By Steve Campbell
Photography Courtesy of the Las Vegas News Bureau
What Happens in Vegas
Drive and Discover
Las Vegas offers the chance to drive some cool vehicles in great surroundings, but it’s also home to some amazing displays of classic and exotic automotive machinery. If you don’t get enough of a vehicular fix at the SEMA Show, check out these tempting treats:
What: ATV Hidden Valley
Where: Hidden Valley, Primm, Jean, McCullough Mountain Range
How Much: $174 per ticket
More Information: 702-876-4600;
Details: This is said to be the longest all-terrain vehicle (ATV) tour in Southern Nevada, lasting about six hours (including a van ride to the staging area in Jean, Nevada). The tour passes over 20–50 miles of desert and mountain terrain, close to extinct lava beds, across dry lakes. It’s set up to accommodate both novice and experienced riders, but you’ll be in the outback, so dress accordingly.
What: Exotics Racing
Where: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
How Much: From $99 per person
More Information: 702-405-7223; www.exoticsracing.com
Details: Here’s your chance to drive a Ferrari F430 F1, a Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2, an Aston Martin Vantage S, a Porsche Cayman S, a Corvette Z06, a Nissan GT-R, an Audi R8 V10, a Porsche 997 Turbo S or a Ferrari 458. Expert instruction, a real race track, a whole lotta fun!
What: Las Vegas Mini Gran Prix
Where: 1401 Rainbow Blvd., West Las Vegas
How Much: $7.50 per Ticket
More Information: 702-259-7000; www.lvmgp.com
Details: Kart racing for all ages, kiddies to geezers! Think you’re a hot shoe? Prove it! Climb into your choice of four different types of karts and tracks (including one for children from 38 to 54 in. tall) and put your skills to the test. Bring your buddies for a grudge match.
What: Penske Wynn Ferrari Maserati
Where: Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas
How Much: $10; Children 12 and under free with paid adult
More Information: 702-770-2000; www.penskewynnferrari.com
Details: Okay, it’s a car dealership. But what a car dealership: new and pre-owned exotics that cost more than many people’s houses. If you don’t want to pop $300,000 for a fullsize Ferrari, visit the gift shop for a model that may be more in your price range.
Get some seat time in a NASCAR-style race car at the track where the Sprint Cup competes in Vegas.
What: Richard Petty Ride
Where: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
How Much: Ride-alongs starting at $99 ($58 for Juniors); drives starting at $449; Prices Vary by Track
More Information: 800-237-3889; www.drivepetty.com
Details: Get some seat time in a NASCAR-style race car at the track where the Sprint Cup competes in Vegas. Ride-alongs feature professional instructors in two-seat cars at speeds up to 150 mph. Also lots of NASCAR memorabilia available for purchase.
What: The Auto Collections
Where: The Quad, 3535 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas
How Much: Visit the Website for a free admission ticket; otherwise, it’s $11.95 for adults; $8 for seniors 65 and children 6-12; children 5 and under are free
More Information: 702-794-3174; www.autocollections.com
Details: More than 250 classics, musclecars and race cars are on display in the 125,000-sq.-ft. showroom—and you can buy, sell or trade. The inventory constantly changes and includes everything from military vehicles to VW Bugs. There are also lots of books and merchandise available in the gift shop.
What: Vegas Mini Baja Chase
Where: Nellis Dunes
How Much: From $199 per Person
More Information: 702-644-2855; www.sunbuggy.com
Details: Slow and leisurely is available, but that isn’t the Baja Chase. You drive a one- or two-seat buggy with a fully welded, double-loop steel rollcage across challenging terrain at speed—as much speed as you’re comfortable with. Includes helmet, goggles, gloves, gas and cold bottled water.
Where: 4055 Dean Martin Dr., Las Vegas
How Much: Drive Three Cars for $299 or Four for $399
More Information: 877-597-6403; www.worldclassdriving.com/muscle/drive-muscle-cars-las-vegas
Details: It’s not just a few laps on a track. Get behind the wheel of a Shelby GT 500, a Corvette Z06 and a Dodge Challenger SRT8 in the three-car, 30-mi. experience, or add a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the 50-mi., four-car experience over roads in the Nevada desert that are purposefully selected for spirited driving.
Rides and Amusements
If the SEMA Show provides enough automotive excitement for you, there are plenty of other avenues to explore. Get your adrenaline pump from a high-wire vista or a bucket-of-thrills rollercoaster.
Where: Circus-Circus, 2880 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas
How Much: All-day tickets $29.95 for those 48 in. and taller and $16.95 under 48 in.
More Information: www.adventuredome.com
Details: This indoor theme park sprawls over more than five acres and features carnival attractions such as thrill rides, laser tag, bumper cars, arcades and more. For maximum heart rate, try The Sling Shot, Canyon Blaster, Disk ’O, The Inverter, Chaos and El Loco. We’ll see you when you get off.
The X-Scream teeter-totter-style ride propels its passengers 27 ft. out over the edge of the tower before bringing them back—and then taking them out again.
Where: Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower, 2000 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas
How Much: Varies; Check Website
More Information: 702-380-7777;www.stratospherehotel.com/activities/thrill-rides
Details: The top of the tower at the Stratosphere is 1,149 ft. above the street. The mechanical arm of the Insanity ride extends 64 ft. over the edge at 900 ft. and spins at up to three G. The X-Scream teeter-totter-style ride propels its passengers 27 ft. out over the edge of the tower before bringing them back—and then taking them out again. And the Big Shot fires passengers from a 921-ft.-high starting platform straight up at 45 mph for 160 ft. Then does it again. Great googly-moogly.
What: Brooklyn Bowl
Where: The LINQ, 3545 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas
How Much: Varies; Check Website
More Information: 702-862-2695; www.caesars.com/thelinq/restaurants.html
Details: For nightlife lovers, Brooklyn Bowl houses 32 bowling lanes but also features top-drawer entertainers from pop to rock and jazz at one of the largest music venues in the country. Luxury lounges border the lanes, and there are five bars in the three levels with more than 80,000 sq. ft. of cool. Come early; stay late (but remember to pace yourself).
What: Combat Zone Paintball
Where: 13011 S Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas
How Much: Varies; see website
More Information: 702-388-9663; www.combatzonepblv.com
Details: It’s the old “capture the flag” but with nontoxic, color-splattering weapons. Challenge your competitors to a paintball battle with air-propelled ammo that marks hits with fading dyes. It’s all fun until somebody takes one in the keister.
Where: New York New York, 3790 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas
How Much: Free
More Information: 702-740-6414; www.nynyhotelcasino.com
Details: Patterned after the famous amusement area in Brooklyn, this arcade offers bumper cars, video and midway-style games and a wild rollercoaster (which costs $14).
What: Vegas Indoor Skydiving
Where: 200 Convention Center Dr., Las Vegas
How Much: First Flight (Three Minutes) $75; Repeat Flight $40
More Information: 702-731-4768; www.vegasindoorskydiving.com
Details: Want to go skydiving but consider the idea of jumping out of a perfectly good airplane a little warped? Take the leap in the vertical wind tunnel at Vegas Indoor Skydiving. The wind tunnel produces an airstream with enough volume to support an adult. Flight suit furnished.
What: Gondola Rides
Where: Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas
How Much: $18.95 per person (gondola seats four); $75.80 for a private two-passenger gondola
More Information: 702-414-4300; www.venetian.com/gondola-rides.html
Details: No need to fly to Venice when the Venetian is right there in Vegas. Take a cruise in boats that are based on designs more than 1,000 years old. Travel down the Grand Canal beside cafes and beneath balconies and bridges. Ah, romance!
Travel down the Grand Canal beside cafes and beneath balconies and bridges.
Las Vegas is nearly as famous for its golf courses as for its casinos.
Where: Dozens to Choose From
How Much: Fees vary; check websites
More Information: www.lasvegas.com/activities/golf
Details: Las Vegas is nearly as famous for its golf courses as for its casinos. Legendary architects and builders created such spectacular layouts as Shadow Creek, Bali Hai, Badlands, Bear’s Best Las Vegas and more. Make some time to tee it up!
Where: Fremont Street Experience, 425 Fremont St., Las Vegas
How Much: $20 for Zipline; $40 for Zoomline
More Information: 702-678-5600; http://vegasexperience.com/slotzilla-zip-line
Details: The 12-story, slot machine-inspired SlotZilla features two zip lines. The first (aptly named Zipline) starts from 77 ft. up and takes flyers halfway down the Fremont Street Experience pedestrian promenade. Zoomline launches from 114 ft. up and travels the full length of the Fremont Street Experience. Whee!
What: The LINQ/High Roller
Where: 3545 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas
How Much: Starts at $24.95
More Information: 702-694-8100; www.caesars.com/thelinq/high-roller.html
Details: Look down on Vegas from the world’s largest observation wheel, the High Roller. Passengers receive a 30-minute ride in one of 28 glass-enclosed, air-conditioned, spherical cabins. Each cabin holds up to 40 people. Rates are slightly higher at night, but what a view!
What: VooDoo Zip Line
Where: Rio Hotel and Casino, 3700 W. Flamingo Rd., Las Vegas
How Much: $27.49 Plus Fees
More Information: 866-746-7671; http://voodoozipline.com
Details: The VooDoo puts riders 400 ft. in the air and traveling between the Rio’s Masquerade and Ipanema towers, giving them a 360-degree view of the Las Vegas valley. Accommodates two riders at a time and travels both forward and backward for nearly a third of a mile.
Museums and Education
There are also plenty of attractions for the highbrow among us. Remember: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, so your buds back home need never know that you visited a museum in Sin City.
Where: Luxor Hotel and Casino, 3900 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas
How Much: $26
More Information: 702-262-4000; www.bodiestheexhibition.com/lasvegas
Details: The Bodies exhibition displays real human bodies treated with a process called polymer preservation. The exhibits expose detailed, three-dimensional views of human anatomy, with 13 whole bodies and more than 260 organs and partial bodies. The bodies are respectfully presented, “giving visitors the opportunity to view the beauty and complexity of their own organs and systems.”
What: Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Gardens
Where: 2 Cactus Garden Dr., Henderson, NV
How Much: Free
More Information: 800-438-4356;
Details: Savor a chocolate treat while learning about some of the most interesting and hardy plants to force their way up from the desert floor. Ethel M Chocolates’ Botanical Cactus Garden is one of the world’s largest collections of drought-tolerant ornamentals, cacti and other succulents, with more than 300 species to marvel over. And then you can savor another chocolate. Yum.
The Las Vegas Natural History Museum includes displays on dinosaurs, marine life (including whales and sharks) and international wildlife as well as wild Nevada, the African savanna and rainforests.
The hour-long guided tours for the Neon Museum (the only way to see it) are often sold out, so advanced bookings are recommended.
Where: 900 Las Vegas Blvd. North, Las Vegas
How Much: $10 for adults; $8 for seniors, military and students 12 and over; $5 for children 3-11; free for children under two
More Information: 702-384-3466; www.lvnhm.org
Details: If you haven’t been to a natural history museum since grade school—or even if you have—you should check out the one. It includes displays on dinosaurs, marine life (including whales and sharks) and international wildlife as well as wild Nevada, the African savanna and rainforests.
Check out wax replicas of your favorite stars of stage, screen and the racetrack at Madame Tussauds.
Where: 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas
How Much: Adult $29.95; Children 4-12 $19.95; Children three and under free (discounts online)
More Information: 702-862-7800; www.madametussauds.com/lasvegas Details: Check out wax replicas of your favorite stars of stage, screen and, yes, the racetrack (there’s a Dale Earnhardt figure!). The newly reworked interactive exhibits include themed areas, such as Club Tussauds, Sports Arena, TV Studio, Viva Las Vegas, Music Room and Marvel Super Heroes Experience & 4D Cinema.
What: Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat
Where: Mirage, 3400 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas
How Much: Adults $19.95; children 4–12 $14.95; children three and under free
More Information: 702-791-7188;
Details: You can find seemingly everything in Las Vegas, including lions, tigers and…bottlenose dolphins. The Siegfried & Roy Secret Garden features big cats in a tropical atmosphere modeled after the animals’ natural habitats. And a family of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins resides in the adjacent 2.5-million-gallon Dolphin Habitat, which is comprised of four connected pools. Both areas offer views of fascinating creatures.
What: The Neon Museum
Where: 770 Las Vegas Blvd. North, Las Vegas
How Much: Night tours: $25 for general admission; seniors, students, active military, veterans and Nevada residents are $22; day tours: $18 for general admission; seniors, students, active military, veterans and Nevada residents are $12
More Information: 702-387-6366; www.neonmuseum.org
Details: Be forewarned: The hour-long guided tours for the Neon Museum (the only way to see it) are often sold out, so advanced bookings are recommended. Why so popular? Because the 150 signs, some restored but most not, are way cool. It’s like strolling through a memory lane of the ’50s.