Hotel and Casino Guide to Laughlin in Nevada

People who like neon-light gambling combined with lots of other low-cost activities head for Laughlin in Nevada. Not only are its hotel rooms in this border town along the Colorado River much less expensive than comparable lodgings in Las Vegas. Food and entertainment cost less, too.

Don Laughlin’s Riverside

Oldest of the border-town’s hotels, the Riverside started out as a boarded-up motel when Laughlin bought it in 1966. Now it’s a high-rise hotel with 1,404 rooms, five restaurants, a showroom, $15 million bowling alley, six-screen movie theater, an auto collection and supervised day care center.


Opened in 1990 as the Flamingo Hilton, the 1,900-room Aquarius is the largest in Laughlin and recently completed a $20 million room renovation project. Its 3,000-seat outdoor amphitheater is the setting for spring and fall concerts by various well-known groups. There’s also a 300-seat cabaret inside the casino. Other favorite dining/drinking spots at Aquarius include the Windows on the River Buffet and H2OH, its open-air lounge on the River Walk.

Harrah’s Hotel Casino Laughlin

With three hotel towers, Harrah’s Laughlin is one of the little city’s most popular hotels. Top name entertainers perform in both the hotel’s showroom and outdoor amphitheater. The restaurants are among the best in town and it’s one of the few casinos where people can play slot machines while looking through the windows at the river. An added attraction is Harrah’s stretch of sandy beach (2900 S. Casino Drive).

Colorado Belle

One of Laughlin’s oldest hotel/casinos, the Colorado Belle is decorated with a 19th Century Mississippi River theme, and hotel guests can travel the Colorado River on a paddle-wheel style boat. The Belle also contains Laughlin’s only microbrewery.

Pioneer Hotel & Gambling Hall

The Pioneer’s façade of a wild-west town in the 1980s looks like a movie set. Inside, too, the rooms are furnished in Victorian style. But despite its down-home, western flavor, it boasts a restaurant that’s definitely not folksy. With an ambience of casual elegance, “Granny’s” menu is as equally interesting. Entrees feature seafood, veal and wild game with gourmet sauces and side dishes. Desserts are sophisticated versions of those grandma used to make. The casino offers a variety of weekly gaming tournaments, including “Doc’s Slot Shoot-out” every Thursday.

Golden Nugget

Operated by Landry’s Restaurants, Golden Nugget was formerly a MGM/Mirage property. Its 300 tropically themed guest rooms and one-bedroom suites have views on either the river, the courtyard or pool. The hotel/casino’s four eateries are among the most interesting in Laughlin. At Joe’s Crab Shack, every table comes with a bucket and mallet to deal with the house’s crustacean specialty (chicken, sandwiches and pasta are also available. Other restaurants are Saltgrass, The Deli and Harlow’s.

Tropicana Express, Avi Resort and Casino, Edgewater and River Palms

Although Tropicana Express fronts on Casino Drive, it’s not on the river. The hotel/casinos restaurants, however, are considered among the best in town. Among the five eateries are a steakhouse and a sushi bar.

Avi Resort and Casino (10000Aha Macav Parkway), owned by the Fort Mojave Tribe, is the only Native American casino in Nevada. In addition to the casino and a hotel with more than 450 rooms, the resort includes an 18-hole championship golf course, boat launch ramp and a highly recommended 260-space RV park with full hookups and Internet access.

The 26-story Edgewater’s amenities include a wedding chapel and a casino that’s among the largest in Laughlin. Two restaurants, a buffet, snack bar and five fast food dining options plus 1,500 guest rooms are all part of this mid-price hostelry. Centerpiece of the casino at River Palms, one of Laughlin’s largest hotels, is a 3-story atrium.

Day Trips from Laughlin, Nevada Offer Diversity

According to, people staying in Laughlin for several days won’t want to miss the wealth of attractions only a few miles away from Casino Drive. In addition to Bullhead City just across the river, a number of diverse destinations lie no more than a half-hour’s drive away.

Poking in the Past

Archaeologists can’t agree as to when man first inhabited the Mojave desert. There’s speculation that it could have been as early as 8,000 B.C. though scientific dating techniques have only confirmed that there was human habitation in the area around 5,000 or 4,000 B.C. Petroglyphs and pictographs (drawings on the rocks’ surfaces) of the ancient people who lived in the area have survived as have articles used by later groups of Indians who lived in the area.

The best place to learn about the area’s history is The Colorado River Historical Society Museum in Bullhead City, which showcases everything from ancient fossils to an elaborate model railroad layout complete with miniature landmarks.. A collection of photos, maps, dioramas and memorabilia chronicle the silver and gold-mining days and the development of the areas ranching industry. Among the museum’s outdoor exhibits are a replica of the Katherine gold mine and a statue of Don Laughlin, founding father of Laughlin.

­Lake Mojave

Just two miles upriver from Laughlin, Lake Mojave is the area’s outstanding attraction for nature lovers, fishermen and water sports enthusiasts. With a shoreline of more than 150 miles and a part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Mojave is a regular rest stop for migrating waterfowl and shore birds. It’s also home to bald eagles, peregrine falcons and small perching birds. Coyote, kit fox, desert bighorn sheep, roadrunners, feral burros and horses also live in the area.

Katherine Landing

One of the recreation centers on Lake Mojave, the Landing offers sandy beaches as well as boat and personal watercraft rentals. Also from Katherine Landing , rangers lead tours and give talks about the area. Among the most popular tours are those to the Grapevine Canyon petroglyphs, seven miles west of Davis Dam, and wildflower walks.

The River

Fishermen can use all sorts of lures, live bait and flies in their pursuit of striped and largemouth bass, catfish and crappies, trout and other species of fish that swim in the lake. Though fishing is permitted all along the Colorado, the Nevada record bluegill was caught in 2004 at Laughlin Bay, just south of Casino Row.

To fish the river and Lake Mojave, adults need either a valid Nevada or Arizona fishing license as well as a special use stamp. Rainbow fishermen must also purchase a trout stamp. No licenses or permits are required for fishermen of 14 years and younger.

Oatman, Arizona

Half an hour southeast of Laughlin, historic Oatman, Arizona is an authentic old west gold mining town that’s been turned into a carnival-type tourist destination. The town began in the early 1900s as a tent city where the miners lived. Not for everyone, it’s attractions include mine tours, staged gunfight shows and old-time saloons with live entertainment. There are also more than 30 arts and crafts shops which cater to tourists. The drive into Laughlin is interesting as it is part of the once famous Route 66.

To reach Laughlin from Las Vegas, take Highway 95 to Railroad Pass, where the highway splits. Turn on Highway 163 to Laughlin. A more scenic (and time-consuming) route, off Highway 95 just south of Searchlight that goes through Christmas Tree pass, is navigable only by four-wheel drive vehicles. The route – a side trip in itself – is photogenic, with spectacular granite outcroppings and giant boulders stacked on top of each other. 


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