Las Vegas, the casino city in the middle of the Nevada Desert, USA. Known primarily for its wild parties and gambling, I don’t like either of those so why did I end up in a place I should have hated? I made one loop of a casino and didn’t understand how any of the machines worked, I just wanted to spend maybe $5 just to say I had done it and ended up giving up. But I discovered there’s more to Vegas than what it gets its reputation for! Instead of getting an adrenaline buzz from the casinos, why not check out some of the Las Vegas thrill rides?! They make a great alternative thing to do in Las Vegas if you don’t like partying or gambling!
Las Vegas Thrill Rides
The Stratosphere Tower
If you’re a thrill seeker, the Stratosphere Tower HAS to be on your bucket list for more reasons than one! First of all, you can jump OFF the tower! Seriously! SkyJump Las Vegas lets you jump from the 108th floor (855feet up) of the Stratosphere Tower at the north end of The Strip. It’s a controlled freefall, reaching speeds of up to 40mph. I thought it could have done with being a bit faster…but then I am a bit of a speed demon!
Jumps start from around $119.99, more expensive packages include photos and ‘wrist cam GoPro footage’. They stick you in a funky blue and yellow jump suit, take you to the top of the tower and one by one you jump off, landing on a target down below. Everything in your body tells you it’s not natural to jump off a building but it’s fine! The slow descent also gives you a bit of time to take in the view too! If you’re staying at the hotel, some of the rooms with a ‘Strip facing view’ can watch the SkyJumpers out of the window! There’s even a whole channel dedicated to the Stratosphere SkyJump on the hotel TV!
While you’re up there, check out the other Stratosphere thrill rides! I wish I was able to visit when the rollercoaster was still there, it was on my bucket list for ages but it’s now been replaced with 2 other rides, Insanity and X-Scream.
If you ride Insanity, make sure your shoes are strapped on tight! Riders sit in a circle facing each other in what I describe as a ‘claw ride’, once loaded, it twists out over the edge of the tower, the seats then tip forward, facing you towards the ground 800+ft below…and then spins! And it spins for what feels like a lifetime!
X-Scream is like a rollercoaster that has no where to go! It’s a tiny little piece of track and the rollercoaster car goes backwards and forwards along a track that also moves up and down like a see-saw. It looks like you are going to shoot right off the track and crash into the desert floor! Beware, it may hold you at the end of the track and then suddenly drop!
The Big Shot drop tower is still there going strong at the very top of the Stratosphere Tower. It first opened in 1996 and was once upon a time the highest thrill ride in the world! It was also my favourite out of the 3! It shoots you up 160ft in the air, taking you to a total height of 1081ft above the Las Vegas Strip, before dropping you down and giving riders a zero gravity experience!
Ride tickets can be bought in a package with entrance to the observation deck which will save you a bit of cash compared to buying everything separately! Guests at the Stratosphere Hotel receive free entrance to the tower so only ride tickets would need to be purchased.
New York New York Roller Coaster
The New York New York hotel is, in my opinion, one of Las Vegas best looking and most iconic hotels on The Strip. You can’t miss it, it’s like a 3D mini version of the New York skyline, with all the major NY icons. But it has an addition to the skyline that the real New York doesn’t have, and that’s a bright red roller coaster! This Las Vegas roller coaster opened in 1997 and reaches speeds up to 67mph! It’s a bit of a brain shaker and has 2 inversions (my Dad actually screamed for the first time in his life…hilarious)! The train is designed to look like a classic yellow New York taxi cab! ‘The Big Apple Coaster‘ starts and finishes inside the hotel (at the back of the casino) but the majority is outside.
At the beginning of 2018, ‘The Big Apple Coaster’ received a new upgrade in the form of virtual reality head sets! VR coasters are cropping up all over the place now! Tickets for the regular roller coaster ride are $15, the VR experience costs an extra $5. Rerides are $8, so I’d be tempted to ride once with the head set and once without!
Visit Fremont Street…and Go Zip-lining!
This was my favourite thing I did while in Vegas! This gem of Las Vegas is a short taxi ride away from The Strip. Fremont Street is a pedestrianised area with bars, restaurants and live FREE music and entertainment. The main attraction, is the light show that starts at 8pm. The street has a giant roof over the top, which once it’s dark, pictures and videos are projected onto it, that move in time with a soundtrack. Everyone just stops and looks up! Tip: I was also aware that this was probably the perfect time for pickpockets to take advantage of people being distracted and not paying attention to their bags. I didn’t have any problems but it was in the back of my head.
As you look up, you’ll also see zip-liners flying up above your head! Since I visited, the Fremont Street zipline has got bigger and better! There are now a choice of 2 ziplines:
- a shorter one where you ‘sit up’, 77ft above the street and travel the length of 2 blocks
- a longer one where you lay on your front ‘superman style’, at a height of 114ft up and travel 5 blocks of Fremont Street!
The ziplines are now run by SlotZilla and are open from 1pm – 1am 7 days a week. The lower zip-line (which I went on) costs $25, the new higher zip-line costs $45. You can even ride with your personal belongings, they strap a special bag to you to keep everything in, very handy as you don’t need to leave everything with someone not taking part!
Related Reading: Things To Do At Mall of America That Don’t Involve Shopping!
Looking for a calmer Las Vegas ride?
Ride in a Gondola at The Venetian
Compared to the real thing in Venice, it’s not even really in the same league. It’s still cool though because at the end of the day there’s a canal INSIDE a hotel!!! There’s also a slight Harry Potter-ness to it…the ceiling is painted to look like the sky outside! The Gondolier sings to you during your ride, it’s a little embarrassing when there are people wandering around the hotel staring at you being serenaded while in a boat but it’s still fun! I’m not sure if the guy was really Italian, or just putting on an accent to stay in character but boy, he could sing! Our ride lasted around 15 minutes. A shared gondola ride at the Venetian (up to 4 people) costs $29 per person.
*Side Note for visiting Las Vegas*
There are many places in the world where females may receive unwanted attention whether travelling solo or not. I was travelling with my family, rather than my Dad being the family ‘protector’, it was down to me, my Mum and Sister to protect him!
As the sun goes down, The Strip fills with men and women advertising ‘Ladies for sale’, in the form of flicking piles of business cards in front of any MALE that walks by. Even though there were 3 women walking with my Dad, it didn’t stop these people. Every few feet there’d be another one getting in his face. We even walked either side of him, but they’d STILL lean across in front of us to get to him! It did ruin Vegas for us. It kinda made it impossible to walk around as they kept getting in the way. Fremont Street offers some relief from this, it’s nice to escape it! Certainly a destination where for once I was glad to be a female.
Would you be brave enough to ride any of these Las Vegas thrill rides?
Las Vegas is a short detour from Route 66, an epic road trip from Chicago to LA!