Adventures in learning

Fall museum guide

The cloud climber exhibit at the Discovery Museum in downtown Reno.

The cloud climber exhibit at the Discovery Museum in downtown Reno.

Photo by Amy Beck

With the weather cooling down, and the season of summer fun coming to a close, it’s probably time to bring pool parties and barbecues to an end. But fear not, there is plenty of indoor family fun to be found in Reno when you know where to look. Here are a few places that families can learn something new and spend some time together indoors during the snowy season.

Nevada Museum of Art

Although they’re not allowed to touch the paintings, at the Nevada Museum of Art kids are allowed to do more than just look with their eyes. The museum offers artistic and educational programs for kids and their parents. The last Sunday of each month, the NMA offers Hands/On!, a free tour and art workshop open to participants of all ages. On Sunday, Nov. 27, kids are invited to tour the exhibit Altered Landscape and create landscape paintings of their own.

In addition, local artists and volunteers host workshops for budding artists. On Dec. 2, parents are encouraged to bring their 4 month to 3 year olds and help them to create a family keepsake in the Baby Painting workshop. For young poop enthusiasts, sculpting classes, Clay Turds For Toddlers and Four Hands Playing will be offered on Saturdays in December.

Through Jan. 1, the Museum offers free admission each second Saturday of the month. Scholarships for workshops are available to qualified participants.

Nevada Museum of Art, 160 W. Liberty St., 329-3333. Hands/On! Free. Baby Painting, Dec. 2. 9:30 a.m.-10:15 a.m. (4-18 month olds), 10:45 a.m.-11:30 a.m. (19 month-3 years old). $12 museum members, $15 non-members. Clay Turds For Toddlers (1-3 years), Dec. 3-17. 9:30 a.m.-10:15 a.m. $24 museum members, $27 non-members. Four Hands Playing (3-6 years), Dec. 3-17. 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. $32 museum members, $36 non-members. For more information, visit

Sisters Haley, left, and Libby Ballestros read a couple books in the Downtown Reno Library.

Photo By amy beck

Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center

The Fleischmann Planetarium and Science center is another great place to take kids on an educational adventure. The planetarium offers free permanent and temporary interactive exhibits. Currently, the planetarium has on display a black hole simulator, a collection of meteorites, and a new exhibit called Perceptual Relativity. Designed by the University of Nevada, Reno Department of Psychology, the Perceptual Relativity explores the workings of the brain through a series of optical illusions that change according to the context in which they are viewed.

The planetarium offers film showings and digital star shows daily inside of their state of the art Star Theater, equipped with a state-of-the-art SciDome digital projector and surround sound that will rattle your bones. For information about show times and prices, contact the planetarium at 784-4812.

This winter, the planetarium is hosting a workshop series designed especially for families. Parents and their 3- 5-year-old children can attend classes in one of three series (All About Space, All About The Weather and All About Animals), geared at teaching preschoolers about the world around them. Each program has three or four classes based on specific topics, ranging from ladybugs to reptiles. The sessions will include an informational story time and a hands-on craft pertaining to the day’s subject. There are only two classes left in the All About Space program, so hurry to get your children signed up.

Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center, MS 272, University of Nevada, Reno, 784-4812. All About Space, Mondays (Oct. 31-Nov. 21) 9-10 a.m., $20. All About The Weather, Mondays (Nov. 28-Dec. 19) 9-10 a.m., $20. All About Animals, Mondays (Jan. 9-Jan. 30) 9-10 a.m., $15. $5 per child, per class. Please reserve spots in advance. For more information visit

Carson City Children’s Museum

If you don’t mind going out of the Reno/Sparks area for a little entertainment, the Carson City Children’s Museum is a great place to take kids for a day of fun. The museum hosts kid-friendly, interactive exhibits including a virtual maze, a mock emergency room and a flight simulator.

Jonathan Harms and his son Drew, 11, look at an exhibit at the Planetarium.

Photo By amy beck

Each Tuesday, children are invited to the museum for Books and Brags, with Ms. Penny. In this event, children will share story time and make a craft to take home. Books and Brags is free with paid admission.

Carson City Children’s Museum, 813 N. Carson St., Carson City,

884-2226. Books and Brags, Tuesdays

Discovery museum

The recently open Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum was designed specifically for kids. Aimed at teaching younger children about the community they live in, the museum has a Nevada history section where kids can fish for Pyramid Lake native Cui-Ui fish, discover archeological artifacts and learn the history of native American tribes. Kids are encouraged to get wet while playing in an 80-feet-long model of the Truckee river and go camping in an interactive display of the great Nevada outdoors. They can also climb in the Cloud Climber to learn about the water cycle. The Discovery Museum also hosts the only Spark!Lab outside of the Smithsonian institute in Washington, D.C., where children can explore the processes and products of great inventors and attempt to create something themselves.

Each Wednesday, the museum opens an hour early for its Small Wonder Wednesday program, geared toward providing a safe learning time for children 5 and under.

Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum, 490 S. Center St., 786-1000. Tuesday–Saturday, 10 a.m–5 p.m., Sunday, noon-5 p.m. Admission $8. Members and children under 1 year old free.

Jennifer Gonzalez and her daughter Ella, 5, play in one of the exhibits at the Discovery Museum in downtown Reno.

Photo By amy beck

Nevada State Railroad Museum

Located in Carson City, the Nevada State Railroad Museum is a great place to take boys and girls with an interest in all things locomotive. Intent on preserving the history of Nevada’s railways, the museum showcases a scale model of Nevada’s railways during the early 20th century, and walk-through historical exhibits depicting the history of Western railroad expansion. The museum houses an incredible collection of 65 locomotives, including original cars from the Virginia and Truckee railroad and the iconic car Inyo, a movie star who as appeared 29 times in films like The Great Locomotive Chase, Union Pacific and the television show The Wild Wild West.

On Saturdays and Sundays this December, the NSRM is offering rides on the Santa Train. Train rides depart from the Wabuska Depot outside of the NSRM between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Nevada State Railroad Museum, 2180 S. Carson St., Carson City. 687-6953. Admission is $6 for adults, children 18 and under are free. Santa Train rides offered on Saturdays Dec. 3,10 and 17 and Sundays Dec. 4, 11 and 18. All seats for Santa Rides are $3.

Washoe County Library

On a cold, blustery day, the library is always a welcome place for families to spend a bit of time indoors. On top of each library’s entertainment center for young kids, equipped with coloring materials and crafts, the Washoe County Library system hosts tons of educational and family-friendly events.

On Nov. 16, the Incline Village Library will be hosting a Thanksgiving story time where kids can learn about the American holiday, listen to pilgrim stories, make crafts and share treats in celebration of the upcoming holiday. On Tuesday, Nov. 15, the Spanish Springs library plans to host a screening of Disney film Cars 2. To celebrate Christmas, Washoe County Libraries will be hosting a series of holiday themed story times, including story time with Santa Claus on Dec. 20 and 21 at the North Valleys Library.

Throughout the months of November and December, local libraries will be teaming up with pet therapy group Paws 4 Love to foster reading habits in young children. In the program Paws to Read, children are given a free book and paired with a therapy dog to read to. Check your local library’s schedule for Paws to Read, as well as their weekly family and preschool story time programs.

Check the events calendar for more events and details at Washoe County Library’s various locations. Free.