Driving in Las Vegas can be a bumper-to-bumper experience. The Interstate that rolls through the city, the I-15, often backs up at popular exists, and driving down
The Strip is the stuff nightmares are made of with its lengthy red lights, stop-and-go traffic, and pedestrians spilling into the streets.
While Vegas may not be the best city to go joy riding in, though, it is a surprisingly great destination when it comes to automotive attractions. And we’re not just talking museums.
The best thing about Las Vegas’s automotive scene is the uniqueness of its offerings. You can find your car thrill in Vegas whether you prefer a calm afternoon on a showroom floor or a high-octane thrill ride around a racetrack.
1. Dream Racing Driving Experience
Ever dream of being a race car driver? If so, this Las Vegas experience can make your dream marginally come true.
The Dream Racing Driving Experience takes place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (12 miles northeast of Las Vegas), and combines two car lovers’ wet dreams – driving an exotic, luxury (or less exotic sports) car and racing.
Experiences at Dream Racing Driving Experience are sold by the lap and are priced based on the vehicle you want to drive.
For your money, you’ll get a training session with an instructor, who will walk you through the mechanics of the car you’ve chosen and safety procedures, a 3-D simulator session that lets you practice what you just learned, designated laps around the track in the car of your choice, and access to the Dream Racing Lounge with a friend.
It’s pricey, but if you want to drive an exotic or sports car at high speeds, here’s where you can safely do it. And it’s cheaper than the next car experience on our list.
2. Rent an exotic car.
If you want to drive an exotic, but want more time with it and don’t feel the need to put the pedal to the metal, you might prefer a rental. Multiple companies in Las Vegas rent exotic/luxury cars and high-end sports cars.
Unsurprisingly, these rentals don’t come cheap. You can expect to spend several hundred dollars for a 24-hour period. But if you’ve got some vacation budget to blow, why not do it cruising down The Strip in a Ferrari?
Or, better yet, leave the lights of the city behind and hit some of those desert highways. You’ll find open roads and relatively high speed limits.
I’d include a link, but there are literally dozens of exotic car rental companies in Vegas, so just search “exotic car rentals Las Vegas” and take your pick.
3. Carroll Shelby Museum
The Shelby Mustang. The most souped-up, high-performance version of the Ford Mustang ever built, and Las Vegas’s only claim to fame when it comes to car manufacturing.
But only since 1998.
That year, Shelby American, the company that makes Shelby Mustangs, relocated its headquarters to Vegas and became the first car manufacturer in the state of Nevada.
Today, the company headquarters has an attached museum that keeps more than 30 Shelby cars on display at a time.
If you want to check out these performance cars, the museum, also known as the Shelby Heritage Center, offers free guided tours of the showroom Monday through Saturday and self-guided tours are permitted at any time.
There is also an extensive souvenir shop, where you can stock up on your favorite Shelby Mustang apparel and collectibles.
4. Nostalgia Street Rods
Fan of classic cars? At Nostalgia Street Rods, you’ll put your eyeballs on some of the most gorgeous, finely-restored antique vehicles in the American West, from semis to scooters.
Most of the cars in this personally-acquired collection are Fords, but you’ll also find a handful of Chevy vehicles, along with a treasure trove of auto (and plenty of other) memorabilia.
Tours at Nostalgia Street Rods must be booked in advance and cost $20/person for the standard tour (every hour on the hour) and $50 for a one-on-one VIP tour.
If you want to see some rare car collectibles and seriously sexy paint jobs, you’ll find them here.
Not every custom car is notable for its glimmer and shine. Some are notable for their grungy, artsy designs.
They’re called rat rods and, if you’re into them, you will find an art mecca in Las Vegas.
Steve Darnell of WelderUp makes some of the most striking, inventive rat rods you will see any place in the world. They’re so impressive, they’ve been profiled on Discovery Channel’s Vegas Rat Rods.
You don’t have to just see these rat rods on TV, though. WelderUp offers self-guided tours of their showroom, which houses several rat rods featured on the show and more from Darnell’s personal collection.
Is it a car collection or an art collection? Stop by for a visit and decide for yourself.
6. Hollywood Cars Museum
Okay, so it’s kind of cheesy and a little more “pop culture” than most of the attractions on this list, but if you’re into the cars from TV and movies (and custom celebrity rides) you will find a lot to like at Vegas’s Hollywood Cars Museum.
The museum houses some cars you would expect in Vegas, like the shiny, bejeweled vehicles from Liberace’s collection, as well as plenty of transplants from Hollywood.
Some of the cars on display are reproductions – that is NOT Bonnie and Clyde’s death car – but plenty are legit. The Batmobile from the 1989 Batman movie and The Fast and The Furious cars are the real thing.
Unless you’re a huge fan of one of the film or TV properties on display here, you won’t find anything overly special. But if you just want to spend an afternoon looking at famous cars, you’ll be satisfied.
7. Get chased by the police.
Or do the chasing.
You might find another experience like Vegas’s Dream Racing Driving Experience at other racetracks around the country. Hell, Vegas itself has several other racing experiences, including a NASCAR experience and a Mario Andretti Racing Experience.
But the last must-do on our list is the first of its kind in the world.
At Police Chase Experience Las Vegas, you can drive the police car or the getaway car and engage in a pursuit, or ride in the police car/drive the getaway car that gets taken out by a PIT maneuver (or both).
Experiences include classroom and hands-on training in defensive driving, reactionary driving, and pursuit driving, and instructors/drivers are current or former police officers trained in tactical or emergency vehicle driving.
If you’ve ever wanted to be on either end of a movie car chase, this is about as close as you can get.
Have fun in Vegas!