Summer bucket list

101 things to do in Reno this summer (or before you die)

Caleb Ray wrestles a steer during a Reno Rodeo performance at the Livestock Events Center.

Caleb Ray wrestles a steer during a Reno Rodeo performance at the Livestock Events Center.

Photo By Amy Beck

Back in 2007, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman popularized the term, “bucket list,” in the movie The Bucket List. The basic idea is that there are certain activities that people want to do before they kick the bucket. Since nobody’s making plans for dying, the great minds here at the Reno News & Review thought we’d compact a lifetime’s worth of Reno activities into one season: Summer 2011.

Haven’t had an Awful Awful at the Little Nugget? Never floated the Truckee River or caught (and released) a lizard at Pyramid? Many of these are the to-dos that anyone who considers themselves a Renoite must complete before he or she goes to the big sleep.

Arts & Culture

Fleischmann’s Planetarium. Up the hill from University of Nevada, Reno, the planetarium ($0-$6) features things like sky talks, meteorites, and full dome shows of not just black holes and stars but also oceans and a light show of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. 1650 N. Virginia St., 784-4811,

Lavender Ridge. In July, when the lavender fields are in bloom and the bees are buzzing, this Reno farm and gift shop is like heaven, only better smelling. 7450 W. Fourth St. 747-3222.

El Rancho Swap Meet & Flea Market. With bargains galore, it’s like going to some great Central American market, and all you have to do is go to Sparks. You never know what you’ll find, but you know it will be weird and awesome. 555 El Rancho Drive, Sparks.

River School Farm. Take a class in yoga, African drum and dance, or organic gardening, or just stroll the plant-bursting grounds along the Truckee River at this idyllic and ideal-ic place. 7777 White Fir St., 747-2222.

Take a nap. Come on. It’s summer. You deserve it.

West Wind El Rancho Drive-In. Throw some pillows in the back of the truck, and let the kids come in their jammies to experience one of America’s few remaining drive-in movie theaters, where a flick costs $6.50 for adults, $4.50 on Tuesdays, $1 for kids ages 5-11, and under 5 are free. 555 El Rancho Drive, Sparks. 358-6920.

Visit a used bookstore. As good as a clean, tight, brand new book is, there’s nothing like used books and nothing like used bookstores. They rarely are built of glass and chrome, and their contents are always out of the ordinary: Book Gallery, 1203 Rock Blvd.; Dharma Books, 11 N. Sierra St.; Grassroots Books, 660 E. Grove St.; Paperback Exchange, 131 Vesta St.; Subject Matter Books, 105 Hubbard Way; Zephyr Books, 1501 S. Virginia St.

Host a wet T-shirt contest. These aren’t nearly as popular as they ought to be.

Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. The acting is good; the backdrop—Lake Tahoe—is a midsummer night’s dream. Season begins July 15 with Twelfth Night. Sand Harbor off NV-28 in Incline Village. 832-1616.

The statue Bliss was one of the favorites at Burning Man in 2010.

Photo By Amy Beck

Protest something. Think everything’s hunky dory in your community? There are a good many causes that could use your voice. Angry about what the Legislature has done to your child’s future? How about how the Reno City Council has destroyed the city’s finances or treated the homeless. This summer, speak up for once in your life. Engage!

Virginia City graveyard. They don’t make ’em like this anymore. No manicured lawns, no symmetry. Just a haunting sense of what came before. 847-0281.

Reno Artemisia. Cinemark isn’t the only game in town. Artemisia has been screening foreign, artistic and independent films for about a year. Time to see one. Studio on 4th, 432 E. Fourth St.,

Watch a movie at Wingfield Park. A perennial part of Artown. Usually the sound is too quiet, but it’s fun to watch a classic movie outside on the grass with a big audience. This year’s offerings include Wizard of Oz and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Nevada Historical Society walking tour. We know, this sounds like a very blue-haired thing to do—and not in a punk way. But these tours of Reno are fascinating, and bunches are held during the summer. $10. 747-4478.

Reno Rodeo. We don’t know why, but it seems to us a self-respecting Nevadan should go to at least one rodeo in their lifetime. Might as well be this one. June 16-25. Reno Sparks Livestock Events Center 1350 N. Wells Ave., 329-3877.

Volunteer to help someone less fortunate. Volunteer opportunities abound in the Truckee Meadows. Amber Lynn Dobson’s group, We Care Volunteers, is a great one that can be found at the Record Street homeless complex Monday through Thursday at 6 p.m. The Holland Project can also always use some volunteer help.

Go to Burning Man. It’s not just for hippies. The sprawling, eclectic annual art festival is just a couple of hours’ drive north from Reno in the Black Rock Desert every summer. It offers a diverse array of experiences, some of them amazing, some of them detestable, all of them memorable.

Take an old-fashioned photo. Of all the tacky, touristy things to do in Virginia City, none creates quite as perfect a memento. Dress up like an old cowboy, a Civil War soldier or a brothel girl. A bunch of places in V.C. offer the dress-up fun; we recommend Silver Sadie’s Old Fashioned Photos, 116 S C St., Virginia City.

Go to an all-ages show at HSS Rainshadow. All-ages concerts are better than 21-and-over shows because, at all-ages shows, the people are there to see the bands, not just to drink and talk during the performances. But many all-ages venues are in basements or skate parks where anyone over 25 might feel like a geezer. Despite being in a charter high school, HSS Rainshadow, 121 Vesta St., neatly splits the difference, and it’s the rare music venue where all ages can rock equally.

Go to an Aces game. This is a no-brainer. Reno has a baseball team, it’s summer, and tickets are cheap. Do it.

Take up dancing. You and your lover could do few things that will bring you closer than to learn to line dance, tango, ballroom dance or salsa. Pick a style that turns you on and hop on the internet to see which of Reno’s many dance studios fit your needs.

See a local band. We list some every week. Support local culture in Northern Nevada.

Bike riders take a lap around Lake Tahoe.

Photo by Amy Beck

Write a story. Here’s an opening line you can play with: Her eyes looked like real diamonds in a ring encrusted with paste.

Write a poem. Doggerel or sonnet, haiku or cinquain, express yourself about any topic that comes to mind.

Write a letter. We’re willing to bet that there are some loved ones whom you haven’t told how much they mean to you, lately. Sometimes, you don’t even have to put postage on them.

Make some art. Look, as the artists of NadaDada (June 16–19) have shown us, art can happen anywhere, at any time. So pick your medium, paint on canvas, steel, ceramics, found objects, whatever, and make something well enough that you’ll be proud to display it in your home. You don’t have to show it publicly, but the creative process will make you feel as cool as Andy Warhol.

Start a band. The Reno music scene is—finally!—on an upswing again. Be a part of it.

Read a book. Enough of this internet bullshit. Put your hands on something real. Here’s a selection of Nevada reading:

• Lies Within Lies by Michael Vernetti: An absorbing account of the U.S. government’s use of a convicted extortionist and tax cheat to bring down a Nevada federal judge of whom the FBI and U.S. Justice Department disapproved.

• Cave Rock by Matthew S. Makley and Michael J. Makley: The battle among climbers and the Washo tribe over the ancient site at Lake Tahoe is recounted.

• The River and the Railroad by Mary Ringhoff and Edward J. Stoner: The authors describe the archeology performed during the Reno railroad trench project and what was learned about early Reno.

• Denialism by Michael Specter: A New Yorker writer describes how hostility to science and belief in quackery, from the false vaccination/autism link to fetishism for unsafe foods, is hampering progress and endangering civilization.

Outdoor recreation

Enjoy a sunrise.

Float down the Truckee River. Grab a raft or an inner tube, head west out of town as far you’d like—some folks even start at Lake Tahoe—and just float. The usual spot to finish the ride is Wingfield Park, where a scantily clad crowd gathers on every hot summer day.

Bea Roxas, 7, fills out a scavenger hunt sheet at the Wilbur D. May museum Dragons and Dinos exhibit.

Photo by Amy Beck

Take your dog parking. There are a bunch of dog parks across the Truckee Meadows if your dog is well-adjusted enough to socialize with other dogs without being embarrassing. The dog park at Ranch San Rafael is big and popular. 1595 N. Sierra St.

Play Frisbee golf. Washoe County maintains a full-sized, 18-hole disc golf course at Rancho San Rafael. The course is on the part of the park north of McCarran Boulevard, where there are also biking and hiking trails and the Basque Sheepherder Monument, popularly known as Gumby. 1595 N. Sierra St.

Take a bike ride. Bike the McCarran loop or bike up Geiger Grade for a long ride. Remember to bring water and a tire patch kit. Or, if the weather’s nice, and you have a quick errand to run that’s only a couple of blocks away, take your damned bike.

Go to Pyramid Lake. Visit Lake Tahoe’s weird sister lake. If the two lakes were actually sisters, Tahoe would be the better-looking, but Pyramid would be way freakier in the sack.

Drive across Nevada on Highway 50. “The Loneliest Road in America” is the quintessential Nevada road trip. Curse the dipshit who chopped down the Shoe Tree.

Visit Manzanita Park. Reno’s best little hidden park: It’s a great spot for soccer games, water balloon fights, barbecues, afternoon delights. 630 Manzanita Lane.

Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park. You’ve had the beer, it’s time to see the namesake fossils of the creature that swam in a Nevada ocean about 225 million years ago. 23 miles east of Gabbs via State Route 844. 964-2440

Nevada City. From wineries to a historic downtown full of independent bistros and shops and the Yuba River nearby, this High Sierra hotspot is about an hour and a half from Reno.

Sparks United Methodist Church Farmers’ Market. This is a farmers’ market—and only a farmers’ market. There’re no T-shirt booths, no alcohol, and no violence, just fresh produce. It runs from June 1 to Sept. 28. 1231 Pyramid Way, Sparks.

Great Basin National Park. Bristlecone pine trees, clear, starry skies, Lehman Caves and one of the most underrated parks in America is about 6 hours from Reno in Eastern Nevada.

Lamoille Canyon. This glacier-carved canyon is 12 miles long, making it the biggest valley in the Ruby Mountain. Word is it’s awfully pretty. Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, near Elko. 738-4091.

Yosemite. One of the country’s most beloved national parks is less than five friggin’ hours away. What are you waiting for?

Waterski, wakeboard. We have lakes, and this is fun.

Dani Lima, of the pop punk band Hear Me Arizona rehearses.

Photo by Amy Beck

Have a picnic. There are too many beautiful spots in our community to mention even a fraction. How about sandwiches in Manzanita Bowl? A glass of wine and cold chicken at Galena Park? How about a full-on barbecue at Rancho San Rafael?

Fall asleep in the grass. Pick your favorite blade of grass, spread a blanket over it, and go mentally into your peaceful place. Wear sunscreen!

Throw a party. Wouldn’t it be great to know a few of your neighbors on the block or in the apartment complex? It’s easier than you think. Buy a keg, put the speakers in the window, and put up a sign. Next thing you know, some people will come along with glasses or a bottle of carmenere. Trust us, that beer will be consumed. And so will the wine. Friends will be made.

Swim in Lake Tahoe. How can you call yourself a Northern Nevadan without ever experiencing the chilly waters of the Jewel of the Sierra?

Climb Mount Rose. It’s not what you’d call an easy hike, but it’s not that difficult. Wait ’til the middle of July or so, head up to the Mount Rose meadows on State Route 431, the parking is pretty obvious. From there, it’s just short of five miles to the summit and views of Lake Tahoe.

Black Rock Desert when it’s not Burning Man. Find out what this desert landscape looks and sounds like when 50,000 other people are nowhere in sight.

Natural hot springs. These things are scattered throughout Nevada—from private resorts to parks like Grover Hot Spring State Park to hidden places those in the know hold dear. is kind enough to list several of them by latitude and longitude.

Tahoe Rim Trail. You don’t have to hike all 150 miles of it, but wouldn’t it be cool if you did? Map out your journey at the Tahoe Rim Trail Association’s website,

Flume Trail. Once you get there, this well-maintained trail with unparalleled views of Lake Tahoe is a relatively easy hike or mountain bike ride, as it’s nearly flat, dropping about 40 feet per mile. Shuttle available. Two-mile hill to get to Flume begins at Spooner Lake State Park, intersection of S.R. 28 and U.S. 50. Trail map at

Learn a new sport. Bocce ball? Croquet? Tennis? Golf? Rugby? Never too late to learn.

Go miniature golfing. “Roll the ball between the pink elephant’s legs” isn’t just a Kama Sutra position.

Check out Carson Hot Springs. Once known as Swift’s Hot Springs and Shaw’s Hot Springs, this pool has been in use by immigrants since the migration to California in the 1840s. The city’s reconfiguration of streets over the last decade or so has made it more difficult to reach, but it’s worth the effort. Don’t assume that hot weather and hot water are incompatible, because it’s often packed in summer. (It’s currently owned by U.S. Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska.) 1500 Old Hot Springs Road, Carson City.

Visit Zephyr Cove Lodge. This lovely place is operated on Forest Service Land along the Lincoln Highway on the west side of Lake Tahoe. Breakfast and lunch are served in the restaurant, rooms and cabins are for rent, and the M.S. Dixie II and Tahoe Queen dock at the beach. 760 U.S. Highway 50.

Lori Schoen, left, and Angie Nachreiner enjoy themselves during the Wine Walk downtown.

Photo by Amy Beck

Bask in a sunset.

Food & Drink

Genoa Candy Fair. Now in its 91st year, the annual candy, craft, dinner and dance faire in this nearby historic town is the last weekend in September. Burn off the calories from all that homemade candy at the fair’s dance with a live band,

Jack’s Café is practically a movie-set version of a local coffee shop. In fact, it is—Hard Eight. Breakfast and lunch only are served, and it may be the last place in the valley that offers a fried egg sandwich. 2200 Victorian Ave., Sparks.

Genoa Bar and Saloon. The oldest bar in Nevada, and it looks the part. ’Nuff said. 2282 Main St., Genoa. 782-3870,

La Ferme. And while you’re in Genoa eating candy and drinking in the state’s oldest bar, you might as well pop into this French restaurant everybody raves about. 2291 Main St., Genoa, 783-1004,

Churchill Vineyards. This claims to be the only Nevada winery producing Nevada-grown white wine. We think it’d be nice to drink some homegrown wine without leaving the state or making it ourselves. 1045 Dodge Lane, Fallon, 423-4000,

Eat an Awful Awful burger. You just gotta. A few places now offer it, but the original and most bucket-worthy is at The “Little” Nugget at 233 N. Virginia St., in downtown Reno.

Pietro’s Famiglia Ristorante Italiano. This second floor restaurant has some of the best Italian food in the state, and there is a peaceful ambiance like no other local restaurant. Downstairs on the main street of Sparks, there is a lot of celebratory clatter at grills and bars, but walk up for a sense of grace. 834 Victorian Ave., Sparks.

Bun at Honey Bakery. Sweet little steamed buns stuffed with things like chicken curry or barbecued pork—for a dollar. Mmmm. 403 Keystone Ave., 322-6668.

Daughters Café. This place has some quirks—no substitutions, no real vegetarian options, waitresses you’ll find either endearing or irritating, and it’s slightly pricey. But this is the best breakfast on one of the prettiest patios in Reno. Hands down. 97 Bell St., 324-3447.

Sinbad’s Hot Dogs. The minute you bite into a Sinbad’s hot dog, you will know you are in the presence of greatness. This is not the mushy texture of a Wienerschnitzel. You will bite into a firm skin that gives way to a tasty interior, all dressed in your choice of add-ons. 418 N. McCarran Blvd., Sparks.

Picon Punch at Louis’ Basque Corner. This potent cocktail may be made at other watering holes, but there’s something about the ones served at Louis’ that makes them uniquely Reno. We’re not even going to say what goes in them, but the new owners of the restaurant, bar and hotel assure us they will remain the punchiest Picons in Reno. 301 E. 4th St., 323-7203,

Reno Aces opening day spectators get a jump on the Boys of Summer.

Photo by Amy Beck

Yellow Submarine. This little Sparks sub shop is rooted in localism. It promotes a “Buy local” ethic, displays local photographers, and provides an in-store culture that emphasizes neighborhood—board games and books for people to use, for instance. It also offers dishes concocted by the store’s own young workers. 920 Holman Way, Sparks.

Wine Walk. It’s possible to die in peace without doing this, but it seems like one of those things a wine-lover and a Reno-lover should do at least once. Third Saturday of the month, 2 p.m.-5 p.m., along the Riverwalk in downtown Reno.

4th St. Bistro. The single best bite of food one of this list’s contributors ever ate came from this restaurant. 3065 W. Fourth St., 323-3200.

Eat local honey. Did you know eating local honey can help with seasonal allergies? Local honeys are available from various farmers’ markets and the Great Basin Food Co-op, 542 1/2 Plumas St.

Eat a taco-truck taco. Gourmet mobile food trucks are all the rage all of a sudden, but “roach coach” tacos are still the best thing to eat off of a truck. Ice cream is also usually good straight from the truck.

Drink a mimosa. Orange juice and champagne—what’s not to like? Sometimes, especially in the summer, it’s fun to start drinking first thing in the morning. Chapel Tavern, 1495 S. Virginia St., serves up some of the best in the region.

Eat at the Indian buffet. Spicy food is the best on a hot day. India Kabab, 1091 S. Virginia St., serves a $7.95 all-you-can-eat lunch buffet that’s one of the best all-around lunch bargains in Reno. Take a long walk afterward to burn it off.

Drink Icky. Ichthyosaur India Pale Ale, the flagship brew of the region’s oldest microbrewery, the Great Basin Brewing Company, 846 Victorian Ave., Sparks, and 5525 S. Virginia St., is named for the state fossil. The hoppy flavor is perfect for a summer evening, and no other beverage is as uniquely Nevadan.

Drink in Lincoln Lounge’s beer garden. One of Reno’s hipper places to drink, and the beer garden is great on summer nights. Lincoln Lounge’s location—306 E. Fourth St., right next to the bus depot, and near downtown, the baseball stadium and the homeless shelter—attracts an odd crowd of foot traffic in addition to the college-aged regulars.

Cook a meal. Eating food is even more fun when it’s something you’ve made.

Host a potluck. Eating food is even more fun when it’s something you’ve made and you can show it off to your friends while quietly judging their inferior dishes.

Eat at T’s Mesquite Rotisserie. The best cure to the “I just spent all day swimming in Lake Tahoe and now I really need a burrito” blues. It’s at 901 Tahoe Boulevard, Incline Village.

Casale’s Halfway Club. Back when a trip from Reno to Sparks was an ambitious undertaking, Casale’s Italian restaurant opened. Franklin Roosevelt was trying to pack the Supreme Court that year, and the state’s entire population was around 100,000. The Casale family still operates it, the juke box is filled with oldies of several generations, and the walls are covered with memorabilia. 2501 East Fourth St., 323-3979.

Jerry Thomas takes a swing at LakeRidge Golf Course.

Photo by Amy Beck

Brew your own beer. Drinking beer is even more fun when it’s something you’ve made. The Reno Homebrewer, 2335 Dickerson Road, 329-2537, is the place to get started.

Delta Restaurant. It’s difficult to keep track of how many restaurants there are in Virginia City—usually about a dozen—but the Delta is our choice, in part because it has stayed in place for decades, and you’re most likely to see other locals here. After lunch, step through a door at the back into the Delta Bar and Casino. The walls here are covered with an eclectic collection of paintings, photos, newspaper pages and other memorabilia on U.S. and local history. 18 S. C St., Virginia City, 847-0919.

Mom & Pop’s Diner. This is not a restaurant. It’s a joint, with the kind of good food that term suggests. The eggs benedict is to die for. Right now is like tax time for accountants at Mom and Pop’s, because the Legislature—located in the same block—is in town, but in a few days they’ll need more business to make up for the loss of the lawmakers. 224 S. Carson St., Carson City, 884-4411.

Kids & Family

Buy lemonade from a little kid. Some of us are always paranoid that the kid is some kind of smartass and that the lemonade is actually urine, but that’s probably actually really unlikely. And don’t tell the health department they’re not permitted; that’s un-American.

Hire a kid for something. Every kid needs a summer job: mowing yards, picking up dog poo, cleaning garages, whatever. In fact, kids aren’t the only ones looking for jobs this summer. Hire somebody for something. Start a business. Create a job.

Wilbur D. May Center. Anybody who says they’re a Renoite but has never been to the Wilbur May museum is stretching the truth. True, some folks will turn up their nose at the dead animal carcasses, but where else are you going to see a real shrunken head in Reno? The museum is adjacent to Rancho San Rafael Park at 1595 N. Sierra St., 785-5961.

Catch (and release) a lizard at Pyramid Lake.

University of Nevada, Reno’s new astronomy complex at the Redfield Campus, the MacLean Observatory. When people talk about the 14-inch Jones and 22-inch Maclean, they aren’t talking porn stars, but diameters on the two main telescopes. UNR’s Redfield Campus is off the Mount Rose Highway, 18600 Wedge Parkway.

Sparks Heritage Museum. It’s a dandy little museum, endlessly interesting, without the pretension and unreceptive feel of so many museums. 814 Victorian Avenue, Sparks.

Downieville. Looking for a day trip? The surviving remnant of the gold rush community of Downieville hosts the Downieville Classic bicycle race—July 8-10 this year—and also has kayaking, hiking, gold panning, fishing for planted rainbow trout and German browns, and a local museum on the gold rush era.

Children’s railroads. As far as we know, the Reno children’s railroad in Idlewild Park has no name. The Carson ride in Mills Park is called the C&MP RR (Carson and Mills Park Railroad). In both cases, while you’re at the parks, there are also other facilities available—a skateboard park in Carson, for instance, and a rose garden in Idlewild.

Fall in love. Talk about a plan for summer. If you’re already in love, do some of these activities with that special someone and fall in love all over again.

Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada. If you want some help explaining things like emergency rooms, parabolas, astronomy and jails to children, the Carson Children’s Museum can help. It can also be used for birthday parties and field trips. 813 No. Carson St., Carson City, 884-2226.

Check out the Jumbo Grade. For a different kind of drive to the Comstock, head for New Washoe City and turn up the hill when you see a normal street-name sign that reads “Jumbo Grade.” Mining operations on the Comstock used to bring ore down this road, take it across Washoe Lake—there was then a bridge across the lake—to the Ophir Mill, those ruins you may have seen on the east side of 395 through Washoe Valley. After about two miles up Jumbo Grade, you will pass the site of the one-time mining camp of Jumbo. On the way up, you’ll get terrific views of Washoe Valley, and once you cross the summit, equally super views of Virginia City, Gold Hill and American Flat from an angle that visitors don’t normally see.

See “Bakardade (Solitude)” by Nestor Basterretxea. This magnificent sculpture was created in 1989 as a tribute to Basque immigrants, particularly those who herded sheep in the west. Located across McCarran Boulevard from Rancho San Rafael and recently vandalized for plates of bronze that have gained value in the recession, it’s grandeur endures nevertheless.

UNR Minerals Museum. A gem (get it?) of a museum on the state’s mining history and on minerals exploration generally. Mackay School of Mines. University of Nevada, Reno.

Pyramid Lake Museum. This facility is a lot more honest about its history than many non-tribal museums. The entry on Native American leader Sarah Winnemucca, for instance, does not avoid the controversies in her life and the opposition directed her way by other tribal members. The museum also offers gorgeous native crafts for sale. 709 State St., Nixon,

Nevada Historical Society. Sometimes we forget about the places right under our noses. The museum at the Historical Society has permanent exhibits on Reno’s and Nevada’s history, and on July 15 it will open a three-month exhibit on the history of showgirls. Be sure to check the shop for an unequaled selection of Nevada-related merchandise. 1650 N. Virginia St.

U.S. Post Office. Speaking of things we overlook in our own community, spend some time looking at the old main post office at Mill and Center streets downtown. Too many of our area’s art deco structures, such as the old Sparks City Hall, have been destroyed. The post office building’s Zig-Zag Moderne design is gorgeous and interesting. It first opened for use in 1931, before the meaning of the ancient swastika symbol was tainted, so don’t read too much into the line of swastikas under the customer counter lips. 50 S. Virginia St.

Chill for a minute. Hey, it’s summer. Why don’t you just take a second to enjoy all the things you’ve checked off your bucket list this year?