Colorado Belle Hotel and Casino
Published September 2013

Laughlin All the Way

A mother-daughter duo hits a jackpot of memories on their Nevada road trip

BYLaura Stoddard
Any memorable road trip starts with a few essentials: an ample assortment of snacks, lively tunes, and an enjoyable traveling companion. I set out with all three when my mom and I began our journey to Laughlin, Nev., for a weekend getaway.
 
Laughlin sits 216 miles northwest of Phoenix in a relatively remote corner of the Silver State. When we pulled into this town of some 8,000 residents, the activity along Casino Drive impressed us. The town pulsed with energy, but we found the scale of this gambling town, which is home to 11 casinos, more approachable than its big sister, Las Vegas. We were also pleasantly surprised to find the fun in Laughlin to be affordable; hotels here start at $25 per night. Additionally, the visitors to this town differ from Vegas — we met more retirees than college-aged travelers during our stay.

Our home during our vacation was the AAA Three Diamond Aquarius Casino Resort. The hotel was abuzz with the jingle of slot machines, the clatter of plates in the restaurant, live music, and the chatter of guests — it’s popularity was no surprise once we experienced the hotel’s hospitality and amenities for ourselves. We possessed neither the skill nor the luck for gambling, so we set out in search of the less-risky attractions.

Water Ways
Because nine of the resorts and casinos line the Colorado River, including the Aquarius, much of Laughlin’s activity revolves around this waterway — and even though it’s always a chilly 52 degrees, boaters and jet skiers abound. Watertaxis motor here too, providing quick transit between popular destinations along the waterfront.

We opted for a scenic ride with Laughlin River Tours. On the Celebration riverboat, which has an open-air upper level and an air conditioned lower level, we took a leisurely 90-minute narrated tour up river toward Davis Dam, then south again, along Casino Drive.

During our tour, we saw the Colorado Belle Hotel and Casino, an oversized replica of a 19th-century Mississippi paddlewheel riverboat that has become a landmark for the city and a popular hotel. One of the first themed hotels in Nevada, it’s truly something to see, especially at night, lit up and reflecting off of the water.
 
Sports and Leisure
For those wanting to spend time outside, Laughlin offers six golf courses within 30 minutes of Casino Drive, excellent fishing and boating, and the newly constructed Colorado River Heritage Greenway Park, with 5.25 miles of walking and biking trails bordering the river. Ten minutes south of town in Bullhead City, Ariz., we enjoyed visiting a true gem, the Laughlin Ranch Golf Club.
 
Although the club has a championship golf course, my mom and I headed to the spa, which quickly won our hearts. My mom and I have received pedicures and massages together a number of times, but this was a step above. Nestled in fluffy robes and slippers, we felt like royalty as the staff ushered us to our appointments. Soft candle light, soothing music, gorgeous hardwood floors, serene vistas, and opulent furnishings made for a deluxe experience.

Our last night in town, we hit the relatively new Laughlin Amphitheater to see the queen of country music, Reba McEntire, strut her stuff on stage. Considering that she’s been performing for decades, Reba looked and sounded as good as when she first hit Nashville. And this 8,000-seat venue provided all we hoped for in a concert experience: good food and drinks, lots of room to move about and socialize, and great lighting and sound systems. Because the venue has bleacher-style seating, we would have done well to take a cushion or blanket to sit on.
Laughlin Ranch Golf Club
Laughlin Ranch Golf Club
Laughlin Amphitheater
Laughlin Amphitheater
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