By Matt Villano
Imagine for a moment zip-lining over pedestrian malls, throwing axes at a bull’s eye or even operating an excavator. Each of these experiences is equally outrageous, and yet there’s one place you can do all of them within a 12-hour period: Las Vegas. The density of adventures in this city boggles the mind. It makes for good party jokes. It’s a distinct departure (or shall we say exquisite escape) from the soul–sucking routine of adulting, which is precisely why this environment makes Las Vegas unlike any other city in the world. In homage to this distinction, we’ve put together a rundown on the most over-the-top Vegas experiences you can have in a single day. All you need to decide from here is when to book your ticket.
Zip line 100 feet above the crowds
Sure, the shops and restaurants that line the LINQ Promenade are fun to browse. But zooming over them at 35 mph is an even better way to shake the doldrums of everyday life. This is the experience that Fly LINQ delivers. It’s the only zipline on the Las Vegas Strip and whisks passengers along roughly 12 stories (100 feet) above the ground. Passengers can choose to take the ride either seated or superhero-style. Screaming is optional, as well—whatever adds to the sense of exhilaration.
Race loops in a Lamborghini
If you’re a gearhead, Dream Racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has you covered. The outfitter lets you whiz around the only sanctioned racetrack in Vegas, behind the wheel of an array of exotic supercars, including Ferraris, Maseratis, and Porsches. Choose packages from two to 40 laps, including a 16-lap Lamborghini package that comprises drive time in four different models, like the Aventador and Galladro Superleggera. The track is well-maintained, with clear run–offs and a fire and safety team on site at all times, so you can burn rubber knowing you’re in good hands.
Feast on drama and decadence
When NoMad Restaurant opened inside the Park MGM in December 2018, it changed the Las Vegas dining scene forever. NoMad mixes ambiance—the main dining room is a high-ceilinged library with actual books—with next–level cuisine from award–winning chef Daniel Humm. The result: Unrivaled decadence. The restaurant is best enjoyed with a date; the signature roasted chicken stuffed with foie gras and truffles comes family-style, and tableside preparation of steak tartare unfolds like a dance solo. Co-founder Will Guidara explains this is by design: “We endeavored to find a balance between intimacy and theatricality.” These folks have clearly located that sweet spot.
Fly in a helicopter down the Strip
A helicopter ride offers the ultimate perspective of the Las Vegas Strip, and the six–person tours from Papillon Helicopters are second to none. Following a swanky limousine ride from your hotel, the standard Strip tour takes off from the chopper terminal at McCarran Executive Airport, heads straight up the Strip, hangs a hairpin turn around the Stratosphere, and continues to historic downtown Vegas before turning around and heading back. All told, the tour takes about 15-20 minutes. The memory, however, lasts forever.
Sip martinis 550 feet above the ground
Superlatives are part of the deal when describing Las Vegas’ observation wheel. It’s 550 feet tall, making it the tallest in the world. It has 28 individual passenger pods, also record–setting. But what makes The High Roller particularly unusual are the offerings you won’t find anywhere else, like weekend yoga classes and a Happy Half Hour complete with open bar held right in the pods. Of course the most spectacularly mind–blowing feature of this attraction is the view—especially on a clear day, you can gaze for miles. There’s no better way to see the Vegas Valley.
Take a romantic gondola ride
For a quintessential experience, ride a gondola while being serenaded with arias at The Venetian Resort. The Venetian offers several gondola packages, including one that features a marriage ceremony. Once a day, the hotel also administers what it calls “Gondola University,” a program designed to teach visitors how to become gondoliers. If you decide to never leave Las Vegas (understandable), at least you’ll be well–trained for a prime gig.
Scream your head off in the night sky
The Stratosphere Tower on the edge of downtown Las Vegas stands more than 1,100 feet tall, which (in Vegas terms) means it is the perfect place to stick a bunch of thrill rides. There are three adrenaline-junkie attractions: Big Shot, which blasts passengers 160 feet straight up in the air; Insanity, a giant mechanical arm that spins passengers 64 feet over the tower edge; and X-Scream, a roller coaster that dangles passengers weightlessly 109 stories off the ground. You can buy a ticket for one ride at $35, or an unlimited pass for all of them at just under $40. (Is this really even a decision?)
Go nightclubbing at the hockey game
There’s nothing quite like the thumping and pulsing rush of a Vegas nightclub. There’s also nothing as energizing as being in the arena for a Las Vegas Golden Knights hockey game. Hyde Lounge at T-Mobile Arena fuses these two unforgettable experiences. Think of Hyde as one giant luxury suite at the top of the arena—tables have great views and open up to the action so you feel like part of the crowd; they also come with bottle service. When the night is over, you’ll feel like you were privy to two attractions—the party on the ice and an entirely different kind of bash among the fans. It’s the kind of vibe only Vegas can provide.
Operate an excavator with the best of ‘em
Who says you should leave operating heavy machinery to the professionals? At Dig This!, a “heavy equipment amusement park” south of town, guests can drive bulldozers and operate excavators for an hour as they play with real–live construction equipment. The basic experience includes a 30-minute safety demo followed by a series of exercises with the big-boy toys on a dirt course. The day ends with open play, during which guests can do pretty much anything they want with the machines. There’s even an optional “aggression session,” allowing guests to use the equipment to crush cars. “This is perfect for people who never graduated from the sandbox,” says owner Ed Mumm. In this case, however, the sandbox is a giant empty lot.
Play a spine–tingling game of golf
You’ve played before, sure, but nothing comes close to the game on offer at Twilight Zone by Monster Mini Golf on the underground level of Bally’s Las Vegas. The 18-hole golf course is designed for players of all ages. “It doesn’t matter if you’re 5 or 75; there’s something on this course for you,” says owner Christina Vitagliano. The course also features unique holes and obstacles. One hole has a cyclops, while another is guarded by Martians. Though all holes are unique, in keeping with the theme of the “Twilight Zone” television show, each hole is painted black and white. The facility doesn’t sell alcohol, but bringing drinks in from outside is par for the course.
Whether you’re there just to chill or pack your visit with bucket-list-level thrills, you’d be hard pressed to find a city with more outrageously varied offerings per square mile than Vegas. A day–or a few–in the Entertainment Capital of the World doesn’t disappoint.