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Las Vegas: Things to do

Las Vegas Insider
Signs for sale, Downtown. (Photo: Jerry Alexander / Lonely Planet Images)
Signs for sale, Downtown

Beyond the flash and glitter of vintage Vegas and the bling and notoriety of modern-day Vegas, there is an enduring pioneering spirit in "the brightest city on earth." Whichever Las Vegas fantasy you subscribe to, it is alive and well somewhere in this desert.

Erotic and exotic

With more than 2200 square metres of permanent and featured exhibit space, the Erotic Heritage Museum pays overdue homage to the socio-cultural impact of mankind's fascination with (and periodic abhorrence of) all things "sex". Glorifying that which might elsewhere be mislabelled pornographic, the museum tastefully-though-frankly explores our sexual kinks, peccadilloes and preferences, with a special emphasis on the American Sexual Revolution of the 20th century. And just wait 'til you see the gift shop! Located just off the Strip, the museum is open daily from noon to midnight, with occasional special events and movie nights.

Auto intoxication

Yet another benefit of being located smack dab in the middle of the desert is the availability of wide open road in every direction. Not surprising then that the exotic car industry does a brisk business. If you're looking to buy, the Penske-Wynn showroom at Wynn Las Vegas is home to a Ferrari and Maserati dealership, and just across the way at the Palazzo Resort, Lamborghini Las Vegas will be happy to help you find your dream ride. But if buying is a little more of a dream than a reality, Fantasy Car Share will put you in a Porsche, Bentley or Jaguar, if but for a moment.

For a day of high-speed go-carting, a quick trip to neighboring Pahrump's members-only club Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch offers visitors access to its fleet of custom, Italian-made super-carts (the adult kind; they'll dust the stodgy golf variety) as well as one-, two-, and three-day high-performance driving schools in stock Lotuses, Corvettes and Radicals. On Spring Mountain's 5.6km of private track, you won't even have to bother with which side of the road you need to drive on.

Active cultures

While some locals are busy whining that "Vegas has no culture", the ones that know better are busy attending the Nevada Ballet, the Las Vegas Philharmonic, First Friday, UNLV student theatre and University of Nevada student theatre, and professional local theatre at the Onyx, thanks to a very healthy society of patron donors and businesses.

The Atomic Testing Museum

Look through enough old Vegas memorabilia and you're bound to discover — if you didn't already know — that Vegas has an illustrious, if not villainous history for the role it played as a test site during the Atomic Age. Short films, exhibits, plus, get your own "Miss Atomic Bomb 1957" T-shirt, biohazard tie or Madame Curie finger puppet! A unique side-trip well worth a few hours; the Atomic Testing Museum is located in the vicinity of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

The Attic

Vintage is alive and kicking in historic Downtown Vegas' Arts District. On Main Street, just across from the Arts Factory, you'll find the tiny, dusty storefront for The Attic, the bedrock of counter-cultural artsy costuming in Sin City. Whether seeking out the perfect pimp coat or the tallest cowboy hat or some radically retro polyester duds, a lazy afternoon visit to the Attic is worth the US$1 ($1.55) cover charge, which gets you a lifetime pass.

Got any more near the beaten track suggestions? Have your say using the comments form below.

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