winter retreats
Snowbirds flock to Southern Nevada’s trio of warm spots.

BY MIKE HENLE | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2007
winter retreats
Photo: PR
When cold weather brings many northern states to a standstill, owners of businesses in Laughlin, Mesquite, and Primm wait at the front doors with open arms and countless activities for sun-seekers.

Snowbirds, a great many of them retirees, capitalize on Southern Nevada winter offerings—golf, tennis, hiking, motor sports, fishing, entertainment, inexpensive meals, five-star RV parks, and bargain hotel rooms. While those over 50 especially frequent these cities during the winter, there really is no set time frame to visit. Each destination offers year-round events that attract visitors, no matter the season.

Laughlin’s rise from a bankrupt fishing village to a snowbird’s favorite retreat is a Nevada success story. When Don Laughlin purchased a motel and bar on the site in 1960 for $250,000, he saw that this part of the state, where California, Nevada, and Arizona come together, was the perfect spot for a gaming venture. Nestled along the Colorado River, the town named for him is an eye-catching combination of water and bright neon, with a backdrop of desert and jagged mountains.

Laughlin has a wealth of outdoor recreation, top-name entertainment, nine hotels with more than 10,000 rooms, and yearly stops by the Southern California Off-Road Enthusiasts (SCORE), this season set for January 24-27, River Stampede Rodeo on March 27-30, and Xtreme Bulls, April 12-13. Top-flight entertainers include Charo, Hootie and the Blowfish, Mark Chesnutt, Deana Carter, The Oak Ridge Boys, Collin Ray, and the Bellamy Brothers.

Situated 89 miles south of Las Vegas off State Route 163, Laughlin thrives in the winter and does remarkably well when temperatures soar in the summer, drawing about four million visitors each year. For the 50-plus crowd, Laughlin hosts the ultimate promotion in January: Winter Break with its week-long list of events.
Among the thousands who come to Laughlin each winter is Brooke Hughes, a resident of Gardnerville. “It’s nice to get away from the snow and enjoy 70-degree weather in December,” she says. “There’s always something for the family to do, whether it’s taking helicopter rides down the Colorado River, seeing the petroglyphs, or checking out all the classic cars at the Riverside.”