If you’re planning a road trip from San Francisco to Reno, or from any part of the Bay Area, there’s adventure waiting in the Biggest Little City in the World. Be sure to use this complete guide for how to get to Reno, and places to stay, what to do, see and eat once you’re here.
The drive from San Francisco to Reno is just over 200 miles, making the trip around 3.5 hours without traffic or many stops. Traffic in the Bay Area and weather can impact drive time, so make sure to check before you leave and plan accordingly. Plus, there are plenty of great things to see along the way so you might want to allow time for exploration and photo ops.
During the winter, snowstorms can impact road conditions and chains are sometimes required over the higher elevation passes along I-80 from the Bay Area to Reno. To ensure a safe trip to Reno, check road conditions before you leave, allow for some extra time, and of course make sure you have chains in your car just in case.
Once you leave San Francisco via the Bay Bridge on your way to Reno, you can stay on I-80 for the entire trip for the most direct route. Heading east, you’ll pass through Sacramento and notice the scenery quickly change to pine trees as you start to gain elevation and enter Tahoe National Forest. On the San Francisco to Reno drive, you’ll find several great reasons to stop and stretch your legs.
If you have time and want to take a slightly longer route, exit onto Hwy 50 as you enter Sacramento. This will add about an hour to your drive, and will take you through Placerville and South Lake Tahoe, then along the east shore of Lake Tahoe on your way to Reno.
Can’t wait to get a glimpse of Lake Tahoe’s pristine waters? From I-80, you can take Hwy 89 through Truckee to Tahoe City or take Hwy 267 past Northstar California to Kings Beach so you can take a break from freeway driving and enjoy the view on your way to Reno.
Along the way, you’ll probably want to take a pit stop, if for no other reason than to take in the incredible scenery. Depending on the season you’re driving from San Francisco to Reno, your options for activities will vary.
History buffs will appreciate the museum at Donner Memorial State Park. Learn about the Donner Party, Land of the Washoe and Chinese construction of the railroad. Nearby is the historic town of Truckee where you can stop for lunch and wander the quaint downtown before finishing the last few miles of the drive to Reno.
During the winter, make sure you allow some time in your drive to stop at one of the many Sno-Parks along I-80. The kids (and adults!) will love the chance to play in the snow, getting a taste for the variety of wintry fun nearby during your stay in Reno. There are also several ski resorts easily accessible on your way from the Bay Area to Reno, including Sugar Bowl, Northstar and Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows.
If you’re taking the scenic route along Hwy 50 through South Lake Tahoe, be sure to stop for a photo at Emerald Bay and if you have time, take the short hike to Eagle Falls. South Lake Tahoe is a great place to stop for food and shopping before you reach your final destination of Reno.
When you get to Reno from San Francisco or elsewhere in the Bay Area, there are plenty of indoor and outdoor recreational activities for you to choose to from. Even though Reno is a mecca for all things adventure, you can still find lots of ways to chill and relax in the Biggest Little City in the World.
You made and you’re checked into your hotel… now what? Take a walk along the Reno Riverwalk District where you’ll find restaurants, bars, parks and art. Downtown and Midtown offer a variety of dining and shopping options, and the brewery scene in Reno and Sparks shouldn’t be missed.
Of course, there are plenty of things to do so the hardest part will be choosing how to fill your day! For some unique ideas, check out the Reno Tahoe Ultimate Insiders Guide and let your sense of adventure take it from there.
Driving isn’t the only way from San Francisco to Reno. You can also make the trip via train, bus or plane.
Train rides from San Francisco to Reno range from six to seven hours via Amtrak. This is a unique traveling experience through the Bay Area, over the Sierra Nevada mountains and into Reno.
Taking the bus from San Francisco to Reno is usually a very affordable option but can take extra time and may also require transfers. The bus station is conveniently located in downtown Reno, so it is easy to get to hotels when you arrive in Reno.
By far the fastest way to get to Reno from San Francisco, flight time clocks in at around 2 hours flat, meaning you can be checked into your hotel or hitting the trails in Reno by early afternoon.
Save your favorite pages and visit them here!