This fun-filled oasis in the Nevada desert is lush with group-friendly options.
As a tour operator, it’s not every day you have the opportunity to write about a destination that means so much to you. Laughlin is such a place for me as my first tour was to Laughlin in 1981 when it was a sleepy little town with two casinos. It’s grown by leaps and bounds ever since and is a perfect destination for groups looking for value, outdoor adventure, gaming, dining and just plain fun. Combine the following features for a winning itinerary and happy guests:
Rollin’ on the River
Laughlin’s compact hotel corridor lines the banks of one of the most pristine segments of the Colorado River. For a nominal fee, water taxis travel from one hotel dock to another on what some call Laughlin’s “main street” – the Colorado River.
One of the most popular group activities is riverboat cruising with two different paddlewheel-style boats offering narrated cruises. The Celebration and USS Riverside are double-deck vessels with climate-controlled lower levels and open-air top decks. In addition to scheduled cruises, charters are available for groups of up to 80.
London Jet Boat Tours depart Laughlin and travel to Lake Havasu, home of the London Bridge. The full-day tour allows time for sightseeing, shopping and lunch on your own in Lake Havasu before returning to Laughlin. Groups that like a little more soft adventure can canoe and kayak on the river with Desert River Outfitters.
Laughlin is located at the crossroads of three states – Nevada, California and Arizona. Rugged mountain ranges that change colors with the sunset, majestic desert landscapes and the mighty Colorado River set the stage for year-round outdoor adventure.
The newest Laughlin attraction, the Colorado River Heritage Greenway Park and Trails project, has been named one of the nation’s most promising projects designed to protect special places and reconnect Americans to the outdoors. The project consists of nine miles of trails for bicyclists, pedestrians and equestrians, and includes expansion of the Laughlin Riverwalk. It enhances the area as a destination for eco-tourism and outdoor adventure, and helps preserve some unique vistas and historic sites related to the construction of Davis Dam. Highlights include:
- Three trail loops that extend south from Davis Dam for approximately two miles along the Colorado River and an additional three-mile Desert Trail.
- The Riverwalk Exploration Trail Loop, an extension of the Laughlin Riverwalk, running two miles adjacent to the Colorado River from the hotel resorts up to the new Pyramid Canyon day-use area at the base of Davis Dam.
- The Equestrian Trailhead, offering access to two multi-use dirt trails, the 2.75-mile Horseshoe Trail Loop and three-mile Desert Trail.
Laughlin’s “Rockets over the River” is one of the most spectacular July Fourth fireworks displays in the West. The fireworks, choreographed to patriotic music, are launched above the river directly across from the hotels. There can be one or two shows depending on where the holiday falls. The viewing is ideal from the riverwalk.
Laughlin’s International Film Festival in October showcases the talents of independent filmmakers from around the world. The festival includes Q&A with the filmmakers and workshops for aspiring filmmakers. And it wouldn’t be a film festival without a red carpet gala.
Laughlin has hosted many military reunions over the years, and in November, Veteran’s Day weekend is celebrated with a party to honor veterans. The weekend includes live music, vendors, interactive displays and a guard ceremony. Laughlin resorts host their own special events to complement the weekend’s festivities.
There is something for every taste in Laughlin, ranging from elegant gourmet dining to ethnic cuisine to national fast-food chains to extravagant buffets, 24-hour cafes and decadent Sunday champagne brunches. The Range Steakhouse at Harrah’s Laughlin has the perfect balance of a classic steakhouse menu, extensive wine list, warm ambience and beautiful river views. Another favorite gourmet dining experience with spectacular views of the river is the Riveside Resort’s Gourmet Room. The French cuisine is served tableside in a cozy, elegant setting.
Pints Microbrewery at the Colorado Belle is not your typical sports bar. In addition to the usual fare like wood-fired pizzas, burgers and wings, you can build your own omelet or order flapjacks because they’re open 24 hours. For those wanting a comfortable favorite, Outback Steakhouse and Joe’s Crab Shack bring their nationally recognized eateries to Laughlin. Outback is tucked inside the Aquarius Resort, and Joe’s at the Golden Nugget Laughlin has both indoor dining and an extended outdoor deck along the river.
All nine Laughlin casino resorts offer 24-hour gaming and the latest in video and slot machines, table games, keno and bingo. Special tournaments and players club promotions are offered regularly by each resort.
And Much More
Laughlin is home to some terrific entertainment that you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to see. Big-name artists perform in casino showrooms or outdoor arenas each weekend, and lounge acts feature local musicians, dance floors and drink specials. Laughlin also has two classic car museums, a 34-lane, state-of-the-art bowling center with Cosmic Bowling, 15 screens in two movie theaters and resort boutique shops.
Within a couple hours drive is Oatman, an old Arizona mining town on Route 66; an exotic animal sanctuary; Grand Canyon Caverns; the West Rim of the Grand Canyon; and a local winery and distillery. For the golf enthusiast, there are four 18-hole championship courses within minutes of the Laughlin resorts.
Laughlin is a remarkable value for groups. Comfortable accommodations at unbelievable group rates, reasonably priced food options, spa salons, fitness centers, free parking and no resort fees are but a few of the drawing cards. And saving money on room rates and food means more to spend on activities and entertainment.
Overall, Laughlin is a relaxed, friendly, value-packed destination with something for everyone. For tour planners, it’s a sure bet.
For more information, contact the Laughlin Visitor Information Center, 800-452-8445; visitlaughlin.com.
By Sue Arko