The Las Vegas Road Weirdly Traveled: See Sin City on These Quirky ToursBy Anne Burke
Sure, you can drive yourself around Las Vegas on your next Sin City sojourn. But why you would want to is another matter.
Between boozed-up pedestrians crossing against the traffic lights and every driver and his brother slowing for a photo opp at Bellagio fountains, Strip traffic moves slower than a desert tortoise in the midday heat. Plus, you run into the unhappy inevitability of your hotel being on the opposite side of Las Vegas Boulevard from the one you’re driving on. Best of luck with that left turn.
Buckle up because we’ve got some wild rides for you, none of which involve getting behind the wheel of your own vehicle. Sin City’s burgeoning array of guided, alternative tours combine sightseeing with local lore and only-in-Vegas fun.
Pink Jeep Tours Las Vegas
With Pink Jeep Tours, a two-hour daytime tour in a bubblegum-colored Jeep starts with a photo opp at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign and takes in the port cocheres of iconic hotels, legendary Wedding Chapel Row, and the 550-foot-high High Roller, the world’s tallest observation wheel. A night tour lasts three hours and features the light show at the Fremont Street Experience and Binion’s famous stack of bills totaling $1 million.
“We tailor our tours according to our guests interests, so if they want to learn about architecture or mob history, our guides can focus on those things,” said Chris Epper, Pink Jeep Tours Las Vegas vice president of marketing. The day tour includes admission to the High Roller, while a night tour can be combined with a 12-minute helicopter ride.
Vegas Pub Crawler
Imagine the progeny of a pub table and a bicycle and you have the idea behind the Vegas Pub Crawler, a pedal-powered party on wheels that ferries celebrants from one watering hole to another in downtown Las Vegas, at breakneck speeds of about 7 miles an hour. This stainless-steel-clad conveyance accommodates up to 15 passengers: Twelve sit on bicycle seats and provide pedal power while three nonpedalers take the back bench.
Driver-guides regale passengers with insights into downtown’s colorful history: Did you know it was the infamous Block 16 red-light district that may have put the sin in Sin City? Tours last two hours and hit three or four bars. “It’s a great way to meet people from all over the country or even the world,” said Vegas Pub Crawler CEO Russell Davis.
Double Decker Bus of Las Vegas
Celebrity impersonators (Elvis, Marilyn, Rod Stewart, Sammy Davis, Jr. and others) pull double duty as entertainers and tour guides in open-top, London double decker buses that ply Las Vegas Boulevard from the south end of the Strip north to Fremont Street.
“I find the buses in people’s barns and backyards and restore them and bring them back to Las Vegas,” said Mike Rossetti, owner of Double Decker Bus of Las Vegas.
Passengers who sit on the upper level get an eyeful of the Strip’s big, glittering resorts from a vantage point 13 feet high. Guides act as impersonators and offer up a bit of Vegas history, interspersed with live performances. While “Marilyn” may be handicapped by a limited repertoire — “she only sang about five songs, and that’s if you include ‘Happy Birthday, Mr. President,’ ” Rossetti noted — “she’s very good with the older gentlemen.” Tours, offered during the day and evening, last 90 minutes.
Segway Las Vegas
You can soak up the storied history of downtown’s old Glitter Gulch area aboard a two-wheeled Segway human transporter. “They’re the funnest mode of transportation you’re ever going to find,” said Segway Las Vegas general manager Scott Milheiser.
Tour guides communicate with you and other “gliders” via wireless headsets, passing along historical tidbits about the mob era and other key chapters in Las Vegas history. A two-hour tour covers 7.5 miles and takes in sights such as the Fremont Street Experience, Gold and Silver Pawn Shop from the History channel’s “Pawn Stars” and Downtown Container Park. A one-hour tour covers 3.5 miles. Bundled tours include admission to The Mob Museum and the SlotZilla zip line.