Las Vegas

8 Essential Experiences for Adrenaline Junkies in Las Vegas

Get your pulse racing with the best bucket list items in Sin City, including test-driving exotic cars, toasting 130 feet in the air, ziplining, taking a helicopter tour, and more.

Photo courtesy of Fly LINQ
Photo courtesy of Fly LINQ
Photo courtesy of Fly LINQ

From celebrity fine dining to big-name residencies to the oddities of Fremont Street, there are plenty of reasons to visit Las Vegas. What you might not know is that it’s also a haven for thrill-seekers, with more activities to get your adrenaline pumping than practically any other city in the world. Where else can you bungee jump off the side of a building, drive luxury cars on a professional racetrack, fly a plane over the Hoover Dam, and launch a grenade? If any of that sounds like a good time to you, you won’t want to miss our suggestions for how to indulge your sense of adventure in Sin City-these activities are guaranteed to get your heart racing faster than any game of poker or blackjack.

Photo courtesy of Dream Racing
Photo courtesy of Dream Racing
Photo courtesy of Dream Racing

Drive exotic supercars at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Do you feel the need for speed? Head on down to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Dream Racing, where you’ll be invited to race some of the world’s most exclusive GT race cars. Choose between a Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari, or McLaren, and then suit up in professional driving gear. You’ll practice racing controls on a 3D simulator, where you’ll receive guidance from professional drivers. Then strap on your helmet, hop into your car of choice, and put the pedal to the metal on the 1.2-mile, nine-turn racetrack.
Cost: Prices range from $99 for two laps in a Drift ride-along to $1,239 for 15 laps in a Porsche GT2 RS.

Photo courtesy of AREA15
Photo courtesy of AREA15
Photo courtesy of AREA15

Take in the Vegas skyline on LIFTOFF at AREA15

Located at AREA15, LIFTOFF can best be described as a panoramic skyline experience and light spectacle. In fact it’s the first of its kind, with a 16-seat circular gondola that ascends to its 130-foot summit. The ride is best experienced after dark and before embarking on your journey, we suggest ordering a drink at the outdoor LIFTOFF Lounge. You’ll surely need some liquid courage, and this imbibe-and-ride experience encourages it so feel free to bring your cocktail along. Once you’ve reached the top, you’ll circle a few times while you take in the expansive Las Vegas skyline.
Cost: $15 for adults + $18 for a specialty cocktail add-on. Children under 12 fly free with adults.

Photo courtesy of All in Aviation
Photo courtesy of All in Aviation
Photo courtesy of All in Aviation

Take a flying lesson with All in Aviation

Cross an item off your bucket list at All in Aviation in nearby Henderson, a premier flight school and full-service aviation company. You can purchase a destination flight lesson package and bring two or three passengers along for the ride. You’ll be given the option of a one-hour or half-day flight lesson, and you’ll fly either a Cirrus or Cessna plane. With the assistance of your instructor, you’ll circle over local destinations like the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, or venture further to remote areas like Zion National Park or the Grand Canyon.
Cost: $400 for a roundtrip flight lesson with two to three guests that includes flying over local destinations like Lake Mead, the Colorado River, and Hoover Dam, with views of The Strip.

The STRAT Las Vegas
The STRAT Las Vegas
The STRAT Las Vegas

Soar over The Strip on SkyJump at THE STRAT

Take your pick of thrill rides at The STRAT-it offers attractions with ominous names such as Insanity, which dangles you precariously from the side of a 900-foot building with a spinning mechanical arm; or X-Scream, a rollercoaster that propels riders head-first over the Stratosphere Tower. But if you really want to test the limits of your courage, try SkyJump, which holds the Guinness World Record as the highest commercial decelerator descent. You’ll feel your heart pounding in your ears as you take an open-air leap from 829 feet above The Strip, zooming toward the landing pad at speeds that top 40 mph.
Cost: $129.99 for SkyJump, or 144.99 for SkyJump with photos. An unlimited ride pass with SkyPod Admission is just $43.95.

Photo courtesy of Fly LINQ
Photo courtesy of Fly LINQ
Photo courtesy of Fly LINQ

Go ziplining

If you’re in the mood for ziplining, you have three options: Fly LINQ at LINQ Promenade, SlotZilla, and Haley’s Comet at AREA15. Ideal for large groups, Fly LINQ is the only zipline in the world that offers riders the ability to fly simultaneously on 10 side-by-side lines, traveling over 1,100 feet through the LINQ Promenade. On Fremont Street, SlotZilla is an 11-story slot machine replica, complete with oversized dice and two neon showgirls. Its zipline launches riders from a 77-foot platform, landing halfway down the Fremont Street Experience pedestrian promenade. Haley’s Comet offers an experience that blends hang-gliding, free-falling, and zip-lining on the world’s first dual-track roller glider.
Cost: Fly LINQ: $40 per person or $30 each for groups of 11-30; SlotZilla: $44 for the 7-story experience and $64 for the 11-story experience; Haley’s Comet: $18 for adults and $14 for locals, seniors, military personnel, and children.

Photo courtesy of Caesars
Photo courtesy of Caesars
Photo courtesy of Caesars

Take a ride on the High Roller Observation Wheel

At 550 feet, High Roller is the highest observation wheel in the world, higher than even the London Eye or the Singapore Flyer. If you’re a low-key adrenaline junkie, this is the ride for you, as the wheel travels slowly, completing one full rotation in thirty minutes. Settle into one of 28 spacious, air-conditioned cabins, each accommodating up to 40 guests. Don’t miss Happy Half Hour, where for a nominal fee you’ll enjoy access to a full bar and all you can drink in the time it takes for the wheel to make its revolution.
Cost: $36 for GA anytime and $60 for the Happy Half Hour.

Battlefield Vegas
Battlefield Vegas
Battlefield Vegas

Perfect your shot at Battlefield Vegas

Located just a block off The Strip, Battlefield Vegas is a military-inspired complex that sprawls over five acres and is equipped with an indoor firing range and a 120-acre desert training base. Whether you want to drive a tank, shoot out of a helicopter, launch a grenade, or fire an M-134 mini-gun, you can do it all here. Battlefield Vegas also offers a variety of outdoor adventures that will test your mettle-from a basic training outdoor package to the exhilarating experience of crushing a car with a tank.
Cost: Weapon rentals start at $25 and packages start at $125.

Maverick Helicopters
Maverick Helicopters
Maverick Helicopters

Embark on Maverick Helicopters’ Neon & Nature Tour

Get ready for a VIP experience with Maverick Helicopters, which has been taking passengers on one-of-a-kind aerial flights for over 25 years. Opt for a tour of the Vegas Strip, or embark on the Neon & Nature tour, which soars over the sandstone cliffs of Red Rock Canyon and lands on a panoramic overlook that hovers over 2,900 feet above the city. Enjoy a champagne toast and sunset before heading back to reality. Maverick Helicopters has also partnered with Lip Smacking Foodie Tours to offer Savory Bites & Neon Lights-a combo foodie tour and night flight.
Cost: The Neon & Nature Tour is $204-254 per person. The Savory Bites & Neon Lights tour is $325.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat!

Danielle Bauter is a freelance writer based in Southern California, who focuses on travel, LGBTQ, and culinary topics. Her writing has appeared in a variety of print and digital publications including Cond√© Nast Traveler, Lonely Planet, and Fodor’s Travel. Follow her travels on IG and read more of her work at daniellebauter.com.

Las Vegas

A Fresh Take on Italian Dining Opens in Southwest Las Vegas

A first look at Basilico Ristorante Italiano.

Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano

You can’t be all things to all people. Yet a new Italian restaurant strikes an intriguing balance between authenticity and inventive touches while helping to shape the identity of a new community in the booming Southwest Valley of Las Vegas.

Basilico Ristorante Italiano is now open at Evora, a master-planned apartment development still under construction that won’t be finished for at least five years. The 160-seat restaurant follows the vision of chef Francesco Di Caudo, a Sicily native who draws on his heritage and experience throughout Italy to build a compelling menu based on traditional techniques and modern ingenuity.

“I come from a country where farm-to-table is nothing new,” says Di Caudio, while emphasizing the importance of ingredient sourcing and simple, straightforward flavor combinations.

Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano

Just look at the appetizers. Americans are used to eggplant parmesan that’s breaded and fried without restraint. Di Caudo sticks to a traditional Sicilian recipe with the vegetable sliced thin, sizzled in a pan, and layered with tomato and basil. No mozzarella. On the other hand, the Smoked Cigar is destined to be a signature showstopper. Duck, foie gras, and porcini mushrooms are packed inside a thin, cracker-like shell, presented in a box, and dipped into a glass ashtray. The “ash” in the centre is a black sesame and truffle mix. Don’t be shy about double dipping.

The risotto is bound to be another conversation piece. The recipe uses Carnaroli rice, a starchy grain from North Italy that produces a creamy texture, balancing the saltiness of a parmesan broth with a sweet splash of chestnut honey. The real surprise is the inclusion of Lavazza espresso, manipulated to crackle in your mouth like Pop Rocks candy.

Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano

All pastas are made in-house, from a parsnip cavatelli to a lamb and thyme tortellini in a broth filtered from braised prosciutto. Some dishes have a subtle Asian influence, including a hamachi crudo with pomelo (similar to yuzu), Hokkaido scallops with oxtail, and a planned octopus braised in dashi. The flavours come to life inside a sharp, contemporary dining room with deep red chairs and stone, wood, and marble touches. The wine collection is dominated by Italian labels, with a few California and Oregon picks thrown in to round out the list. Bottles are on display near the front entrance and inside illuminated square shelves. “It looks like a fancy restaurant, but when you sit down, I want you to have fun,” adds Di Caudio.

Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano

The bar is the heart of the restaurant, ready to serve up to 16 people inside and dozens more via accordion-style windows that open wide to a covered patio. The outdoor space, temperature-controlled with overhead fans and heaters, effectively extends Evora’s open-air plaza with dramatic water and fire features. It’s a natural spot for tastings and special events with a covered stage for live music. Evora is rolling out in four phases, with the first 342 apartments ready by fall. There could be as many as 1,400 when it’s all said and done. Rent begins at around $1,800 for studios and one-bedroom units and goes up to $4,000 for two-story top-floor residences with a loft and Strip views. The community will include swimming pools, pickleball courts, a putting green, a dog park, firepits, EV charging stations, and pavilions equipped with audio and video features.

“Basilico matches the demographic for our apartments,” says Danny Sorge of Digital Desert Development, the company behind the community. “The term ‘youthful sophistication’ has been thrown around about the restaurant and Evora as a whole. It brings something new to the area.”

Rendering courtesy of Evora
Rendering courtesy of Evora
Rendering courtesy of Evora

The development follows a deliberate strategy to have the commercial tenants in place before the first residents move in, occupying a stand-alone building that strikes a commanding presence on the corner of Patrick Lane and Buffalo Drive. Lemon Tree Cafe & Market is already open as a European-style grocery store with plenty of room to sit down with a sandwich and glass of wine. Keep your eyes peeled for Taps & Barrels (a self-service beer hall), Tachi Ramen, and EVOQ hair salon in the months ahead, with more businesses to come. The timing couldn’t be better. The Southwest Valley is on fire right now, with the Durango hotel and casino and UnCommons mixed-use development taking shape as new attractions in 2023. The Bend, a long-promised shopping and dining district, has been in a holding pattern for years but holds promise in an area where everything is getting bigger and better.

Meanwhile, the team behind Evora is staking a claim with Di Caudio running the kitchen at Basilico. The chef’s recent collaboration with Chef Oscar Amador helped Anima by EDO score a recent James Beard Award nomination and reputation as one of the best new restaurants in Las Vegas. Di Caudio first came to Las Vegas to work at Zeffirino at the Grand Canal Shoppes-a gig he expected to last about six months before returning home. Instead, he stuck around and continued to build his reputation at culinary destinations like Sinatra at the Wynn and Ferraro’s off the Strip.

Ultimately, Basilico will be a restaurant to keep an eye on as it develops under Di Caudio’s guidance. The menu will shift and evolve based on the chef’s preferences and the availability of seasonal ingredients. Di Caudio is also planning a smaller menu and social hour for the bar area and a reasonably priced tasting menu with around 10 dishes served family style.

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Rob Kachelriess¬†has been writing about Las Vegas in Thrillist for more than nine years. In addition, his work has appeared in¬†Travel + Leisure, Leafly, Supercall, Modern Luxury, and¬†Luxury Estates International’s seasonal publication. Follow him on Twitter¬†@rkachelriess.

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