The Nicest Place in Nevada: Dayton

NICEST PLACES IN AMERICA 2019 FINALIST
"We May Not Be Pretty, But We Are Pretty Nice!"

A woman felt disconnected and alone in the city she lived in. Then she moved to Dayton, and suddenly, everyone was her friend.

A woman felt disconnected and alone in the city she lived in. Then she moved to Dayton, and suddenly, everyone was her friend.

After her divorce, Shelly Rosario and her 12-year-old son needed a change of scenery. Her father lived in Dayton, Nevada, a small desert city of 9,000, an hour from Lake Tahoe. One weekend they decided to check it out.

Unlike Simi Valley, the city of 126,000 just 40 miles from downtown Los Angeles that they had called home, Dayton is classic, small-town America. Folks are more laid-back, except when it comes to Friday night lights—and making sure people who need support get it.

The trip didn’t start well.

“My keys got stuck in the conveyor belt at the grocery store, and I was so embarrassed,” Rosario says. But then something happened that surprised her and her son: The cashier and the people in line helped. “No one rolled their eyes or got upset because of the wait,” she says. “My son said, ‘Mom, back home people would have been so mad!’”

That clinched it. They moved 14 years ago. Her daughter has joined her, and is expecting the family’s first Nevada-born baby. Her son is now a firefighter in town because he wants to give back to the people who welcomed him way back when.

“I will grow old with my wonderful friends and neighbors in Dayton,” Rosario says.

No wonder: It’s a town that takes care of folks when they need help. After a local woman was left incapacitated from childbirth, the town came together for a spaghetti dinner fund-raiser.

“I’ve never seen so many people line up—we were running out of spaghetti,” Rosario says. “That’s why this is my town. I just know they’ve got my back.”

Sharon May, a 35-year resident, echoes that sentiment, describing how the town gathered everything a single father needed for his three children after he won custody. They even raised the money for him to travel to Idaho to get the kids. When another family had a tragic motorcycle accident that killed their son, residents made crafts to sell in front of the only grocery store to raise money to donate to the family.

“The people of Dayton support one another even if they don’t know each other,” says May.

—The Editors

The Nomination

After my divorce I was looking for a place to live, a new beginning, a new state. My dad already lived here in Dayton Nevada and as kids we use to spend our summers up at Lake Tahoe, not too far away. So one weekend, my son who was 12 years old at the time, and he came with me to spend the weekend with my father, and just check it out.

dayton nevada nicest placeCourtesy Shelly Rosario
Fourth of July with Rosario and her family, including her son, the fireman.

Now this town is not the prettiest, and if you blink while driving through, well you will miss it. But it has it’s history, it has it’s own charm and heck it has one grocery store! So we spend the weekend, meeting some people, first at their only grocery store, where my keys got stuck in the conveyor belt, and I was so embarrassed, but the cashier was so kind to help me out, I mean just the sweetest and people behind me helped out too as they giggled. No one rolled their eyes or was upset because they had to wait a few more minutes, they waited, like they stayed in line until my keys were out!

My son said to me as we were leaving “Mom, back home people would have been so mad! I was getting nervous, but then I knew it was all okay!”

I replied, “Right!”

Then we went to dinner at one of their small cafe’s located in the Casino, my dad had said they made the best burgers, so hey we tried it out. The waitress was pleasant, got our order and then asked my son if he played football at the local high school. He told her that he did not live here, he played for his high school back home and that I (pointing at me) was thinking about moving here to start over and make a new life.

And she said “Well I do hope you love it here, as she smiled at me, and I hope you young man move here and play football and if you do, let me know because I will come cheer you on!”

We thanked her, and my son looked at me and smiled and said “Mom, you are going to move here, this place has the nicest people I have ever met!”

Well I have lived here for 14 years, my son is a fireman here, and we have a nice house. I will grow old, with my wonderful friends and neighbors here in Dayton Nevada! And my daughter moved to Nevada one year after my son did, and we have our first Nevada-born baby! Nevada is home and well we will stay!