Madame Tussaud began crafting wax likenesses in 1770s Paris, and a sense of history clings to her wax museums around the globe today—according to the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventurers, the location is haunted by unsettled spirits. By day, the collection of wax sculptures fills the serene exhibits with characters ranging from daredevil Evel Knievel (complete with his original Harley Davidson and good-luck teddy bear) to Lady Gaga and Whoopi Goldberg. A Hugh Hefner figure, wearing the Playboy magnate’s signature smoking jacket, reclines on a bed, and a nightclub-themed section of the museum honors Las Vegas’s entertainment history with a waxen Elvis and Wayne Newton.
Velvet ropes no longer cordon figures off from the public, granting guests up-close-and-personal photo ops. Madame Tussauds Las Vegas honors its spooky roots with special late-night Scream events, a shriek-inducing tour through a maximum-security prison set interspersed with ghoulish wax figures and live actors.
Stray Boots is an interactive tour that sets friends and family members loose on an exhilarating, knowledge-fueled undertaking guided by clues, trivia, and riddles. They operate in cities across the country, dividing them into special themed tours that contain the historical sites, local areas of interest, or eccentric child mayors unique to each city. During the explorations, clues point the way to cultural hot spots, which Stray Boots communicates via their official mobile app. At least one player on the team will need an iPhone or Android phone to receive clues, and none of the self-guided tours require previous knowledge of the city. Adventurers play at their own pace—most tours take two to three hours to finish—which allows them to spend more time learning about the city and photographing vibrant fire hydrants for aquacentric scrapbooks.
The 8,000-square-foot National Atomic Testing Museum, located just off the Strip, unveils the fascinating history of the famed Nevada test site. An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the museum has a growing collection of permanent and special exhibitions. Boots quake as visitors experience a simulated atomic blast, and another exhibit details the Manhattan Project, the U.S.'s massive undertaking to create the first atomic bomb. Firsthand accounts of nuclear tests put museum-goers in the shoes of blast eyewitnesses; there's also a poignant exhibit that includes a 6-foot I-beam from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. The museum volunteer tour guides act as exhibit interpreters, encouraging hands-on exploration and teaching how to divide atoms using nothing more than a good set of kitchen cutlery.
Recently featured in Maxim, Las Vegas Mob Experience escorts history hounds through a 26,000-sq.-ft. journey through the rise and fall of early Vegas mafiosi and their lasting influence on the city. This highly interactive exhibit takes visitors close-up to hundreds of artifacts, including photographs, home movies, and furniture that once belonged to organized-crime figures such as Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, a creator of the Flamingo Hotel, and Meyer Lansky. Actors dressed as apparitions of the gangsters themselves tell firsthand stories while guests slink through back alleys, secret lairs, and other vignettes, including the Ellis Island docks and immigration rooms, a speakeasy, police station, and more.
Based in Las Vegas, Comedy on Deck Tours began escorting sightseers on tours of nearby natural wonders in 2003. The company stands out among other tour companies by employing big personalities as tour guides. Comedy on Deck's tours are led by standup comedians, who are trained to keep things family friendly and interact with everyone onboard. After catching their breath, chuckled-out tour takers have complimented the guides for seamless weaving of history, geography, and family-friendly punch lines.
The four-star Hard Rock Hotel & Casino exudes entertainment with 17 floors of rooms, on-site attractions, and a central location two miles from the Strip. The moodily lit, modernly decorated standard double-queen and king rooms come preinstalled with plasma TVs, a view of either the pool or the mountains, and a bed that must be defeated in a game of seven-sheet stud before allowing guests to enter. Two miles from McCarran International Airport, the hotel can be the first hop or last stop of a day or night spent traversing the closely packed attractions, including the ever-glowing Strip, the Liberace Museum, and the vibrant downtown area. Guests can call boredom’s bluff with on-site attractions that include a casino, live music, restaurants, a nightclub, a full-service spa, a fitness center, and an outdoor swimming pool.