In your formative college years, you want to get into those classes, enrich your young mind and live up to the ideals for the developing adult. But even the most reclusive students want to have fun.

There are parties and there are bars, but beyond that, where can anyone begin to find forums that involve fewer hangovers and more hangouts?

While Reno is more notorious for its casinos and divorce rates than for under-21 fun, there are prospects for all-ages entertainment. There is even some fun to be had in the casinos.


The main strip of casinos along Virginia Street is a beacon for attention with its bright lights and, at times, hokey music. It’s only natural for those looking for fun to gravitate downtown where there are arcades and midway games in terms of all-ages entertainment.

Circus Circus dedicates almost an entire floor to a bustling arcade with bright colors and startling noises. The hubbub, however, isn’t focused only on adults, but it’s for children as well. Whether you’re into stuffed animals or not, it’s difficult not to feel competitive, and when you’re tired or too loaded down with teddy bears, there is periodic circus-style entertainment.

If all this seems too childish, there’s more all-ages fun to be found at the Reno Hilton, with its driving range, go-karts, the big swing, miniature golf, a swimming pool, an expansive arcade (that includes a room for laser tag and a facility for children’s birthday parties), bowling and concerts. The Hilton has hosted bands like Modest Mouse and Queens of the Stone Age, featuring shows in the Hilton Theater, as well as an outdoor amphitheater.


The choice of local concerts, however, isn’t limited to large, more-expensive concerts in casinos. Shows for bands like 7Seconds and Built to Spill take place at local venues like the New Oasis, 2100 Victorian Ave., Sparks, and for smaller shows, one can find tea and tunes at the Blue Angel, a coffee shop and (mostly) vegetarian restaurant at 2031 Prater Way in Sparks.

Those who stray from the clubs can find a scene among local shows and record shops, such as Sound and Fury Records, 271 Wonder St., that not only features hard-to-find vinyl and CDs, but also has information on local shows. The Web site is also a good resource to keep your radar on what’s happening in basements around town. Here you can find a more intimate atmosphere that is barely going to make a dent in your wallet.


For those who prefer a visual and audio assault that doesn’t (necessarily) involve sweat, shrieks or smelly folks, there are movies. Of course, they can be viewed at places like the various Century Theatres around town. There, you can get lost in the latest big-budget film, and if you’re lucky, find a limited release at the Riverside location.

In Reno you can find any number of theaters where you can watch local productions such as the Brüka Theatre, downtown at the corner of First and Virginia streets. Local theaters are host to a plethora of plays; Brüka alone puts on about five main-stage shows, two to three sub-Brüka plays and several special events in the course of a year.

“We’re in our 12th season and have been voted best theater company [by Reno locals] for the eighth year in a row,” said Laronda Etheridge, the box-office manager for Brüka. “We’re trying to bring in stuff that is ‘out of the norm.’ It’s definitely an alternative [to the bar scene], and you’ll see something worthwhile.”

For those who still prefer the screen to the stage, but can’t find enough variety at the larger theaters, the Great Basin Film Society hosts movies weekly at the Green Room, 144 West St. It is a bar, but all ages are welcome to attend the showings. Instead of advertisements and expensive snacks, the audience is usually introduced to a movie by the soft-spoken founder, Steve Savage. Gambling your Tuesday night on the selections that the GBFS screens is probably a safe bet, with an arsenal of older favorite films (Annie Hall, Cemetery Man) and foreign flicks from directors like Jean-Luc Godard and Luis Buñuel.

The Outdoors

The Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority has a justifiable foundation for calling Reno “America’s Adventure Place.” We do, after all, experience a good share of every season. When it’s winter, there’s snow, and when it’s the summer, it’s time to jump in the river.

For the various temperature changes, Reno is appropriately situated to provide for anyone who’s looking to slide, slice, skate or swim their way through the day.

Surrounded by mountains, the area is ideal for skiing and snowboarding in the winter and hiking and camping in the summer. Reno residents have access to at least 15 alpine resorts and more than 10 cross-country ski areas within an hour’s drive. The locations provide for skiers and snowboarders at all skill levels and are also accessible to those who wish to sled, ice skate or even dog sled.

When winter and spring sports end, people are just waiting to rush outdoors into the sun. Summer is a good time for riding bikes through the streets or hitting the area skate parks, as Reno is home to Rattlesnake Mountain Skate Park at Mira Loma Park.

To cool down, a number of bodies of water are an option for those hot afternoons; Tahoe and Pyramid are usual lake locations, while the Truckee River is in the heart of downtown— a place to sit, swim, raft, kayak and relax.

The school as a source

The university provides many opportunities for students to get out and meet other students while participating in various festivities such as barbecues and movie nights. The Associated Students of the University of Nevada sets up events throughout the school year and into the summer for anyone in the community to enjoy.

“There’s a lot of participation [from students],” said Jennifer Medrano, facility supervisor at the Jot Travis Student Union. “[Flipside] works to get people involved with events like Super Movie Tuesdays, which go along with the Choice Driven campaign.” The Choice Driven campaign was created to remind students to make wise decisions about drinking.

Other activities have included midday concerts from local bands and noontime Latin dance lessons in the Pine Lounge.

As in any other city, satisfying your need for fun usually takes a little research. Checking local publications, or better yet, checking with local residents is a great way to keep on the lookout for things to do. The research is hardly arduous, however. The choices for all-ages entertainment are abundant and variable, allowing something for almost everybody while avoiding the age barriers of bars and betting.

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