Top 10 most unusual attractions in Vegas

Posted by on Apr 11th, 2012 and filed under Attractions, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

By Jeannie Garcia
VEGAS.com

If you’re planning your trip to Las Vegas, we’re pretty sure you want to do something out of the ordinary. Something you want to share with your friends on all the social media outlets. Something you never want to forget.

Sure, you can hit up all the nightclubs or even take all that energy to the daytime pool parties. But if you want to stand out from all your other friends a visit to some of the attractions in Vegas will do it.

Attractions in Vegas aren’t just for the kids. If you’re looking to kill time during the day, you can have a whole lot of fun doing it.

1. Dig This

Don’t you wish you could rewind time, go back to your sandbox days and not have a care in the world? Dig This makes it all possible — it’s a grown-up’s dream come true. Almost one year ago, I took the challenge and went behind the wheel of a bulldozer. Pushing around boulders and making hills is more fun than I imagined. You have a choice of operating a state-of-the-art “Caterpillar” D-5 track-type bulldozer or a 315 CL hydraulic excavator, where you can pick up objects.

“We’re the first in America — you can’t just jump on heavy equipment,” said Amber Smith, operations manager for Dig This and former heavy equipment operator. “A lot of people have this on their bucket list.”

It may seem intimidating at first, especially during the safety orientation. But if I mastered it (I’m five-feet-tall and also a scaredy-cat driver to begin with), I believe anyone can.

“People come in expecting to have a great time,” she said. “They’re wondering how hard it’s going to be [but] leave with a better experience than they expected. They feel empowered.’”

You’ll be surprised at the age group who “digs” it. “Fifty-five to 70-year-old women love this,” said Smith. “They are the highest number of our diggers. They love it, it’s so cute.”

From teens to grandmas, this really is for everyone. “There’s the people [who] didn’t want to do it for a job, but they sure wanted to try it someday,” she said.

You can read more about my experience here.

2. Take a dive:  SkyJump at the Stratosphere or Vegas Indoor Skydiving 

It’s been about two years since I jumped off the Stratosphere tower. Similar to skydiving, SkyJump Las Vegas is best described as a “controlled free fall,” After the staff straps your harness to a vertical zip line, y0u’ll leap 855 feet from the 108th floor of the Stratosphere tower, descending 40 miles per hour. Once you get over the anxiety of the jump, the experience is actually relaxing. The wires slow down on time so you can land comfortably on the soft mat. SkyJump Las Vegas is the only SkyJump in North America, so I say it’s worth the thrill.

If you’re crazy about diving (or just crazy, as your friends might say!), take another plunge at Vegas Indoor Skydiving. This isn’t your traditional skydiving. For one, you’re indoors in a padded room. And two, instead of jumping out of a plane and floating down to the ground, you’re floating upward over a wind tunnel. While they sound completely different, the sensation of jumping out of a plane is the same.

“The view is not as good, but we can fly any day or time, never troubled by bad weather,” said Brad Hess, general manager at Vegas Indoor Skydiving.

The wind tunnel — a DC-3 propeller underneath sturdy wire netting – generates winds up to 120 miles per hour. This is what causes you to float. Also, if you have any fear of jumping from such a high altitude but want that same free fall feeling, this attraction is ideal.

“Pretty much anyone can participate as long as they fit into our restrictions,” said Hess. “Many people choose to do indoor skydiving because they would never jump out of an airplane. We had kids as young as five and adults as old as 95 participate.”

I experienced this for the first time last week with my friend and fellow co-worker Caroline and like the other flying gigs, I loved it. Who doesn’t like to soar and defy gravity? Plus, the outfits were fun and made me feel like a Ninja Turtle.

3. Sky Combat Ace

Speaking of flying, if you want to take it to an even bigger level, why not fly a plane and test out your skills? If you have the need – the need for speed – get ready to take on the sky.

If you loved the ’80s classic, “Top Gun,” Sky Combat Ace gives you the chance to ride in the danger zone. With options like aerobatic flights and dog-fighting, the experience is unlike any other. To control a plane and do loops, rolls and jack hammers in the sky, how can roller coasters even compare?

Operating a plane is something most of us don’t do every day. It’s something I thought I would never have the chance to do. When I tried it, I got to do loops and rolls – beats a roller coaster any day. I also felt confident knowing that my coach/fighter pilot was in the seat behind me, rooting me on. In the two-seater plane, you’ll ascend about 1,500 feet above the ground and reach speeds up to 220 miles an hour. If you want to kick it up a notch, you can dog-fight and “shoot” another plane next to you. Intense!

4. Flightlinez at Fremont Street Experience

If jumping from the Stratosphere Tower, skydiving indoors or controlling a plane freak you out, there’s one other option you can try to get you over your fear of heights: The Flightlinez at Fremont Street Experience offers amazing feelings while keeping you at ease.

The only part that may make you apprehensive is jumping from the platform. Other than that, it’s a “breeze.” You’ll fly right below the Viva Vision canopy. The zip line goes 30 mph, so you’re basically cruising.  In addition, the wind twirls you around in your harness, giving you a full view of your surroundings. How can something be so exhilarating and relaxing at the same time? I liked when I went because it was right at dusk. I say go in the evening because the bright neon lights add to the fun.

5. Mob it up at  Mob Attraction Las Vegas (Strip) and The Mob Museum (Downtown)

Las Vegas is popular for its mobster history, so what better place to learn about the famous gangsters with two attractions in the city?

Mob Attraction Las Vegas features tons of interactive elements, as well as personal artifacts from the mob members’ families.

“We’re like a Disney-like attraction that’s mob-themed,” said Spence Johnston, spokesperson for Mob Attraction Las Vegas. “We have James Caan, Frank Vincent and Tony Sirico who act as [virtual] tour guides [and] you interact with live character actors.”

When I visited, the actors made me shy at first (one of the scenes, pictured right) but I still had a fun time talking with them. Plus, you get a feel of what it’s like to be in such “situations.”

“Many guests don’t know what they’re getting into when they come in,” Johnston said. “For the most part, guests respond positively to the actors and if you play along with them you definitely get more out of your visit.”

Artifacts inside Mob Attraction Las Vegas include Bugsy Siegel’s home movies, Meyer Lansky’s private diaries, Lansky’s Medal of Freedom he received after World War II and Lucky Luciano’s 1927 Studebaker.

Designed by the same creative team responsible for the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, The Mob Museum (right)  downtown is very thorough with mob history not just in Las Vegas, but its influence all over the world.

If you have a lot of time to read, look around and explore everything mob-related, this is the place. The Mob Museum may be more of a static museum, but it’s very compelling. You’ll experience three floors of history, as well as an in-depth look at FBI investigators, the heroes who took down the mob. Highlights include the second floor’s historic courtroom where real mob trials took place, an actual barber shop chair where a gangster was murdered and stations where you can test your shooting skills. At the end, you can relax on one of the couches in the movie theater and watch clips from your favorite mobster classics.

6. Gold and Silver Pawn Shop

If you’re a fan of the History Channel’s “Pawn Stars” and you just happen to be in Vegas, then you owe it to yourself to check out Gold and Silver Pawn Shop. “Pawn Stars” is one of the network’s most successful shows, so it’s no wonder Gold and Silver Pawn Shop is popular with visitors from all walks of life. Items you’ll find include rare jewels, a congressman’s chair and even a Samurai sword from the year 1490.

Located downtown on Las Vegas Boulevard and Bonneville Avenue, sometimes it gets so busy during the day that you’ll see the line all the way down the street.  If you don’t want to wait, the shop is open around the clock.

7. Neon Museum and Boneyard

One of the many signs at the Neon Boneyard (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Whitehair).

A bunch of old signs doesn’t usually mean much, but in Vegas, it’s a part of our history. If you walk through the Neon Boneyard, you’ll find signs as big as a house.  Established in 1996, the three-acre Neon Boneyard features more than 100 signs that used to light up casinos, stores and other notable buildings.

To schedule a tour, you’ll need to call (702) 387-NEON or click here. Tours often sell out, so make sure to give yourself a week or two before your trip. Each tour lasts about one hour.

Some signs are available to view along Fremont Street Experience, such as the Aladdin Lamp, Dot’s Flowers Sign, The Hacienda Horse and Rider, among others.

8.  KISS Monster Golf

The only time I saw golf and KISS referenced together was in one of my all-time favorite movies, “Happy Gilmore.” Never did I imagine that these two elements would come together in real life.

Located across the street from Hard Rock Hotel on Harmon Avenue and Paradise Road, KISS Monster Golf features an indoor glow-in-the-dark 18-hole golf course and the walls are adorned with KISS images. There’s even a café and wedding chapel if you can’t get enough of KISS.

For only $11.95 per golfing session, you can rock and putt all night.

9. Jubilee! All Access Backstage Walking Tour

It’s one thing to see a topless show, but what about getting a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into the costumes?  At the Jubilee! All Access Backstage Walking Tour, you’ll see sparkly costumes and headdresses in practically every color. You’ll even get to pick up a costume and see how heavy they are. Some weigh more than 30 pounds.

“It’s a whole different aspect,” said Diane Palm, show company manager and former showgirl for Jubilee!  “Being on one side – it’s the tip of the iceberg, then you see all the rest that goes into keeping the show running, make it live up to the legacy.”

Palm used to host the backstage tour and actually wrote the script for it.

“People can see a little bit of our world and all the fun back there,” she said. “The different levels from the stage down to the basement, costumes up-close, you see the sets, you really see how massive everything is, which is incredible.”

10. Pinball Hall of Fame

Oh, the days of Tetris. I kid you not, I still have my original 8-bit Nintendo. I even have the Tetris cartridge, which I spent many minutes blowing the dust out of to get it to work. Besides Super Mario 3, I can play this forever. But there’s something about playing Tetris in an arcade booth that makes it so much cooler.

At Pinball Hall of Fame, you can play this, other retro arcade games and of course, rows and rows of pinball machines. Recognized as the largest collection of pinball machines in the world, you’ll have more than 200 pinball and arcade machines to choose from, both retro and modern-day models.

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