Offbeat Activities for Your Next Vacation
It’s hard to please everyone when planning a trip for a group or family vacation, but choosing unconventional activities greatly increases your chances. Fly board on Lake Las Vegas, throw axes in Whistler, or ski inside a Dubai mall and enjoy your best vacation yet.
0-11, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
The ‘60s and ‘70s in San Francisco were synonymous with psychedelic “hobbies,” but tripping in the new millennium on Pier 39 is something you can now enjoy, legally, with the entire family. This labyrinth of 77 mirrors and black lights is reminiscent of a carnival fun house, and finding your way out of the 2,000-square-foot kaleidoscope of glowing twists and turns and befuddling dead-ends puts the fun in funky. While ‘80s music thumps, kids race through and into the walls, while adults feel their way down endless neon hallways. Created by Charles Magowan (who, no surprise, studied psychology at Yale), the Mirror Maze is a trip for all ages, and at just $5 it might be the cheapest one you’ll find in San Francisco.
20 Costa Di Lago #130, Henderson, NV 89011, USA
The 320-acre Lake Las Vegas is a great place to spend a day. This outfitter, located right in MonteLago Village at the western end of the lake, rents a variety of water-sports equipment for visitors to use and offers a handful of guided water-sport experiences as well. On the rental side, sit-on-top kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and pedal boats all are available by for one-, two-, or three-hour rentals. The outfitter also sells rides on a fly board, an apparatus that shoots water to propel riders in the air, with the option available to ride with a jet pack (which also shoots water). Most recently, Lake Las Vegas Water Sports added wakeboard cable rides, which represent a mash-up of motorized zip-lining and wakeboarding.
200 Convention Center Drive
Enjoy all the thrills of skydiving with none of the drama—no parachute or airplane at all. After a brief orientation, participants pull special flight suits over their clothes and then enter a wind tunnel, where all the excitement takes place. A giant fan that creates wind speeds of up to 120 miles per hour lifts the skydiver and holds him or her aloft for an exhilarating three minutes. Having doubts? Skilled coaches are on hand and the experience is far safer than jumping out of a plane. It’s also a great first step for those who’ve hesitated to try skydiving.
5110 San Fernando Road
The building that houses Moonlight Rollerway dates back to the ‘40s, when it produced airplane parts for World War II. In 1956, it was repurposed as Harry’s Roller Rink, and the current iteration maintains the original’s 2¼-inch-thick maple flooring—laid out without nails, secured by tongue and groove joints. The 1950s vibes are still alive and well, and the space has been a setting for many TV shows, movies, and music videos—you might recognize it from appearances in episodes of Glee and Modern Family. The owner, Dominic Cangelosi, started working at the roller rink in the late ‘60s before buying the place in 1985, and he still plays the organ for spinning patrons every Tuesday night.
Sheikh Zayed Rd - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
Admit it; you’re curious. A ski hill in the middle of the desert, on the Persian Gulf, no less, is as wild an idea as humankind has ever concocted—but isn’t dreaming big what Dubai is all about? The slopes at Ski Dubai are no substitute for Jackson Hole or Vail, of course, but then again, they’re not supposed to be. You go simply for the experience of leaving a housewares shop, sauntering down the hall, and hitting the slopes. All the gear required can be rented at Ski Dubai: They even have long overcoats for women in abayas. You can ski or sled, roll down the hill in inflatable plastic balls, frolic with penguins, or even just ride the chairlifts back and forth. When you’re finished skiing, you can head back into the mall for a meal or a movie. You know, just another day in Dubai.
3016 S Carrollton Ave, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA
Rock ’n’ Bowl is where to go to find sharps, flats, spares, and strikes all hanging out together. It’s a bit unclear whether this is a nightclub hiding out in a full-size bowling alley, or a bowling alley out enjoying a secret nightlife. Either way, it’s a very New Orleans destination, located near the upriver edge of the city. (It’s about a $15 cab ride from downtown.) After Katrina and a parting of the ways with his earlier landlord, the owner moved a few blocks down to this former paint store, installed new lanes, added a bigger stage, and hauled much of his original funky decor to the new spot. Check the website for forthcoming shows—there’s always plenty of space for dancing, which is especially fun during Thursday zydeco nights.
1401 N. Rainbow Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89108
You don’t have to be old enough to drive to have fun at LVMGP; four tracks, three amusement rides, one super-slide, and tons of arcade games make the destination a fun spot for the entire family. Go-carts headline the action, with three speed tracks (and a course for kids that often devolves into a bumper-cars situation). On one of the speed tracks—dubbed the Adult Gran Prix—cars get up to 60 miles per hour and feature technology that keeps tabs of how fast you’re going; during your “race,” your time is displayed on a leader board so you can compare and compete with your friends. Elsewhere at the facility, there’s a small roller coaster and a giant 90-foot slide. Inside, the arcade takes center stage, with air hockey, video games, and four games of pop-a-shot, as well as a restaurant.
11011 W Charleston Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89135, USA
The 72-lane Red Rock Lanes, at the Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa, is the largest luxury bowling center in Las Vegas. In addition to private meeting rooms and a lounge with bar-top games, there is a full-service restaurant, a VIP section with bottle service, a game room, a concourse area, and a pro shop. On weekend nights, Cosmic Bowling—with flashing neon lights and thumping music—transforms the place into a sort of disco. The scoring is computerized, so you don’t have to worry about math while you bowl.