By Steve Campbell
Photography Courtesy of the Las Vegas News Bureau
Vegas Away From the SEMA Show
A Sampler of Places to Go and Things to See Outside of the Convention Center
Visit the The Auto Collections at The LINQ. The 125,000-sq.-ft. showroom houses more than 250 classics, musclecars and race cars to buy, sell, trade or just view.
The annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas is one of the largest automotive trade events in the world, but the fact that it’s held in an entertainment mecca also makes it an opportunity for automotive professionals to explore all sorts of diversions, both automotive and not. The following are only a few of the options, but be sure to visit the official city website at www.lasvegas.com for its enormous catalog of activities, shows, tours and more.
Show and Go for Car Folks
While it has a reputation for raucous shows and musical wonderment starring major personalities and talents, Las Vegas also offers the chance to view and drive some astounding classic and exotic automobiles. For car guys and gals who can’t get enough, check out some of these attractions.
What: Shelby American Inc.
Where: 6405 Ensworth St., Las Vegas
How Much: Free
Information: www.shelbyautos.com; 844-974-3529
Details: Located near the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the Shelby Museum includes some of the most famous cars ever produced, from the first Cobra CSX2000 to prototypes of the Series 1, Shelby GT-H, Terlingua, GT500KR and others. Tours are conducted at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; Saturday 10:30 a.m. only. The tours are free and require no reservation or registration. Hours for the Heritage Center and retail shopping are currently Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m.–6:00 p.m. and Sunday 10:00 a.m.– 4:00 p.m.
What: Sun Buggy Fun Rentals
Where: Nellis Dunes
How Much: From $99 per person
Information: www.sunbuggy.com; 702-644-2855
Details: Sun Buggy offers a wide selection of ATVs, Polaris RZRs, ¾-scale desert racers and dune buggies that seat from one to six people. You can rent an ATV and explore the desert on your own, take a leisurely off-road tour with an experienced guide or engage in a high-speed chase. Sun Buggy also offers facilities to host corporate events for groups of up to 1,000 people. Evening tours are available, so you don’t have to miss a minute of the SEMA Show!
What: Exotics Racing
Where: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
How Much: From $99 per person
Information: www.exoticsracing.com; 702-405-7223
Details: Strapping in and powering up a supercar for hot laps at a race track is on the bucket list for most auto enthusiasts, and Exotics Racing at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway provides just the venue to scratch that itch. It offers a large fleet of exotic supercars that include Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches, Aston Martins and more. Includes one-on-one coaching from professional racing instructors.
What: Las Vegas Mini Gran Prix
Where: 1401 Rainbow Blvd., West Las Vegas
How Much: $7.50 per ticket
Information: www.lvmgp.com; 702-259-7000
Details: The Mini Gran Prix features rides, slides and a game arcade along with kart racing for all ages. Climb into your choice of four different types of karts and tracks (including one for children from 38 in. to 54 in. tall) and put your skills to the test. A great place to unwind and challenge your coworkers or competitors to a grudge match.
What: American Adventure Tours
Where: Hidden Valley, Primm, Jean, McCullough Mountain Range
How Much: Varies by tour
Information: www.americanadventuretours.com; 702-876-4600
Details: If you’re into exploring the desert on a powersports vehicle, whether it’s an ATV, a dirt bike or a side-by-side, American Adventure Tours has you covered. Tours can cover as many as 20 to 50 miles of desert and mountain terrain, close to extinct lava fields and across dry lakes. It’s set up to accommodate both novice and experienced riders, but you’ll be in the outback, so dress accordingly.
With more than a dozen different driving experiences to choose from, Richard Petty Ride can give you a stock-car thrill that will stay with you for a lifetime.
What: Richard Petty Ride
Where: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
How Much: Ride-alongs starting at $99 ($59 for juniors); drives starting at $449; prices vary by track
Information: www.drivepetty.com; 800-237-3889
Details: With more than a dozen different driving experiences to choose from, Richard Petty Ride can give you a stock-car thrill that will stay with you for a lifetime. In anywhere from eight to 50 laps, you can either ride along or pilot the car yourself at speeds up to 165 mph. And there’s plenty of NASCAR merchandise available for purchase.
What: The Auto Collections
Where: The LINQ, 3535 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas
How Much: Free with pass from http://autocollections.com/index.cfm?action=free&tab=free
Information: www.autocollections.com; 702-794-3174
Details: The 125,000-sq.-ft. showroom houses more than 250 classics, musclecars and race cars to buy, sell, trade or just view. The inventory constantly changes and includes everything from military vehicles to VW Bugs. There’s also plenty of souvenirs in the gift shop.
High-speed laps in exotics and supercars may be enough for some of us, but others need a bit more spice in their lives. For those folks, there are these attractions peppering the Vegas landscape, along with a few for those who are already seasoned enough.
What: The LINQ/High Roller
Where: 3545 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas
How Much: Starts at $19.95 ($14.95 ages 13–17)
Information: www.thelinq.com/high-roller; 702-694-8100
The High Roller is a Ferris wheel on steroids. When the 40-passenger, air-conditioned cars reach the top of the High Roller observation wheel’s radius, they’re more than 500 ft. up, providing a great view of the city. One total rotation takes 30 minutes.
Details: Think of it as a Ferris wheel on steroids. When the 40-passenger, air-conditioned cars reach the top of the High Roller observation wheel’s radius, they’re over 500 ft. up, providing a great view of the city. One total rotation takes 30 minutes, and there are shops and liquid refreshments available nearby. It all makes for a tall, cool one.
What: Sky Combat Ace
Where: 1420 Jet Stream Dr., Henderson
How Much: From $299 per person (discounts for six or more)
Details: You can fly…literally! Sky Combat Ace calls itself “the world’s most extreme aviation attraction.” Experienced—highly experienced—fighter pilots take you up in two-seat, dual-control, aerobatic monoplanes, but then you pilot the aircraft unless you just want to ride along. No experience necessary! Restrictions apply, but check it out and spread your wings!
What: VooDoo ZipLine
Where: Rio Hotel and Casino, 3700 W. Flamingo Rd., Las Vegas
How Much: $27.49
Information: www.voodoozipline.com; 702-388-0477
Details: Maybe 33 miles an hour doesn’t sound like much in a Ferrari or a Corvette, but when you’re suspended from a zipline 400 ft. above the ground and are whizzing along between two towers nearly 500 ft. apart, 33 mph can make your nether regions pucker. The ride provides a 360-degree view of the Las Vegas valley. It accommodates two riders at a time and travels both forward and backward.
What: Big Shot, X-Scream and Insanity
Where: Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower, 2000 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas
How Much: Varies; check website
Information: www.stratospherehotel.com/activities/thrill-rides; 702-380-7777
Details: The mechanical arm of the Insanity ride extends 64 ft. over the edge of the 900-ft. level on the tower at the Stratosphere, which totals 1,149 ft. above the street. Then it spins at up to three G. (Shudder.) 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. (Shudder and mutter.) 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. (Shudder, mutter, quake and moan.) Want to ride ’em again, cowboy?
What: Adventuredome Canyon Blaster and El Loco
Where: Circus-Circus, 2880 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas
How Much: All-day tickets $31.95 for those 48 inches and taller and $17.95 under 48 inches
Details: The Adventuredome’s indoor theme park sprawls over more than five acres and features carnival attractions, including a pair of coaster rides that’ll have you grinning. The Canyon Blaster is an indoor, double-loop, double-corkscrew roller coaster that whips through The Adventuredome at 55 mph. El Loco is a twisting, turning, dropping screamer that ascends 90 ft. before dropping into a 1.5-vertical-G gut wrencher. Man up!
What: The Zombie Apocalypse Experience
Where: 13011 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas
How Much: Varies; see website
Information: www.combatzonepblv.com; 702-388-9663
Details: You’re given a .50-caliber paintball gun, and then you enter the Apocalypse, where your mission (and you’d better accept it) is to clear a series of infected zones that have turned the inhabitants into—you guessed it—zombies. The zones total more than 1,000 ft. Try not to get eaten, big guy.
What: Vegas Indoor Skydiving
Where: 200 Convention Center Dr., Las Vegas
How Much: First flight (three minutes) $75; repeat flight $40
Information: www.vegasindoorskydiving.com; 702-731-4768
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: CSI: The Experience
Where: MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
How Much: $28 adults, $21 kids 4–11
Details: This one won’t incite panic—unless you’re unnerved by an inability to solve a whodunit. A forensic puzzler based on the hit TV show, CSI: The Experience tests your ability to solve a caper by matching DNA, performing ballistics tests, identifying hair or fingerprint samples and more. Features state-of-the-art crime labs and stunning special effects.
Where: Fremont Street Experience, 425 Fremont St., Las Vegas
How Much: $20 for lower Zipline; $40 for upper Zoomline
Information: http://vegasexperience.com/slotzilla-zip-line; 702-678-5600
Details: SlotZilla is a 12-story, slot machine-inspired ride that features two ziplines. The lower zipline starts from 77 ft. up and takes flyers halfway down the Fremont Street Experience promenade in a seated position. The upper Zoomline launches from 114 ft. up and travels the full length of the Fremont Street Experience, with flyers in a prone position. View the party below from an electrifying perspective.
Las Vegas is home to dozens of spectacular golf courses designed by legendary architects. Tee it up at spectacular layouts that include Shadow Creek, Cascata, Wynn Las Vegas, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Coyote Springs and more.
What: Las Vegas Golf
Where: Dozens throughout the valley
How Much: Fees vary; check websites
Details: Why is this listing under “Thrills Akimbo?” Perhaps you’ve never experienced a truly wicked slice. Las Vegas is home to dozens of spectacular golf courses designed by legendary architects. Tee it up at spectacular layouts that include Shadow Creek, Cascata, Wynn Las Vegas, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Coyote Springs and more. See if you can avoid spasms of terror over a slippery 3-footer.
Museums and Education
Speed and thrills aren’t for everyone. Some folks are more refined, more demure, more cultivated. Vegas has got them covered, too!
What: Springs Preserve
Where: 333 S. Valley View Blvd., Las Vegas
How Much: Non-resident adult $18.95; Nevada resident adult $9.95
Information: www.springspreserve.org; 702-822-7700
Details: Just three miles from the Las Vegas Strip, the Springs Preserve features a look at the natural beauty of this part of the world, with science and nature exhibits, botanical gardens, hiking, trails and live animal shows. There’s air conditioning inside and more than 300 interactive exhibits and 1.6 miles of walking trails outside that include animal exhibits and a children’s play area.
What: Titanic—The Artifact Exhibition
Where: Luxor Hotel and Casino, 3900 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas
How Much: $32 general admission; $30 seniors (65 and over); $24 children (4 to 12 years); free children (3 and younger)
Information: www.luxor.com/entertainment/titanic.aspx; 702-262-4000.
Details: The Titanic was touted as “unsinkable” when she was launched, but an iceberg gave lie to the claim. The 25,000-sq.-ft. exhibit at the Luxor features artifacts such as luggage and an unopened bottle of champagne with a 1900 vintage as well as a full-scale re-creation of the Grand Staircase. Visitors even have a chance to walk through authentically re-created first- and third-class rooms, with furnishings by original manufacturers.
What: Las Vegas Natural History Museum
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 2 and younger
Information: www.lvnhm.org; 702-384-3466
Details: Those interested in life lived in Vegas before it was Vegas should take a gander at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum. It includes displays on dinosaurs, marine life (including whales and sharks) and international wildlife as well as wild Nevada, the African savanna and rainforests.
Where: Luxor Hotel and Casino, 3900 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas
How Much: Varies
Information: www.luxor.com/entertainment/bodies.aspx; 702-262-4000
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.”
There are more than 100 models in the world-famous Madame Tussauds wax museum, including the Beatles, Nicki Minaj, Leonardo DiCaprio and Miley Cyrus, but there’s more to it than just the figures.
What: Madame Tussauds
Where: 3377 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Ste. 2001, Las Vegas
How Much: Adult $29.95 walkup, $23.96 online; children 4–12 $19.95 walkup, $15.96 online; children 3 and under are free
Information: www.madametussauds.com/lasvegas; 702-862-7800
Details: There are more than 100 models in the world-famous Madame Tussauds wax museum, including Nicki Minaj, Leonardo DiCaprio and Miley Cyrus, but there’s more to it than just the figures. The displays also include multimedia presentations, and don’t miss The Hangover Experience, based on the film trilogy staring Zach Galifianakis and Bradley Cooper.
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
Information: www.miragehabitat.com; 702-791-7188
Details: For animal lovers, this is a heart-warmer. 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 these stunning creatures.
What: The Mob Museum
Where: 300 Stewart Ave., Las Vegas
How Much: $19.95 online; $21.95 box office; discounts for Nevada residents, senior, military and children
Information: www.themobmuseum.org; 702-229-2734
Details: Beginning with Bugsy Siegel and the Flamingo Hotel in 1946, organized crime played a well-known role in the origins of Las Vegas, and this museum showcases that history with theater presentations, artifacts and interactive exhibits. It provides an insider’s look at the events and people involved in both the law-enforcement and mob sides of the story.