Arch
  • City Plaza
  • Reno Post Office
  • Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts
  • Washoe County Courthouse
  • National Automobile Museum
  • Atlantis Casino Resort Spa
  • Nevada Museum of Art
  • Truckee River Walk
  • First United Methodist Church
  • Saint Thomas Aquinas Cathedral
  • West Street Market
Reno Arch

1) Reno Arch

The Reno Arch is an iconic and beloved landmark that stretches across Virginia Street at the intersection with Commercial Row. As a significant symbol of the city, the arch holds historical and cultural significance. It is currently owned and operated by the City of Reno, ensuring its preservation and prominence for generations to come.

The Reno Arch has undergone a series of transformations throughout its existence. The original arch was constructed on October 23, 1926, with the purpose of commemorating the completion of the Lincoln and Victory Highways. This initial version stood proudly as a testament to the city's growth and development during that era.

However, as time progressed and the city evolved, a new arch was installed on August 8, 1987. This updated rendition brought a fresh and contemporary aesthetic to the landmark. On November 17, 2009, the arch received a retrofit with new lights, enhancing its visual appeal and ensuring its vibrant illumination.

One of the notable changes to the Reno Arch occurred on May 3, 2018, when its design scheme was revised to incorporate the colors blue and silver. This alteration added a modern touch while retaining the arch's historical legacy. The blue and silver design harmoniously represents the spirit of Reno, reflecting its vibrant energy and connection to the surrounding landscape.

The Reno Arch proudly stands as a prominent feature of downtown Reno, captivating visitors and locals alike. Throughout its history, it has been adorned with the city's motto, "The Biggest Little City in the World." This phrase encapsulates Reno's unique identity as a city that combines big-city amenities with a small-town charm, making it a remarkable destination for entertainment, recreation, and cultural experiences.
City Plaza

2) City Plaza

City Plaza, situated at the corner of First and Virginia Streets in Downtown Reno, Nevada, is a vibrant and lively gathering space. Located along the Truckee River, directly across from Reno City Hall, the plaza offers a range of activities and attractions throughout the year, making it a popular destination for both locals and visitors.

During the winter months and holiday season, City Plaza becomes home to Reno's Rink on the River, a beloved venue for ice skating and family fun. It also hosts the official city Christmas Tree, adding a festive touch to the surroundings and spreading holiday cheer throughout the community. The tree becomes a focal point for celebrations, gatherings, and the spirit of the season.

As the seasons change, City Plaza transforms into a hub of activity. In the summer, the plaza comes alive with vibrant farmers markets, live music performances, and thrilling roller derby competitions. The bustling atmosphere and diverse events create an inviting space for people to gather, socialize, and enjoy the vibrant culture of Reno.

One of the notable features of City Plaza is its designation as the home of the official City Clock. This prominent timepiece serves as a visual and functional centerpiece of the plaza, providing a sense of time and punctuality to those who pass by.

This unique urban space is adorned with eye-catching features, including the massive BELIEVE sign and the colorful Space Whale sculpture. These artistic installations add a touch of whimsy and intrigue to the plaza, capturing the imagination of both residents and visitors.

Beyond its visual appeal and lively events, City Plaza holds significant historical importance. Display posts located at the northeast corner of the property offer insights into its rich past, revealing that it is one of the oldest and most historic spots in all of Reno. This historical significance further enriches the experience of those who take the time to explore and appreciate the plaza's multifaceted charm.
Reno Post Office

3) Reno Post Office

The old Reno Post Office stands as a remarkable example of Art Deco architecture and serves as a testament to the city's rich architectural heritage. Designed by the renowned architect Frederic DeLongchamps, who also left his mark on other notable buildings in Reno, the post office was completed in 1934, embodying the elegance and style of the era.

The exterior of the Reno Post Office immediately captivates with its intricate detailing and craftsmanship. The façade, constructed from terracotta, was meticulously carved to create a visually stunning display. This attention to detail adds depth and texture to the building's exterior, showcasing the artistry of the artisans involved in its creation.

One of the notable architectural features of the Reno Post Office is the incorporation of aluminum panels depicting various transportation motifs. These panels not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of the building but also reflect the importance of transportation in the region's history and development. These unique embellishments serve as a visual representation of Reno's connection to the broader world.

At the top level of the post office, two large eagles with outstretched wings stand as prominent symbols of American pride and patriotism. These majestic sculptures contribute to the grandeur of the building, evoking a sense of dignity and strength.

Upon entering the Reno Post Office, visitors are greeted by an interior adorned with Indian motifs. These decorative elements, inspired by Native American culture, add a distinctive touch to the space. The incorporation of these motifs not only pays homage to the region's indigenous heritage but also adds depth and richness to the overall design.
Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts

4) Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts

The Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts stands as an architectural gem, captivating visitors with its distinctive features and rich history. Designed by the esteemed Oklahoma City architectural firm of Bozalis, Dickinson and Roloff, the center was completed in 1967 as a concrete structure, crowned by a remarkable gold geodesic dome roof.

The geodesic dome, a hallmark of the Pioneer Center, was constructed by Temcor - the visionary developer of the geodesic dome concept. Temcor's expertise in constructing gold-anodized aluminum domes was showcased in the creation of the Pioneer Center, adding a touch of grandeur and uniqueness to the structure.

Originally intended to be named the Apollo Theater, the Pioneer Center adopted its current name from a statue of a pioneer family sculpted by Byron S. Johnson in 1939. This statue was salvaged from the Old State Building, which was demolished to make way for the new facility. The dome itself, affectionately known as the "Golden Turtle" by locals, comprises 500-panel aluminum shells supported by an inner steel frame. This innovative design is further bolstered by reinforced concrete arches, ensuring the structural integrity of the dome.

In recognition of its architectural significance and historical importance, the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. This designation solidifies its status as a treasured landmark and a testament to Reno's commitment to preserving its cultural heritage.
Washoe County Courthouse

5) Washoe County Courthouse

The Washoe County Courthouse is a prominent and historically significant civic building that has served as the seat of justice for the county. The courthouse has played a vital role in the legal and administrative affairs of the region since its construction.

Originally built in 1911, the Washoe County Courthouse stands as an architectural landmark in downtown Reno. The structure showcases a neoclassical architectural style, characterized by its grandeur, symmetrical design, and classical detailing. The building's imposing presence and elegant facade reflect the dignity and importance associated with the administration of justice.

Over the years, the courthouse has undergone several renovations and expansions to accommodate the growing needs of Washoe County. These enhancements have ensured the preservation of the building's historic integrity while incorporating modern amenities and functional spaces.

The Washoe County Courthouse holds great significance as the judicial hub of the region. It has been the site of countless legal proceedings, including trials, hearings, and other judicial processes. The courthouse has witnessed the administration of justice, the protection of rights, and the resolution of legal disputes that have shaped the history and development of Washoe County.

Beyond its practical function, the Washoe County Courthouse is a symbol of civic pride and community identity. Its prominent location and architectural grandeur contribute to the character and visual appeal of downtown Reno. The courthouse stands as a testament to the city's growth and progress over the years, reflecting the values of justice, fairness, and the rule of law.

Moreover, the Washoe County Courthouse serves as a gathering place for the community, hosting important civic events, ceremonies, and public gatherings. Its central role in the community fabric reinforces the courthouse's significance beyond its legal functions.
National Automobile Museum

6) National Automobile Museum (must see)

The National Automobile Museum is a captivating destination for car enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Located just south of the Truckee River, the museum showcases a remarkable collection of historic automobiles spanning from the late 19th century to the 20th century. It is widely recognized as The Harrah Collection, named after the late casino owner William F. Harrah, whose extensive collection forms the foundation of the museum.

With over 200 cars on display, the National Automobile Museum is divided into four galleries, each offering a unique glimpse into different eras of automotive history. Gallery 1 focuses on cars built during the 1890s and 1900s, providing a fascinating insight into the early days of automobile manufacturing. Gallery 2 features automobiles from the 1910s to the 1930s, showcasing the elegance and style of the vehicles from this era. Moving into Gallery 3, visitors are treated to a display of cars from the 1930s through to the 1950s, capturing the spirit of a transformative period in automotive design. Finally, Gallery 4 presents cars from 1950 onwards, including race cars and the Off-road Motorsports Hall of Fame, providing a thrilling experience for motorsport enthusiasts.

What sets the National Automobile Museum apart is its innovative approach to presentation. The galleries are connected by themed "streets," creating an immersive environment reminiscent of a bygone era. These streets feature not only vehicles but also cleverly designed faux shop fronts, adding a touch of authenticity and charm to the museum experience.

The National Automobile Museum has garnered numerous accolades and recognition within the automotive and museum communities. These honors attest to the museum's commitment to preserving and showcasing automotive history in an engaging and informative manner.
Atlantis Casino Resort Spa

7) Atlantis Casino Resort Spa (must see)

The Atlantis Casino Resort Spa is a premier destination for those seeking luxurious accommodations, exciting gaming experiences, and top-notch amenities. The property, previously known as the Golden Road Motor Inn, Travelodge, Quality Inn, and Clarion, is owned and operated by Monarch Casino & Resort, Inc. With its prime location and opulent offerings, the Atlantis competes directly with other renowned Reno establishments like the Peppermill Hotel Casino and Grand Sierra Resort.

The Atlantis boasts three hotel towers, collectively housing 824 guest rooms and suites. Guests can choose from a variety of stylish and comfortable accommodations to suit their preferences. The original tower, constructed in 1990 and later remodeled in 2002, was rebranded as the "Royal Dolphin Tower." These rooms feature mahogany accents, warm color tones, and an elevated level of sophistication. The second tower, built in 1994, underwent renovations in 2004 and now offers similar high-quality furnishings. It was aptly renamed the "Atrium Tower" due to its stunning lobby atrium, highlighted by signature glass elevators.

The casino floor at the Atlantis spans an impressive 64,814 square feet, providing ample space for a thrilling gaming experience. Guests can indulge in a wide range of casino games, including slot machines, table games, poker, and more. The casino's vibrant atmosphere and attentive staff create an exciting and engaging environment for both novice and seasoned players.

Beyond gaming, the Atlantis offers an array of amenities and entertainment options to cater to every guest's needs. The resort features a spa, where visitors can unwind and rejuvenate with a variety of treatments, from massages to facials. Additionally, guests can enjoy an exquisite dining experience at one of the resort's many restaurants, serving delectable cuisine ranging from gourmet steaks to fresh seafood. The Atlantis also boasts several bars and lounges, providing the perfect setting to relax with a drink and socialize.
Nevada Museum of Art

8) Nevada Museum of Art

The Nevada Museum of Art stands as a cultural hub and a testament to the power of artistic expression. It holds the distinction of being the only American Alliance of Museums (AAM) accredited art museum in the state of Nevada. With its thematic approach and focus on the relationship between humanity and the natural world, the museum offers a unique and thought-provoking experience for visitors.

In 2003, the Nevada Museum of Art moved into a new building designed by renowned architect Will Bruder. The modern and architecturally stunning facility serves as an ideal backdrop for the museum's diverse collections and exhibitions. The museum's Permanent Collection, comprised of over 2,000 works spanning the 19th to 21st centuries, is organized around four thematic areas.

The museum's commitment to contemporary art is evident in its rapidly expanding Contemporary Collection, which showcases works by national and international artists. The collection encompasses various mediums, including paintings, works on paper, photography, sculpture, digital media, and mixed-media installations. By presenting the creations of living artists, the museum offers fresh perspectives on contemporary society, encouraging dialogue and reflection on the world we inhabit.

Beyond its exhibitions, the Nevada Museum of Art hosts a range of educational programs, events, and workshops designed to engage visitors of all ages. These initiatives aim to foster a deeper appreciation for art and provide opportunities for hands-on learning and creative expression.
Truckee River Walk

9) Truckee River Walk (must see)

The Truckee River Walk in Reno is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the beauty and vibrancy of this Nevada city. The walkway follows the winding Truckee River and provides stunning views of the surrounding area, making it a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll or bike ride.

As you make your way along the Truckee River Walk, you'll be treated to a variety of sights and sounds. The walk is lined with fountains and restful park benches, making it an ideal spot for relaxation and contemplation. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even try your hand at kayaking or summer tubing in the river.

One of the best things about the Truckee River Walk is its easy access to downtown Reno's vibrant restaurant and bar scene. Whether you're in the mood for a fancy meal or just want to grab a drink with friends, you're sure to find something to suit your taste.

In addition to its everyday charms, the Truckee River Walk also plays host to many of Reno's special events, including July's Artown festival. Whether you're a local or just visiting, Artown is a great way to experience the best of Reno's arts and culture scene.

If you're looking for a more active way to experience the Truckee River, you can also take advantage of the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway, which uses part of the walk as a path. Biking along the river is a great way to get some exercise while enjoying the natural beauty of the area.
First United Methodist Church

10) First United Methodist Church

The First United Methodist Church holds a rich history and is a significant religious institution in the community. Founded in 1868, the church has undergone several transformations and relocations throughout its existence.

The early beginnings of the First United Methodist Church can be traced back to 1868 when initial meetings took place in the local schoolhouse at the corner of what is now First and Sierra Streets. In 1871, the first church building was constructed on Sierra Street, between First and Second Streets, and dedicated for worship.

As the congregation grew, changes were made to accommodate the expanding community. In the early 1900s, the original wood-framed church was moved to the back of the lot, and a new brick building was added to it. However, the desire for a new, grander structure led to the development of plans for a new building in 1925.

Designed by Wythe, Blaken, and Olson of Oakland, the current First United Methodist Church building stands as one of the first poured concrete structures in Reno, showcasing elements of the Gothic Revival architectural style. The cornerstone was laid in 1926, and the building was dedicated in December of the same year, marking the beginning of a new era for the church.

The church's architectural significance is recognized by its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places since 1983. The listing encompasses two contributing buildings—the main church and a parish house. The parish house, designed by local architect Donald Parsons and constructed in approximately 1840, complements the historical value of the First United Methodist Church.
Saint Thomas Aquinas Cathedral

11) Saint Thomas Aquinas Cathedral

The Saint Thomas Aquinas Cathedral stands as the central place of worship for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Reno. The construction of the cathedral was prompted by the growing Catholic population in Reno during the early 20th century. In 1908, the cathedral was built to accommodate the needs of the expanding congregation. However, a devastating fire occurred in 1909, causing substantial damage to the structure. Undeterred by the setback, the cathedral was restored the following year, showcasing the resilience and dedication of the Catholic community.

In recognition of its architectural and historical significance, the Saint Thomas Aquinas Cathedral complex was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2022. This designation acknowledges the cathedral's contributions to the cultural heritage of Reno and its importance as a religious institution.

The site of the cathedral was originally the Sol Levy home, purchased by Catholic officials in May 1906 for $10,000. The cornerstone was laid in June 1906, and the cathedral was formally dedicated on June 21, 1908. Following the fire in December 1909, extensive repairs were undertaken, including the restoration of the collapsed ceiling. The church was salvaged and reopened in 1910, solidifying its place as the cathedral of the diocese.

The significance of Saint Thomas Aquinas Cathedral extends beyond its architectural features. The cathedral holds a treasured piece of artwork known as the wraparound mural, added during a renovation in the 1950s. The mural, considered one of the finest works of its kind in America, surrounds the altar and depicts the "Adoration of the Lamb of God, our Lord in the Blessed Eucharist." This artistic masterpiece was created by Edith and Isabel Piczek and contributes to the spiritual ambiance of the sanctuary.
West Street Market

12) West Street Market

Nestled in the heart of Reno, the West Street Market stands as a unique and vibrant gathering place for locals and visitors alike. With its diverse array of stalls, shops, and cafes, it offers a one-of-a-kind experience that celebrates community, good food, and a lively atmosphere.

Shaped like a U, the market showcases an assortment of offerings to cater to every taste and interest. Local farmers bring their fresh produce, ensuring that visitors can savor the flavors of the region while supporting sustainable and eco-friendly practices. The market also features stalls selling clothing, jewelry, and souvenirs, providing an opportunity to discover unique and locally crafted treasures.

For those seeking a taste of Reno's local spirit, the Reno Envy Shop offers a collection of original shirts that capture the essence of the city. It's the perfect place to find a distinctive piece of clothing that embodies the Reno vibe.

The West Street Wine Bar is a haven for wine enthusiasts, boasting an impressive selection of over 50 wines along with excellent beer options. Whether you're a connoisseur or a casual wine lover, the bar offers a cozy and inviting ambiance to relax and indulge in a delightful glass of your favorite vintage.

Beyond its culinary offerings, the West Street Market embodies a strong sense of community. Merchants at the market embrace the principles of organic and local food movements, aligning themselves with sustainable practices and a commitment to quality. This collective effort creates a welcoming and inclusive space where everyone can come together to enjoy good food, good company, and a sense of belonging.

The market has gained recognition for its exceptional offerings in vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free cuisine, making it a hidden gem for those with specific dietary needs. It's a place where food enthusiasts can discover delectable options that cater to a variety of tastes and preferences.

Walking Tours in Reno, Nevada

Create Your Own Walk in Reno

Create Your Own Walk in Reno

Creating your own self-guided walk in Reno is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Historical Houses Tour

Historical Houses Tour

Throughout its nearly 150-year-long history, Reno has reinvented itself several times. In the 19th century, cattle barons, mine speculators, and bank presidents favored this once arid little town as a place of residence. Building their mansions with extensive gardens on the high bluff above the Truckee River, they eventually transformed it into what author Walter Van Tilburg Clark later described...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles
Reno's Top Casinos Walking Tour

Reno's Top Casinos Walking Tour

"The world is a casino, and everyone's a gambler." These words by "Nick the Greek", one of the legends in gambling history of the United States, seem ever so true in Reno. Once the gambling capital of the US – up until the mid-20th century, when it handed the status over to Las Vegas, – this town still draws thousands of visitors each year, from all over the world,...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 Km or 1.2 Miles