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Guest Post – Travel with Kids in “Magical” Reno

The Roberts family, hosts of the PBS show ‘Travel with Kids”,  spent 5 magical days in Reno – their words, not ours.

The Roberts arrived in the Biggest Little City September 8th, just in time for the Great Reno Balloon Races and the Virginia City Camel Races and so much more! Their schedule was jam-packed with rock climbing, whitewater rafting, horseback rides and glow-in-the-dark golf! And for parents reading this, Nathan and Seamus (the hosts) are 8 & 10 years old! So if you’re planning a family getaway, read below about the family-friendly adventures awaiting you in Reno Tahoe USA.

-September 20, 2010

Magical Reno…I use the word magical because Reno has the ability to transform itself from one thing to another, and just when you think you have it pegged, it changes again. Always enticing you to explore more of “The Biggest Little City in the World”. We started off our production trip to Reno thinking bowling, lots of arcades and fun family activities and maybe a few outdoor experiences. But it ended up as much more than that…a true something-for-everyone, loads of fun family destination!

RocksportDay 1: We started off Reno just how we thought we would. We hit the arcade, played some laser tag, then went to Coconut Bowl and did some glow bowling and glow in the dark miniature golf followed by some go kart racing and indoor rock climbing at Rock Sport. Enough family fun in our first three hours to last a whole vacation. The kids, of course, LOVED it! And we all enjoyed some great family fun time. But I was left wondering what Reno was like on the outside? Were arcades all there was to this family vacation? Day 2 would answer that question.

Day 2: We began the day with an early morning at The Great Reno Balloon Race (Reno’s event calendar is filled with fun family-friendly events: Reno Events ) where we got to go up on a tethered hot-air balloon. The views over Reno were amazing. I never realized how green it is along the Truckee River and the tall, rugged mountains that form lake Tahoe are incredible! After the balloon, we headed to a couple of cool Reno museums: Wilbur D. May Center and The National Automobile Museum, where the kids were revved up to dress up in period costumes and pretend to drive a Model T. But the river was calling us, so in the afternoon, we rented a bike and a boat with Sierra Adventures. After Rafting Truckeeriding bikes down the Truckee River Path to Reno Whitewater Park, we boarded a raft and learned to ride the waves…forward paddle! Paddling through an urban setting was surreal, with tall buildings and urban parks lining the shores…a really unique experience. The small rapids in Reno Whitewater Park provided the perfect combination of adrenaline pumping excitement and safety-conscious fun. If you are looking for a more natural setting, the Upper Truckee cuts through the Sierra Nevada and provides more challenging rapids and beautiful scenery.

Day 3: Northern Nevada is famous for its wild mustangs, but this morning we decided to befriend a couple of their tamer cousins with a horseback ride with Verdi Trails West. The horses were super friendly…Nathan even commented “These are the best trained horses I’ve ever ridden.” The boys had fun trying to pass each other and we all enjoyed the scenery through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. After lunch, we headed to Virginia City for a different type of race…camel races. After exploring Virginia City’s Old West history at the old school house, a cowboy gun show, riding the V & T Railroad (where we actually got to sit in the engine) and then joining the town parade, we headed down to the race track to watch camels and ostriches. Jockeyed by a brave group of volunteer jockeys, the camels speed around a dirt track. Kids get in on the action herding chickens and emu around the track. Nathan and Seamus loved petting the camels, and they even got to ride them during an intermission, but they’re not quite ready for racing them yet. It’s amazing how fast those camels get going…it’s a wonder any of the riders can hold on!

Our days were packed with fun outdoor activities, but what about the evenings? There’s plenty for families then too. One afternoon, we set sail on Lake Tahoe for a two hour tour of the crystal clear waters and pine-tree lined shores of America’s second deepest lake. The scenery is amazing…there’s a reason they say “Keep Tahoe Blue”. The blue waters fade into the distant shore where blue-green pine trees stand guard in front of purple-blue mountains. Another evening, the magic came alive under the Big Tent…at Circus Circus Reno. The kids had a ball playing carnival games and everyone enjoyed the circus acts like Chinese acrobats and JR’s Best Friends, a dog show. The kids even got to participate in the dog show and JR turned a little dog into Seamus! Magic and pets…I don’t know a better combo for kids!

Day 4: Just as I thought I’d gotten a read on what Reno is like, it changed on me again. On our last day, we visited Animal Ark, an animal rescue zoo. The animals at the zoo range from local birds and mammals like mountain lions and black bears to exotic species like tigers. The park has a conservation focus and taught us lots about all the different animals and their environments.

We felt the magic of Reno in so many ways, Old West shoot outs in Virginia City, outdoor fun along the Truckee River and horseback riding through the foothills, plus the magic of stage and lights at Circus Circus and the glittering waters of Lake Tahoe. For more information or to feel the family magic in Reno, visit Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority.

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