If you're visiting northern Nevada this summer and want to celebrate America's birthday in style, there are plenty of events in Reno/Sparks and the surrounding area—including Carson City, Lake Tahoe, and Virginia City—where you can watch fireworks or join in the festivities for a day of family fun.
From a Reno Aces game at the city's ballpark to the small-town parade of Virginia City, this stretch of deserts and their oasis cities celebrate Independence Day in style. Keep in mind though, especially if you're traveling from out of state, that fireworks are illegal in Reno and Washoe Counties except for approved public fireworks displays, so you can't even bring sparklers to any of these events.
The Reno Aces are playing the Sacramento River Cats s at 6:35 p.m. on July 4 at the Greater Nevada Field in Reno's Freighthouse District. After the game, a big blowout of a fireworks display will fill the sky over the stadium. Ballpark hot dogs are quintessential Fourth of July food, and watching America's pastime could not be more appropriate on this holiday.
Alternatively, the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus will perform patriotic music from 7:30 to 10 p.m. at Wingfield Park in downtown Reno. There will be a firework show for the grand finale of "American Salute," and guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets and a picnic for this free event when the park opens at 5 p.m.
Star Spangled Sparks is the biggest Fourth of July celebration in the Reno area, with fireworks shot off from the roof of the Nugget Casino Resort.
The 20th annual Star Spangled Spars starts at 4 p.m. on Victorian Square with live music, food and craft vendors, a bike parade, and activities for kids.
From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., you can also attend a VIP viewing party inside the Nugget Casino Resort, which features a picnic-style buffet and excellent views of the show. The VIP BBQ Party tickets cost $55, plus tax and fees.
Billed as the "longest fireworks display" in the region, the pyrotechnics show will start around 9:45 p.m. While you can view it from Victorian Square and the surrounding streets, the best place to watch is from the VIP viewing areas in the hotel.
The fireworks show at Lake Tahoe is so special that it's been written about in USA Today, Travel + Leisure, and Forbes Traveler as a must-see celebration of our nation's birth. Although it'll take you about an hour to get to North Lake Tahoe (and longer to get to the south side), it's well worth the journey to catch this unparalleled display.
The fireworks are shot from barges in the lake for a spectacular show that reflects off the surface of the water, and the whole show is choreographed to music. You can either watch from boats with special dining and viewing packages or on land anywhere along the shore of Lake Tahoe.
Nevada Beach State Park is great for barbecues while Regan and El Dorado Beaches offer up-close views but seats fill up fast. Families can head to Bijou Community Park, and the more adventurous can hike up to the top of Mount Tallac for a view unlike any other in the region—just remember to bring a headlamp for when you're heading back down.
Also about a half hour's drive from Reno, Carson City offers a Fourth of July celebration that includes a full-on carnival, live music, and food vendors. The celebration takes place at Mills Park throughout the week, with the largest crowd expected on the holiday itself to catch the finale fireworks show set to patriotic music.
Along with carnival rides, concessions, and attractions, there are craft vendors and live music by local bands. While the fireworks show and concert is free to attend, the carnival does charge a one-time fee for entry and unlimited rides.
If you're looking for a more casual way to celebrate the holiday, you'll feel right at home at the small-town Fourth of July festival in Virginia City, about a half an hour's drive from Reno.
Although stores and shops around the city will host celebrations starting at 10 a.m., the noon parade officially kicks off the day's events with a red, white, and blue procession through the streets. Check out Old West-style cowboy shootouts, the Comstock Cowboys Amendment concert, raffles, auctions, and train rides throughout the day.
As night falls, a concert in conjunction with fireworks will light up the night to end your celebration. For a special treat, you can ride the V&T Railroad from Carson City to Virginia City and arrive just in time for the big Fourth of July parade.