Things come and go quickly in Vegas, with near-constant development and change on the Strip. By comparison, Laughlin's newest hotel was built in the mid-'90s.
And people seem to like that just fine. Laughlin is old-school, big on return customers who appreciate the familiar. It's a family-friendly destination that draws folks from California, Arizona, and the rest of Nevada (in that order). They love prime rib and they love country music. It's Middle America, it's Old West, and it’s mostly conservative. But Laughlin is about kindness and convenience more than any sort of culture clash. It's the sort of place you go to escape the modern woes of Twitter.
Just northeast of Vegas, a hotel in Mesquite markets itself as "how Vegas used to be," but that tagline seems to fit Laughlin just as well, if not better. You can gamble, have dinner, see a show, and book a room with a resort fee that's well under $10. Parking is free and easy, the staff actually does recognize regulars by name, and the river, well, the river is just right there.
A hundred miles downstream from the Grand Canyon, Laughlin’s Colorado River water is so blue and clear, you can even see to the bottom at night. Casinos and restaurants overlook it, and when the weather is right, the obvious move is to swim, boat, float, and Jet Ski in it. You can also take a two-hour sunset dinner cruise on The Celebration, which is super affordable and more than likely comes with an Elvis impersonator.
The coolest way to get around town is by water taxi. These small boats, piloted by certified captains, zip around on the river from one property to another. Most casinos have their own dock and if you stand around on one, a water taxi will show up fairly quick. A single ride is $5, although wristband deals are available for unlimited rides. (Don't forget to tip your captain a few bucks.)