Moving To And Living In Sparks, NV: The Definitive Guide
The city of Sparks is often linked to the city of Reno, which sits right next door. The two boundaries can seem a bit blurred, but they are, in fact, two separate cities. Located along the beautiful Truckee River, Sparks can be found in Washoe County of northwestern Nevada. The city is home to approximately 105,005 people of all ages and ethnicities. The city got its start as a major part of the Nevada railroads and has since gotten the name of Rail City, of The City of Promise. Sparks is one of the top places to live in Nevada, as it allows residents to enjoy the urban lifestyle while not being quite as crowded as the bustling Las Vegas or other densely populated cities in the state. The surroundings of Sparks consist of beautiful natural resources, allowing locals to enjoy the beauty of nature in their very own backyards.
What is the History of Sparks?
Sparks put itself on the map by way of the railroad companies. The city was founded in 1904 and was originally named Harriman, after the railroad company president. The original purpose of the city was to replace Wadsworth as a means to facilitate the switching yard and provide a repair center for the Southern Pacific Railroad. Sparks grew with the railroad.
For the most part, Sparks was a calm and quiet little city. Not much happened in the area for the first fifty years of its existence, other than the banging of boxcars, the clanging, hissing, and whistling of the trains squealing through the station, and the occasional rowdiness from the locals indulging in a drink or two at the local saloon.
The town grew at a slow, steady pace, up until the 1950s. When the neighboring Reno saw its postwar building boom, overflow allowed Sparks to grow in popularity as well. Subdivision began popping up all over the city. The humble railroad town was suddenly adding house after house to the region, accommodating the growing demand of the higher population. Sparks continued to grow over the next dozen years and by the 1970s, Sparks took a turn in an unexpected direction. The traditional family farms that littered the land transformed into lowrise warehouses, small manufacturing plants, and light industry, producing a grid of new streets.
Sparks has continued to grow and change over the last few decades. The mostly residential city has become a popular option for those wanting to steer clear of the busier Reno area, yet still enjoy the same type of atmosphere as the big little city next door. John Ascuaga has provided Sparks with its first skyscraper, moving the city from its small-town charm into a more metropolitan ambiance. Many of the old Harriman structures are either being replaced or restored to keep Sparks’ traditional, railroad charm, but livening it up a little; bringing the old city into the new.
What is Real Estate like in Sparks?
The city of Sparks is known to be one of the more affordable areas in Nevada and is filled with charming and elegant homes. The average costs of real estate in Sparks is approximately $399,900 and includes a variety of condominiums, townhomes, and free-standing, single-family homes.
Condos in Sparks start around $119,900 for a humble two-bedroom unit under 1,000 square feet in size. The more luxurious and spacious condos sell for approximately $350,000.
The most popular form of real estate in the city is free-standing homes. Sparks is full of exceptional options for people of all lifestyles. Working professionals, growing families, and retirees can all find a place for their specific needs and desires among the Sparks listings. Modest bungalows in the area begin around $279,000 for a home around 1,000 square feet in size and grand, private estates can be found for over $1,850,000 in the quieter and more spacious areas of the city.
Townhomes and multi-family homes are another popular option for those looking to settle in Sparks. These beautifully laid out homes come in all shapes and sizes, anywhere from 945 square feet to over 2,258 square feet and typically consist of two or three bedrooms. The cost of a townhouse or multi-family home in Sparks ranges between $214,900 to $489,000.
Another exciting endeavor to settle on is the purchase of an open plot of land. Empty lots provide the opportunity for homeowners to get in touch with their creative side. This is a chance for people to design and customize their dream home. Land for sale in the Sparks area ranges in cost between $75,000 to over $1,600,000, depending on the size and quality of the lot.
The Reno and Sparks neighborhoods often overlap, which means the borders of these communities can be a little bit fuzzy. Sparks is known to have twenty-four constituent neighborhoods, making it the fifth largest community in Nevada. These neighborhoods cater to a variety of lifestyles, making sure to provide a place for people of all walks of life. Some of the more densely populated areas, such as Downtown Sparks, are more fit for the younger demographic who enjoy the hustle and bustle of city living. The quieter suburbs are perfect for raising a family. There are also numerous retirement living, both assisted and independent living, available for those who covet the Sparks lifestyle for their retirement years. Whatever your living situation, Sparks will have a place for you.
So Much To Do
Sparks is known to host an array of fantastic festivals and events throughout the year; there is always something exciting going on somewhere in the city, usually in the downtown area. In May, locals enjoy a large Cinco de Mayo Celebration. July and August bring the Open Air Marketplace, where locals can indulge in a plethora of local vendors, exceptional food, and unique shopping. In September, the annual Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook Off is a staple for locals and visitors alike. And of course, December throws the annual Hometowne Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Sparks is also home to many year-round, family-friendly opportunities. Wild Island is one of the most popular attractions, as there are so many incredible, fun-filled activities to enjoy within the facility. Thirty-six holes of miniature golf, a gaming arcade, Sprint and Indy go kart raceways, and the exciting Coconut Bowl, which consists of forty bowling lanes are just the start of the excitement. Wild Island also boasts a three-level, interactive play structure, laser mazes, and pool tables. Endless hours of fun can be had at this stupendous Sparks establishment!
Although Las Vegas and Reno are the more popular destinations for Nevada’s gambling and casino scene, Sparks is no stranger to the game. There are two major casinos found in Sparks: the Nugget Casino Resort and Rail City Casino. Both of these establishments offer non stop excitement, dining opportunities, a thriving nightlife and entertainment scene, as well as hundreds of gambling options including slot machines, table games, racing and sports bookings, and more. There is definitely something for all tastes at these bustling facilities.
Enjoy The Outdoors
Sparks residents have the opportunity to enjoy some beautiful Nevada scenery and can admire nature’s best from a variety of gorgeous grounds. Many parks, waters, and mountains in the surrounding area provide ample opportunity for locals to get some fresh air and stay active and healthy all within their own backyard.
Sparks Marina Park is one of the most popular parkland destinations in the city. Established on a naturally occuring aquifer, Sparks Marina Park offers a multitude of water activities such as windsurfing, sailing, swimming, scuba diving, fishing, and boating. The park is complete with scenic walking paths winding through the trees and along the water, a designated dog park, volleyball courts, children’s play equipment, picnic shelters, and a concession stand.
Lazy 5 Regional Park is another excellent option for nature-lovers. This particular park provides ample space for picnics and barbecues, a large playground, and an open grassy ground. The splash pad is the ideal way for kids to cool off during the hot summer months and the skate park and soccer fields keeps kids active and moving. There are also pickle ball and basketball courts, both indoor and outdoor. Lazy 5 Regional Park is also home to the Summer Music Series, an event that takes place every year from June to August and features a wide range of local musicians every week.
Golfing enthusiasts can take to the greens for practice or a competitive game with friends. There are two popular golf courses found within Sparks, Wildcreek and Red Hawk. These beautiful facilities feature a range of challenging holes, fit for all skill levels. The staff at both establishments are friendly and welcoming, and the pro shops stay well-stocked and offer top-quality equipment.
Music-lovers will delight at the Nugget Event Center. This outdoor concert amphitheater can seat approximately 8,600 people and is found in the heart of Downtown Sparks. Many internationally known musicians have played the stage at the Nugget Event Center and concerts occur quite regularly, making the amphitheater one of the more popular venues for locals to enjoy live music.
A Focus On Education
The city of Sparks falls under the jurisdiction of the Washoe County School District. As the second largest district in Nevada, WCSD is home to approximately 64,000 students in sixty-six elementary schools, sixteen middle schools, and thirteen high schools.This fantastic school board serves the students of Reno, Sparks, Verdi, Incline Village, Sun Valley, and Gerlach.
In Sparks alone, there are eleven excellent elementary schools, five fabulous middle schools, and four fantastic high schools. The students in attendance of the Washoe County School District institutions are blessed with high-quality facilities and top-of-the-line resources.
Arts & Culture
Not unlike the neighboring city of Reno, Sparks is home to a wonderful art scene. There are several galleries available to the locals, ready to wow visitors with the abundance of local and national artwork. Classes are also available within these buildings, encouraging the growth and admiration of art within aspiring local artists. Children and adults alike can take great enjoyment from the various galleries and programs found within Sparks.
The Sparks Heritage Museum is an excellent local exhibit found in the heart of the historic downtown core of the city. This fabulous museum offers over 4,000 square feet of indoor exhibits from permanent features of Sparks’ history and heritage to rotating exhibits featuring historic, artistic, and cultural themes. Young and old can enjoy the treasures found within the Heritage Museum and schools and other groups are able to book an afternoon of education and inspiration.
Across from the Sparks Heritage Museum sits an outdoor train exhibit featuring a steam locomotive, a caboose, and a pullman business car. This is all found next to the historic Glendale Schoolhouse and both can be toured, guided by Museum representatives. Nevada has undergone a rapid change from ranching and mining to the railroad era to our modern times today, and the Sparks Heritage Museum captures each and every stage of the city’s life.
Shopping & Dining
Dining in the city of Sparks is an enjoyable and eclectic experience. Locals can indulge in a variety of ethnic eateries, cozy cafes, and fine-dining establishments. The various hotels all feature excellent restaurants, the shopping centers consist of a collection of fast-food joints, sit-down restaurants, and fantastic patios, and the streets of the downtown core are lined with a multitude of dining options.
Several craft breweries and distilleries offer a unique selection of beers, wines, and spirits and many of these establishments offer patio seating, perfect for an afternoon spent in the sunshine sipping delicious beverages and nibbling on delectable appetizers. The Great Basin Brewery, Seven Troughs Distillery Co, and Revision Brewing Company are all examples of the fabulous, unique options for locals to enjoy.
One of the most popular shopping centers in Sparks is The Outlets at Legends. This upscale outlet center consists of approximately forty-five retailers and restaurants. Anchored by Scheels All Sports, the largest all-sports store in the entire world, as well as Lowes and Target, Legends has a wide variety of retailers that offers a little something for everyone. Legends also plans to undergo some renovations in the near future, adding an upscale casino resort, an arena that can seat around 6,500 people, and a thirteen-screen megaplex complete with an IMAX screen. The mall also plans to add additional dining options and shops.
Sparks Galleria Shopping Center is another excellent shopping experience for the locals of Sparks. This plaza isn’t as large as The Outlets at Legends, but it does offer a variety of intriguing stores and eateries. Located in the Spanish Springs area, Sparks Galleria features a selection of independent shops surrounding the main stip of stores. Big box stores such as Costco, Home Depot, and Office Depot provide all the essentials, and then some, to those who visit the area. Several well-known restaurants, including IHOP, Starbucks, and Port Of Subs are available for those who need a quick bite in between their shopping outing.
One of the best parts about living in Sparks, Nevada, is the proximity to major shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues while still enjoying the beauty of nature in the many lakes, rivers, and mountains surrounding the city. Residents can enjoy the best of urban and rural living and pay an affordable price to do so. Anyone who is looking to call Nevada home should seriously consider a home in Sparks; no matter what type of lifestyle you’re after, Sparks will likely be able to provide.