Though icy cold temperatures can bring most northern states to a near standstill, winters are always a bit different in Southern Nevada, a superb place for all sorts of sun-seekers hoping to enjoy a nice mix of scenic vistas, endless entertainment, rich history, inexpensive meals, and ample outdoor sporting options.
With wonderful red-rock formations, towering snow-capped mountains, and vast expanses of dry land all around (not to a wide range of great condo rentals, home rentals, bargain hotel rooms, as well as RV parks) this snowbird haven’s year-round desert climate may offer minimal amounts of rainfall—but with almost forty million visitors each year and more than plenty of glorious sunshine to bask in, you’re sure to find tons of friendly smiles from retirees all across the country looking to take refuge from Jack Frost’s fury. So pack those bags and head on south to the Silver State. Here are the five best (and toastiest!) destinations in Nevada for snowbirds.
1. Laughlin, Nevada
Not only is it a major snowbird destination, but it’s also a treasure trove of top-name entertainment, grandiose hotels offering more than 10,000 rooms, outdoor recreation opportunities, and local area RV parks. It’s the perfect spot for the winter weary-- a “nice get away from the snow to enjoy 70-degree weather in December,” as many snowbirds have put it. With over 300 days of sunshine each year and an average annual rainfall of 1.78 inches, the climate is more than arid, and offers visitors an eye-catching combination of Colorado River views, bright neon lights, desert backdrops, and jagged little mountains. Located just under ninety miles south of Las Vegas off State Route 163, it truly is a thriving visual wonder. Plus, there’s always something to do—from relaxing with new friends and playing or fishing on the river, to helicopter rides, gambling in casinos, receiving great meal deals, and checking out tons of classic cars at the Riverside.
The surrounding waters of Lake Mohave, Lake Havaus, Lake Mead, and, of course, the great old Colorado River, offer a wide spectrum of recreational activities as well. You can even take a nice evening dinner cruise or scenic tour aboard a paddlewheel steamship with that sweetie pie of yours right at sunset! It’s desert beauty at its finest. Plus, with the natural wonders of the surrounding Mohave Desert, including the Christmas Tree Pass and Grapevine Canyon area just ten miles to the west, the area’s ideal for camping, hiking, photography, and exploring. Laughlin is even an awesome playground for Baby Boomers hoping to sink their teeth in events such as the popular Polar Bear Swim, sock hop, bingo and slot tournaments, chili cook-offs, wine tastings, and exercise classes. So winter breakers, head on over today for some large city fun but without any of those nasty crowds. What are you waiting for?!
Laughlin’s closest airport: Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport
2. Laughlin, Nevada
Just over forty miles south of Las Vegas along I-15, this tiny byproduct of the California-Nevada state line was once nothing more than barren desert inhabited by Whiskey Pete McIntyre, a colorful bootlegger who owned a gas station in the area until 1933. Today, it’s a mini-metropolis of hotel-casinos and restaurants, as well as two Tom Fazio-designed championship golf courses, a highly popular mall (the Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas), and even a rollercoaster called Desperado at Buffalo Bill’s Resort and Casino, which offers a 225-foot drop on the first hill. It’s one of the tallest roller coasters in North America!
Plus, with impressive natural wonders of the nearby Ivanpah Dry Lake, a popular land-sailing destination, Primm has been home to several world-famous events, including the 1997 World’s Strongest Man competition. Motor sports fans race towards this hotspot for annual events such as the Las Vegas Primm 300 and Terrible’s 250 off-road races-- and with a more than casual local vibe and style, snowbirds looking for less hustle and bustle can truly get away at this home away from home. It’s friendly, it’s affordable, and you’ll definitely become part of a small town family. What’s not to love?
Primm’s closest airport: McCarran International Airport
Located right along I-15, this Nevada winter hot spot has emerged as yet another snowbird resting place, offering retirees of all sorts terrific desert climate, plenty of mountain scenery, and tons of gambling fun—all with a small town feel and a way more relaxed, congestion-free pace than Las Vegas. There’s also the Snow Canyon State Park nearby, a must see for any outdoor enthusiast, as well as Zion National Park, one of America's premiere parks. You can even head on over to Valley of Fire State Park, which features spectacular rock arches, alpine meadows, and red rock canyons! What’s more is that Bryce Canyon and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon are close enough for day trips. And with Sin City only an hour away, it’s an all around amazing space along the state’s north-east corner to revel in magnificent earthy wonders and never-ending amounts of good old fun.
Get rollin’ at the Cosmic Bowling Center Complex, a 24-lane state of the art bowling center, with bingo and an arcade. Dine, wine, and see a show after golfing it up at one of the six top-notch golf courses boasting incredible views and championship-quality layouts. There’s even the Senior Fall Classic Golf Tournament every November and The Senior Softball Winter Classic in December! Make sure to visit The Mesquite Recreation Center, a beautiful facility with basketball/racquetball courts, exercise/aerobics studios, weightlifting machines, and an indoor pool. There are also opportunities for Boomers looking to do some biking, hiking, off-road walking, go-cart riding, skydiving, range shooting, equestrian riding, or just some simple pool relaxing. Fun in the sun never ceases in this winter oasis—it’s the fastest growing city in Nevada, a true "Diamond in the Desert.”
Mesquite’s closest airport: St. George Municipal Airport
Looking for a desert retreat that’s close to both natural and manmade beauty? Head no further than this snowbird fave, a perfect winter home base originally built for Hoover Dam workers to live in while they were building the dam. Since then, the city has slowly evolved into a vibrant retirement city for those seeking a warm and milder climate (with average temperatures around seventy to eighty degrees), as well as affordable accommodations and plenty of leisure activities.
It’s just twenty miles southeast of Las Vegas, near Lake Mead, and offers beautiful historic charm, a quaint atmosphere, and a quick morning drive to the nearby Grand Canyon. Stroll down Main Street with your honey and take a peek inside the array of unique boutiques lining the street. Spend the day golfing at one of the many majestic golf courses or by taking a desert hike along the numerous trails. There’s plenty to see and even more to do-- so no matter how you enjoy spending free time, this Clark County city is the place to go.
Boulder City’s closest airport: McCarran International Airport
You cannot mention Nevada without calling out its most popular travel destination. That’s right, folks, Las Vegas welcomes snowbirds as well! For the most part, Sin City’s nice weather is part of what makes it a top notch travel destination. With over three hundred days of sun each year, it’s perfect for the winter weary, as temperatures may drop into the thirties at night, but manage to hover around the upper fifties to low sixties during the day. What’s more is that there are fantastic condo and home rentals dotted throughout town that are suitable for any snowbird lifestyle, as well as numerous RV options along the highway, including a new upscale RV resort on the west side of town.
The other thing that makes L to the V such a top draw is, of course, all the excitement to be had! Strange and wonderful things always seem to happen in this neon-lit city, as retirees can escape into an all new sort of lifestyle—one that’s filled with endless golfing, gaming, entertainment, hiking, motor sporting, and some mighty fine buffet eating at surprisingly low prices. For those who like to shop, get ready to drop, because from bargains to bling, Vegas literally has it all. Plus, the welcoming waters of nearby Lake Mead offer boating, fishing, and other recreational activities to enjoy. So forget shoveling snow this winter and mosey on down to this buzzy Mojave Desert resort town in Nevada. Adventure awaits.
Las Vegas’s closest airport: McCarran International Airport
This article was written by Pamela Chan.