Coolest Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do In Las Vegas
Fun With Dolphins
Lots of tropical resorts offer expensive swim with dolphin programs. Being Vegas, the Mirage takes the concept and kicks it up a notch – actually up three notches. The main event is the all-day Trainer for a Day program (13 and older), which lets guests don a wetsuit and work with a family of bottlenose dolphins alongside animal experts, learning about dolphin behavior and the Dolphin Habitat‘s research projects that aid in the survival of dolphins in the wild. Trainers for a Day connect with these magnificent creatures hands-on during feeding and training exercise, and observe ultrasounds, heart rate and temperature measurement, something few ever see. For the more artistically inclined visitor, the Mirage just launched the 30-minute “Painting with the Dolphins” program, where each guest collaborates with a dolphin to create a unique watercolor, taking home the original canvas and a photograph of themselves painting with the dolphin. Finally, the Spa at The Mirage offers a one-of-a-kind fitness experience, instructor-led Yoga Among the Dolphins, in a serene, underwater viewing area with multiple windows. Guests view the resort’s family of dolphins while flowing from pose to pose, and the dolphins often reciprocate at the glass with interested fascination of the yogis.
Sommelier Wine, Mixology & Cooking Classes
The Bellagio has a world record 17 Sommeliers and three Master Sommeliers, more than any other hotel on earth, and celebrates this with its 90-minute seminars, A Master Sommelier’s Classroom, held the third Wednesday of every month at Michael Mina restaurant ($80). Each explores eight wines, including the specific soil, climatic effects on grapes, and nuances of the wine’s flavor profile. The Bellagio also hosts the Epicurean Epicenter Series, led by its lineup of world famous celebrity chefs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Todd English. The interactive cooking classes coupled with perfectly paired wines are held in the made for TV Tuscany Kitchen, a state-of-the-art demonstration facility with top-of-the-line Viking equipment and three cameras above the stations and stove to project overhead shots of the chef on 60-inch plasma screens (shown). If cocktails are more your thing, the Monte Carlo offers a two hour Mixology Training & Tasting class ($75), in which the hotel’s Director of Beverage teaches the art of bartending and how to make the ultimate cocktail. Class size is limited to four participants and includes a tasting, of course.
Record Breaking Roller Coasters
In most places if you want to ride world-class roller coasters you have to head to some suburban theme park for the day. In Vegas they can be found up and down The Strip. The main destination for thrill ride junkies is The Adventuredome at Circus Circus, which features the world’s only indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew roller coaster, The Canyon Blaster (shown). The Adventuredome also just announced the debut of the record-breaking “El Loco” coaster in December 2013. The gravity-defying ride will be the second of its kind in the U.S., with an unrivalled steep negative-G drop. Just a few blocks south, The Roller Coaster at New York-New York drops from 203-feet at a speed of 67MPH, and this indoor/outdoor 3½-minute adrenaline rush takes riders through a novel 180-degree twist and dive maneuver. The sky high Stratosphere offers four high-altitude outdoor thrill rides of its own, including the newest, SkyJump, a controlled free fall – from 108-floors up! The rooftop Insanity puts riders through 3-Gs of terror, the X-Scream is a teeter-totter suspended 866-feet above the sidewalk, and Big Shot is a 4-G vertical catapult that takes riders to 1,081-feet above the Strip.
Drive Really Fast
The Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500 is the most muscular of American muscle cars, with a 5.8 liter V8 plus huge supercharger putting out 662-horsepower for a top speed north of 200MPH. But this is just one of four massively overpowered domestic speed demons you can drive on 30 miles of open road through scenic Red Rock Canyon with the brand new American Muscle Car Driving Experience. Rotate between the 2014 Dodge Challenger SRT8 (Special Research Team 6.4 liter V8 Hemi – shown), 2013 Corvette Z06 (7.0-liter 505-horsepower V8) and 2014 Camaro ZL1 (0-60MPH in 4.1 seconds). The same company offers the Red Rock Experience with exotics from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bentley, Jaguar and Audi. Or head to Las Vegas Motor Speedway where you can ignore speed limits on the racetrack. Here Dream Racing lets you take the wheel of an actual Ferrari race car, an iconic Ferrari 458, or the ultra-exotic McLaren Mp4-12c. Exotics Racing gives driving lessons and experiences with a fleet of Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Porsches. The Richard Petty Driving Experience teaches you to drive actual NASCAR race cars – or simply ride along with a pro to experience the thrill of speed.
Mini Golf Fit For Rock Stars
Myrtle Beach has dinosaurs, pirates and jungles on its many mini-golf courses, but only Las Vegas has KISS® By Monster Mini Golf®, a playable tribute to America’s favorite costumed rock n’ roll band. The standalone fun center includes 18-holes of indoor glow-in-the-dark mini golf, with a pervasive KISS theme that includes giant guitars, an animated replica of the band, and even a 12-foot high Gene Simmons head that you putt into! You can take souvenir photos in KISS concert regalia, and the facility also features arcade games, a large Gallery/Museum devoted to, you guessed it, KISS, a KISS gift shop, KISS-themed event/private party rooms, and the “Hotter Than Hell” Wedding Chapel for ultimate fan nuptials! Open 10AM-Midnight daily.
New and Quirky Museums
People who criticize Las Vegas for a lack of cultural attractions have missed the recent opening of several excellent and significant museums, including the instantly popular 2012 “Mob Museum,” officially The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, and the brand new (this month!) $55 million Discovery Children’s Museum – across the street from the new $470 million Smith Center for the Performing Arts and 61-acre Symphony Park. Opened in 2005 but still often overlooked is the fascinating National Atomic Testing Museum, a Smithsonian Institution affiliate, historically based on the Nevada Test Site, just 65 miles away, where countless nukes were detonated in the name of science. The well-designed and compelling museum has a vast mix of artifacts and interactive displays, with a special exhibit on another Nevada desert intrigue, Area 51. The funkiest of all is the kitschy but very cool downtown Neon Museum (2012), an outdoor walk-through collection laid out like an artful junkyard, connected with walking paths, steps and ramps to showcase the city’s neon legacy.
Swim With Sharks
Shark Reef, located in Mandalay Bay, is a full-sized aquarium, billing itself as “North America’s only predator-based aquarium.” It features lots of killers, including rare golden crocodiles, moray eels, jellyfish and piranhas, and 15 species of sharks. You can see these up close through Dive With The Sharks, the most unique and thrilling of many unique and thrilling experiences in Las Vegas. The dive lasts 40-45 minutes in the largest tank at Shark Reef, the 1.3 million gallon Shipwreck, with about thirty Sand Tiger, White Tip Reef, Gray Tip Reef, Sandbar, Zebra, Nurse, and Galapagos sharks, plus moray eels, sea turtles, rays, and lots of fish. Because you never go deeper than 22 feet there is no decompression concern, and you are covered from head to toe in a chainmail anti-shark suit. You need to be a certified diver, and you go in a very small group (2-4) led by a dive master, with a surface support crew. Best of all, the sharks have already been fed.
When this $11 million attraction opens in June on the Downtown Fremont Street Experience, it won’t just be the hottest new thing in Las Vegas, it will instantly be one of the country’s must-dos. The zipline attraction is an 11-story, 120-foot high slot-machine-themed takeoff platform with two-levels. Riders on the lower level take off 70-feet above ground and zip 850-feet to a landing platform. But riders on the higher level are shot out of SlotZilla at 35MPH using a first-of-its-kind propulsion launch system and soar 1,700-feet, the entire length of the Fremont Street Experience, starting so high that they actually descend through the electric Viva Vision canopy. In true Vegas fashion, every time a rider leaves, the giant slot machine’s arm will pull down, the reels will spin, and a beacon will light up. SlotZilla is adorned with two Vegas “showgirls” standing 37-feet tall and a 20-foot wide “Welcome to Fabulous Downtown Las Vegas” sign.