Off The Beaten Path
A selection of unique destinations to spice up any Las Vegas visit.
Over the past 20 years, Las Vegas has undergone yet another transformation.
Known in the 1990s for its budget-friendly buffets, free drinks and nickel slot machines, the city’s latest facelift turned it into the new home for big-money glitz and glamour.
Lounge singers and dollar hotdogs were replaced with world famous musical acts, lavish nightclubs and luxurious casinos, and these expensive events and destinations continue to draw tourists to Las Vegas in droves.
Another large tourism draw for Las Vegas is the city’s convention and tradeshow facilities.
Massive convention centers and plentiful lodging make Las Vegas the ideal host for a multitude of industry conventions and tradeshows — like this year’s ISSA/INTERCLEAN 2013.
For many convention attendees, the casinos and attractions on the Las Vegas Strip and in the Fremont Street Experience offer all the needed excitement.
Yet, other visitors may look for entertainment or educational options beyond the beaten path.
From sports cars to pinball, from canyon hiking to atomic testing, here are a few suggestions for visitors searching for atypical experiences compared to the typical Las Vegas activities.
Does it sometimes seem like there is no free entertainment left in Las Vegas?
Well, the Shelby American museum stands ready to prove this notion wrong.
For a grand total of zero dollars and zero cents, a visitor can wander through the physical history of Shelby American every Monday through Saturday at the company’s museum and gift shop.
According to the museum’s website, the displays regularly change, and the museum frequently includes some of the most famous cars ever produced.
Vehicles on display can include the first Cobra CXS2000 and prototypes for Series 1, Shelby GT-H and others.
Shelby has a long history of automobile production, but starting in 2006, the company developed a relationship with Ford Motor Company where Shelby built unique high-performance vehicles.
Working with Ford Racing, Ford SVT and the Ford new car branding team, the partnership developed a series of cars that saw Shelby vehicles regain the attention of enthusiasts worldwide.
The museum was originally located near the Las Vegas Speedway, but it now has plans to move closer to the city’s tourist areas.
Before planning a visit, check www.ShelbyAmerican.com/Tours.asp for the latest information.
The Pinball Hall Of Fame
Another choice, another unique proposition for Las Vegas visitors — the Pinball Hall of Fame offers electronic gaming machines that actually provide three plays per quarter.
Before Pac Man and Ataris, the rolling silver ball ruled all, and this standalone museum and hall of fame is dedicated to all things pinball.
The Pinball Hall of Fame’s website says the 10,000-square-foot museum was created to house and display the world’s largest pinball collection.
Open to the public, this museum was created after a not-for-profit corporation was established, and the games inside the museum all belong to a single club member.
The pinball machines on display range from the 1950s to 1990s, but older machines from the 1960s through the 1980s are prevalent since this era proved to be the “heyday” of pinball.
All machines in the collection are available for play, and they have all been restored to like-new condition.
Older machines are set to 25 cents per play while newer 1990s models are set to 50 cents per play.
“There are no ‘ticket spitters’ here,” the website continues. “It’s all pure pinball — and a few arcade novelty games — from the past. And since it’s a non-profit, excess revenues go to non-denominational charities.”
For a 3D tour of the hall of fame and more information, visit www.PinballMuseum.org.
Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock Canyon is a convenient choice for outdoorsmen/women looking to enjoy Nevada’s arid desert climate.
Located approximately 25 miles from the Las Vegas strip, this canyon is home to 19 marked hiking trails, according to its website.
Ranging in length from two miles to six miles, the different trails offer visitors exercise as well as a chance to find desert flora, hidden water pockets, box canyons, views of Las Vegas and colourful geologic formations.
In addition, climbing and mountain biking are popular outdoor activities in the canyon.
And for those looking to stay longer than a few hours, primitive campsites are available.
Before leaving the area, visitors can stop by and spend time with Mojave Max, a desert tortoise that lives at the Red Rock Canyon NCA.
According to the canyon’s website, Max hatched in 1989, and the “spokestortoise” currently weighs in at over 12 pounds.
Since the desert tortoise is Nevada’s state reptile, Max serves as a reminder for visitors and residents to respect, protect and enjoy the animals and plants in the Mojave Desert.
More information about the offerings at Red Rock Canyon can be found at www.RedrockCanyonLV.org.
The National Atomic Testing Museum
Over Nevada’s history, some of the brightest lights in the desert didn’t come from light bulbs or neon tubing.
The Nevada Test Site was used to test American nuclear devices from 1951 to 1992, and over 900 nuclear tests occurred in the area.
The National Atomic Testing Museum, in association with The Smithsonian Institution, showcases a collection of over 12,000 unique artifacts in educational exhibits, according to their website.
The museum’s permanent exhibits explore the development of the bomb, the technology and science of underground testing and the ways that natural and man-made radiation is tracked, monitored and measured.
In addition, the GZ Theater lets visitors experience a simulated atmospheric bomb blast.
Currently scheduled as a temporary exhibit is Atomic Overlook, a collection of photographs by Clay Lipsky.
About one mile off the Las Vegas strip, the museum is open daily, and it offers parents different activities to make the educational displays fun and informative for children.
For more information, visit www.NationalAtomicTestingMuseum.org.
When it comes to Las Vegas, these activities are just the tip of the iceberg.
Visitors can always turn to mobile phone apps and browser searches for on-the-fly suggestions and mapping.
For many, a trip to Sin City is a rare escape from the responsibilities of everyday life.
Why not make the most of it by taking in the most unique destinations that Las Vegas has to offer?