Spring is the time when the city of Reno sparkles―as high water in the Truckee River comes roaring through downtown. Renewal has also washed through the neighborhood, with a pretty river park anchoring a funky and flowering arts and dining district.
The upshot is there’s no need to spend your Reno days dancing with a one-armed bandit. Instead, stroll along the Truckee River Walk with a view of the cool Sierra Nevada peaks in the distance. Or catch a street musician on your way to check out the whitewater action from a pedestrian bridge.
Best yet, get in the water for a cool-off, a mellow drift, or an adrenaline-pumping ride. This time of year, with a three-day kayak competition and festival bringing everyone to the riverfront, in the water is the place to be.
Explore the river
The heart of the city’s renaissance is the Truckee River Whitewater Park at Wingfield, around an island smack-dab in the middle of the river. From the water’s boulder-strewn edge, step into wading pools. Kayakers cruise down both forks in the river, a few tricky dips on the north fork spicing things up for onlookers. It’s easy to steer clear, though, if you want just a low-key paddle.
Upriver, Idlewild Park is the place to spread out a riverside picnic on the grass. There’s a rose garden to wander, plus easy put-in access to moderate class II rapids. It’s also a good spot for casting a line to try to nab one of the river’s cutthroat, rainbow, or brown trout.
Check out Reno’s arty side
Dry off in the mountain sun along the Truck-ee River Walk, in the heart of the arts district. Original brass sculptures will mark your route.
Stop in at Sierra Arts to see what photography or painting show is up. Then dip into some of the cute, colorful shops here, like the eco-chic La Terre Verte and the quirky La Bussola. With an edgy modern building plus a new center on art and the environment, the nearby Nevada Museum of Art is also a good spot to get a sense of the city’s creative energy.
Kiss casino food goodbye
No need to get in the car to find a great meal. Beaujolais Bistro serves boeuf bourguignon and steak frites in a century-old brick building half a block from the river. Se7en Teahouse and Bar is a laptop-friendly hangout by day, when the studious refuel on teas and light eats. But it draws a cocktail-swilling dance crowd at night, with live music on weekends.
Don’t let the uphill climb dissuade you from tromping to the swank Chocolate Bar for the truffle plate, chocolate fondue, spicy hot chocolate, or dark chocolate cocktails.
Back down by the river, stop in mornings or evenings at local mainstay Java Jungle, where river rats, writers, and artists fuel up. (Jungle Vino, a sister business next door, has wine tastings.) Tables out front have a view of the river. And that’s where all eyes are these days in Reno: on the water.