Our Pumpkin Patch And Halloween Fun Guide for 2014 is Out!

Reno pumpkin patch guide

What better way to welcome the fall than by taking the kids to a pumpkin patch.  It’s a family activity with something for everyone – bounce houses, pumpkins, petting zoos, great photo opps, and more!  And now, no more last minute searching for a pumpkin patch. We’ve compiled thishandy guide that includes times of operation, addresses, and prices of admission.  AND, this year we’ve added even more October fun with our list of local haunted houses, fall festivals, and trick or treat events.

We’ll be updating this guide as we learn of more events and attractions, so check back often!



tractor2         Pumpkin Patches


Lattin Farms (1955 McLean Road, Fallon  Toll Free: 1-866-638-6293  Local: 775-867-3750)

September 26 – November 1st  

Mazes are open every Friday from 5pm – 8pm and Saturday from 10am – 8pm in October.  It will also be opened 10-6 pm on October 31st and November 1st.  They will have a special Moonlight Maze on October 3rd-4th, where the moonlight will help to light your way. They will be open until 8 pm both days.  The maze is available by appointment or special request during the week. Adults (15 years or older)-$7, Kids (4-14 years)-$5, Under 4-Free.

Take a hayride to their pumpkin patch to find the perfect sized Jack-o-lantern for only $6.00! If you are with someone and don’t want a pumpkin, it is only $2.00 for the ride.

Kid’s Korner - A fun place for the kids to hang out with the cow train, corn box, pedal cars, Critterville, and a hay maze.  Join Goats-R-Us and the 4-H Club for the annual Goat Days Saturday, October 4th from 10 am-6 pm.  They will have different goat contests and Ivy the face painter will be here.

Scarecrow Factory - For three Saturday’s in October, you will be able to build your own scarecrow and take it home with you.  The price is $5 a scarecrow and you are provided with everything needed to scare those kids or birds away. It is run by different organizations as a fund raiser for their group.  Saturday, October 11th-Fallon Parks and Rec, Saturday, October 18th-Goats-R-Us, Saturday, October 25th-Goats-R-Us. Times are 10am – 3pm, and is first come, first serve.

Crafter’s Market – Open starting September 27th, the market will be open every Saturday in October.  They will also be open on Nevada Day, October 31st.  They will be several booths that have different crafts or products, as well as food vendors.

Pumpkin Tower – On Saturday, October 18th at dusk, be there to see over 200 pumpkins carved by volunteers being lit.  They then have it lit every night for the rest of October.



The Corley Ranch  (859 Highway 395 South, Gardnerville  (775) 265-3045)

September 28th to October 27th.   11am – 5pm every day.

Pumpkin sales, Country Store, pig races, farm animals, bouncy house, hay wagon rides, and Kiddie Land.  Admission cost on weekends – $6. Ages 3 – 17 and seniors $5.  Ages 2 and under free.  Free admission the weekends.  Additional fees for train rides, pony rides, pumpkins, Giant Sling Shot, and miniature golf.  They offer class field trips during the week, call to schedule Paula Corley 775-721-1047



Lazy P Farm  (8280 Grass Valley Rd, Winnemucca  (775)625-1194)

Every weekend in October from 10 am to 6pm on Saturday, and 11am-6pm on Sunday (Flashlight Maze Friday and Saturday nights from 6:30 pm-10:30.)  Two corn mazes with 6 acres of fun – one small one and one large one.  Pick your own pumpkin.  Petting zoo, bounce house, cow train, pedal cars, and a hay mountain to climb  In addition, the “Farmers Harvest Barn of Terror” is open for those who dare (and over 6 years of age!)  The attraction is open October 11, 18, 25, 30, 31 and November 1st. 6:30 pm-10:30 pm.

The Flashlight Maze hours run from 6:30pm to 10:30pm with last tickets sold one hour before closing.  The Flashlight Maze is open October 4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-25, 30-Nov 1.  All other event activities are closed during the Flashlight Maze except for the Farmer’s Harvest Haunted Attraction, on October  11, 18, 25, 30-Nov. 1 .



Andelin Family Farm  (8100 Pyramid Hwy Spanish Springs, about 1/2 mile north of Lazy 5 Park/Spanish Springs Library)

Opens September 27th –  (Pumpkin patch – Tuesday to Thursday 10am – 3pm, Friday and Saturday 10am – 6pm.  Closed Sundays and Mondays.) (Corn Maze - Tuesday to Thursday 3pm to 10pm, Friday and Saturday 10am to 10pm.  Closed Sundays and Mondays.)  (Extended hours the week of October 6th to 11th during the School Break:  Pumpkin Patch: Monday through Saturday 10am to 6pm, Corn Maze: Monday through Saturday 10am to 10pm.)  (Haunted Corn Maze - October 17, 18, 23,24,25,30,31 and November 1, 8pm to 10pm.)  Pick your own pumpkin, try out some lassoing, go through the hay bale maze for kids, ride some pedal cars, take your picture at some of their funny photo boards, meet some farm animals, and visit the “Art Barn.”  Included in the corn maze is an exciting new game called Farm Scene Investigation (FSI). Farmer Joe is missing! Who Dunnit? In the FSI game you follow the clues to help solve the mystery.  *Look for their special events on our calendar. 

The Pumpkin Patch admission price for 2013 is $6.00 per person. Babies under one year of age are free. This includes all Barnyard Activities, the Art Barn, Kids Corn Maze, Hay Maze, Fun Track and visiting the animals. You can buy the pumpkins from our market (which is located near the chickens before the entrance) without paying an admission for the activities.  Otherwise, if you pay an admission (which includes all barnyard activities, and seeing the animals) you will be able to pick your pumpkin right from the patch!



Toll House Pumpkin Patch  (12185 S. Virginia Street, Reno  (503)391-0868 )

October 1 – 31st, Sunday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Rides close at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., with rides closing at 8 p.m.  Many on-site activities including, a haunted house, climbing wall, face painting, dragon bouncer, caterpillar crawl obstacle course, maze, pumpkin bouncer, petting zoo, pony rides, a hay pyramid to climb, mini ATV’s, and a kiddie train.  Come shop for your perfect pumpkin and let the kids play in our fall harvest setting. This year we are offering a book of 22 tickets for $20. Individual tickets are $1 with ticket amounts varying for different rides.

They can deliver large quantities of pumpkins to your location, if you are having a Halloween or Fall event and need many pumpkins for a giveaway, contest, or decorations. They also offer a party decorations package which you can purchase or rent.



Virginia and Truckee Railroad Halloween Trains to the Pumpkin Patch  Virginia City Depot (166 F Street, Virginia City (775)847-0380)

October 11th, 12th, 18th, and 19th - 11:20, 1:20 and 3pm departures.  Ride the Pumpkin Train to the Pumpkin Patch and pick your own! (Pumpkin included in ticket price.)  Trains will depart from the Virginia City depot (166 F Street, Virginia City) and will go to Gold Hill and back. Tickets can be purchased before departure at the depot.  Ticket prices are $16 for adults, $10 for children 12 and under, and children under 5 years of age, $6.



Ferrari Farms  (4701 Mill St., Reno  (775) 856-4962)

September 27th – October 31st, 2014  September 29th through October 31st.  Sunday through Thursday- 9:30am – 8pm, Friday through Saturday – 9:30am – 10pm.  In addition to a large pumpkin patch, there is a corn maze, bounce house, mechanical bull, hay rides, and farm animals.  Corn maze – $5 per person.  Bounce house – $2 per child.  Mechanical bull – $5 per person,  Hay ride – $3 per person or $10 for a family of 5.  



PumpkinPalooza - benefiting the Northern Nevada Center for Independent Living   (Victorian Square, Sparks, 353-3599)

October 26th ( 11am – 5pm)  Something for everyone of all ages, with events occurring throughout the day.  There is a Pumpkin Seeed Spitting Contest, Mummy Wrapping Contest, Pumpkin Pie Eating Contest Huff and Puff Cup Racing Game, Balloon Pop Game, Marshmallow Shooting Range, and, their always popular, Pumpkin Derby.   If you’d like to participate in any of these contests, please sign up that day at the activities stage.  To compete in the Pumpkin Derby, go to their website, fill out this simple form and bring it the race with your $10 registration fee (per racer)!

Zomboo, the World’s Best Horror Movie Host, has been selected as the marshall of this year’s Halloween parade.  Be prepared to show off your Halloween finery during the Children’s Costume Parade, taking place on Sunday, October 26 in downtown Sparks!

Bring your kids to the Glendale Schoolhouse (being haunted for the occasion) for some scary stories, especially selected for PumpkinPalooza! Storytelling will being at 11:00am and go throughout the day.  

Plus, carnival games, fortune telling, and live music (the Noteables, and Reno Rock Camp among others.)



trickortreating     Trick or Treat Events and Haunted Houses


Nevada Humane Society Safe Trick-or-Treating  (2825 Longley Ln, Reno.  (775) 856-2000)

October 31st, 4pm – 6;30pm.  Bring the family to Nevada Humane Society on October 31 from 4:00 to 6:30pm for Safe Trick-or-Treating with lots of free treats for kids in costume! With spooky music and décor the whole family will have fun visiting with pets and people in Halloween costumes—you can even adopt a four-legged goblin! It’s safe fun for the whole family and a great way to celebrate Halloween with homeless pets.  For more details, contact Nevada Humane Society at 775-856-2000


Great May Center Pumpkin Walk   (Wilbur D. May Center, Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, 1595 N. Sierra, Reno)

October 18th, 5pm – 8pm. Bring the whole family for an evening stroll through the May Museum and Arboretum. 500 amazingly carved pumpkins will be lit and on display along the path. Kids can trick-or-treat along the way with costumed volunteers.  Cost: $5.00 per person. Avoid the lines –Pre-sale tickets available for purchase at the museum.  *This event is stroller friendly and not-too-spooky! Please note that sunset is at 6:16 pm so families with young children who may be scared of the dark will want to come earlier in the evening.


Community Harvest Party at Idlewild Park  (Idlewild Park, Reno.  (773)323-7141 )

October 25 from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm.  This free Harvest Festival is for kids preschool thru 6th grade. There will be games, prizes, bounce houses and lots of candy. This event is free and open to everyone. If you choose, please bring a can of food for our food drive. Sponsored by The Bridge Church and the Boys & Girls Club of Truckee Meadows.


Trick or Treat in the Streets of the Museum  (National Automobile Museum, 10 South Lake Street, Reno. (775) 333-9300)

October 31st from 4:30pm to 7:30pm.  Stay warm while your goblins, princesses and action heroes collect their treats, enjoy a book walk, magic show and games specifically for youngsters.  While the children play games and collect candy at stations throughout the museum, parents will be able to enjoy more than 200 cars and authentic street scenes with facades, cars and artifacts.  Featuring, in the Museum’s theater, Justin Meitz - Reno’s premier magician and author of the children’s book “The Amazing Alexander.”  Special admission: $2  4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.


Trunk or Treat in Comstock Park  (1650 Carat Dr., Reno  (775)284-4673)

October 31st from 5 pm to 7 pm.  At this free event, children can celebrate in a fun and safe environment. Come dressed in costume and travel from trunk to trunk and get all the candy your bags can handle. Each car trunk will be decorated and have a game for kids to play. Sponsored by Hope Community.


North Valleys Halloween Parade  (North Valleys Library, 1075 North Hills Boulevard, #340.   (775)972-0281.  )

October 29th at 5pm.  Wear your costumes and join them for their annual Trick or Treating Parade. They will be Trick or Treating throughout the North Hills Shopping Center.


Trick-or-Treat at Spanish Springs Library   (7100A Pyramid Lake Hwy, Sparks.  (775)424-1800.

October 27th between 10am and 6pm.  Wear your Halloween costume and Trick-or-Treat anytime Monday, October 27 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the Spanish Springs Library!


Trunk or Treat at Jump N Shout  (8543 White Fir St Unit D2, Reno.  (775) 787-2438 )

October 25th – Open Gym 5pm, Trick or Treating – 6pm.  Join them for a fun, free, friendly evening of Trunk or Treat at Jump N Shout. On October 25th, Jump N Shout is hosting a Free Open Play and trunk or treat! All participants are FREE! However, you MUST RSVP for this event so they can ensure enough candy at each spot. Call 775-787-2438 with your last name and the number of children attending. Pizza and drinks will be sold during the event as well and all proceeds benefit the competitive programs and special needs programs at Jump N Shout.


South Valley Volunteer Fire Department’s Annual Safe Halloween and Haunted House  (Washoe Valley Station 227 and Community Center – 3010 Lakeshore Blvd, Reno)

October 24th and 25th from 5pm to 9pm.  The South Valley Volunteer Fire Department is very excited to bring back their Safe Halloween and Haunted House.  Join them for some community safe family fun.  There will be games, food, and the Haunted House. Entrance to the haunted house is $2.00 per person, and game tickets are 25 cents each, or five for $1.  Food varies in prices.


Outlets in Sparks Safe Trick or Treat  (1310 Scheels Drive, Sparks  (775) 358-3800 )

October 31st from 5pm – 7pm.  Games and activities for the kids and free candy.


The Discovery Museum’s Annual Trick-or-Treat  (490 S. Center Street, Reno  (775)786-1000)

October 25th, members-only: 5:30 – 6:30pm and general admission: 6:30 – 9:30pm.  Celebrate Halloween with a visit to the museum for The Discovery’s 4th Annual Trick or Treat! Visit the museum in costume and trick or treat from gallery to gallery.  There’ll be clever Halloween-themed art projects, spooky science demos and delicious treats for everyone. Admission is $2 member children and adults, and $3 nonmember children and adults (Under age 1 free.)


Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada Fall Celebration Trick or Treat  (813 N. Carson St, Carson City (775)884-2226 )

October 30 from 5pm – 7pm.  Trick or Treat at the Children’s Museum. Bring the whole family for a fun & safe evening.  They will also have fall crafts for kids to participate in.  Remember, you never know who’s watching from behind the Halloween doors!!  Kids…please come in costume!  Admission is $5.00 per person.


4th Annual Halloween Photo Fundraiser at Johnstone Studios  (720 Tahoe St, Suite A, Reno  (775)722-8647 )

October 31st from 9am – 3pm.  Join them for their 4tha Annual Halloween Photo Fundraiser for the SPCA.  Bring your children or pets in costume with your donation for the SPCA to their studio to receive your complimentary Halloween themed 5×7 print.  Their photography studio will be transformed into a fun Halloween set perfect for capturing your little fairies and goblins.  Drop by their studio between 9am-3pm October 31, 2014 it is first come first serve so get there early! There will be a raffle with great prizes from local Reno businesses – Tickets are $5 each OR $20 for 5 tickets. All proceeds from the event go directly to the SPCA of Northern Nevada to assist in finding pets their forever home.  Some great donation ideas for the SPCA include: sturdy dog leashes, dog and cat treats and collars, Kong dog toys, cases of sponges, new towels, or cases of bleach.  Your donation must have a minimum value of $20.


Carson City’s 22nd Annual Ghost Walk “Mini” Waif Tours (depart from 3rd & Carson Street behind the St. Charles Hotel, Carson City (775)348-6279 )

October 18th with tours leaving every 1/2 hour beginning at 10am and ending at 2:30pm.  The Carson City Ghost Walk is a delightfully entertaining and enjoyable way to experience Carson City’s Victorian Era and diverse history. Hear about lingering spirits of the past centuries, haunted and paranormal stories and meet characters along the tour. Their new 50-minute “Mini” Waif Walk through downtown is created especially for kids and families enjoying a shorter walking path. Costumes are welcome and there will be old-fashioned trick or treating and two home tours. These are both spirit lead, guided walking tours of the downtown district’s west side historic homes and businesses. There will be photo opportunities, tables, psychics and Ghost Walk merchandise for sale so you may want to get there early. Tickets $9 for children under 12, $12 for general admission.


Frightmare Reno  (Victorian Square – 1250 Victorian Ave, Sparks  (775)391-8284 )

October 2nd – 31st.  Every Thursday – Sunday night opens at 7 PM.  Also open Halloween night.  Frightmare is Northern Nevada’s Largest Haunted event. Frightmare has the following attractions: Evil Clown Town, Zombie Farm House, Black Hole, and the Frightmare Maze.  (*May not be appropriate for young children.)


Kingdom of Horrors  (515 E 7th St, Reno  (775)682-0998 )

October 8th – November 1st from 7pm – 11pm (Check their website for dates of operation.)  All new and improved this year with scares that are sure to terrify one and all! Enter if you dare and see if you can make it through all 26 rooms of horror!  $12 Admission; Skip The Line Pass $15 Ticket good for one admission to Kingdom of Horrors during regular hours.   (*May not be appropriate for young children.) 


Slaughterhouse 2014   (Aces Ballpark, 250 Evans Ave, Reno.  (877)767-2279 )

October 3rd – November 2nd. (Thursday – Saturday 7pm – 11pm, Sunday – 5pm – 9pm) This year their haunted house is undergoing a full redesign from previous years as they set out to entertain thousands of eager customers with new, never seen before rooms, custom scares, and terrifying scenes that had our guests running for the door.  (*May not be appropriate for young children.)  

Fall Break Camps 2014

Reno - Sparks Fall Break Camps 2014 Washoe County

Looking for a week long camp experience for your kids during Washoe County School District’s upcoming fall break?  We’ve found some great options for kids of all ages in the Reno – Sparks area.

Judy’s Kidz Klub –  October 6th to October 11th (7:00 am – 6:00 pm available), Huffaker Elementary (980 Wheatland Dr., Reno.)  K – 6th grade.  For more information, call (775)825-1287.

City of Reno Vacation Station – October 6-10 (7:00 am – 6:00 pm), Evelyn Mount Northeast Community Center (1301 Valley Road), Plumas Gym (475 Monroe Street), Double Diamond Elementary School (1200 South Meadows Parkway).  Ages 6  - 14.

City of Sparks Fall Break Program - October 6-10 (7am – 6pm available), Recreation gym (98 Richards Way, Sparks).  K – 6th grade.  For more information, call (775) 353-2376.

The Discovery Museum Fall Break Program – October 6 – 10 (9am – 4pm), 490 S. Center Street, Downtown Reno.  K-7th grade .  For more information, call

VSA Nevada Fall Camps – October 6 – October 9 (October 6 – 10 at Reno location), (9am – 12pm),  250 Court St., Reno,  and Alf Sorensen Community Center (1400 Baring Blvd, Sparks.)  Ages 6 – 10.

Great Basin Naturalists at Galena Fall Break Camp - October 6 – 10 (9am – 5pm), 18250 Mount Rose Highway, Reno.  Ages 8 -12.  For more information, call (775)849-4948.

The Boys & Girls Club of Truckee Meadows Fall Break Programs- October 6 – 10 (7am – 6pm available.)  Donald W. Reynolds Facility (2680 E. 9th Street, Reno), Neil Road Facility (3905 Neil Road, Reno), Lemmon Valley Facility (325 Patrician Drive, Reno), Rollan Melton Elementary School (6575 Archimedes Lane, Reno.)  For more information, call (775)331-KIDS.

Bricks 4 Kidz Fall Break Camp – October 6 – 10 (Full Day, 8am-4pm, Half Day Morning 8am-noon, Half Day Afternoon, 1pm-4pm.) Maime Towles Elementary (2800 Kings Row, Reno.)  For more information, call (775)200-0445.

KidScape Productions October Break Camp – October 6 – 10 (9am – 2pm.)  (Offered through WCSD Community Education)  Reno High School - Reno High School Theater (395 Booth Street, Reno.)  Ages 5-15.  For more information, call (775) 787-3900.

Wasting Arrows Explore Archery Camp - October 6 – 10 (1p – 4pm.)  (Offered through WCSD Community Education)  Wasting Arrows Archery - 8975 Double Diamond Pkwy, A8, Reno.  Ages 9 – 14.  For more information, call (775) 360-6556.

Great Basin Outdoor School Fall Break Day Camp - October 6 – 10 (9am – 4pm.)  Oxbow Nature Study Area in Reno.  Ages 8 -12.  For more information, call (775)823-8888.

Jr. First Lego Robotics Camp  - October 6 – 10 (9am – 12pm.)  (Offered through WCSD Community Education.)  Caughlin Ranch Elementary School - 4885 Village Green Pkwy., Reno.  Ages 6 – 9.  For more information, call (775)829-9010.

SCRATCH: Fun Computer Programming Camp October 6 – 10.  (9am – 12pm.) (Offered through WCSD Community Education.)  Smithridge Elementary School -  4801 Neil Road, Reno.  Ages 7 – 11.  For more information, call (775)829-9010.

Video Games 1: Learning and Design Camp - October 6 – 10 (9am – 12pm.)  (Offered through WCSD Community Education.)  Greenbrae Elementary School – 1840 Fourth Street, Sparks.  Ages 7-11. (For students in grades 2nd – 6th.)  For more information, call (775)829-9010.

Kids Zone Fall Break Camp – October 6 -10 (7am – 6 pm)  Brown Elementary School -13815 Spelling Court, Reno.  Grades K – 6.  For more information, call (775)852-3522.

Northern Nevada Sports and Recreation Fall Break Camps – October 6 – 10 (6:45am – 6 pm.) Excel Recreation Center – 850 Baring Blvd., Sparks.  Grades K – 7th.   For more information, call (775) 360-4160.

Spotlight Academy for Young Actors - October 6 – 10 (9am – 3pm.) Good Luck Macbeth Theatre – 713 S. Virginia Street, Reno.  Grades 4 – 8.  For more information, call (775)525-1456.

Urban Roots Harvest Camp​ – October 6 – 10 (9 am – 4 pm) Urban Roots Farm – 3001 W. 4th St. #12, Reno.  Ages 5- 12.  For more information, call (775) 636-5105.

Caughlin Club Kidz October Break Camp - October 6 – 10 (7am – 6pm.)  4100 Caughlin Parkway, Reno.  Grades K – 6th.  For more information, call (775)747-6072.

Music Fuze Fall Break Camp – October 6 – 10 (8:30am – 5pm.)  4690 Longley Lane, Suite #1, Reno.  Ages 6 – 12.  For more information, call (775)432-2422.

Jam On It Basketball Academy Fall Break Camp – October 6 -10 (8am – 5pm.)  Dilworth Middle School - 255 Prater Way, Sparks.  Grades K – 8.  For more information, call (775)530-5446.

*If you are looking for more day to day options for your kids, check out our calendar for the latest events and activities!  


Reno – Tahoe Fall Bucket List for Kids and Families – 50 Cool Activities!

PicMonkey Collage

Now that school is back in, we need to make the most of our weekends with our kids!  To help you, we’ve come up with a list of 50 cool activities you can do as a family in the Northern Nevada – Tahoe area. As you plan your fall, try to include at least one item from this list each week. By the time winter rolls around, your kids will have an autumn of fantastic family memories.  (Oh, and don’t forget to take pictures!)

*For time and dates of events listed below, check our calendar. To receive weekly reminders of these events and more, join our e-mail list.

1. See the original Emancipation Proclamation at the Nevada Museum of Art.

2. Participate in “Reno’s oldest footrace” – the Reno Journal Jog.

3. Catch the Air Show at the Reno Championship Air Races.

4. Get some Christmas shopping done and have a bbq lunch under the trees at the Genoa Candy Dance.

5. Not going anywhere during the Washoe County School District fall break?  Check out all the cool camp opportunities that await your kids in our upcoming Fall Break Camp Guide.

6. During Aquafest at the Northwest Pool, swim indoors free at Public Swim Day.

7. Learn all about the fish that live in Lake Tahoe at the annual Fish Festival at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center.

8. Honor our veterans by attending one of the Veteran’s Day parades in Reno or Virginia City.

9. Savor the sights and tastes of autumn at the Tahoe Donner Fall Festival.

10. Support the McQueen Lancers and take the kids to the McQueen Craft Fair in October.

11. Celebrate the Truckee River at Truckee River Day

12. Kick off Nevada Day celebrations with the Nevada Day parade in Carson City.

13. After the parade, head over to the Governor’s Mansion for a special Nevada Day tour.

14. Dress up in your spooky best running gear and run the Reno Tahoe Trick-or-Treat 5K & Kid’s Haunted Half Mile with your kids.

15. Drive by Tanea Drive to catch the Lights of Tanea Halloween Show and donate to help local charities.

16. Build a pumpkin racer and race it in the Pumpkin Derby at Pumpkin Palooza in Sparks.

17. Life the life of a pioneer for a day at Galena Creek’s Pioneer Days.

18. On October 3, enjoy the last Reno Street Food Party in the Park of the season at Idlewild Park.

19. Try different foods from all around the world at UNR’s Night of All Nations.

20. Listen to some Scottish pipes, watch some Irish dancing, and meet some Celtic critters at the Reno Celtic Celebration.

21. Kick off Star Wars Day by visiting your favorite Star Wars characters at Star Wars Reads Day III at Barnes & Noble.

22. Gobble up some strudel at Camp Richardson’s Oktoberfest.

23. See the Blue Man Group at an afternoon showing at Pioneer Center in September.

24. Join the Down Syndrome Network of Northern Nevada and unite for a common cause at their Annual Buddy Walk and Fun Fair.

25. Have a pancake breakfast, see antique military airplanes, watch a pumpkin chucking contest, and more at the Lyon County Fly In

26.  Looking for dog-friendly family events?  Bring the family (including Fido) to the Tahoe City Oktoberfest.

27. Attend the Camel Races at Virginia City as your favorite discoverer, anyone from Louis and Clark to Albert Einstein.

28. Ride the train to the pumpkin patch on the Virginia & Truckee Pumpkin Patch Train.

29. Attend the Royal Father-Daughter Ball in November at the Grand Sierra Resort

30. Test your family’s skills at the quarterback pass and punt zone at the NFL Network Thursday Night Football Tailgate Tour in October at Scheels.

31. At the end of November, take the family on a roadtrip to Vegas and support the Wolf Pack as they play their rivals, the UNLV Rebels.

32. Trick-or-treat early at the stroller-friendly Great May Center Pumpkin Walk.

33. Build something with Bob the Builder at a special event in September at the Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada.

34. Order a pizza and have an indoors picnic dinner while watching one of ABC Family’s 13 Nights of Halloween.

35. Tour the Governor’s Mansion on Nevada Day.

36. Look for ghosts in the Mini Ghost Tour Carson City Ghost Walk, designed just for kids on October 18th.

37. Learn all about bats at Family Fun Saturday at the Nevada State Museum,

38. Taste some chili, see a parade, and tour an old schoolhouse during Dayton Valley Days.

39. Take a break from cooking and run the Annual Turkey Trot at Scheels in Sparks.

40. Ride the Apple Hill train, eat a caramel apple, and get some great photos of your kids at Apple Hill, just a short drive away.

41. Attend Free Museum Day in Virginia City and check out the Mackay Mansion and the Silver State National Peace Officers Museum.

42. Visit your favorite animal at Animal Ark on their last day before end their regular season for the winter.

43. Get up before the sun and see the glowing balloons rise into the sky at Dawn Patrol at the Reno Balloon Races.

44. Run or walk with your kid in the Run for Education while raising fund for our schools.

45. Meet the original Batman and Robin at the Reno Comic Con!

46. Mangia mangia at the kid’s gelato eating contest at Eldorado Great Italian Festival.

47. Cycle the leisurely 10 mile loop together as a family at the Edible Pedal.

48. Take advantage of the cooler weather and go on a guided walk around Washoe Lake.

49 Catch Doctor Dolittle Jr. being performed by the Wild Horse Children’s Theater in Carson City.

50 Check out the first Minden-Tahoe Airport Pumpkin Drop!

Have we missed your favorite fall event or activity?  Let us know in the comments below!  Happy Fall!

Labor Day Weekend Reno – Tahoe Family Events and Activities

The first three day weekend of the school year is upon us, and the weather forecast looks good!  We’ve found some great family-friendly events and activities in the Reno – Tahoe area that are sure to get you and your kids excited for the weekend.



Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off at Victorian Square in Sparks (August, 27- September 1)  Have some delicious ribs, peruse the one of the largest craft fairs in Northern Nevada, and ride some carnival rides in the Kids Carnival area.  Admission is free, and there are convenient shuttles for easy parking.


Band spells Nevada_350

Cheer on the Pack at the first UNR football game of the season – Nevada Wolf Pack vs. Southern Utah on August 30 at 12pm. Tickets range from $14 and up.  Children 2 and under are free.  For more information about the Pup Club for kids, parking, tailgating, and more, see our new Guide to Tailgating and UNR Football with Kids! (Plus there are some cool UNR Wolfpack freebies!)




Virginia City Civil War Days    Step back in time and enjoy bbq dinners, Battle Trains, parades, hot air balloon rides, a Victorian High Tea and more during Virginia City’s Civil War Days Labor Day weekend.  All weekend there will be a hot air balloon for tethered rides in the Silverland parking lot.  Rides are $15 for adults and $7 for kids.  Battle Trains run every day at multiple times and transport passengers and soldiers into the heat of battle as the opposing side attempt to take the train!  Tickets are $24 for adults and $11 for kids 11 and under.



Ride the historic Virginia & Truckee Railroad Train with 1905 Steam Locomotive at the Nevada State Railroad Museum  If you never taken your kids to the Railroad Museum, this weekend may be the time.  Not only can you take a short ride in a historic train, kids can also get an up-close and personal view of trains as they were years ago.  (For photos of our last trip to the museum, check out our Instagram page.) Steam train rides are about every 40 minutes and run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from the Wabuska Station Saturday through Monday. This weekend, ticket prices include unlimited train rides and access to all exhibits.  Adults 18 years and older $12, children 12 to 17 years $6, children 4 to 11 years $3, children 3 years and under FREE.   For other activities to do with your kids in Carson City, see our resource guide.




Labor Day fireworks in Tahoe   Enjoy the last of the summer at Tahoe by viewing the fireworks over the lake.  The show begins Sunday evening at 8:30pm, and are visible from several sites. You can book a cruise on the the M.S. Dixie, or picnic at Nevada Beach.  For more places to view the fireworks from, see the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority website.



The 2nd Annual Kiwanis Community Fair will take place Friday, August 29th through Monday September 1st at Lake Tahoe Community College. (One College Drive, South Lake Tahoe.)  Tons of fun activities for the entire family including, carnival rides, BBQ, and a pie eating contest, a cupcake walk, live entertainment, a VW car show, free bike valet, AND Level-Up Curbside Gaming – a new mobile video game arcade.  There is no entry charge for the event, and all proceeds benefit youth programs in South Lake Tahoe. The fair runs from 4pm – 10pm on Friday, and 10am – 10pm Saturday through Monday. Tickets for the games will be available at the site.



Labor Day Party for the Kids at Tahoe Tot Spot (1012 Al Tahoe Blvd, South Lake Tahoe)  Drop the kids offs Saturday August 30th from 5:30pm to 9.30pm.) for 4 whole hours while you get a night out (or in)! They’ll take care of the rest with games, free play, arts & crafts, story time and a “G” rated movie to finish off the night. Pasta, fresh fruit and water will be provided for dinner.  Make sure to dress up in red, white and/or blue. The cost is $30.00 for the 1st child and only $25.00 for additional siblings. Date Night is for children who are ages 3 up to 10 (potty trained). For more information, see their website or call (530) 541-5994.



Tahoe Geotourism Expo  Learn all about the history and ecology of Lake Tahoe at this weekend’s Geotourism Expo, that runs from August 30th to 31st  in various locations around Lake Tahoe.  In addition to several “Geotracks” you can choose to attend, there will be concerts at Sand Harbour, and a Washoe gathering “lakalelup” which will demonstrate cultural practices of the Washoe Peoples, “past, present and future.” Geotracks include kayaking to historic campsites occupied by Mark Twain, bird watching, and rock climbing for beginners.   This Labor Day event is sure to be remembered by your kids for years to come.


We hope you and your family have a great Labor Day weekend!  We’d love to hear what you have planned, so let us know below in the comments! 





10 Tips for Reno Newbies with Kids

New to Reno

Are you like so many other families that have just moved here to the Reno-Sparks area?  Welcome!  We know you’ll love it here, just like we do. To help you feel at home and know your way around, we’ve made a short little list to help you.  And if you have any questions that we haven’t answered here, please let us know in the comment section.

1.  Just because the calendar says it’s winter, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily cold outside (and vice versa for summer.)  Never completely pack away those jackets or shorts for your kids.  The weather in Reno is sometimes unpredictable.  In addition, we may have tons of snow for Christmas, or none at all.

2.  Speaking of snow, get your child involved in skiing or snowboarding.  Tahoe is less than an hour away, and there are lots of great programs that will teach them to ski if they don’t already know how.  Children as young as young as 4 can take lessons.

3. Afraid of the high cost of a college education for you kids?  The state of Nevada has the Millennium Scholarship Program which students can automatically receive if they receive a certain GPA from a Nevada high school (private or public) and attend a Nevada (or some other specified) college or university.

4. With all the sagebrush and rabbit brush blooming during late summer and early fall, your child may get pollen allergies.   Don’t feel guilty sending your child to school with a runny nose.   Just mention allergies, and 99% of the parents will sympathize and give you tons of advice!

5. Even though Reno is known for casinos, most residents don’t gamble on a regular basis.  After a while, slot machines in grocery stores will seem normal to your kids.

6. Reno Bucket List events for all newbies include sip coffee and eat doughnuts at the Balloon Races during Dawn Patrol, watch your kid compete in Mutton Bustin’ at the Reno Rodeo, get completely covered with bbq sauce while chowing down on some ribs at the Sparks Rib Cook-Off, and dress head-to-toe in blue to cheer on the Wolf Pack as the play UNLV to win the Fremont Cannon.

7.  If you want to get your kids interested in museums, take them to see the real shrunken head at the Wilbur D. May Museum.

8. It’s not unusual to see your child’s school parking lot full of trucks and SUV’s.  AND, trucks and SUV’s with dogs in them.

9. When people complain about traffic, they mean it takes more than 20 minutes to get somewhere.

10. If your teenager is going to Windy Hill on a date, that means they’re going there to make out.

BONUS:   And last of all, Nevada is pronounced – “Na – vah – dah” and Kietzke (Lane) is pronounced  ”Kit-ski”.

The Essential Guide to UNR Tailgating with Kids!

Family Guide to UNR Tailgating at Mackay Stadium

Stake your territory early.  Do your research in advance and go over the UNR Mackay Stadium parking map.  Tailgating is allowed in all surface parking lots around Mackay Stadium.  As per UNR, the parking and tailgating is free on the east side of Mackay Stadium around Peccole Park and the Wolf Pack Park intramural fields on a first-come, first-served basis. Fans may tailgate around their vehicles but may not take up more than one parking space for their tailgates.     You can also purchase reserved tailgating spots (that include a parking pass and four parking spaces for a vehicle and tailgate) for the season or on a game-by-game basis. To purchase a parking passing, contact Meredith Montoya at (775) 682-6905 or mmontoya@unr.edu.

Join the Pup Club!   The Pup Club is the official kids club for the Nevada Wolf Pack and is open to all children eighth grade and under.
For $45, a member receives free admission to games, a Wolf Pack Pup Club t-shirt, a membership badge, exclusive invitations to special events, and an opportunity to run out on the football field with the team during one game.   For more information about the Wolf Pack Pup Club, please call (775) 348-PACK email WolfPackTicketInfo@unr.edu.

UNR Wolfpack kids

Show your colors!   Silver and Blue Outfitters is the official fan gear supplier for UNR.  They have a variety of outfits and accessories for kids and tailgaters, including face decals, Wolfie mittens, bibs, playground balls, hats, and more.

Deck out your minivan!  Be the mom or dad with the ultimate tailgating minivan.  Deck your family wagon out with UNR flags, rugs, license plate holders, window stickers, and even a Nevada Family decal set.  (*Flags and balloons are especially useful because family and friends can find you quickly in a crowd.)


Pack some great “Pack Snacks”!   For morning tailgating, bring along some Wolf Pack Paw doughnuts from Doughboys in Reno.  Lunch can be individual nacho cups made with blue corn chips and blue Gatorade can be Wolf Pack Punch.  How about blue Jello jigglers cut out with “N” shaped cookie cutter dusted with some silver sprinkles?  The possibilities are endless!  For more ideas, check out our Pinterest board – Tailgating Family Fun – for more ideas and recipes!

Keep ‘em busy!  Bring along a blue and silver nerf football or a Koosh ball to throw around.  Or give them a special job to do, like setting up a game.  Another idea is to have them draw large pawprints with blue and white chalk on the ground.

Keep cool (or warm!)  Be sure to bring jackets, gloves, and blankets on cold days, and sunblock and hats on hot days.   Insiders say the best places to sit in Mackay Stadium on cold days (or night games) is the east side, and on hot days, the west side.  See what your seating options are based on your ticket, and get as close as you can to the ideal spots.

Be prepared!   For tailgating, make sure to bring paper towels, wet wipes, and garbage bags!  When you enter the stadium, you are allowed to bring only certain items in.  We suggest you bring a small soft sided cooler (maximum 10″x12″x12″) with the following:  wet wipes, water bottles, snacks like crackers, and juice boxes.  Keep in mind that only one bottle per person is allowed, and all snacks and food items must be in one clear quart plastic bag.  You can bring in baby food and formula as long as it is in a sealed container.   No metal containers like thermoses are allowed in.

And lastly….keep leaving early an option.  Nobody said you have to stay for the entire game.  If your child gets cranky in the 3rd quarter, and is making your life miserable, leave for an early dinner or straight home for a nap.  Make going to football games a fun experience for your kids, and they’ll want to go every week.

UNR Wolf Pack Tailgating Decor!

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Not-to-Miss Activities and Events This Weekend for Reno – Tahoe Families

Looking for something to do with the family this weekend?  Here are some not-to-miss events happening in our neighborhood.


Truckee Family Events August

The Truckee Carnival:  There will be rides for all ages… little cars, spinning strawberries, and low-flying airplanes for the tots, a Ferris wheel and giant slide for the preschoolers, bumper cars, tilt-a-whirl, and a small roller coaster for big kids, and the Tornado and the Zipper for those who like a more wild ride! There will also be lots of carnival games where you can try your luck and skill for a prize. And, of course, there will be carnival food, such as candy apples, cotton candy, and corn dogs.

The carnival will begin on Wednesday, August 13th and continue through Sunday, August 17th across from the Rodeo Grounds in the Truckee River Regional Park. The hours of the carnival are as follows: Wednesday 5pm-10pm, Thursday 4pm -10pm, Friday 4pm-11pm, Saturday 12pm-11pm, and Sunday 12pm-10pm.

Purchase tickets right before the carnival at Safeway in Kings Beach, the Potlatch in Incline Village, and at TCF. Unlimited rides wristband at the Carnival is $30.

A portion of the Truckee Carnival proceeds supports Tahoe’s Connection for Families (TCF), a non-profit organization in Incline Village that offers parenting education and early childhood development programs for families with infants and toddlers up to pre-school.




Reno family events this weekend

Family Movie Music Sing a long: Grease (Good Luck Macbeth Theater Company, 713 South Virginia Street,Reno)  Saturday, August 16, 3pm – 5pm. Get out your leather jackets, pull on your bobby socks and take a trip to a simpler time with the original high school musical, GREASE! Danny is the hunky ‘bad boy’ and Sandy is ‘the girl next door.’ They meet and fall in love. But will their different worlds keep them apart?

Come dressed as your favorite character from Grease and enter to win their costume contest! A special prize is awarded to the winner. Price of admission includes a goodie bag full of fun props to increase the audience participation fun.  (RENO FAM ON THE GO TIP:  Snap a picture of the entire family dressed as Grease characters and make it this year’s Christmas card photo!)

All tickets are $10.



Uniden Digital Camera

Northern Nevada Antique Power Club 19th Annual Tractor and Engine Show
 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, August 16 and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, August 17 at Valley View Ranch, 1000 East Valley Road, Gardnerville.  See working antique engines and tractors, tour a working museum, and enjoy a bbq lunch outdoors at this 40 acre ranch in Gardnerville. In addition, there will be tractor pulls and other tractor games on site.

It costs $5 for adults to get into the event and children 12 and younger are free.  A $2 coupon is given to everyone that comes to the event for Valley View Ranch’s General Store on the property.

Directions from Hwy. 395 turn east on Mueller Parkway, south on East Valley Road, Gardnerville.




Campfire Friday at Galena Creek Park:  Friday, August 15, 7:30pm – 9:00pm.  Join them for the last Campfire Friday of the 2014 summer series and prepare to meet some reptile friends! The Galena Creek Visitor Center welcomes Michelle Hunt from U.S. Fish & Wildlife to the campfire for an engaging presentation on reptiles. Of course, she’ll be bringing along a few live friends as well.

Marshmallow roasting will begin at 7:30pm and the program begins at 8:00pm.

Please bring flashlights as well as blankets or low-backed chairs and dress warmly. Weather Permitting, call ahead for details.  (775) 849-4948




“Ranching at Rancho” Open House at Rancho San Rafael Park:  Saturday 10am – 1pm.  Bring the family for a fun, free, ranching themed open house in the main barn area just north of the Wilbur D. May Museum. Each week features a new theme from goats to tractors to chickens, and everything else in between.  (Every Saturday June 7th thru November 22nd, 10am-1pm)

Cool Digital Resources for Back to School Organization


Cozi  is a free app that helps you manage the family schedule, organize shopping lists and to do lists, and capture memories, all in one place.  Cozi works on any computer, phone or tablet.  You can make shopping lists, schedule doctor appointment, keep contact phone numbers, and send reminders to all your family at once.  In addition, you can easily sync any Google calendar (even RENOfamonthego’s!) to your personal calendar. Try the Cozi Family Organizer today. It’s FREE!




Digital scrapbooking suppliesOrganize and decorate your back to school photos with digital scraps.  Not only could you make a scrapbook page for online viewing, you could print that page out and frame it.  Many hobby stores have 12×12 frames made specifically for scrapbook pages.  I take the use scrapbook elements to decorate my frames school pictures.  By using digital elements, I can easily customize them online and then print them out.  The elements I used on this picture I found on Designer Digitals.



Easy meals for back to school

Emeals – This is an online menu and grocery shopping program that sends you a week’s worth of meals based on your family size and your “eating style” (for example, low calorie, kid friendly, gluten free, etc.)  In addition, you can add a lunch and breakfast menus, and specify your grocery store so that they can customize your shopping list to include weekly sales and coupons. To get a free Back to School Recipe Guide and 20% off your order, click HERE.   The recipe for the Peachy-Mango Power Smoothie looks delicious, and fast!  (By the way, you can also purchase gift certificates from them. What a great gift for a new mom, or a mom going back to work.)




OneDay makes it fun to create short movies of your child’s life with a few simple steps. You open the app, pick a question from a wide selection of fun story sets, and record your children’s answers. Then the app automatically stitches the recorded videos together, and adds music to make quality, priceless movies to share with family and friends.  The videos make great paperless gifts for grandparents, and the ultimate “first day of school” pictures.  



ArtKive App – No more trying to find space to stash all your child’s artwork.   This app lets you take pictures of the artwork, download it, and make a handy (and space saving!) book.  (For PTO and PTA types out there, you can also use this program as a fundraiser for your school.  See details here.)




Volunteer Spot – This website and app lets you create online sign-up sheets for carpool groups, class party volunteers, potlucks, soccer teams, clothing and toy swaps, fundraising events, and more.  You create a sign up sheet, add members, let people sign up online, and then send reminders before the event.  They also have a great blog with tons of ideas for fundraising and class parties.




RENOfamonthego.com     Look up afterschool activities, fall break camps, tutoring options, afterschool sports clubs, and more on your mobile device while waiting for you kids at school pick-up or swim lessons.  We can also help you make the most of your weekends with our handy calendar of events.  Find great events happening in the Northern Nevada area, and use the Google map integration to get directions on your cell phone.

Back to School Checklist – Get Organized Before School Starts

B A C K  T O  S C H O O L

It’s Back to School time again, and time to get organized.  Follow our handy checklist to make sure you and your kids are ready to go Monday morning.


  • Make sure your child is registered for their school! Copy all registration records and any other information from the school and put in each child’s individual school folders.


  • Go through your child’s shoes and clothes for the next school year. Do they still fit? If not, donate them or have a garage sale. Purchase replacement outfits that will get them through the fall, if not, the winter.


  • Go through your child’s books and toys. Get rid of what they don’t play with anymore and organize the remaining items. A clean room will make getting up for school much easier!


  • Double check your child’s immunization records. Are they up to date? Make sure you make a copy for yourself if you give a copy to your child’s school.


  • Have a sick day cabinet in a secure location. When kids go back to school, so do viruses, so be prepared! Stock your cabinet with your common remedies and supplies .


  • Set up a checklist to make mornings easier. Post it in a visible spot for ALL to see.


  • Post a large dry erase calendar and hang next to where backpacks and coats are stored. Fill in any daily reminders with a dry erase pen, and color code for each child.Include school project due dates, field trips, after school activities, sports, doctor appointments, and any other information.


  • Plan out the week’s lunches if you are packing them. Have a list of “go-to’s” that you know your child will eat.


  • Go over your child’s school supply list provided by their teacher/school and purchase. School supplies go quick!

Reno – Tahoe “Not-to-Miss” Family Events in August

Reno Tahoe Family Events August

We can’t believe it’s August already!  But summer is not over yet, and we’ve got some “not-to-miss” family events that will help you enjoy every last bit of it.  And don’t forget, check our calendar for more events not listed here.


The Discovery Museum:  Stargazing Weekend – Aug 9-10.  Take a glimpse into the study of the stars. Create a star map, learn about constellations, and tour the night sky from the comfort of Challenger Learning Center’s portable Starlab—shows start every 45 minutes from 12:30 to 3:15pm.  Cost is free with museum admission. Recommended for all ages

The last Sparks Farmer’s Market in Victorian Square – August 21st 3pm – 8pm.  (TIP:  Park near the Sparks Century theater and on the way back to the car, let the kids splash in the interactive water fountain.)

UNR Wolfpack Football’s opening game on August 30th at 12pm.  Take the family down to Mackay Stadium and see our Wolfpack play Southern Utah.  For early tickets, go to their website.

Children’s Environmental Science Day at the Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences - August 9th from 1pm – 4pm at the| Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences. This free event for kids ages 6 and up includes hands-on science activities designed to create an awareness of the unique ecology of Lake Tahoe and provide an opportunity for young and old alike to learn about environmental and Earth science.  For more information, call (775) 881-7562 or see their website.

The Jazz & Beyond Carson City Music Festival August 1 – 17th.  Enjoy performances featuring more than 100 musicians, representing over 50 bands.  Enjoy Dixieland jazz, big band, bluegrass, Latin, blues, folk and more. There are some ticketed events, but most are free to enjoy.  Check their website for the schedule of events.

Fiddler on the Roof performed by Sierra School of Performing Arts August 15th – 17th and 22nd – 24th at 7:30pm at the Hawkins Outdoor Amphitheater at Bartley Ranch.  Tickets are $20/Adults (advance) $25 (door) $15 students/seniors and are available at www.sierraschoolofperformingarts.org or 775-852-7740.

  “Based on the stories of Sholem Aleichem, Fiddler on the Roof takes place in 1905, in Anatevka, a small village in Tsarist, Russia during the eve of the revolution.          Tevye is a poor milkman who cares for his five daughters. While he and the rest of the elders in the village are deeply rooted in tradition, his daughters’ forward    thinking   clashes with Tevye’s principles and causes a rift in the family.”   – sierraschoolofperformingarts.org

Reno Aces Baseball las regular season home game on August 27th. Have some peanuts and cracker jacks while rooting on our own Reno Aces as they play the Omaha Storm Chasers.  For tickets and more information, go to their website.  (TIP:  If you can’t make the game on the 27th, consider taking the kids to Circus Circus Family Sunday game on August 10th.  Play Circus Circus Baseball Bingo, and follow the on-field action to win prizes. Plus, 500 lucky kids will receive a voucher for a hot dog, a bag of candy and a small soda.  What a way to celebrate the last day of summer vacation!)


Does College Planning Start in 9th Grade?

Today we are featuring a Back to School Guest Post from Alex Ellison – founder and owner of Dunce, LLC “College Planning That’s Clever!”.


Does College Planning Start in 9th Grade?

We know that students who think about college (day dream about it, talk to their parents about it) before the 9th grade, are more likely to go to college than students who don’t give college a thought until after entering high school. The problem is that many students can’t think about college when they’re anxious and excited about high school! Many students who hate school and dread every day, think post-high school education will be a carbon copy, and so they are certainly not going to spend their days thinking about college.

Instead of drilling students with questions like, “Honey, what do you think you want to be when you grow up?” or “Do you know where you want to go to college?” We should be doing everything in our power to make sure new high school students know their options. All of them. And then we should help them filter, based on what we know about their interests.

This is what I spend my days doing with my students, and it is a blast. There is nothing more satisfying than putting a new idea, a new activity or a new summer program on the table and seeing a student’s eyes light up as they exclaim, “That exists!?”.

No 9th grader should be “planning” for college in the way that we think (taking lots of practice SAT’s, strategizing, doing activities that he thinks will be desirable to an admissions officer). Students should be exploring, asking questions, looking beyond the classroom for knowledge, and daydreaming…. a lot.

By going into hardcore planning mode early in high school, students eliminate many of the most enjoyable things in life. They “live” for the college application. The ironic thing is that students who meticulously map out their high school career to impress an admissions officer down the road, actually hurt themselves by becoming boring people. 

The most competitive schools out there don’t need anymore 4.0 students who have lots of line items on their applications; they need with whom they can have an enjoyable conversation.

So, I say burn the checklist! But for those of you who like the bullet points, here’s what I have for you as a list of items to tackle or try out in your first year of high school and beyond:

  • Start a blog – interfacing with the online world, journaling for and with a worldwide audience and developing your creative writing style and personal brand have never been more important than right now.
  • Explore science – one of the things really lacking in most schools is advanced and cutting edge engineering and technology classes. If you are interested in science, don’t limit yourself by just going to biology class. There are many other sciences to explore, but you are going to have to look outside of the classroom at camps, online courses and maybe even the community college.
  • Shadow – this isn’t stalking…find someone whose career fascinates you. Ask them if you can follow them around for a day to see what they do. This is not an internship and there is no high stakes commitment. Just do it!
  • Visit Colleges – this is something you should just make a habit of whenever you are on vacation or at a Volleyball tournament. The more colleges you see, the better idea you will have of what you want in a college by the time you are a senior.
  • Prune and Prioritize – You can’t do it all. In fact, you can’t even do close to that amount. Try some things out during your freshman year and sample anything that peaks your interest, but then learn how to firmly say “NO” to those things that are not 100% fulfilling to you. Life, and especially high school, is too short to play football just because your dad wants to go to your games or to join the chess team because you want to look smarter. Go deep into those activities that light you up and exhaust all of the opportunities in that activity.

And maybe you’ll learn to play the bassoon or speak latin or become a master underwater basket weaver (which I’ve learned is a college major).

But please… don’t do these things to impress anyone. Authenticity and honesty are actually becoming the “stand-out” factors on college applications, and these are things you’ve actually been learning since you were five.


Alex Ellison is the founder and owner of Dunce, LLC “College Planning That’s Clever!”. She helps students find alternative and intriguing post-secondary paths and  calms the pre-college tensions held by students and parents. Alex is co-coordinator of Girl Empire, a revolutionary conference for high school girls happening THIS Saturday, August 9th, 2014 in Downtown Reno. More info here.


10 Ways to Ease the Transition from Summer to School

10 Ways to Ease the Transition from Summer Break to School

Even though summer may be a little shorter this year for Reno students, the transition from summer vacation to school is always hard. To help your kids get back into the school frame of mind, consider following some of our 10 suggestions. And, as always, if you have any other ideas to add, please let us know in the comment section below!

1. Let your child pick out their breakfast for the first day back to school (with exceptions – no ice cream!)

2. Take your child out for a special celebration dinner to the restaurant of their choice at the end of the first week.

3. Place little notes of encouragement and love in their lunch box or backpack.

4. Emphasize who and what your child already knows at school to make the first days less scary.

5. Most schools have some sort of open house prior to the first day. Take your child with you and meet his or her teacher. Check out with your child where the bathrooms are, where their classroom is, where they get on the bus, where they eat lunch, etc.

6. If they are riding the bus to school, meet the bus driver with them on the first day. If they know someone already on the bus, see if they can be bus buddies and sit together. Let your child know that they even if they forget their bus stop, the bus driver will make sure they get off at the right stop.

7. Connect with other parents in your child’s class and set up playdates to encourage new friendships.

8. Get involved by volunteering for your child’s school. Anxiety in parents can transfer to their children, so ease any concerns you may have by meeting more people at your child’s school.

9. Establish morning and bedtime routines a week before school starts. It’s hard to switch from a 9am alarm to a 6am alarm!

10. Listen to your child’s fears and concerns but don’t overreact. Remain calm and positive!

Get the Most out of Your Nevada State Fair Experience with These 11 Tips


The Nevada Sesquicentennial Fair celebrates Nevada’s 150th birthday at Fuji Park in Carson City, Nevada on July 30th thru August 3rd, 2014.  This is a great opportunity for some family fun during the last days of summer vacation.  To get the most out of your State Fair visit, follow our 11 suggestions below!

1 If you have some major carnival ride “junkees” in your family, take advantage of the pre-sale $20 special on a one day “all-you-can-ride” pass at the Carson Visitors Bureau (on sale until Saturday.) (General admission to the fair is free.)

2. Don’t miss the Exhibit Hall full of entries from kids in such categories as insect collections, candy making, and even Lego displays.

3. Visit the fair on Kids’ Day (August 1st – Friday.)  Family friendly fun and entertainment, such as strolling magicians, down-home country music, and face painting will be featured throughout the day.

4. Escape the sun and visit 4H and Future Farmers of America animal judging indoors on the hottest part of the day.  There will be a petting zoo at the fair, as well.

5. Channel your inner Dog Whisperer and check out the dog show and agility trials on Thursday at 4pm.

6. Get inspired to cook some healthy summer dishes with your child while visiting the many homegrown prize fruits and veggies in the Exhibit Hall.  (P.S. There is also a pumpkin category, for those of you already thinking of jack-o-lantern carving!)

7. If your child is 8 or younger, they can enter the Cookie Stacking Contest or the My All Time Bestest PB & J Sandwich Contest held on Saturday from 1 – 3pm on the Daily Contest Stage in the Exhibit Hall.

8. Give yourself a break and park at the Fandango Casino to take advantage of the free shuttle that will transport you and your family to the fair.  (If traveling from out of town, the Courtyard Marriott is just steps away from the casino, while the Fandango has several dining options.)

9. Cheat a little on your diet and split a deep-fried Twinkie with you kids.  (Just don’t ride the Zipper right after!)

10. Plan an old-fashioned fair family picnic for lunch, and eat under the large shade trees throughout the fair location.  Bring in bottles of cold water and apples to supplement the Indian tacos and hot dogs you purchase.

11.  Don’t miss the Ranch Rodeo on Saturday (5pm – 10pm) and Sunday (9am – 2pm.)  Tickets are just $6 for children (ages 4 – 12) and $10 for adults.  For a pre-rodeo warm up, go see the Pee-Wee Bottle Calves, Lambs, and Goat Show at the Livestock Show Ring.

*For more information and times of the Nevada State Fair, see their website.  


Top Picks for Families This Weekend

Heading out with the kids this weekend? Here’s some of the great events we found in the Reno – Tahoe area for the upcoming weekend. For more events not listed here, see our calendar.

events for families in the Reno Tahoe area

The Truckee Tahoe Air Show and Family Festival   (Saturday, July 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m)  Held at the Truckee Tahoe Airport which is conveniently located off of Highway 267 in Truckee, CA about a half a mile from interstate 80 and 13 miles from the shores of North Lake Tahoe (King’s Beach) The event and parking is FREE.  In additition to  aerial acrobatic performances by the Aerobatic Pilots, the U.S. Air Force Parachute Team, and the Red Star Formation Team, there are numerous static displays, and giant scale radio-controlled planes.

Featured festival activities include a kid’s fun area with games, music, puppet show, face painting, arts and crafts; a Vendor Village, Food and Beer Garden, Speaker Forums and FREE flights for Kids ages 8-17 on Sunday, July 13. Go to the EEA Building at the Airport on Saturday, July 12 to sign up your child.  For more information about the Young Eagles Program, go to www.truckeetahoeairshow.com.


Events for families this weekend in Reno

Charlotte’s Web Presented by TheatreWorks of Northern Nevada  (July 12, 2pm – 3pm and 7pm – 8pm, and July 12, 2pm – 3pm)  This play adapted for the stage by Joseph Robinette, is based on the award winning book by E. B. White. All of the enchanting characters of the book are here; including Wilbur the irresistible young pig, Templeton the rat, and most of all the extraordinary spider, Charlotte, who proves to be a true friend and a good writer. This play is recommended for the whole family. Performances located at the laxalt Auditorium, 401 W. 2nd St, Reno.  Admission: Ticketed $12 general/ $10 students and seniors.  For more information and tickets, call 284-0789.

Events for families this weekend in Reno

Hands ON! On Second Saturday at the Nevada Museum of Art: Summertime in Shangri-la  (Saturday July 12, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm)  This popular free family program provides a day of filled with art projects, gallery activities, storytelling, and cultural events.  This Saturday, they will feature  DIY Mosaic Buttons, Islamic Inspired Lanterns,  Children’s Storytelling with Kathleen Durham, a special performance by JamPro Music Factory’s Rock’n Strings Instructors, and a a public tour of the museum.

events for families in Reno

Create a Fairy Garden at the Discovery Museum  (July 12, 11am)  Create and then take home your own fairy garden, guaranteed to attract not only fairies but gnomes and other magical creatures as well!  For ages 5 and up (adult required for ages 5 – 7.)  The cost is $5 members, $5 nonmembers (does not include museum admission). Register at www.nvdm.org or call (775)786-1000.



Sparks Food Truck Drive-In  (Saturday, July 12.  Event starts at 5pm and movie at 8pm)   The Sparks Food Truck Drive-In is a unique dinner and movie experience in Victorian Square. Local food trucks and specialty vendors will be serving food and treats, followed by a free movie in the newly renovated amphitheater.  This week, they are showing The Fantastic Mr. Fox - a film inspired by Roadl Dahl’s (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) book under the same name.  The film is rated PG.


Family Fun Saturdays at the Nevada State Museum in Carson City  (Saturday, July 12, 10 am – 3 pm)  This Saturday’s topic is Water in Nevada, geared towards children ages ten and up. Learn about the Carson City watershed and how water is used in our state. Discover how to read maps to understand the flow of water and locate major features in the local landscape; conduct scientific experiments related to the properties of water. Choose your 30-minute time slot in art of science or both. Tickets available at 9 am at the museum.  Contact Deborah Stevenson at ext. 237.775-687-4810, ext. 237.



Lahontan State Rec Area – Once Upon a Time: Animals that Live in Water  (Saturday, July 12, 9 am – 10:30 am)    Learn about animals that live in the water by listening to the reading of the book Box Turtle at Long Pond by William T. George and Lindsay Barrett George. Make and paint turtles with paper bowls and then view and compare a live tortoise to a water turtle along with a nature walk along the river. For ages 3-12 years old; however, all are welcome. For any questions, please contact Tabitha Coughlin at 775-867-3500.  (Lahontan Dam River Camp, located at 16799 Lahontan Dam Road, Fallon 89406. From Hwy 50, between Silver Springs and Leetville Junction, turn south onto Lahontan Dam Road. Drive past the bridge, over the Carson River and stay on the paved road to the main entrance of the park.map.)


Frozen Party and Storytime with Elsa at Learning Express  (Sunday, July 13th, 11:00 – 12:30 South Reno location and 2:00 – 3:30 North Reno location)  Join Elsa for Story-time and a Sing-Along, and don’t forget to bring your camera!  Learning Express South:  197 Damonte Ranch Pkwy, Reno.  Learning Express North: 5110 Mae Anne Ave #704, Reno.

What You Need in Your Car This Summer – the Ultimate List for Parents!

  After several summers of driving kids around, we thought we would pass along our summer organization knowledge to you. We’ve scanned the RENOfamonthego minivan, and here is a handy list of items we found stored inside that has made our summer easier.  We hope this will make your summer easier as well!

Sun hats –  We found these cute UPF 50+ hat on Flap Happy.  (It even has a removable flower.)


Waterproof sunblock – We like the spray because it is easy and fast, but the small sticks of sunblock are great to put in a purse or use as a last minute lip balm.

Bug spray – Nothing is worse than getting attacked suddenly by mosquitoes while fishing.

Body towels cutout

Towels – To dry off after some last minute splashing in the creek, or for covering the car seat when parking in the sun.

Large hair clips – Use to keep a towel on your beach chair or gathering up your daughter’s sun dress skirt when she decides to wade in the creek.

Plastic bags – Finally, a use all those plastic bags you get at the grocery store!  Handy for anything from wet shoes to fruit from the farmer’s market.  Check out our Pinterest board for a clever diy plastic bag holder.

First aid kit  - For splinters, cuts, insect bites, and indigestion.


Duct tape – Repair tears in pants, keep stuffing falling out of stuffed animal, fix a flip flop, and more.

Crackers – Something like Saltines work well to calm a yucky tummy.  coolgear water bottles

Water bottles filled with water – We like the Cool Gear BPA free water bottles with chillable inserts. You can also order replacement straws!


Mobile charger – You’re at the waterpark and you want to snap that picture, but your phone has run out of charge!

Scissors – I keep a pair of scissors in my glove box all year.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used them.


A big totebag – We buy those 99 cent tote bags you can get at TJ Maxx.  They last, and they are waterproof.  Have one just for beach/swimming, and one for general gear.

Emergency cash – Never assume that the snack bar takes plastic.  Keep some dollar bills and quarters for treats and parking meters.  (The cute coin purse above is from Misala on Etsy.)

Water shoes or slip on waterproof sandals  We like Crocs because they can be easily rinsed off.


Suckers – For bribery, low sugar level fix, or an emergency distraction.

Set of extra clothes (underwear, shorts, and a t-shirt) – If you child’s clothes get wet or they have an accident, you’re prepared.  Place all the extra clothes in a large zip lock baggie, and then you will have something you can put the dirty clothes in.



Hand sanitizer – Get a larger one for the car, and a small one for your purse or beach bag.  Bath and Body Works has tons of great smelling ones, and also little holders you can clip to your keys or tote bag.


Waterproof case for your cellphone – We take our phones everywhere – that includes rafting and boating!

Wisk broom – Nothing worse than tons of sand in your car. This is also great for sweeping the sand off your kids’ shoes.


Folding wagon  - We found one at Sam’s Club for under $60.  Use if for hauling picnic or camping supplies.


Plug-in cooler – If you’re on a road trip and need a cool drink, you’ll always have one with this little cooler that plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter.


Stick on shades for passenger windows – Nothing is worse than a burning hot car seat.


NABI tablet – When you have to run errands, sometimes the kids need a little distraction.  The NABI tablet is bomb-proof,  and you can easily control what your child has access to.


Pop up shade –  Not only for the beach, it is a lifesaver when watching those afternoon soccer games.


Wet wipes – We found some organic wipes that smell like mint. Great for car sickness or headaches!


Zip up hoodies – The movie theaters really like to crank up that air conditioner in the summer!

AAA membership – For under $100 a year you can get complete emergency service for your car.  When you just realized you locked your keys in your car and you’ve got 3 kids in a hot parking lot, this will come in handy.


Hope you have found our list useful!  If you have any other items you find invaluable for the car, please let us know in the comment section below.  







Our Top Picks for Families this Weekend!

Planning out your weekend with your family? Here are our top picks for the weekend. For lots more family events, check out our calendar!

Reno Tahoe Farmer's Market Events for Families

The Summit Farmer’s Market (Saturday, June 28, 9 am – 2 pm. 13925 S. Virginia St. in the parking lot between Dillard’s and Starbucks)  Produce, specialty packaged goods, bakery items, home- and garden-themed arts and crafts, and flowers.


Hike Huffaker Hills Lookout Trail with your Kids

Huffaker Park Lookout Trail Guided Hike  (Saturday, June 28, 9 am – 11 am)  Want to walk on a volcano in the middle of Reno? Well this is your chance! We’ll take in some good views of the city on this 1.7 mile walk and talk about the geology and natural history of this unique area. The first 30 registered attendees receive a $10 Scheels gift card!

Lake Lahontan Events for Families

Lahontan State Rec Area – Once Upon a Time: Animals in the Woods  (Saturday, June 28, 9 am – 10:30 am,  Lahontan Dam River Camp, located at 16799 Lahontan Dam Road, Fallon)  Learn about animals that live in the woods by listening to the reading of the book The Mitten by Jan Brett. Make a mitten-shaped bird feeder with floral wire using cereal, popcorn, and raisins then enjoy an animal scavenger hunt along the river camp’s trail. For ages 3-8 years old; however, all are welcome. For any questions, please contact Tabitha Coughlin at 775-867-3500.


Reptile Encounters at the Library

Exotic Reptile Encounters @ North Valleys Library  (Saturday, June 28, 3 pm – 4 pm,  1075 North Hills Boulevard, #340, Reno) Close Encounters Wildlife Edventures along with Sierra Nevada Academy of Kindred Ectotherm’s, SNAKE, presents a hands-on, family friendly hour of educational highlights on exotic and indigenous reptiles with gently acclimated herpetological ambassadors. Photo ops also available to make an unforgettable family adventure right here at your local library.


Sugar Pine Point State Park for Families

Bear Brunch at Sugar Pine Point State Park   (Sunday, June 29, 11 am,  Tahoma, CA)  Enjoy a wonderful full menu brunch on the front lawn of the Children’s House overlooking Lake Tahoe while learning all about the California Black Bears that call the park home. State Park Interpreter Nichole Gange will be sharing her knowledge of the California Black Bear in a fun and entertaining event suitable for the entire family. This program supports the educational efforts of the Sierra State Parks Foundation. 11am-1pm and reservations are required with space limited to 40. $20 adults/ $10 for kids 12-6. Children 5 and under are free. Call theirr office for more information at 530-583-9911.

Treat Your Kids to a Tour of a Candy Factory, Here in Reno!

take your kids on a tour of a candy factory in Reno, Nevada

Did you know we have a candy factory here in Reno that you can tour, for free, with your kids?  I knew about Kimmie Candy’s famous (and delicious) chocolate covered sunflower seeds (Sunbursts), and my 5 year old told me Choco Rocks were all the rage in Kindergarten, but I just recently discovered their free tours.  So, with school now out, and a house full of boys, I decided to get them off the XBox, and out exploring. And, when I told them we were going to a candy factory, of course, they were all in.

Nevada’s own Kimmie Candy Factory is open for tours weekdays from 10 am – 2 pm, so we headed there on a Tuesday morning, and fortunately had the place to ourselves.  The tour started in the gift shop, where we were presented with a giant tasting display of every candy Kimmie’s makes.  The kids’ favorite was by far the Choco Rocks, but grandma and I loved the chocolate covered pistachios.

Then it was off to a special room they have designated for tours.  One wall was covered with candy artifacts – there was even a giant chocolate bar that each kid could lift and make a guess on how much it weighed.  (I’m not going to tell. You’ll have to find out yourself!)  In addition, there was an actual cocoa pod that the boys could shake and hear the seeds inside, that later become the cocoa bean.  A short film was then shown that went into the history and science of chocolate (a great starting point for a thematic lesson plan for homeschoolers and teachers.)

From the tour room, we then proceeded to the factory.  We could see the packaging and labeling in one room, and in another, a giant room of metal tumblers spinning all different colors of sugar coatings, that would later go on the chocolates.  The kids were amazed to see crates and crates of stacked candies just within reach – what a temptation!

Overall, the tour took around 35 minutes to complete, but if you have a large group which needs to be split up, it may take longer.  At the very end of the tour, you can purchase candies, including the mislabeled packages that are sold at a discount.  Generally, the factory can accommodate short notice tours, but if you have a larger group, it is recommended you call ahead.   For special occasions, you can request certain color candies (school colors, holidays, theme birthday parties) if you give them notice.

One quick note: the Kimmie Candy Factory is peanut free, so if your child has an allergy to peanut products, you do not have to avoid this factory (or the candies.) Plus, they do have an all natural product line available.

To contact Kimmie Candy Factory call 888-532-1325 or 775-284-9200, or email them at tours@kimmiecandy.com .  They are open for tours from  Monday through Friday, between 10 am and 2 pm.  Their gift shop is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm.

*For more cool things to do this summer with your kids, see our post Reno – Tahoe Summer Bucket List for Kids and Families – 50 Cool Activities!
Do you have a cool place for kids and families that you would like our readers to know about?  Contact us, and we might feature you in our next post!