I’m a sucker for traditions. I love going to community events in Northern Nevada that I have attended since I was a kid. Taking my children to them now really makes my cheeks hurt from smiling so hard.
Having lived in Reno my entire life, you can bet your stuffy-sage brushed nose that certain community events are dear to my heart and I look forward to them every single year.
Here’s a guide of my favorite events in Northern Nevada. Make sure to keep these on your radar for the future!
This is hands down my favorite event in Northern Nevada. My parents would bring my brother and me when we were kids to freeze when the sky was dark and then boil in our sweats as soon as the dawn came. I have seen the giant ethereal nylons bulbs do the “Battling Banjo” more times than I could ever count.
I probably still consume my yearly allotment of watery hot chocolate in one morning while waiting for the aforementioned sweat to commence. My parents have even coerced visiting family into waking up before any sane human being would deem reasonable to see the magnificent sight that is mass ascension.
When my oldest was just a wee babe, we brought her to see the balloons fill the sky.
As our family has grown, so has our love for this tradition. It is simply so very beautiful, and there’s something about seeing the sun break through and bring life to the day.
I love singing the National Anthem as the American Flag floats higher and higher above us, grateful for the triviality of the first-world problems that I typically encounter daily. It is just so energetic and yet peaceful at the same time.
Not to mention the ADORABLE photos of your children as they search the sky for their favorite balloons, and the excitement that ensues if you’re fortunate enough to have a balloon land in your neighborhood or at your kids’ school.
When I was in college, I convinced my boyfriend (now husband) to wake up two mornings in a row so that we could be a part of the set-up crew and chase crew for the Energizer Bunny balloon, just so I could get a free shirt. When I tell you that I LOVE the Balloon Races, just know that I mean that ish.
Up until two years ago, I had never been to the Air Races. I’m bummed that I waited that long to go.
As a family with three daughters, we strive to teach them that their interests are THEIR INTERESTS, and not predetermined by gender…for example, we would never want them to think that they couldn’t be a pilot because that’s a “boy” job.
So, we want to expose them to things that they may not currently have on their radar as they consume themselves with their baby dolls.
Our experiences at The Air Races have been RAD. We have gone on Sunday so that we can see the finals. We head up to our seat in the stands and watch the planes go around and around, racing each other to win the coveted title. Last year the absolute highlight was when we got to watch a BADASS FEMALE PILOT win her race. We cheered until our voices were hoarse.
We also caught the Air Force Thunderbirds and I gotta tell ya…it is incredible what these pilots can do. We watched a game of chicken at 700mph and I thought I was going to pee myself.
We have seen the skills and talent required for the Lumberjack Games and my kids have been in helicopters and some GINORMOUS military planes.
The sights here are worth the cost of the ticket, but you want to know the best part? Kids 5 and under are FREE!
There are two main Pumpkin Patches available to Mom-arazzi throughout Northern Nevada, and both offer picture-perfect opportunities for some adorable fall photos of your babies.
Sure, there’s activities and stuff that the kids enjoy, but if you’re anything like me, you know how stinking cute the photos are when your babes are running from pumpkin to pumpkin, carefully choosing “the one”.
Ok, ok, the activities and fun provided at the Pumpkin Patch is also a draw. Family favorites for my gals include getting lost (and hopefully found) in the corn maze, bouncing around on the hayride, and being grossly fascinated by any farm animal that is currently urinating.
I wish I could tell you that one pumpkin patch is better than another, but I can’t. I dig them both. having gone on field trips to both, I have taken pictures of my kids at both, and I have cherished memories at both.
Out of convenience, we usually buy our pumpkins at Ferrari Farms (because it’s closer to home), but Andelin Family Farm has had a few more activities for kids in the past.
Occasionally, if we’re feeling like really awesome parents, we will find time to hit them both and our girls are never disappointed with our efforts.
For a while, we resisted The Polar Express (mostly because it costs a pretty penny). We didn’t take our family until our oldest daughter was 5, and now we won’t miss it.
For us, this has become a Christmas tradition that we know won’t last forever.
Eventually, the magic of The Polar Express will fade from my children and I will pine for those days…but for now, they are completely enthralled in the journey, the sweet ring of the bell from Santa’s sleigh, devouring their cookie .5 seconds after receiving it, and the matching Christmas pajamas “Santa” sends for the trip.
I have gone to the Reno Rodeo for just as long as I can remember. My parents used to sneak in Kentucky Fried Chicken in a backpack and that was our dinner. As kids, my brother and I would watch intently to see how much snot could come out of the nose of a giant angry bull.
Now, we go as a giant family! My little family, my parents, my in-laws, and my brother.
For the past three years, I have secured a spot for Mutton Bustin. It’s the cutest thing ever (and I’m not just talking about my babies’ little booties in a pair of bootcut jeans).
We make a whole night of it now, including staying up way past bedtime. We enjoy funnel cakes and burn money on carnival rides and games. My little ladies love the Women’s Barrel Racing event and watching all the cowboys hold on for dear life to an animal that 1000% does NOT want said cowboy riding them. We love the Rodeo.
Artown is a month-long celebration of the arts in our community in July, and there are activities a-plenty for kids! There are experiences for kids to discover music, singing, dancing, and kid-friendly art exhibits throughout our area.
One of my favorite memories with my oldest was going to a live concert at Wingfield Park featuring Disney music. She shook her tiny little diaper-covered tushie and it was so sweet.
This year, we took our babes to a concert at Bartley Ranch which we had friends and family performing in…the result was a newfound and hardcore love for “Benny and the Jets” from each of my gals. This has only benefitted our entire family.
Not to mention they were blown away by knowing performers that were on the stage. We all know how cute kid dance moves are.
Additionally, since my oldest daughter takes violin lessons, it was THE RADDEST WAY EVER for her to see a beautiful woman in the orchestra playing the violin.
She paid attention to the woman’s bow hold and tried to tell which strings she was playing…so ya know, bonus points for making this concert educational (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
Year-Round Family Fun
The moral of this article is this: we have some super rad, year-round, and family-friendly events in Northern Nevada.
Start a tradition with your family! Watch as you create memories for your babes that will last a lifetime, just like my parents did for me.
If you have any questions, I know a whole Northern Nevada Moms Facebook group that would love to help you (me included, obviously).
Jenelle Stathes married her high-school sweetheart and they share their love with their three darling and fierce daughters. She works as the CEO of their small family business and as a group fitness instructor for a local gym. Jenelle was born and raised right here in Reno, Nevada, and is doing her best at living a non-judgy and tribe-loving mom life. She has experience with infertility, weight loss, body positivity, fitness, and most recently, a tummy tuck. You can follow Jenelle to laugh either with her or at her as she traverses through the daily adventures of motherhood.