Laughlin, Nevada is like Vegas’s crazy great-aunt; you know the one, loud with blue eyeshadow that maybe drinks a little too much at family functions and smells a little of chemicals and mothballs. Quirky, but lovable. Laughlin is a little old and a little musty, but it’s endearing just the same.
The area of Laughlin (technically it’s not incorporated as a municipality) is not much more than pure Nevada desert and the strip of casinos right along the river front. With a population of only a few thousand people, it’s dwarfed in size by its Arizona neighbor across the river, Bullhead City. What it lacks in size, however, it more than makes up for in character. You won’t find Louis Vuitton boutiques or ultra-exclusive lounges, but you will find water sports, desert splendor, a plethora of penny slots.
My most recent stay in Laughlin was at the Edgewater Hotel and Casino. Although it’s one of the older casinos along the Colorado River, the Edgewater is clean and cheap. In July 2010, my family paid $19.99 per weekday night, a bargain compared to the $35.99 it’s neighbor The Aquarius Hotel charges, although that one has been newly renovated. The Edgewater room was sparse exactly what you’d expect for the price, but it was comfortable. I had no complaints other than the promised WiFi not working, although if you can get it to work, it would be a plus.
I tend to find it hard to find things to do whilst I’m in Laughlin, if I don’t have any water-related activities planned. Due to the almost overwhelming heat in the summer, everyone gets a bit sluggish when they come out of the frigid air-conditioned casinos. Right outside the casino doors on the river, there are several small kiosks where one can rent jet skis for a few hours. Drive about 15 minutes north, and you’ll come across Lake Mohave, a desert lake popular among boating enthusiasts.
I have definitely found Laughlin more enjoyable since I turned 21 and can now enjoy the ups and downs of gambling. I recently learned how to play roulette, much to the detriment of my bank account. It’s easier to lose at the tables than at the penny slots. There is also an outlet mall right across the street from the Edgewater, a five-minute walk if you can bear the stifling heat. I love to go there because of the Bath and Body works discounts, plus a crazy hat store called The Hat Company, where it’s fun for silly people like me to try on wild hats.
Whether or not you buy a crazy hat, you will see plenty in the casinos. Plenty of the ubiquitous great-aunt characters walk around wearing clothes and hats that sparkle, stretch, and advertise, and only add to the character that runs through Laughlin just as the Colorado River runs along it. If Vegas has left you broke and burnt out, head south to its Nevada neighbor Laughlin, grab a jet ski and relax your woes away in Laughlin