Laughlin is Las Vegas on a lazy river, smaller, slower paced. And nowhere is this feeling more personified than at the Colorado Belle Hotel and Casino.

Located on the bank of the Colorado River, in the middle of “casino row,” the Belle is a replica of a 19th century Mississippi paddlewheel riverboat and the New Orleans and Bourbon Towers. It boasts two giant, iconic paddle wheels, four towering stacks, and an endless array of ornate styling and furnishings reminiscent of a Mark Twain novel.

I was thinking of Twain as a friend and I recently checked into the hotel. I wondered how he would describe this massive “boat,” with its 1,104 guest rooms and 57 suites, 65,000-sq.-ft. gaming, three restaurants, four lounges and a microbrewery. I bet he would have spun a fantastic yarn about it all.

But I didn’t drive four hours from Pasadena to Nevada to bet on Mark Twain. I came to win cash; gorge myself on cheap buffets; catch a live show or two; and to enjoy the Colorado River in winter, when the weather is mild and crowds are scarce.

So after unpacking in a spacious fifth floor suite with a two queen beds, a balcony full of songbirds, and a serene river view, I hit the casino.

My first stop was the 25-cent slots, where I spent about an hour winning a little, losing a little more, and sipping Bloody Marys. I then headed to a $5 minimum blackjack table, where I fared better. Showing uncharacteristic willpower, I left the table ahead $10.

I then joined my friend for a sure-thing: the seafood & prime rib buffet at The Loading Dock Bar and Grill. Located at the north end of Colorado Belle with spectacular mountain and river views, the restaurant offers indoor seating and patio dining overlooking the river. The delicious, endless buffet is ​​great deal. It runs 4pm – 10pm and costs $24.99.

After dinner, we explored more of the vessel. The six-story Belle stretches 600 feet and features numerous rooms and suites with awesome river views. Besides restaurants and gaming, there are two pools, a Jacuzzi, and a state-of-the-art fitness room. There are also gift and candy stores, a pastry shop a private beach, and water features with hundreds of giant carp swimming around the premises.

As for accommodations, the  rooms are beautifully appointed with memorable views of the Colorado River or the surrounding Nevada desert landscape. They equipped with one King or two Queen Beds, 32” flatscreen TVs with expanded viewing and pay-per-view options and all-new bedding and amenities. Of the resort’s 1,164 hotel rooms, 74% are non-smoking.

On the river side, the hotel offers a water taxi for guests who want to visit other casinos and hotels. From the docks, visitors can also hop aboard tour boats and jet boats for trips to nearby Davis Dam and the London Bridge in Lake Havasu.

For those who prefer exercise, Laughlin’s numerous riverfront casinos are linked by a walkway along the shore. This is not only a great way to see other casinos, but is also provides a wonderful stroll along the mighty Colorado River.

Meandering more than a thousand miles from the Rockies to the Sea of Cortez, the Colorado River provides irrigation, public water and hydroelectric power to parts of California, Nevada and Arizona. In Laughlin, the river also offers a wide spectrum of recreational activities. Visitors can enjoy boating, water skiing, jet skiing and fishing or a refreshing dip in the brisk water.

On February 10, legendary singer/songwriter Paul Anka will be performing at The Colorado Belle. The former teen idol, who has recorded 125 albums and sold close to 15 million albums worldwide, will be showcasing his new album “Rock Swings” as well as singing some of his hits such as “Diana,” “Lonely Boy,” and “You’re Having My Baby.”

The Colorado Belle is located at 2100 S. Casino Drive, Laughlin, NV 89029. For more info on staying at the call (866) 352-3553 or visit: www.coloradobelle.com. For more info on visiting Laughlin, visit: www.visitlaughlin.com.

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Greg Aragon, Writer Greg's Getaway
Greg Aragon is a travel writer from Pasadena, California. For the past 15 years Greg has authored “Greg’s Getaway,” a popular travel column that covers the globe. In the course of writing Greg's Getaway, Greg has traveled to more than 25 countries in search of exciting destinations, people, food, drink and culture. From Alaska to Zermatt, Greg has experienced the thrill and beauty of traveling to the fullest. Along the way he has dog sledded on glaciers, drank with sea captains, danced with hula girls, dined with royalty, sung with street performers, wrestled with pigs, jumped from airplanes, conquered rapids, panned for gold, rode a rhino, slept in trees and much, much more. When not on the road, Greg enjoys strumming his old nylon string guitar and playing basketball.