The National Automobile Museum is located in downtown Reno, Nevada. Buy tickets online or find out more rainy day activity ideas in Reno. We visited in April 2019 and loved our time there. It was an inexpensive and fun afternoon activity in downtown Reno.
Cost: $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $6 for people aged 6-18 years old. Kids 5 and under free. If buying tickets online add $1.59 fee per ticket, no fee if bought in person. Parking is free and easy.
Hours: Mon-Sat 9:30 AM-5:30 PM, Sunday 10 AM-4 PM
We suggest visiting for 1-3 hours, depending on how interested you are in cars! They have 200 cars on display with information cards near each one. There is a vehicle directory online to see the exact models before you go.
The museum has street scenes, a movie theater, and several interactive exhibits such as an antique “ooga” horn that you can honk. You can get inside one car and take photos with vintage props.
History of the Museum
The National Automobile Museum opened in 1989 and has been recognized as one of the 10 best auto museums in the USA. Most of the cars are from the private collection of prominent gaming pioneer Bill Harrah of Harrah’s Resorts. Bill is said to have had 1400 cars at one point.
We were told when we arrived that there was a 90-minute volunteer-run tour at 1:30 PM daily, included in the price of admission. While I’m sure the tour would provide a ton of cool information, we were more interested in wandering around on our own and felt 90 minutes was a big commitment. The volunteer was very kind and offered to answer any questions we might have.
There are both permanent and temporary exhibits at the museum. Permanent ones include celebrity automobiles and the 1907 Thomas Flyer. Special exhibits included a space exhibit, one focused on race cars, and an exhibit about Bill Harrah himself.
The space exhibit was really random and at the time half of it was undergoing renovation. It felt like they had nowhere else to put a space museum so they started to do it inside the auto museum and then stopped halfway through.
They seem to hold events a few times a month, such as Second Thursdays of the month where they would discuss specific topics such as the Evolution of Gasoline Quality, AARP driver education, and Science Saturday.
Although I’m not a gearhead, I really enjoyed coming. My boyfriend Dallas is fortunate enough to know a lot about cars, so I got a mini-tour from him on how engines, brakes, and cars have evolved. The info cards on each car were super helpful in telling just enough so we felt like we learned something interesting about each vehicle.
I was surprised by how many car brands no longer exist, many of these were on display at the museum. I personally would love to have a Packard, which were big beefy cars that were built from 1899-1956.
Overall, this museum is definitely worth a stop especially for any car geeks or children in the family. Older guests may remember the cars from their childhood. Visiting was a worthwhile way to spend an afternoon, and getting there and parking was super easy. For other travel tips on visiting Nevada and Lake Tahoe, visit our blog!