Anyone who has been to Las Vegas knows it is truly a one-of-a-kind destination. Where can you find as many poker tables, as many bright lights or as many shows on any given night other than the Las Vegas strip?
But this playground in the desert is more than casinos and buffets. There are things you can do here that you just can’t do anywhere else. And no, we’re not talking about walking the Las Vegas strip carrying a margarita in a glass half the length of your leg.
When you allow yourself to stray from the slots, there’s a whole other Vegas to explore and experience.
The Unusual of the Las Vegas Strip #1: Break Out The Big Guns
Unlike at home in Canada, in this town, you don’t need much more than a driver’s license and a credit card to find yourself firing an AK47 assault rifle.
The Gun Store touts itself as Vegas’ premier indoor shooting range and offers up more than 60 types of firearms to choose from, including full automatic machine guns, semi-automatic rifles, handguns and shotguns.
For Matt Duffney of Wasaga Beach, while shooting a 9 mm handgun, a MP5 machine gun and an AR15 rifle were all fantastic, nostalgia meant his favourite was the Thompson submachine gun. Better known as the ‘Tommy gun,’ it was the weapon used by Tom Hanks’ character in the movie Saving Private Ryan.
“It was much heavier than I expected and put off a lot more gun powder smell than I would have thought, but it was awesome,” he said.
For ‘oomph’, his vote went to the M249 light machine gun. Impressed as Duffney was with it, he was easily out-oomph’d by the man next to him, who was shooting a .50 caliber rifle.
“The percussion from that shook the room every time he fired it,” he recalls.
“It was intimidating being in a space where so many people have these powerful weapons in their hands. You hope there are no crazies there with you. But otherwise it was just a lot of fun.”
Duffney was there with a group for his brother’s bachelor party and says a big part of the fun was the novelty of the experience. As Canadians, guns like that are just not easily accessed here.
“If I was to go and get my gun license here and then my restricted license, it’s such a big process. Then try and find a gun club accepting members,” he says. “It’s much easier to go to the U.S. and pay the price for a great one-time experience.”
Whether it’s a machine gun special or a bachelorette package, there’s something for everyone at The Gun Store, including kids. For some, it’s never too young to start, after all.
If you’re someone who worries about the zombie apocalypse, the range has that covered too — because you know they’re coming.
Whatever path you choose, you can say you’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt, because they actually send you home with a free one.
What better way to work off the pre-wedding jitters and prep for your walk down the aisle at the Little White Chapel?
Want more information? Call (702) 454-1110 or visit the shop at 2900 East Tropicana Avenue in Las Vegas.
The Unusual of the Las Vegas Strip #2: Dive With Sharks?
While an ocean is likely among the last things you’d expect to encounter on the Las Vegas strip – unless you’re particularly dehydrated and at the point of seeing mirages – you can actually find a small sea at Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef.
With nearly 2 million gallons of seawater, the aquarium is home to more than 1,200 species of fish, reptiles and rays. And while there are poker sharks aplenty at tables around town, here you’ll find the real thing: blacktip reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks, bonnethead sharks, nurse sharks, sand tiger sharks, sandbar sharks, zebra sharks, white spotted bamboo sharks, port jackson sharks and lemon sharks.
If you’re a certified SCUBA diver and over 18, you can make yourself some new finned friends, as the aquarium offers a chance to get close and personal with these powerful, awe-inspiring and often misunderstood species.
Seeing sharks in a tank certainly doesn’t sit right with everyone. In the ocean they’re generally shy and keep their distance, but if you want a sure thing in an encounter, dive in.
Find out more by calling (702) 632-4555 or visit mandalaybay.com or sharkreef.com for advance reservations.
The Unusual of the Las Vegas Strip #3: Lose Your Supper at the Stratosphere
Let’s be clear, the ‘Insanity’ is not the same serene swing you spent time floating through the air on as a kid. As riders soon find out, this beast is aptly named. It sits atop the Stratosphere and once you’re strapped into your seat, the gates along the building’s edge drop and you swing 64 ft. out over the side.
In case it wasn’t bad enough that you’re now dangling at more than 900 ft. up, before it starts to spin, your seats tilts forward 70 degrees so that you’re aimed at the ground, looking straight down at the Las Vegas strip below. That’s when the spinning begins — and you get to experience what 3Gs can feel like. Have a look.
If swinging out over the side of Stratosphere, shooting off on a short-tracked coaster, or blasting 160 ft into the sky from the roof at 45 miles per hour aren’t quite enough to turn your adrenalin-seeking crank, you can always jump off the building all together.
The SkyJump – once the world’s tallest amusement ride – is where you’ll really earn your bragging rights! This open-air leap from 829 ft. holds a Guinness World Record as the highest commercial decelerator descent facility. You’ll dive towards the strip below at speeds that top out at 40 miles per hour. No biggie.
The Unusual of the Las Vegas Strip #4: Dig This
Want to get dirty? Get your dig on? This place is for you.
It’s fair to say boy and their toys go together no matter what age. But this place takes the playing in the sandbox you did as a child to a whole new level. At this heavy equipment playground, there are only life-size toys and an adult-sized sandbox. As the their website says: “Whether you’re eight or 108 years, you can drive real earth moving machines at Dig This.”
And whether you’re part of a group dig or there yourself, there’s a big dig bulldozer, big dig excavator, mini excavator and skid steer track loader. If you’re looking to skip a trip to the shrink, there’s an aggression session where you can unleash your frustrations on a perfectly good car and crush it to your heart’s content with a 30,000 lb Caterpillar excavator — and then sign your work with spray paint when you’re done.
Just don’t think you’re getting the controls without a breathalyzer. This being Vegas, they know what you’ve been up to.
You can find Dig This at 3012 S Rancho Drive.
The Unusual of the Las Vegas Strip #5: SpeedVegas
Along with flashy people, flashy cars are not in short supply in Sin City. But you don’t need to simply watch and drool as they pass you by on the Las Vegas strip.
At SpeedVegas, you can climb into your dream car and take it out on an F1 inspired racetrack with 12 banked corners and 2,200 foot straightaway. Ferrari? Lamborghini? Mustang? Porsche? McLaren? Whatever gets your gears grinding, the gang’s all here.
More to the point, whatever wheel you find yourself behind will make for a most-welcome departure from your daily commute to work in your Toyota Corolla at home. The price-per-lap depends on your car, but there are also packages, as well as a ride-a-long drifting experience to be had.
Visit speedvegas.com to find your four-wheeled adventure.
The Unusual of the Las Vegas Strip #6: Neon Boneyard
In Vegas, buildings come down as fast as new ones go up.
But have you ever wondered what becomes of all the signs that adorned the outside – some of them iconic in their own right?
The answer can be found at The Neon Museum, home to the Neon Boneyard. This is where signs go to die … kind of.
The museum was created in 1996 to promote the preservation of these signs as significant pieces of artistic and historical importance. There are more than 200 signs here — nine of which have been restored — and each one offers a unique story about the personalities who created it, what inspired it, where and when it was made, and the role it played in Las Vegas’ history.
“It’s kind of a window on the past,” says Rob Ludlow of Ottawa. “It harks back to the days of the Rat Pack, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. A lot of it is evocative of the mob times in Vegas, the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s. Now everything is new.”
He says there was a sadness about being among pieces that years ago were all aglow.
“All those signs served a purpose in their lifetime years ago. Just think of all the people who looked at them. They were there to lure people in and separate them from their money, but also show them a good time. They were once all lit up and here they are, sitting forlornly in the desert. Their function has been served and now they’re kind of tossed aside.”
It’s a whole different time now, with completely new technology. If learning about that, as well as changes and trends in sign design is up your alley, the museum has that covered as well, using pieces that range from the 1930’s to today.
You can only access the Boneyard through an hour-long guided tour, but they’re offered seven days a week. You can also arrange photo shoots.
The Unusual of the Las Vegas Strip #7: Museums
You could be forgiven for being surprised museums exist at all in a town of high rollers. But beyond the Boneyard, there are some real gems worth checking out. We won’t go into details, but we’ve only heard good things about these:
Remember to give us a call when you get back, and we’ll help you claim your gaming or casino tax refund!