Who doesn’t like candy? Candy creates so many sweet memories and what better way to relive your childhood than immersing yourself in a complete exhibit dedicated to sweets! “Sweet: A Tasty Journey” takes guests on a journey through time and tastiness, as you learn about your favorite candy, how it was made, and more.
Fun for the whole family, my daughter, GrandBear, LaLa, and I made a trip to Rancho San Rafael to check out this new exhibit in the park’s museum. I honestly expected we would struggle to spend an hour at the exhibit. But just the contrary.
We were there for close to two hours and my daughter did not want to leave the exploding gumball display.
“Sweet: A Tasty Journey” in Reno
This delicious, touring exhibit is only in Northern Nevada until May 15, 2022. Discover what makes this trip to the Wilbur D. May Center & Museum a sweet adventure.
The Wilbur D. May Museum at Rancho San Rafael Park | 1595 N. Sierra Street, Reno NV | 775-785-5961
Rancho San Rafael has to be one of my FAVORITE parks in the area. This old ranch land was saved by local citizens who had the forethought to keep the area undeveloped for future generations.
While Ranch San Rafael has endless sources of entertainment and outdoor exploration, the focus is on the highly underrated, Wilbur D. May Museum. Located in the center of the park, the big white building, and signs leading you to the exhibit cannot be missed.
Parking is easy and accessible to all.
PRO TIP: Pack a lunch with you to enjoy in the spacious Arboretum following your trip through the candy land Washoe County Parks & Rec has set up inside the museum.
Dates / Hours
Sweet: A Tasty Journey is open from January 15 – May 15, 2022.
Tuesday – Saturday: 10am – 4pm
Sundays: 12pm – 4pm
$9 Kids and Seniors
Entering the Candy Exhibit
If you’ve never been to the Wilbur D. May Museum, I highly suggest you factor in some time to view the whole museum. And with your admission ($10 for adults and $9 for kids and seniors) you have access to the whole space.
While half the space is dedicated to the traveling exhibit “Sweet: A Tasty Journey” the other half houses the museum’s permanent collection. This collection showcases native animals and the Natural History of Northern Nevada.
Some of the museum’s house Wilbur D. May’s personal unique collection of oddities from around the world.
Candy Mountain – Main Room Activities
When entering the candy museum exhibit, you will immediately be faced with a life-size candy mountain. While you are unable to climb it, you are able to walk around the whole thing and admire its gigantic realistic-looking candy.
I appreciated they not only included recognizable candies like lollipops, but they also featured vintage labels of Hershey bars and other classic chocolates.
The backside of the mountain housed several exhibits and interactive games. You were able to learn how various candies got their name and even find out how gumballs were made.
One of my daughter’s favorite activities was combining candy with science. There is a suction game where you put gumballs (ball-pit balls) into a box, a vacuum sucks them up, and shoots them up into the air and all over the floor.
We spent more time than I would like to note, watching the “gumballs” explode into the air and then scrambling to pick them up again.
Sweethearts – Hallway Exhibitions
The hallway out of the main room is filled with unique exhibitions. Learn the history of the cacao plant, and find out how one tiny bean makes its way into your chocolate bars.
My daughter was not as interested in “all the reading” (she’s three mind you), but I actually learned a lot. In addition to learning about candy production, I learned about the global impact candy consumption can have.
One of my favorite parts of the exhibits found in the hallway was the wall of GOLDEN TICKETS. Yes, the very tickets Willie Wanka put in his coveted chocolates. This shiny wall made the perfect place for Selfies and Family Pix.
And on the same note, I equally loved the life-size Sweetheart-Conversation Heart box you could get inside with your loved one. There were lots of kisses to be had and cute photo ops.
Bean-Boozled – Left-Hand Exhibit Hall
When walking down the hallway, the Exhibit Hall to your right has the most hands-on activities. There is a sectioned-off area to build your gingerbread house out of building blocks, an area perfect for infants and toddlers. Most impressive is the mural made entirely out of jelly beans.
There is a gigantic Candy Land game, which was fun to play as a whole family.
PRO TIP: Get to the museum early, we went right when they opened and had the majority of the place to ourselves. As we wrapped up, it got busy, which would make a private play like we had the ability to do, much harder.
The highlight of the room was the huge Bean-Boozled game. A museum employee helped run the game, featuring Jelly Belly’s Bean-Boozled strange flavored jelly beans. Contestants (aka YOU) get to spin a big wheel, which will land on the designated jelly bean you are to try.
The catch is one jelly bean can be two different flavors, one delicious, the other atrocious.
For example, my daughter and I tried ours together, and our choice could have either been Tutti-Frutti or vomit.
Unfortunately, we both did not get a fruit explosion in our mouth and ended up spitting our candy in the trash. Definitely a fun activity for adventurous family members.
Violet is Turning Violet – Right-Hand Exhibit Hall
If you are a fan of classic candies, the right-hand exhibit will be a nice treat. Guests learn about caramels, nugghets, and gummies. There are activities that focus on more scientific concepts like pressure and heat. And my daughter loved “beating me” at making the neon liquid overflow.
And if you’ve ever dreamed of being one of the kiddos at Willie Wonka’s factory, your chance comes to life by taking a group picture with Verruca Salt and Charlie.
Keeping It Local – Exhibit Hall Next To Gift Shop
Easy to miss as it’s located to the right of the front door, but definitely one of the more interesting parts of the exhibit, focuses on local candy makers.
Ethel M. Chocolate’s in Las Vegas is mentioned, but the real highlight is learning more about Reno’s very own Kimmie Candy Company. Famous for their chocolate rocks, this delicious business is Northern Nevada’s very own Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!
Gift Shop Nostalgia
I usually try to skip gift shops, or definitely don’t think they are noteworthy of mentioning. However, one of the best things about the whole “Sweet: A Tasty Journey” Candy Exhibit is actually tasting the candy.
The gift shop has a great selection of nostalgic candies from our grandparent’s past, as well as some favorites from the 80s (like Razzles and Pop Rocks).
We ended up coming home with Banana Split Cotton Candy and a Pop Rock candy bar.
Tips for Your Visit to Sweet: A Tasty Journey
Be prepared to be on your feet for an extended period of time. Dressing cute is fun, but comfort is better. Wear comfortable shoes! As the bonus, is you’ll be ready for park play after.
See the Dinosaurs
Speaking of park-play….DO NOT MISS THE DINOSAURS. Easily missed in the vastness that is Rancho San Rafael, head into the far left side of the Arboretum (the former Great Basin Adventure Park for all of us old-timers) and finds the Dinos. Fun to climb on and slide down, no trip to the parks is complete without a visit.
Pack a Picnic
As mentioned above, pack a picnic. Make a day out of it! Beyond the Arboretum, Rancho San Rafael has miles of endless space to explore. Take a hike around the lower ponds and wetlands. Or head to the other side of the park where there are fantastic playgrounds.
Prepare for Northern Nevada
The weather is unpredictable around here, right? And while the museum itself is air-conditioned, if you plan to play in the park, plan accordingly. Depending on the time of year, ponds can be buggy. And shade-cover can be limited. Sunscreen and bug spray are always recommended.
Have You Visited Sweet: A Tasty Journey?
After living in the Northern Nevada community for over 35 years, I am a proud believer in taking advantage of all the activities our various Parks and Recreation programs have to offer.
I grew up playing at Rancho San Rafael and touring the Wilbur D. May Museum on school field trips. I’m thrilled that I get to share these spaces and places with my growing daughter too.
Have you been to “Sweet: A Tasty Journey” yet? Did you enjoy it as much as my family did? Please share your stories, pictures, and experiences with us on social media @NorthernNevadaMoms.
Sarah Bear Rively is a Reno resident for over 30 years and loves the uniqueness of Northern Nevada. Sarah and her husband are parents to a sassy, smart, considerate “three-anger". Sarah has spent the majority of her career helping Reno’s at-risk populations through non-profit and social service work. She now proudly works for the Northern Nevada Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Sarah considers herself a fun-loving person who enjoys laughing, getting creative, helping the community, and spending time with family. You can follow her in real life on Instagram and TikTok.