I'll admit, I've probably visited Vegas a lot more than most people. I've gone 5 times in the last 4 years and possibly a dozen times before that. I love the feel of the city and exploring outside of The Strip as well. I like gambling, but I also enjoy wandering the hotels to see the architecture and the creativity. One of my favorite places to visit is the Bellagio. It's the perfect mix of decadence and casual. You can easily spend all your money on the slots or the upscale shops and then spend nearly nothing on other activities and food.
Of all the times I'd been to Vegas and visited the Bellagio, it wasn't until 2014 that I read about the free botanical garden. How was this possible? I couldn't figure it out, so I made a point to hit it up on my very next trip, because free!
Each season, the fantastic gardeners and creators change up the theme of the conservatory and garden with new props and floral arrangements. Even when they use elements again, it's always different.
In July, they had an aquarium theme that had the feel of Finding Dory with a walk-thru tropical fish tank (complete with digital fish swimming above and below you) that was made by the guys behind the show Tanked.
There were also floral marine animals, like this whale and the seahorses. There's something to see around every corner and you can see how popular it is when you visit, because no matter when you go, it's always packed with people taking pics and reading about the different pieces that have been created.
Another year I visited, they had a beautiful garden theme, with giant watering cans and a greenhouse aviary. It was full of awesome little birds. Finches, parakeets and more flew around and watched people as much as the people watched them.
Check out this amazing floral snail! On my visit in March, I actually saw a gardener going through and swapping out new flowers for droopy ones and doing a bit of watering.
They always try to include things that are current, like this horse. There's also always a nice live element to things, like this koi pond. Beautiful, right?
Here's another theme that was very cool. It revolved around a shipwreck, complete with sunken treasure.
Each set-up includes a stage for live entertainment. I've never actually visited while this is happening, but I bet the music really makes the space even more magical.
The conservatory is always bright and airy, even when it's dark out. The room is large and the ceiling is completely made of glass. Did I mention that the conservatory is open 24 hours a day? Well, it is! So, when you're up at 3am and not ready to head back to your room yet, you can always come here.
In March, the theme was Chinese New Year. This year is Year of the Monkey, which is where that little guy comes in. Look around while you're checking out the awesomeness, because you'll see little plaques with interesting facts on them about what you're looking at.
Don't forget to walk all around the perimeter, too, because sometimes, the coolest things can be found on the back of a waterfall or other feature.
And make sure you also look up, because the decor just gets better and better everywhere and they use all the space available and smartly. Chinese New Year used these red lanterns and coins to bring luck to the whole shebang. You can easily spend an hour here, but as you can see, there's also an art gallery (which always has a special piece to go with the theme), places to eat, shop and even a spa around the conservatory. Head around the corner to the Jean Phillipe crepe place and get a snack and also see the World's Largest Chocolate Fountain. It has all three kinds of chocolate cascading down...and will totally make you want one of those crepes.
Stay tuned for more of my favorite free places in Las Vegas, including all of the free art around town. What are your favorite free attractions, either in Vegas or your other cities you love?