12 Elevators You Need to See to Believe
When it comes to elevators, function usually trumps form and the ride is utterly forgettable. Not so with these lifts—some look like they belong in sci-fi thrillers, others could be theme park attractions, but a trip on any one of them will earn you a lifetime of bragging rights.
How to ride: Access to the Luxor's higher floors via the inclinators is restricted to guests, so the best way to take a ride is to spend the night at the 4,400-room hotel. 3900 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702/262-4444, luxor.com, from $89 per night.
Long Island City Business Center
Queens, New York
For most of the lifts on this list, the thrill comes from the view outside the walls. But for this elevator, it's all about the view inside. Don't be fooled by the building's businesslike façade or its no-nonsense entryway. A psychedelic scene awaits behind the deceptively unadorned doors of the elevator near a small entrance on 31st Street. The one-of-a-kind interior is painted with the massive, twisted visage of a grinning dragon with grotesque 3-D beasts bursting from its eye sockets. The effects are striking (made even more disorienting by the small fish-eye mirror on the back wall). The journey up the building's six floors is quite a trip, indeed.
How to ride: Anyone who works in the building should be able to point the way. 30-30 47th Ave., Long Island City, free, if you can get to it.
With their stark, curving metallic exteriors and glowing visor-shaped windows, the elevators at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart are as much fun to watch rise and fall along tracks in the museum's atrium as they are to ride. The trip only takes about 30 seconds so feel free to ride multiple times. You might want to pop off every once in a while to see the exhibits covering 125 years of motoring landmarks—and to see the inspiration behind the elevators' uber-modern look.
How to ride: The museum itself is worth a visit, but if you are really just there for the elevators (and we wouldn't blame you), tickets are half price between 4:30 p.m. and when the ticket booth closes at 5 p.m. (the museum is open until 6 p.m.). 100 Mercedesstrasse, 011-49/711-17-30-000, mercedes-benz-classic.com, half price tickets are $5.15 for adults, $2.60 for teens 15 to 17 after 4:30 p.m.
Auckland, New Zealand
The view from this tower's observation level (610 feet in the air) is impressive for sure, but watching it unfold in front of you on the 40-second ride up is even more magical. The glass-fronted elevators have views of the harbor and Auckland's modest cityscape, as well as the green countryside unfurling like a quilt in the far distance. If you can tear your eyes away from the view out the sides, look down through the glass floor for the extra thrill of seeing the ground speed away from you—and come rushing back towards you on the descent.