By STEVE BASILONE, Los Angeles Times Special Sections Writer
WANT TO JUMP OFF THE STRATOSPHERE? SKYDIVE INDOORS? HERE’S OUR LOOK AT THE BEST WAYS TO GET THE BLOOD PUMPING IN VEGASWhat is there to say about Vegas that hasn’t already been said? Bursting with energy, the city is a hedonistic playground where spectacle awaits you at every turn. Volcanoes erupt, fountains dance and there’s enough neon to turn night into day. The place is, to say the least, a unique city. Built on marble, money and madness, Vegas has always attracted travelers with a spirit of adventure. So it should come as no surprise that there’s no shortage of opportunities to get your thrill on in this town.
Here are a few of our favorite ways to get your adrenaline flowing in Sin City.
With three terrifying attractions — the Big Shot, X-Scream and Insanity — set 1,149 feet above the strip, the Stratosphere has long been the focus of attention for adrenaline junkies. But now, as the tallest structure in Las Vegas adds its most heart-pounding attraction yet, the iconic needle stands poised to capture Sin City’s thrill-ride crown.
Best described as a “controlled free fall,” SkyJump Las Vegas (www.stratospherehotel.com) allows you to take a leap of faith off of the 100-plus story tower. While plummeting 40 mph to the ground below, you’ll have the opportunity to take in the sprawling glitz of the strip. After the 855-foot descent, the SkyJump apparatus (really just a vertical zipline, with a wire on each side of you and one at your back) slows you down, bringing you in for a delicate landing. Your legs might be shaking and your heart might be about to leap out of your chest, but the smile plastered on your face makes up for it. When has a slot machine ever done that? $100 for one jump.
If you like the idea of a free fall but prefer to keep your feet (a lot) closer to the ground, then try Vegas Indoor Skydiving (www.vegasindoorskydiving.com). Since opening in 1982, Vegas Indoor Skydiving has been allowing guests to simulate the rapture of a free fall without having to jump out of a plane. For $75, guests are suited up like flying squirrels, given a brief safety lesson and then escorted inside America’s first vertical wind tunnel. Essentially a hurricane in a box, the tunnel generates 120-mph winds, strong enough to support the weight of the average adult. In no time your agile guide will have you whirling about the room effortlessly. You’ll feel like Wesley Snipes in “Drop Zone” — except without all the tax problems.
For something more traditional, Vegas offers plenty of amusement park-style rides. In fact, the city is peppered with roller coasters. There’s Speed — The Ride at the Sahara and New York-New York’s classic multilooped coaster. But for the greatest confluence of amusement park attractions there’s only one place to go: the Adventuredome at Circus Circus (www.adventuredome.com). While it’s not exactly Six Flags, this pink-domed park offers 25 rides and attractions to choose from. There’s the double-looped, double-corkscrewed Canyon Blaster; the dizzying, gravity-defying Disk ’O; the wet and wild Rim Runner complete with a 60-foot waterfall; and the 100-foot Sling Shot, which catapults riders into the air at four-plus Gs. $4 to $7 per ride.
After you’ve had enough of the allyou-can-eat buffets and female impersonators, leave the Strip behind and set a course for Boulder City. There, just a 20-minute drive from Vegas, you’ll find the home base of Bootleg Canyon Flightlines (www.bcflightlines.com). A kind of zipline on steroids, this $149 adventure consists of a series of lines, each of which ranges in length from 1,150 feet to nearly half a mile. After donning your harness, you’ll be shuttled to the top of Red Mountain where you’ll begin a spine-tingling descent across craggy canyons at speeds of up to 60 mph. The adventure lasts upwards of three hours and provides stunning views of Vegas, Lake Mead and the dramatic red-brown desert landscape.
FROM TOP TO BOTTOM: SKYJUMP LAS VEGAS; VEGAS INDOOR SKYDIVING; ADVENTUREDOME AT CIRCUS CIRCUS; BOOTLEG CANYON FLIGHTLINES