One of the things military wives are good at — besides having everything revolve around them being military wives — is making a place home as quickly and passionately as possible. This includes almost immediately creating a localized bucket list, from nearby hot spots to check out, to kid-approved activities.
As a military spouse, mom and journalist who moved to Nevada almost a year ago, I’m well into documenting my Fallon obsession. It’s well-worth the hour drive east from Reno to experience a few, or all, of my favorite things about this hidden gem that is Fallon.
This goes against what many assume about a town with a population of 8,600. As a relative once said when I toted Fallon’s food scene, “I’m surprised.” If you can get an early start and wait to have breakfast when you arrive, start the day off at one of these:
For lunch you have to go to The Slanted Porch. You have to. Enough said. (Just make sure you’re there before they close at 3 p.m.)
J.D. Slinger’s has been my favorite indulgence so far. The steak is great. The story behind the name is better; read it on the menu.
I took my kids to Lattin Farms and we had a blast — petting and feeding the new baby goats, frolicking in the corn pit, walking through the hay maze and climbing the hay tower, saying “hi” to some gorgeous chickens, eating moist banana bread, and picking sunflower seeds out of a giant sunflower head. Find even more fun activities when Lattin Farms hosts one of their many special events during the fall and holiday season.
Be sure to return to Friday Night Lights-esque “Greenwave” country for the Fallon Cantaloupe Festival & Country Fair in August, when you can stock up on melons that taste like caramel.
Churchill County is unexpectedly rich in arts, given the community’s size. There are some truly talented, creative people who have been sprouting like alfalfa for decades.
Take a trip through the antique shops for as long as you have time. From Just Country Friends to Blessings in a Bucket, you’ll find treasures and deals as well as feel amazing about supporting local businesses.
Plus, if you time your visit right, you can explore the impressive Churchill Arts Council’s beautiful building, gallery and bar before a show, or hit up the Churchill County Museum’s hidden cave tours to Grimes Point and see some crazy-old artifacts.
When you arrive at Frey Ranch, you’re greeted by two piercingly blue-eyed pourers, whose lives my husband and I envied, the couple runs a pristine manufacturer surrounded by jaw-dropping grounds. We went on a brief tour of shining equipment and well-explained processes, and sampled wine and spirits, including a barrel gin that tastes like whiskey and their version of that green, weirdly magical stuff of Moulin Rouge-fame – absinthe.
Folks, this is the state’s first commercial estate distillery and released Nevada’s first legally-distilled spirit. Ground to glass, as they like to say.
There’s also a line of old tractors, a sprawling lawn, interesting architecture and a giant tree swing that gave the longest arc of a ride I’ve ever been on. I thought dreamily, why doesn’t everybody live here?
Sadly, the only active thing I’ve done so far besides play in a corn pit, is visit Sand Mountain, located a half hour east of Fallon. But it’s awesome! It’s two miles long and is made up of sand from the ancient Lake Lahontan that dried up 9,000 years ago. Climb to the top. Pose on a dune. Take some pics for Instagram. (#FakeSahara, anyone?) Off-road vehicles are permitted if you’d rather skip the legwork and take in the sights from atop a quad or dirt bike.
Note, on the way to the recreation area, you can see some of the “Big Dig” 17-mile canal Churchill County rallied to complete in preparation for the massive snowmelt. You also might notice rocks on the side of the road spelling people’s names, elegant water birds, and Naval Air Station Fallon jets or helicopters weaving the blanket of freedom overhead.
On your way back to Reno, soak up a fantastic sunset over the “Loneliest Road in America.” And maybe think about your next trip to Fallon!
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