A Zombie Takeover in Downtown Reno

By Bryan Akerley

As shocking as it may seem to longtime locals, Reno has evolved tremendously as a tourist destination. Sure, it maintains status as the gaming city it’s been for nearly a century, and classic events like Hot August Nights and the Reno Balloon Race draw crowds every year.


But I’m talking about a new generation of dining, a vast growing outdoor recreation scene that now includes the world’s tallest rock climbing wall on the side of the Whitney Peak Hotel. And this weekend, I’m talking about our city’s status as the bar crawl capital of the world.


Ten years ago, what started as essentially a few groups of friends donning scary Halloween makeup and shuffling from one bar to the next has grown into a super-massive event, a gathering of partygoers and undead enthusiasts from all over the world. This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of the Reno Zombie Crawl.

Photo: Junkee Facebook

Twenty-thousand people will flood the streets of Downtown Reno, dressed in blood-stained clothes and some horrifically impressive makeup to stagger and groan their ways to more than 40 bars. This time is projected to be the biggest group of the walking dead in the event’s history – and surely the best.

The sprawling event spreads across the downtown area, weaves in and out of hotels like the Silver Legacy and the Eldorado and includes professional makeup stations, more than 20 costume contests at various stops and the biggest orchestrated dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” you may ever see (or take part in!) in your lifetime.

There are so many participating bars, so many wild events and new – albeit dead – friends to make, it might feel overwhelming.

Here are a few of the must-sees:

Headquarters Bar - The newly opened 2nd Street libation station is just what it sounds like. That’s right – the organizers of Reno’s crawls have opened their own spot, a sort-of starting place. It's located in a convenient central spot, and you can pregame with the brand-new bar’s drink specials and pick up your crawl cup here before venturing out into post-apocalyptic Downtown Reno. You’ll also get info on when and where specific events are happening.

Photo: Headquarters Facebook

The Rack - Another of the new additions to downtown is this mega-popular underground bowling alley, arcade and club-style bar. A crawl cup gets you in without a cover charge, and this is sure to be one stop full of life (well, all undead things considered). Take advantage of The Rack’s inexpensive drink specials, stick around for the costume contest and, above all, get out on that dance floor. It’ll be one of the biggest parties of the evening. Oh, and don’t forget about zombie bowling!

Imperial - For dancing and a ton of drink specials without that club-style experience, Imperial is always a safe bet during the Zombie Crawl. Plus, its Arlington location makes a stop in almost inevitable at some point in the evening. It’s also a great place to tone down and take a break before going back out into the night.

Brew Brothers - Let’s not forget that the Zombie Crawl involves a bit of walking in the chilly October night (it might be smart to dress as a weather-conscious member of the walking dead, perhaps). Which is why Brew Brothers, located inside the Eldorado, is always such a hotspot. WIth microbrewed beers, crawl drink specials and plenty of loud music, Brew Brothers will undoubtedly be a popular stop on the crawl.

To make sure you aren’t trying drive or shamble home in a full zombie getup, many downtown hotels are offering discounts for a Saturday night room!

Photo: RGJ Facebook

The Zombie Crawl manages to top itself year after year, and the 10th anniversary is sure to bring surprises. If you are planning to compete in one of the many costume parties, Reno has no shortage of shops to build a perfect, original zombie from scratch.

For Halloween makeup and clothes only the most fashionable zombie would wear, check out Junkee Clothing Exchange. Or if you’re planning on stocking up on undead accessories and gear for the zombie apocalypse, Melting Pot World Emporium is the place you need to go. And, because the event holds at least a couple “sexiest zombie” contests, you’re bound to find everything you need to win at Adam & Eve. Conveniently enough, you can pick up your crawl cup early at any one of these shops.

So as Reno gets overrun with zombies this Saturday, I invite you to join in and experience one of the biggest and best Halloween parties in the country. You may be dead, but you’ll have the time of your life!

For other events this weekend, head to our Daytime, Nightlife and Community pages.

About the Author Bryan Akerley
Bryan was born and raised in Northern Nevada and is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno. When he’s not writing, he’s keeping up with pop culture as a lover of movies, TV, music and books or out exploring the area through its restaurants, bars and nightlife. Then he’ll unwind by playing the drums or piano or spending time with his corgi, Teddy.