Only in Las Vegas: Not just a meme

Las Vegas has always been the place where whatever happens there stays there — and the phrase remains a perennial sales tag pegging the city as the ideal spot to let loose, go wild, spend money have fun and recharge. It offers a plethora of crazy things to do that aren’t likely available or accessible anywhere else.

“Las Vegas is a welcoming destination for both domestic and international visitors who find the hospitality options to be second to none and who discover they can do things here that they will not be able to do elsewhere,” says Michael Goldsmith, vice president of marketing for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

A living museum of neon awaits in downtown Las Vegas. (Courtesy Lark Gould)

Consider these “only in Vegas” experiences:

Ax marks the spot: Where else can you learn to throw axes? Axe Monkeys, a few miles east of the Las Vegas Strip, has 23 ax-throwing lanes where you can aim your implement and hit a bull’s eye. Or not. If axes are not the tool of choice, Axe Monkeys offers spears, knives, anything with a dangerous point — and safe cages where venting anger is all the rage. Rates run $25 per hour.

Tanking the car: We have all had the urge at some point in our lives to tank a car — maybe not our car, but a car, perhaps in front of us, or the neighbor’s that belches smog and lacks a muffler. Only in Vegas can tanking-the-car fantasies come to life. It all happens at Battlefield Vegas, on Industrial Road, just west of the Las Vegas Strip. Car and tank are provided, at a cost of $2,500. For those in need of more, the mini-gun range allows patrons to fire an M-134 that unloads some 4,000 rounds a minute. Other weapons include sniper rifles, sub-machine guns, pistols, shot guns. Packaged experiences start at $100 and come with free military Humvee hotel pick up.

Digging Las Vegas: Boston had its decades-long Big Dig; Vegas has its Dig This attraction that allows visitors to move dirt to their hearts content around an excavation site just west of the I-15 near the Strip. Guests can take the levers of a bulldozer or manage a lumbering excavator at a cost of around $269 for 90 minutes. Group bonding or ice-breaker options start at $720 and guarantee each participant 30-60 minutes of pure earth-moving bliss.

Vegas Ghost Adventures: Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures” is hosted by a Las Vegas native who recently opened his own scary tour where ghosts are on call and the paranormal becomes the norm. The Zak Bagans’ Haunted Museum is a circa 1938, 11,000-square-foot property east of the Strip near downtown. Once owned by a prominent businessman, it’s now owned by hostile spirits. The house is fraught with stories and replete with oddities collected from other unsavory places. Tours run 90 minutes and cost $44. Age restrictions apply.

Zombie Encounters: The Fear of the Walking Dead Survival attraction based on the AMC TV series is downtown at the Fremont Street Experience, where patrons enjoy a part special EFX, part human interactive experience that includes motion rides, mazes, incongruous spaces and a preview of post-apocalyptic life. Tickets cost $30; the attraction is open until 1 a.m. most nights and 2 a.m. weekends.

Crack the Case: Only in Vegas can crime solver wannabes let their inner detective out. At MGM Grand’s CSI: The Experience, visitors can test their forensics mettle at a crime scene and lab combo set based on the popular TV franchise. The attraction includes special equipment and interactive displays for individuals and groups to use in pursuit of answers as they gather evidence. Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, the experience costs $28, but can be combined with two other MGM Mirage attractions — including Shark Reef Aquarium, Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, Bodies, Titanic, the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat The Mirage — for $57.

Golf … in The Twilight Zone: Bally’s Hotel & Casino lets guests putt and bowl in the fourth dimension at the Twilight Zone Mini-Golf arena. An 18-hole mini golf course and bowling alley (and wedding chapel) in the hotel’s lower level contains a variety of creative sets and black-lit spaces all themed around the legendary TV series of the 1960s-70s. Explorers welcome to walk around for free, at their own peril. Mini-golf starts at $12.

Race a Ferrari: Or make that a Lamborghini, a McLaren, a Corvette or a souped up race car. The Audi R8 or the Benz AMG S65 Coupe are also in the lineup. At Exotics Racing, 23 super cars may be tested, bested, raced, run and revved around a professional speedway racecourse with options that include race car driving school lessons, exotic car racing, ride-alongs and Michelin time world challenges. Two laps start at $99.

Days of wine and chocolates … in the desert: Wine and chocolate make a divine combination in the cactus gardens at Ethel M’s. The Ethel M Chocolate Factory in Henderson (the M is for Mars Bar, invented here) offers complimentary chocolate making (and tasting) tours that may be followed by wine and chocolate pairings. Four hand-picked Trinchero wines and interesting education are matched with perfectly complementary sweets. Approximately 40-minute sessions cost $15.

Thrill seekers can leap from a hotel tower at SkyJump Las Vegas. (Courtesy Stratosphere Hotel and Casino)

Jump from the 108th floor: For those with a death wish or others who want to cheat the reaper, SkyJump Las Vegas is a must. Visitors get to plunge at 40 mph toward the sidewalk nearly a fifth of a mile below from the roof of the Stratosphere Tower on bouncy bungee cords. Bragging rights come with the ticket, which runs $120 ($130-$150 with photo/video package). The attraction is age-, height- and weight-restrictive. Only one rider at a time can jump; repeated jumps can be had for half price. The experience takes about 45 minutes with suiting and training.

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Note: Various vendors included in this article hosted the writer, however this content was not reviewed by them prior to publication and is solely the opinion of the writer.

Lark Gould, a veteran travel writer, covers destinations near and far, mostly from the window seat. Check out for updates.

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