By Blake Nelson

So you just rolled into the high desert that constitutes Reno, Nevada. Welcome to Nevada’s premier city. This little dust patch looks promising enough, but it might not seem worth it to really dig into the area to see what it truly has to offer in the way of culture. Whether you are an out-of-state freshman on a budget or a returning senior who can spare a few dollars, this will be a guide to some things that college students should be keyed into if they wish to really enjoy Nevada’s fastest-growing college town.

Quinsey Sablan/Nevada Sagebrush Cargo Concert Hall sits next to the Reno Arch on Monday, August 29, 2016. Cargo Concert Hall is home to many of Reno's acclaimed concerts featuring touring and local artists.

Quinsey Sablan/Nevada Sagebrush
Cargo Concert Hall sits next to the Reno Arch on Monday, August 29, 2016. Cargo Concert Hall is home to many of Reno’s acclaimed concerts featuring touring and local artists.


Reno’s music scene has been steadily increasing in status and allure for some time now. Each year brings bigger acts, such as this year’s “Of Monsters and Men” concert, held at the Grand Sierra Resort, or the upcoming “Beach Fossils” concert being held at the Holland Project. Both are great places to attend concerts; the GSR has ample seating in a large theatric auditorium. With an average ticket price of about $50, the GSR is perfect for seeing very popular acts. The Holland Project offers an intimate setting with smaller capacity and a lower price of around $10, better suited for seeing your favorite underground band perform. Cargo Concert Hall is another venue that continually hosts a mix of popular musicians and bands just about to make it big. Be sure to check in on them all regularly to keep up on most things music in Reno.


One of the best ways to experience the culture of a community is through the food that is found within it. Sadly, almost none of Reno is represented at the Downunder café, but don’t worry, good food is woven throughout Reno. Just a few blocks east from campus is Mi Ranchito, a Mexican restaurant that specializes in the classics: carnitas, burritos, enchiladas, etc. If you desire Asian cuisine, be sure to get down to Midtown for, arguably, Reno’s best Thai food, Thai Chili. Local pizzerias are also plentiful in Reno. Noble Pie, one of the most popular, is located right downtown, selling by the pie or by the slice. All offer a fairly affordable price per entree, great for eating out occasionally or more often.


Beyond music and events, Reno is home to a large community of artists and craftsmen who are constantly creating and holding art showings at various locations around Reno. A great place to see exhibitions by local artists is the Sierra Arts Foundation, located right on the Truckee River. Usually featuring local artists’ exhibitions, Sierra Arts is committed to fostering art and culture in and around Reno. For those who want to buy local artists’ work, many pieces for sale can be found at places like Never Ender and Bad Apple Vintage, both located in Midtown. The Nevada Museum of Art, the only accredited art museum in Nevada, is constantly updating its exhibits. For students, the cost of admission is only $8, a fair price considering the size and prestige of the museum. The museum also offers a variety of events, as well as classes for those who wish to learn about art culture.

Event Centers

The Reno Event Centers hosts a number of events each year. For incoming students, be sure to attend events like “Life in Color,” a rave-type event that hosts different DJs each year. Or you could go to the Livestock Event Center to attend the Reno Rodeo, held every June. The event centers of Reno are for people who enjoy large crowds and festival-style events. Each event center caters to a different style of person. The Reno Events Center hosts mostly music-themed events, while the Livestock Event Center usually hosts rodeo-style events. Each offers something for nearly every type of person. Prices vary as well, but events are posted months in advance, so planning ahead is quite easy. Make sure to check the events calendars of each center for something that interests you.


If your transportation is limited, or you just don’t feel like traveling too far, then there are a number of ways to get a taste of Reno on campus. Almost everything listed above is also available on campus. Classical music events can be attended at Nightingale Concert Hall as part of the “Argenta Concert Series,” while concerts are hosted around campus by both the Associated Students of the University of Nevada and Wolf Pack Radio. Art can be found around campus as well at any of the five different galleries. This includes anything from curated exhibitions at the Sheppard Gallery to student art in the student galleries located in Jot Travis. But if larger events are more your style, then the university has those, too. One example is the upcoming Biggest Little Festival, which promises to present different events to suit any fancy. Don’t forget about all the food located across campus as well. With local restaurants like Blind Onion Pizza and Great Full Gardens located in the Joe Crowley Student Union, you can really get everything you need right on campus. That shouldn’t stop you from trying everything just beyond Ninth Street, though.

With this advice, you can confidently approach this small town, a town that250,000 artists, musicians and regular people like yourself call home. Once you’ve gotten your fill of Reno there’s always more, including the acclaimed Lake Tahoe and the mountains surrounding it. The Great Basin awaits you just beyond Reno, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get out there and experience it. So enjoy everything from the restaurant a few blocks away to the beach that’s a few minutes away.

Blake Nelson can be reached at or on Twitter @b_e_nelson.