Some say Laughlin, Nevada, is like the old Las Vegas, with inexpensive hotels and food. It’s true the hotels are inexpensive. The food? Not so much. The 99 cent breakfast no longer exists. Also gone is the $1.50 hot dog with beer or soda. However, there are still lots of ways to save money on food, as we found out during our six-week stay in the area.
Our original plan was to stay across the river in Bullhead City, Arizona, in a furnished studio apartment with full kitchen facilities. That didn’t work out for us as planned, and after two weeks we moved to the casino hotels in Laughlin. The move put a crimp in our meal budget, but here are some of the ways we kept our food costs to a minimum.
Unfortunately, none of the hotels we stayed in had a microwave or fridge, but we picked up yogurt, bottled water, fresh fruit and snacks at the grocery store and made use of the collapsible, soft-sided cooler that I had brought along. We found that we could get by with only two meals per day if we supplemented with these things. We also occasionally picked up prepared salads and deli sandwiches.
Casino players clubs
We joined the reward clubs at nine casinos on the strip plus one at a casino about 20 minutes off the strip. You should join the clubs even if you don’t gamble, as they often have new member benefits. Here are some new member benefits we took advantage of:
- At Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort we each received a 2-for-1 coupon for the buffet. We used it for the more expensive Friday seafood buffet.
- We also received coupons for 10% off at a burger restaurant and a free beer or soft drink with the purchase of a ¼ lb. hot dog. Although we never used these coupons, we kept them as an option. Also, we were told we could show our card at the club desk anytime and get more of these coupons.
- At the Aquarius Casino Resort we received a 25% discount coupon for the Windows on the River Buffet, as well as a 2-for-1 coupon for wine or a coffee drink at Duet.
- Show your card at several of the casino buffets, and you get a 10% discount.
- Apply points that you accumulate gambling at sister hotels Edgewater and Colorado Belle to your meal at the Edgewater’s Grand Buffet or other restaurants in the casinos. Our points never amounted to much because we limited our gambling to a few dollars a day and never stayed in one casino for long, but even a little discount is appreciated.
Laughlin casino package deals
Sign up with the casinos to get emails. They will often offer great package deals for a room and meals. At one casino, a $56 package included a two-night stay, two dinner buffets, two breakfast buffets, and several coffee coupons. We put one package in my name and another in my husband’s to get twice the benefits.
We learned which restaurants had deals on certain days of the week. Daniel’s Restaurant on the River, in the small Regency Casino, offers various specials on different days. We took advantage of the half-price Wednesday burger special a couple of times. To keep their prices down, you also have to purchase a beverage to get the half-price burger. (Tip: The water at Daniel’s is hard and tastes off, so skip the iced tea and order a soda or a beer.) Daniel’s also offers a discounted weekday breakfast.
The Avi Resort and Casino, about a 20-minute drive from the strip, offers a 2-for-1 deal (or half-price if you are dining alone) at the Native Harvest Buffet every Thursday if you show your club card. We took advantage of this offer for breakfast, lunch and dinner (never twice on the same day). We were especially impressed with the bananas foster/flambe bar at the dinner buffet.
Across the river in Bullhead City, D’Angelo’s Italian Restaurant offers an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner, with soup and salad bar, on Wednesdays and Sundays for $7.99. They also had the only pizza we liked in the area. (Being used to great pizza in Chicago, we are admitted pizza snobs.)
Happy hours, early birds and senior discounts
Some of the chain restaurants in the Laughlin casinos offer happy hour or early bird specials. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in the Golden Nugget offers an early bird special Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
One advantage to aging is senior discounts. Although we aren’t eligible yet everywhere (age of “senior” varies from place to place), we were old enough to take advantage in all Laughlin and Bullhead City restaurants. At least, no one questioned it.
Fast Food and Chains
Our usual rule when traveling is to avoid fast food or chain restaurants that we have access to at home. However, since our trip was two months long and we ate almost every meal out, we relaxed our rules. One of the casinos had a Denny’s. We never eat at Denny’s at home, but they had the best breakfast value, and I have to admit, it was good.
Take the surveys
Both Denny’s and McDonald’s (yes, we ate there a few times, too) have a web site or number to call to take a survey about your visit. Take the survey, and you get a code for a discount on your next Denny’s visit, or at McDonald’s, a 2-for-1 Egg McMuffin or Quarter Pounder on your next visit.
Share a meal
Most restaurants serve huge portions, more than we can eat. Since we didn’t have a way to reheat food, we would sometimes share a meal, perhaps ordering an extra side.
In the end, we spent more on food and ate less healthy than we would have had we continued to have full kitchen facilities throughout our entire six-week stay in Laughlin. Even then, though, we would have eaten out when we took side trips or wanted a break from cooking. And we compensated for the less healthy meals by getting our fill of veggies and fruit when we ate at the buffets.
Accommodations: We stayed at various casino hotels in Laughlin. Check hotel rates here.
Disclosure: This article contains an affiliate link. If you purchase a product or book a hotel room through the “check rates” link above, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
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