Summer on the cheap

Have fun and save some cash

Summer allows for many fun family activities that fall on the price spectrum from free to expensive. Here are some of the best ways to have summer fun with your family while keeping a little cash for a rainy day.

BaseCamp at CommRow

BaseCamp has a more than 7,000-square-foot indoor bouldering park with a separate and safe kids' ' ' area and the world' ' 's tallest climbing wall outside at 164-feet tall. The outdoor wall is awesome in the beautiful summer weather. They are open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily and feature day passes, specials and membership packages. The normal day pass costs $8 per child under 12 years old, $12 per adult/youth over 13 years old and $10 per senior of 55 years old and over. Rental equipment is an additional $5. A day pass is $10 for students and includes the rental. The Family Package membership costs $299 per year for two parents and one child, one parent and two children or three children with a $60 initiation fee and each additional child costs $99. This is a fantastic way to keep your kids active and have fun in a new activity. See

Farmers’ Markets

Shirley' ' 's Farmers' ' ' Markets take place throughout Reno and Sparks on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays weekly at various locations starting the first week of June. It' ' 's located at the Summit Reno on Tuesdays and Saturdays, Victorian Square on Thursdays, Tamarack Junction Casino on Fridays, Village Center Reno on Saturdays and Lazy 5 Park Sparks on Saturdays. At each of these of these locations, as many of the other farmers' ' ' markets throughout the area, there will be various specialty food vendors, crafters and local farmers. These will be great outings for families to give back locally and have some fun together. See

Sierra Safari Zoo

The Sierra Safari Zoo is an exotic animal park that is staffed by volunteers who take care of the animals. This zoo is home to a liger, Kalika, which draws a lot of attention because of its scarcity. A liger is, as the name suggests, a cross between a tiger and a lion, just like Napolean Dynamite' ' 's favorite animal. Admission is free for children 2 and under, $6 for children aged 3 to 12, $7 for adults and $6 for seniors 55 and older. However, the first Monday of every month features free admission, excluding holidays. Sierra Safari Zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from April 1 to Oct. 31. See

Animal Ark

The Animal Ark is also a zoo, but it is a wildlife sanctuary for non-releasable animals to provide them a home for life. It' ' 's is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Regular admission is free for children 2 and under, $6.50 for children 3 to 12, $9.50 for adults and $8 for seniors. Membership options are also available. The Animal Ark will be hosting the “Wolf Howl Night” on June 1 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. From 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., the park will be open for normal visiting of the animals, and at 7 p.m., the event will begin. This is an educational event where you will hear the different howls of wolves and coyotes, and there will be a contest for human howling. The best human imitations will win prizes. This event is free to children under two, $12 for children, $15 for adults and $13.50 for seniors. See


The cost of this activity is really up to you and what you decide to make or buy for your family to enjoy. A favorite location for a picnic is Wingfield Park downtown. It' ' 's beautiful with wide-open areas perfect for a picnic blanket, and you can watch people kayak, canoe and float down the river and play in the park, which creates a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Rancho San Rafael Regional Park is also a great location for picnicking, especially in the beautiful arboretum. Picnicking at the Sparks Marina is another great place with some cooling water.

Float the Truckee River

Floating the Truckee River is a Reno tradition. During summer days, the Truckee River Whitewater Park at Wingfield Park downtown is packed with people floating the river and having a great time. There are a few rental places down by the river or you can bring your own tube—or air mattress, in some cases—as a cheaper option. This is a great activity that' ' 's fun for everyone. Just don' ' 't forget your flotation devices as the Truckee can get wild with the early summer snowmelt. If you want to avoid crowds, coming in the morning, early afternoon or later in the evening is your best bet. You can even pair this activity with the above-mentioned picnicking plan and make a full day of floating, picnicking, tanning and hanging out in the great outdoors.

Camping at Pyramid Lake

Overnight camping at Pyramid Lake only costs $9 per vehicle per night, and for three nights, it' ' 's only $24. Pyramid Lake is great because it' ' 's warmer than Tahoe and cleaner than Lahontan. During the day, you can swim and do other water sports, like jet skiing with a $19 daily permit or boating with a $9 daily permit (not a rental). Opposite the lake, there is great hiking as well. Cui-ui fish, native to Pyramid, spawn from April to June. This is a great chance to get your family into camping at a place with great weather and fun conditions. See