Reno/Tahoe is the region that spans across the border of Nevada and California, where the Sierra Nevada Mountains meet the desert. Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America and is surrounded by large resorts and ski areas, while the city of Reno entertains visitors with gambling, live music, and street art. If you're looking for age-appropriate winter fun in this area, you will have a lot of options to choose from, whether you embrace the outdoors on the ski slopes or find something indoors to pass the time.
In 2021, some activities in Reno may not be available or may have capacity limits in place. Be sure to check the official business websites for the latest information.
Take in a Movie
The Reno area has four multi-screen movie theaters, a cinema at the Grand Sierra Resort, and the very cool film features at the Fleischmann Planetarium. And there's an IMAX theater in Sparks. Check out what's playing and settle in for a fun (and warm) afternoon or evening.
The two-screen Grand Sierra Cinema is open seven days a week and the shows are family-friendly. The theater has a full-service snack bar with candy, popcorn, and fountain beverages. Or, you can take in the special movie showings at the Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center theater at the University of Nevada and learn about black holes and the dark side of the moon.
Bowling is a good old-fashioned way to have fun with the family and the only stadium of its kind in the entire world, the National Bowling Stadium is located in downtown Reno. The stadium is recognizable for an 80-foot aluminum geodesic dome on its facade, which looks like a large bowling ball. At the Stadium, there are 78 championship lanes. The National Bowling Stadium also boasts one of the longest video screens in the world, displaying videos and graphics on 440 feet of screen.
The Coconut Bowl at Wild Island Family Adventure Park is another alternative, which is located in the city of Sparks. The Coconut Bowl offers 32 public bowling lanes, along with two rentable bowling "garages," which have four lanes each.
Roller Skate at an Indoor Rink
Reno has a wide selection of indoor play places and gyms where families and kids can have fun and get some exercise when it's cold outside. One such place is the Roller Kingdom, of viral video fame, which offers special family skate nights and daytime hours as well as lessons. This retro pastime is making a comeback and there's no better place for curious kids who want to learn to try out their first pair of skates.
Peruse the Nevada Museum of Art
In addition to permanent galleries and rotating exhibits, the world-class Nevada Museum of Art in downtown Reno has lots of family- and kid-oriented activities, some of which are free. The Nevada Museum of Art's permanent collection is divided into four thematic focus areas: Altered Landscape Photography, Art of the Greater West, Contemporary Art, and the Work Ethic, and rotating exhibits. They also have docent-guided tours of the collections if you are looking for a deeper experience.
Enjoy Cars at the National Automobile Museum
The National Automobile Museum is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Car buffs could spend hours here checking out all the classics that make up this museum's impressive collection. Families can also dress up in period costumes and have their photos taken in a historic car.
The museum also offers The Passport to Adventure activity booklet which is fun for families visiting the museum as they explore the special exhibit, 1908 New York to Paris Auto Race, Featuring the Winning Car, the 1907 Thomas Flyer. The passport includes stories, a map of the international race route, word searches, word scrambles, connect-the-dots drawings, and more. You can download the passport before your visit.
Keep Busy at a Day Camp
The Reno Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Department holds winter break camps for kids ages 6 to 12.5 at various locations around the city. The camps will keep your kids entertained with sports, games, arts, and crafts, and field trips over the winter break period from school. Part of the camp schedule involves swimming at local pools, but the City of Reno has several aquatic centers where families can swim and kids can take lessons whether or not they are participating in a day camp experience.
Attend a Basketball Game
The Reno Bighorns are the city's G League professional basketball team. Home games are played at the Reno Events Center and offer lively entertainment at this downtown Reno venue. Or, you can enjoy some college basketball and cheer on the Wolf Pack at the University of Nevada at Reno's Lawlor Events Center. Both the men's and women's teams play home games during the winter months.
In 2021, the G League is playing all games in Orlando, Florida, and the Bighorns are not participating, while the Wolf Pack will play an abbreviated season with a limit on how many spectators can attend.
Interact at a Learning Museum
The Children's Museum of Northern Nevada and the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum offer a full range of cultural activities and outstanding entertainment during the doldrums of winter.
At the Children's Museum in Carson City, kids can enjoy interactive displays, attend storytime, and learn about biomes. At the Discovery Museum in Reno, kids will be wowed as they participate actively in learning about science, technology, engineering, art, and math. The museum connects learners of all ages with exciting opportunities to explore a wide variety of ever-changing topics.
Have Fun at Boomtown
This attraction is an indoor arcade at the Boomtown Casino Hotel. There are lots of fun things to do, including a flight simulator, carousel, Ferris wheel, and more than 200 video games. There is also a party room for rent if you want to let the kids bring their friends and a snack bar. There are several family-friendly dining options including a replica of a Mels Diner. The original diner was an icon of the 50s and 60s and at this replica, you can still enjoy American classics like burgers and shakes.