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10 Things to Do at Rancho San Rafael Park

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of my favorite things about living in Reno is that there is always something new to do. There is always some experience I haven’t indulged in, a restaurant I haven’t tried, a trail I haven’t blazed. Yet, even with the endless possibilities the area has to offer, I often find myself going back to familiar places I know and love.

One of those places I just can’t seem to get away from is Rancho San Rafael Park. With plenty of shade or sunshine and a variety of activities to enjoy, it has become my number one go-to spot for summer fun with the kids. The best part about it is we can go there every day of the week and always do something new. Here is a list of my top 10 things to do at Rancho San Rafael Park:

  1. Play at the Parks – Rancho has three great playgrounds, and one of them is even dinosaur themed (major cool points when you have a toddler son).
  2. Head out for a Hike – There are plenty of trails to explore at Rancho whether you’re looking for a casual walk or a more challenging hike or trail run. You can check out their trail map beforehand, or just explore at your own leisure.
  3. Enjoy an Event – Rancho has so many great, family-friendly events to enjoy. You may be familiar with big events like The Great Reno Balloon Race or the annual 5K Foam Fest, but there are also lots of small events held throughout the summer especially for kids through the Wilbur D. May Center. Themed play sessions in the Discovery Room and special art events are fun and free. Learn more here.
  4. Watch the Puppies Play – If you have a dog, you almost certainly frequent the dog run at Rancho San Rafael Park. But even if you don’t have a furry friend to bring along, going by the dog park can still be fun. My little ones love to watch the puppies play in the grass and chase balls.
  5. Pack a Picnic – There are a few great picnic areas scattered around the park, but if you’re like me, a blanket laid out under a shady tree is the perfect family afternoon.
  6. Explore the Museum – If you want to beat the heat a little and check out some cool artifacts, go explore the Wilbur D. May Museum while you’re at the park. They have special exhibitions during the summer months. For info on hours and entrance fees, click here.
  7. Nurture a Love for Nature – There is so much nature to explore at the park, and my little ones find itOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA fascinating. The arboretum and botanical gardens have a great variety of plants (not to mention plenty of squirrels, chipmunks and even the occasional rabbit), and self-guided tree brochures and maps are available at multiple kiosks around the trails.
  8. Snap Some Shots – Whether you’re a professional photographer or an iPhone amateur, there’s plenty of beauty worth capturing throughout the year. When my husband and I were in college, we loved to go to Rancho San Rafael to practice our amateur photography skills. Now I can’t stop snapping pictures of our babies exploring the park themselves. 015[1]
  9. Bring a Ball – …or a Frisbee, or a kite. There’s plenty of wide open fields to play in at Rancho San Rafael, plus a couple volleyball courts!
  10. Watch the Waterfowl – My little guy cannot get enough ducks in his life. He loves watching the ducks in Herman’s Pond, and occasionally we even spy some baby geese.

So how about you? Do you have a go-to spot that you just can’t get enough of? What do you love about it?


About Gemma Hartley

Gemma Hartley
Gemma Hartley is a stay-at-home mom of two: her wild-boy toddler, Lucas and newborn daughter, Avery. Gemma and her husband are high school sweethearts who moved from Dayton to attend UNR, and soon fell in love with Reno – settling into a cozy house in the Northwest shortly after they were married. In 2010, at 22-years-old, Gemma graduated from UNR with her BA in English Writing, then gave birth to Lucas the next week. Gemma loves being a young mama, especially in Reno where she has plenty of opportunities to explore and play outdoors with her babies. She also loves cooking (especially baking), running (slowly), and crafting (sporadically). You can read more about Gemma and her family’s adventures on her blog Journey of Love.

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