From Twinkie-eating contests to live music, craft shows, and show-n-shine events, there is plenty to get out and enjoy with the kids during Hot August Nights, running from Aug. 2-7 in Reno/Sparks. Of course, there's also that sock hop to check out at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, poodle skirts for sale at the Nugget Casino Resort, and even a Jelly Bean Dragster giving away free jelly beans at the Peppermill Resort Hotel.
That should keep you busy, but since it will be impossible to do it all, we've compiled a list of things that you can do with your kids during HAN, but also elsewhere in town. This list also includes suggestions for places to eat and stay with children. Since HAN is chock full of other events, too, you can find a full listing of scheduled HAN activities here.
Fun HAN activities with kids
There will be plenty of show-n-shines to hit up during the entire Hot August Nights week, but one place to start off strong with your kids is at the Circus Circus Show-n-Shine scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 1, one day before the event officially kicks off in Reno. Let your kids see the latest in classic, retro and refurbished cars, all showing off their stuff in the parking lot at the corner of Sixth and Sierra streets.
On Aug. 3, catch the Happy Days Sock Hop in the Mandalay Ballroom at the Circus Circus. This is reported to be family fun for all ages, so put on your best poodle skirt and your white bobby socks and head over to move to your favorite tunes from the '50s, '60s and '70s, all deejayed by Panama from 103.7 FM The River. There will be contests and opportunities for prizes, too.
Get your hips moving – literally. There will plenty of time to shimmy during the freestyle hula hooping events scheduled at the Atlantis throughout the week – and you can check out other HAN activities scheduled at the casino while you are there. In fact, you – or your kids – can hula hoop almost every night with fun hula hoopin' activity scheduled from 5-7 p.m. and 8-10 p.m. Aug. 2-6.
Fireworks aren't just for the Fourth of July anymore. Check out the Hot August Nights Firework Extravaganza scheduled to start at 9:45 p.m. Aug. 5 in downtown Reno.
Keeping with old-school times, head to the drive-in movie theater in Sparks – the West Wind El Rancho Drive-In. Children's admission to the theater is just $1.25 per ticket (really – that can't be beat!) for those age 5 to 11, and there also is a snack bar selling popcorn, hot dogs and drinks. Kids movies are always on tap, and the drive-in is totally digital.
Who doesn't like to go to the ballpark, especially when they are thinking things nostalgic? Greater Nevada Field gives you a chance to check out Reno's minor league baseball team the Reno Aces at home games scheduled for Aug. 1 and Aug. 2 against the Fresno Grizzlies. Select from general admission, infield, premium or other types of seating, buy Aces merchandise, take advantage of special promotions on Tuesdays (including the second) and, of course, enjoy the game.
If you're headed over to Sparks for HAN activities and the kids are getting hot and want to cool down, you may want to try the interactive water fountain, located in front of Century Sparks 14 and XD. This fountain – or fountains – spout water up high and provide plenty of space to run around, get refreshed with other kids or find your own spot to get wet. Make sure to bring towels so that the kids can dry off.
Where to eat with kids
A&W on Plumb Lane can take you or any kid back to the classics in more ways than one. Find root beer floats on the menu as well as shakes, burgers and other fast food options. Plus, who doesn't like to enjoy the refreshing taste of a cold frosty root beer? Also, the black-and-white tiling on the floor, jukebox music and overall environment speaks of the '50s and '60s. Plus, during HAN you'll often see classic cars set out on the A&W lot at the corner with Kietzke Lane.
If you're hanging out at the Atlantis for many of the Hot August Night events or even staying there, you might want check out dining there, too. Its Toucan Charlie's Buffet and Grille just underwent a renovation and features food stations ranging from southwest to seafood and its Dessert Island, home to cotton candy and nine flavors of gelati.
Jack's Café on Victorian Avenue is great for breakfast or lunch. A locals' favorite, Jack's Cafe also can be a place to fill up for the day before heading out to HAN activities in Sparks. Breakfast options range from omelets to biscuits and gravy and eggs Benedict, and it is located in close proximity to the freeway.
Although a little out of the way from all of HAN activity downtown and in Sparks, the Sonic Drive-In on North McCarran Boulevard offers a drive-in experience. Find options that include burgers, fries and drinks as well as a refreshing option known as the Sonic Slush. Your food is brought to you by a server on skates, but you also can eat outside.
Places to stay
Anyone can enjoy a stay at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino because of its variety of amenities including a pool, putting range, bowling alley, in-house theater and more. There's also 40,000 square feet of games and fun at GSR's FunQuest. FunQuest includes a video arcade, laser tag, Tumbletown (for young ones) and even a mechanical bull. There also are go-carts, miniature golf and a free-fall swing at the GSR's Grand Adventure Land.
If the big clown holding the Circus Circus sign outside the casino doesn't impress your kids, perhaps the shows inside will. Find five circus shows on tab at this downtown casino, including one with trapeze artists and another with 23 trained dogs doing tricks – and all of which are rescue dogs. There also are three arcades with more than 60 different games and Circus Circus' Midway of Fun offering 28 carnival games, like Skeeball, Chicken in a Pot and more.
The Atlantis casino can be a fun spot for any family. There is a pool to enjoy, as well as shows and dining. Its arcade features classic games like Ms. Pacman and Galaga, as well as redemption rewards. HAN-related events are scheduled every day at the Atlantis, including craft fairs, freestyle hula hooping, trike racing and even a jelly doughnut-eating contest.
It's hard to resist the pools at the Peppermill, but the casino also features a Game Lab Arcade that has up-to-date video games as well as ticket games and prizes. Join the (free) Game Lab Arcade Club while you are there and gain extra perks, such as a free gelato with your first 500 redeemed tickets and a discount on games. There will be HAN-related events happening, including a show-n-shine and free nightly concerts.