Ten must-do thrill rides in Vegas

We’re sure you’ve come to Vegas to have a wild and crazy time, but you haven’t experienced anything until you’ve tried a thrill ride in Vegas. Take a look at our top picks and get ready to have some serious fun – these rides are sure to knock your socks off.

1. Sky Combat Ace: If you want to experience what it’s like to be in the danger zone, then this ride is for you. After all, it’s not every day you get a chance to operate a plane. You’ll fly about 1,500 feet above the ground and get a panoramic view of the Las Vegas desert. Your plane reaches speeds up to 200 miles an hour.

The four-hour “Top Gun” flight includes a 30-minute orientation and up to 40 minutes of riding. Once you’re in the air, you’ll get the chance to fly the plane and execute moves like loops, rolls, stalls and spins, as well as advanced moves like hammerheads and tumbling.

The “After Burner” flight offers the same type of adrenaline rush, but the pilot flies the plane for you. But if you really want to live on the edge, the “Sky Combat” experience allows to you engage in combat fights. Your plane comes with a target system to “shoot” at your opponent.

The number one rule to keep in mind? Have fun! Not everyone can say they’ve experienced anything like this. If you’re feeling apprehensive, remember to relax and have a good time. It will make your flight that much better.

2. Vegas Balloon Rides: This may be a lot calmer than Sky Combat Ace, but the thrill of traveling so high in the air and feeling weightlessness is an adventure on its own. You’ll see spectacular bird’s-eye views of the Las Vegas Strip and surrounding areas. The 10-story high balloon may look intimidating and you’ll reach heights of 800 feet, but we promise it’s smooth sailing. I’m leery of heights and at first, I was very skeptical. I mean, how could something so light carry a basket full of people? Once you see how beautiful the views are below you, the only thing that goes over the edge is your fear. The ride lasts about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on winds.

3. Vegas Indoor Skydiving: This isn’t your traditional skydive. For one, you’re in a padded room. And also, instead of leaping out of a plane and floating down to the ground, you’re floating upward in a wind tunnel. The experience may sound completely different, but the sensation is just the same. The wind tunnel – a DC-3 propeller that lies beneath wire netting, generates winds up to 120 miles per hour. After all, who doesn’t like to soar and defy gravity?

4. SkyJump Las Vegas: I did this ride more than two years ago, and it’s something that I still talk about.  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 so you can land comfortably on the soft mat. SkyJump Las Vegas is the only SkyJump in North America, so believe us when we say it’s worth the thrill.

5.  X-Scream: This ride gives “living on the edge” a whole new meaning. You might remember what it feels like to ride a teeter totter, but add a roller coaster ride and a height of 900 above the ground into the mix. You get Stratosphere’s thrilling ride, X Scream (seen right). Unlike the typical roller coaster track that takes you back to the ground, this one stops in midair at a 30-degree angle. Just when you feel like you’re about to fly over the edge, the car takes you backward on the tracks. The thrill isn’t over just yet: The moving track teeters back and forth, providing a whole new take on the traditional seesaw.

6. Desperado: If you really want to get your roller coaster fix, then get ready to embark on one of the steepest rides in North America. Located in Primm, Nev. at the California and Nevada state line, Buffalo Bill’s Desperado is worth the stop.

The infamous Desperado sends guests to extreme heights at an intense speed. And talk about riding in suspense — the Desperado roller coaster slowly takes you up a 209-foot peak. Enjoy the view while you can — once you hit this point, you’ll race through the ride, reaching speeds close to 90 miles per hour. You’ll love all the twists, turns and other surprises that follow right after it.

In celebration of National Roller Coaster Day on Thursday, Aug. 16, visitors can enjoy free rides on this beast. Experience the heart-racing action from 11:15 a.m. to 6:45 p.m.

7. Sun Buggy Desert Racing: Want to add some fast-paced, great outdoor thrills to your trip? Then spend the day on a custom-built mini Baja dune buggy racing over the Nellis Dunes. This trip is ideal for those who crave speed, excitement and a crazy adrenaline rush. Travel through 15,000 acres of play space, including rugged terrain, sand dunes, gravel and challenging steep hills.  Zipping through the wild side of the Southwest desert gives you a whole new perspective of what Vegas has to offer.

These dune buggies have been featured on MTV, The Travel Channel, Discovery Channel and G4, to name a few.

8. Zip line adventures: Whether you want a view of the outdoors or the glittering lights of Downtown Las Vegas, you’ll love going on either zip-line adventure.

Located in Boulder City, Bootleg Canyon Flightlines (pictured right) offers breathtaking views of the desert valley. Riders travel from one point to another by flying over the desert ecosystem from the top of Red Mountain. You’ll possibly reach speeds up to 50 miles per hour. Speed aside, imagine how fun it’ll be to get a bird’s-eye view of the Southwest’s mountains.

If you’re more of a city dweller, Flightlinez at Fremont Street Experience gives you the thrill of soaring high above the ground while admiring the spectacular sights of downtown Las Vegas. As you coast down the 800-foot long cable, the wind twirls you around in your harness, giving you a 360-view of your surroundings. We recommend going at nighttime. This way, you’ll experience the lights from the Viva Vision canopy right above you. how dazzling is that?

9. Race car rides: If you like to live in the fast lane, then getting behind the wheel of a fancy sports car and pushing it to the limit is the ultimate thrill-seeking experience.

If you always wanted to drive a Ferrari, now is your chance. Located at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Dream Racing gives you the chance to drive a Ferrari 430 GT, a race car that is actually banned from the streets. The 1.1-mile race course includes nine turns and a straightaway. The experience also includes a 3-D simulator session with step-by-step instruction from driving experts. After suiting up into your gear, get behind the wheel of this racing machine.

For those who want to choose from a selection of fancy cars, Exotics Racing offers everything from Ferraris to Lamborghinis, Porches, Aston Martin and Audi models.  Not only will you get behind of one of these luxury beauties, there are no speed limits. And Exotics Racing is always expanding its fleet of cars (pictured right), you’ll be guaranteed to drive something new when you come back.

Some of us fantasize about taking these bad boys for a spin on the streets. World Class Driving’s Supercar Tours offers drives out to Red Rock Canyon and Hoover Dam. Although you have to follow the speed limit, imagine all the attention you’ll get on the road. This tour offers the latest models of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bentley and Jaguar, to name a few. The biggest perk? You’ll get to switch sports cars from different checkpoints. This way, you get a feel for all of them.

10. Rim Runner: Last but certainly not least, we thought we’d leave you with a ride that’s equally thrilling and refreshing. Located inside Circus Circus’ Adventuredome, the Rim Runner is the perfect way to cool off from the summer’s scorching temperatures. The adventure starts with a ride through a peaceful stream, but this only builds the suspense of what’s to come. Once you plunge down the 60-foot drop, you’ll get drenched by the gigantic splash finale. You may shiver a little bit at the end of the ride, but we believe it’s the perfect antidote for Vegas’ summer heat.


Most folks take their Vegas jackpot winnings back home, but my dad decided to stay here instead. That’s how I left Seattle almost 20 years ago. I moved from greenery and rainy days to hot summers, palm trees and desert. As much as I love my hometown, I decided to stick around Vegas. This city just has so much to offer. You don’t even have to be a gambler, bar hopper or an all-night partier. I love Vegas for its awesome vegan-friendly spots, concerts, swanky hotel suites and spas so big, they’re like castles. The pool scene is not too shabby either, which is why I love taking stay-cations. Besides living it up -- Vegas style -- I’m hanging out with my handsome hubby, adorable baby girl, two cats and super-fluffy Shih-Tzu. I’m also a huge fan of '90s music, shows and movies. You can find me on Google+ and Twitter.