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Holiday in Laughlin, Nevada

Updated on August 26, 2011

More Layed Back..

Over the years we've come to enjoy the more layed-back atmosphere in Laughlin.. just 90 miles south of Las Vegas, Nevada. Most of the hotel/casinos are located on the Colorado river front, and the riverwalk provides an easy stroll between the casinos, as well as a close-up opportunity to view local birds, fish, and other wildlife. Since we've visited Laughlin during every season except the holidays, we decided to trade the typical chaotic seasonal rituals for a holiday trip to Laughlin.

We exchange pet sitting with my sister, so after making those arrangements, and securing a free room in Laughlin, we were ready to go! Driving east on the 10, we encountered heavy traffic almost immediately, which eased off after we passed Cabazon, CA, so I snapped some pictures of the Cabazon outlet, and the Morongo Indian Casino. The remainder of the drive toward 29 Palms and route 66 was easy, and the views so much more pleasant than taking the 15 to the 40. Along the way we stopped at Roys Cafe in Amboy. Roys is not a cafe anymore, but they've done some renovating, and you can purchase T-shirts, sodas, and other such items there, as well as use their clean, though old restrooms. So after browsing there a bit, purchasing a T-shirt and 2 Route 66 Beers (rootbeer), we also took time to photograph the Amboy crater, the infamous Shoe Tree and newly started Bra Tree.. Obvisously Amboy residents don't have enough to do! But it's fun to stop in there.

Laughlin in December

Once we turn off on Old River Road, we look forward to passing the Avi Casino. Though we've never stayed there, we enjoy stopping for their always terrific breakfast buffet, and a final chance to play a bit as we leave Laughlin.. and since we've stayed at every other hotel in Laughlin, I'm sure that one day we will stay there too.

Upon entering the hotel parking lot, we were shocked to see so many empty parking places, and amazed to find a space so close to the hotel entrance. In all the years we've visited Laughlin, we'd never found parking so easy and so close! Great!! An attractive Christmas tree greeted us at the hotel entrance, and there was only one customer in front of us at registration. Too good to be true! The lines are always long at registration, and then, as if that weren't enough, we were given a very nice room upgrade.. free! It was very roomy, and some friendly pigeons welcomed us to the small but comfortable balcony facing the river. We were feeling quite pleased as we settled in and prepared to go out for a bite to eat and check out the casino.

Reality sets in...

By the second day when the initial trip 'glow' had faded, reality set in as we realized that the recession has taken it's toll in Laughlin.. Outside of the Christmas tree by the front entrance and a single Christmas poinsettia plant at the bell desk, one wouldn't have known is was the holidays. And as we strolled the riverwalk, we found that the Pioneer was the only hotel that actually decorated for the holidays. Later we found that several buffets were closed, and not to be reopened for several days. We visited the Laughlin Horizon Outlet Center, another tradition of our Lauglin visits, and were disappointed to find that their sale prices were laughable.. and upon driving passed Harrahs that evening, the whole place was completely DARK. If one didn't know it was there, it wouldn't even be noticed!  so depressing! By the end of that day we were extremely discouraged, and feeling some regrets about the trip.

On the third day we decided to visit every casino, and try to make the best we could of it. We palyed Bingo at the Riverside, Keno at the Colorado Belle, browsed every gift shop in town, enjoyed a very nice prime rib buffet at the Tropicana.. and played a bit at each casino. I never saw anyone win anything during our entire stay. Favorites like The Wizard of OZ, BIG Wheel of Fortune, and EBAY slots paid out absolutely NOTHING! Luigis Pizzeria, Noahs Ark, and the Peacock slots were the most enjoyable and hospitable, allowing one to play for quite awhile on less than $20.

Home before Christmas..

We stopped by the Avi on our way out of Laughlin we always do, but instead of the buffet, we ate in the cafe and played some Keno.. then we played a few machines, and headed on home. We'd had a good time, but were left feeling a bit down. Laughlin is hurting, just like every other town around the country. I'm worried for the residents of Laughlin and Bullhead City that depend on the casinos for their living.. and for people like us that have always appreciated their hospitality while enjoying brief getaways. While certainly not top prioirities today, those trips provide people stress relief, and that is, or should be a priority in todays upside down world.

It was good to get home.. and I don't know if I'll want to visit Laughlin during the Holidays again.


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