By Jay Jones, Special to Tribune Newspapers
8:43 PM EST, February 26, 2013
"What happened last night?" — a line from the hit 2009 film "The Hangover."
LAS VEGAS — As the characters in the quintessential guys-bonding-in-Vegas movie "The Hangover" discovered, Sin City offers a multitude of grown-up escapes that could be rated Triple-D.
Drinking, debauchery and decadence aren't hard to find in the city that bills itself as the "entertainment capital of the world." But a testosterone-injected trip to Las Vegas needn't include any overindulgences that are difficult to explain upon returning home. Southern Nevada offers plenty of opportunities for guys getaways that pack plenty of guilt-free pleasure.
There are many diversions in this city for everybody, but these are suggestions for the guys.
If, upon arrival at the airport, a traditional compact or midsize rental car doesn't set the appropriate tone, consider a big-time upgrade. Several companies with Vegas branches can amp up the fun with the likes of a Lotus or Lamborghini. The Exotic Car Collection by Enterprise (702-739-6299, exoticcars.enterprise.com/lasvegas) rents everything from an Audi A5 convertible to a Porsche Panamera. Remember, though, there's little room for luggage, let alone a crowd, in such vehicles.
While a Ferrari would prove absolutely useless off-road in the Mojave Desert, a company called Sun Buggy Fun Rentals promises plenty of thrills in its three-quarter-scale desert race cars. During its Baja Chase adventure, guests zip up and down the Nellis Dunes through 15,000 acres of sand in a high-speed version of Follow the Leader.
Packages begin at $100 per person and climb in price depending on the number of participants and the length of the race. There's also the opportunity to visit the factory where the vehicles are made. It's appropriately just down the street from the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (866-728-4443, sunbuggy.com/lasvegas).
For adventurous types who would rather be racing through the sky at a couple of hundred miles an hour, Sky Combat Ace, a company based at an airport in suburban Henderson, can create the perfect rush. And, in many of their aircraft, guests take over the controls under the watchful eye of professional fighter pilots.
The company bills itself as "Nevada's only civilian aerial combat training center" (Air Force pilots train not far away in their F-16s), offering packages ranging from $399 to $1,799. Real thrill-seekers can execute loops, rolls and spins. If that's a bit too intense, sightseeing packages in open-cockpit biplanes also are available. (888-494-5850, skycombatace.com).
Back on solid ground, visitors can consider a stop at one of several "gun lounges" that have sprung up around the Las Vegas Valley. At these indoor ranges, guests try out weapons with amazing firepower.
(Yes, we know there's a raging controversy about guns, and it's appropriate to be asking questions, but in some way, this can be instructive to both sides of the argument.)
"I'm speechless in trying to describe it," Steve Norman, a tourist from England, exclaimed after spending 21/2 hours on the range at Machine Guns Vegas. "It's great to get ahold of stuff that you can't normally touch."
Those "untouchables" include everything from vintage Thompson submachine guns to modern fully automatic rifles such as the FN SCAR.
IPad-packing sales representatives — women dressed in form-fitting black uniforms – explain the various range packages. They include "Seal Team 6" and "World War II," both priced at $200. (702-476-9228, machinegunsvegas.com)
Themed bachelor parties, for $299 per person, are available at the Guns and Ammo Garage, located in a former muffler shop. Participants have a blast firing different types of guns. (702-440-4867, gunsandammogarage.com).
At first blush, a museum might not make a short list of guy things to do in Sin City, but the Erotic Heritage Museum might change some minds.
Located next door to one of the city's many strip clubs, the museum showcases America's sexual revolution through two floors of exhibits. This isn't the place for those who are easily offended or squeamish. For example, an eye-popping mix of bondage devices forms one of the many displays. Admission is $15. (702-369-6442)
There's no charge to visit the Pinball Hall of Fame, a G-rated attraction popular with fathers and sons. More than 250 pinball machines are on display and ready to play.
"You get these waves of nostalgia," said manager Tim Arnold, who ran arcades during the 1970s and '80s.
The games cost 25 to 75 cents. They include the vintage, pre-flippers Jigsaw machine that debuted at the 1939 World's Fair. (702-597-2627, pinballmuseum.org)
As the sun sets over the searing sands, Las Vegas' nightclubs are just beginning their day.
Given the seemingly limitless number and variety, some expert advice is helpful in trying to match a customer to a club. Vegas.com, an online booking engine that claims to be "the official Vegas travel site," includes an exhaustive compilation of night life choices.
Marquee at The Cosmopolitan (marqueelasvegas.com) is among the favorites of Ryan Shewchuk, Vegas.com's social media manager. The multistory club offers venues ranging from a hip-hop lounge to a sophisticated library complete with bookcases and pool tables.
"The Cosmopolitan as a whole has this flair as a new, fast-paced but yet elegant property," he said.
Farther up the Strip, TAO at The Venetian (venetian.com) is another popular choice. Featuring myriad options, the Asian-inspired club has its own restaurant and pool. As DJs spin music, women covered in rose petals dance in bathtubs in what Shewchuk described as an "eye-opening" experience.
For those who'd rather watch sports than dance to the high-energy thump-thump-thump, there's a completely different type of club, Lagasse's Stadium, at Palazzo (tinyurl.com/beheu5x). Featuring celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse's signature cuisine, the club contains more than 100 HDTVs, including a massive main screen measuring 9 by 16 feet. Reservations are available by calling 702-607-2665.
And on your way out of town, there are remedies for those who overindulge. In an effort to help, gift shops at McCarran International Airport sell the Hangover Recovery Shot. The small bottles of kudzu-root tonic feature characters from the box-office smash.
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