Laughlin, Nevada – There’s Plenty to See and to Do

laughlin signI lived most of my life in Southern California and spent many weekends in Las Vegas. As much fun as Vegas is, it can be really expensive and really crowded. I am not much of a crowd person, so I much rather head to Laughlin to gamble and spend a long weekend. It’s only about 41/2 hours from where we used to live so it was a nice 3 or 4-day weekend trip we did every few years.  I would rather go there most times, but many of our friends always liked to go to Vegas for bachelor/bachelorette parties or birthday parties. I also tried to convince people to go to Laughlin instead, lol. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t. 🙁

Laughlin-1For a little bit of history, the city of Laughlin, formally known as South Pointe, is located on the tip of Nevada and touches California as well as Arizona. It is only 2 hours away from Las Vegas, but as I said the atmosphere in Laughlin is extremely different. It is definitely more relaxed and much less flashy. Although the hotels and resorts attract millions of guests yearly, the Colorado River attracts even more. The lure of the river attracts boating, fishing, water-skiing, and swimmers alike. Wave runners and the sort are also often seen on the river.

Laughlin-RiversideLaughlin was not always the travel destination it is today. Up until 1966, the area contained one little roadhouse restaurant that mostly served the workers working on the Davis Dam. Then Don Laughlin, an entrepreneur, came down from Las Vegas and renovated the little restaurant into a casino. After the renovation was complete, the casino was named the Riverside Hotel and Casino, and opened on August 2, 1966.  Eleven years later, in 1977, the rapidly growing city of South Pointe was officially changed to Laughlin.

Laughlin-BelleSeveral people saw the success of the Riverside Hotel and began building their own hotels and casinos. Today there are major hotels that cover most of the west riverbank of the Colorado River. The Colorado Hotel (now the Pioneer), The Regency, Sam’s Town Gold River (now the Laughlin River Lodge), and The Edgewater opened in the early 1980s. A second boom resulted in the construction of The Colorado Belle, Harrah’s Del Rio, and The Ramada Express (now The Tropicana Express). In 1987, Don Laughlin funded and built the Laughlin Bridge which he donated to the states of Nevada and Arizona.

Laughlin-OatmanBesides gambling and playing on the river, there are quite a few other things to see and explore while in the Laughlin area. You can visit the Old West city of Oatman in Arizona and see a staged gunfight. Grapevine Canyon is also a fun place to visit. Many Indians gathered here for water and meetings. The signs on the rocks tell many stories of the past and give instructions on the local conditions.

Laughlin-CarEarlier I was speaking of the Riverside Hotel but I neglected to mention his wonderful Classic Car Collection Museum. There are more than 85 cars from his personal collection on display. The exhibits are open seven days a week and admission is free with your King of Clubs Players’ Club Card or $2.00 per person if you do not have a Players Club Card. We enjoyed the collection on one of our visits and it is definitely worth the visit. I highly suggest it if you are in the area.

Laughlin-Davis-damMake sure to check out Davis Dam constructed by the Bureau of Reclamation downstream from Hoover Dam. It impounds Lake Mohave. Another interesting thing to see is in Fort Mohave Indian Reservation. It is the 41,884-acre home of the Mojave, noted for its basketry and beadwork. If you are a night person, there are also plenty of shows and nightclubs to keep you entertained.

Laughlin-2On a side note: I like to stay in Laughlin is it is also much cheaper. You can stay in many of the resort hotels for less than $50 a night, and enjoy reasonably-priced restaurants and lots of great family-oriented outdoor activities without breaking the bank. For those who prefer to take the RV route, you’ll also find a number of very affordable RV resorts and campgrounds in the area. It’s a win-win in my eyes.

Laughlin-Water-TaxiAs I said earlier, I really like Laughlin. I like being able to go swimming in the late afternoon and gamble the night away, lol. I do like that the city is smaller and slower than Vegas. It is also fun to take the water taxi from one casino to the other. The only downfall is the fact that it is desert and it even hotter than Vegas. Yuck. It’s ok though. I mostly stay inside, check out museums, and gamble anyway, lol. I would definitely suggest trying it sometime as an alternative to Vegas. You may find that you like it better too. BTW, if you like Laughlin, you will probably like Lake Havasu in Arizona as well.

Visit Laughlin, Nevada


Below are directions to Laughlin. Since I spoke so much about the Riverside Hotel,  I used it as the destination. However, once you are in the area, you will see all the hotels. Happy travels.

Coming From Las Vegas

  • Take Highway 95 south to the Laughlin Turn-off, Highway 163 (turnoff is approximately 20 miles south of Searchlight)
  • Travel east on Highway 163 to Laughlin
  • At the intersection of Highway 163 and Casino Drive, turn right
  • You will see the Riverside Resort when you make the right hand turn on to Casino Drive

    Coming From Phoenix

  • Take US93 to I-40 West to Kingman
  • Exit at Beale Street, then take Highway 68 West to Laughlin Bridge intersection.
    • At the intersection, turn right onto the bridge
  • At the next intersection, turn left onto Casino Drive
  • You will see the Riverside Resort when you make the left-hand turn on to Casino Drive

    Coming From Southern California

  • Take I-15 North to I-40 East, to Needles, California
  • Exit on River Road (on off-ramp turn left) then turn left again and then head north approximately 25 miles
  • Turning east on Casino Drive and going about 3 miles and you will see the Riverside Resort on the right-hand side of Casino Drive


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