When golf and casinos are not enough Las Vegas


grand canyon
                  From Vegas, the Grand Canyon is three hours by car, or 45 minutes by helicopter.

Beyond the casino floor and after golf, Las Vegas knows how to deliver high R.P.M. entertainment.

The desert that makes for one of the West's top golf destinations is also an outdoor playground for bikes, ATVs, sky-diving and just about anything else you can do with a lot of space and sunshine.

If your golf group is out to splurge after a big night at the tables – or simply avoid the pit altogether – plenty is happening in Vegas after 18 holes.
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Helicopter tours

The only canyon I ever seem to view in Vegas is the empty crevasse in my wallet after a late night on the tables.

The Grand Canyon, on the other hand, is about a four-hour drive from Vegas – or better yet, a 45-minute ride via helicopter. Make the trip and you can see a bird's-eye view of one of the American West's great natural wonders. And no need camping out in the wilderness, you'll be back to your hotel by sunset.

If closer, man-made wonders are more your thing, book a helicopter ride to Hoover Dam, or take in the Las Vegas Strip from above. $100-300


If you prefer live sports action to lounging in a casino sportsbook and staring at big screens, you don't have to wait for the next NBA All-Star weekend. The UNLV basketball team plays just a few minutes away from the Strip at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Runnin' Rebels host such schools as Utah, BYU, TCU and San Diego State during the year. Tickets $10-100

Or, take in the speed – and in all likelihood fights – of live minor league hockey. The Las Vegas Wranglers are a Phoenix Coyotes affiliate in the ECHL and play just west of the Strip at the Orleans Hotel on Tropicana Ave. Tickets: $17-38.

The biggest tickets in town are fight nights. Between boxing and UFC, there's always an upcoming fight being promoted in Las Vegas. To sync up your next Las Vegas golf vacation with a prize fight in the ring, check out VisitLasVegas.com for schedules. UFC comes to MGM Grand on Jan. 1, 2011.

Need for speed

If you want to get behind the wheel of a machine with a little more muscle than your subcompact rental car, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway has opportunities to take a few laps with luxury sports car rides like a Ferrari, Lamborghini or other high-roller luxury sports cars. Or, visit the Richard Petty Driving Experience or enroll in the Mario Andretti's Race Car School and take to the track in an authentic Indy Car. $200-500

Take the plunge or see Las Vegas from above

How's this for a Las Vegas-style golf betting game: Loser jumps first. Sky-diving is one of Vegas' best thrill rides for those whose heart doesn't race at the blackjack table. You can plummet to the Earth faster than your bankroll at a high-stakes poker table at over 100 miles per hour, and no experience is necessary for those willing to do a tandem jump with a licensed instructor. $200-250

There are a lot of other ways to take to the skies without having to jump out. Ultra-light gliders offer a smooth, quiet alternative to helicopter rides.

Red Rock Mountain Biking and ATV tours

The spectacular Red Rock National Preserve makes for a fitting environment for some of the West's finest mountain biking trails. There are numerous tour operators that will fit you with a bike and lead you to the area's best trails, whether in Red Rock, Lake Mead or Boulder City among others.

Dune buggies in remote desert areas such as Nellis Dunes and ATV tours are also immensely popular ways to tackle southern Nevada's desert landscape. $100-200

From drive-in movies to Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil has become the darling of the Las Vegas Strip with seven different shows to choose from, including water-inspired O (Bellagio), the Beatles tribute Love (Mirage) and martial arts spectacle Ka (MGM Grand).

But if the thought of high-budget shows leaves you wishing for the good ol' days of Vegas, check out a drive-in movie at the West Wind Drive-in, a five-screen drive-in showing double features under the stars on the weekends (4150 W. Carey, North Las Vegas).