• Photo: Andrew Zarivny/Shutterstock

Laughlin

Laughlin is a unique state-line city separated from Arizona by the Colorado River. Its founder, Don Laughlin, bought an eight-room motel here in 1964 and basically built the town from scratch. By the early 1980s Laughlin's Riverside Hotel-Casino was drawing gamblers and river rats from northwestern Arizona, southeastern California, and even southern Nevada, and his success attracted other casino operators. Today Laughlin is the state's third major resort area, attracting more than 3 million visitors annually. Tribal casino competition has stunted its growth in recent years, but the city fills up for certain weekends depending on the time of year, including a large population of retired travelers in the winter, whereas the summer is more likely to attract a younger resort-loving crowd. The big picture windows overlooking the Colorado River can lend a bright and open feeling particular to Laughlin casinos. Take a stroll along the river walk, then make the return trip by water taxi ($4 one-way, $20 all day). Boating, using Jet Skis, fishing, and plain old wading are other options for enjoying the water.

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