Despite the fact that it sits squarely in the subtropical desert climate of the Mojave Desert, Las Vegas does have one place where you can see the changing seasons in all their glory—and then some. The Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden transforms five times per year (once for each season and a display for Chinese New Year) with incredible displays of fresh flowers; animatronic dragons, tigers, bears, and butterflies; fountains; and lanterns that bob from the 50-foot-high glass ceiling.
Inspired by the verdigris framework of Art Nouveau-style conservatories of Paris, the Bellagio Conservatory is arguably the most transporting attraction in Las Vegas (which, with its Eiffel Tower, multiple Statues of Liberty, and entire St. Mark’s Square, is saying something). Each season, 120 horticulturalists, engineers, and designers create displays using more than 10,000 flowers, which are switched out every two weeks. Every new setup involves completely new plants and trees, plus a totally new “theatrical presentation” of the elements. Part of the magic is how they arrive: The props are stored in a massive, off-property warehouse, and it takes the entire team a full week, working around the clock, to complete each seasonal changeover.
What to See
At the moment, Bellagio’s Conservatory celebrates the first animal in the Chinese Zodiac, the rat, with a Lunar New Year display designed to bring prosperity to visitors. You’ll see more than 32,000 flowers among the Conservatories four beds (West, East, North, and South), as well as a koi pond, two 20-foot-high jade medallions, an ornate pagoda guarded by two animatronic lion dancers, and five giant gold rats playfully pushing a golden cart and dancing up a staircase between two golden money trees.
Stunning recent displays have included a Holiday show that included 28,000 poinsettias and a 42-foot-high white fir Christmas tree. The largest-ever feature was a 110-foot-tall deceased banyan tree from Palm Beach, Fla., weighing 200,000 pounds. It was transported to Las Vegas and reconstructed in sections for several displays. And while the Bellagio team is very secretive about what you’ll see prior to its installation, one thing is for sure: There are no repeats here.
How to Visit
The conservatory is open 24 hours, seven days a week, and there’s no admission fee. Simply walk into the lobby, take a moment to gawk at the famous Dale Chihuly blown-glass flower ceiling, and walk directly into the central conservatory. Schedules sometimes change for extenuating circumstances or big celebrations (such as the Olympics), but in general, the shows for the year begin with Chinese New Year from January to March; Spring from mid-March to mid-June; Summer, mid-June until September; Holiday, through December.
One of the most delightful ways to see the goings-on at the Conservatory opened at the beginning of 2019. Sadelle’s Café, the restaurant modeled after New York’s brunch institution in Soho. You’ll into a theatrical Belle Époque space in Sadelle’s trademark cerulean blue and get a front-row seat to all the fun in the gardens from the open, 10,000-square foot space. Because nothing tops the Bellagio Conservatory unless it’s the Conservatory seen from behind a pastry tower and surrounded by roving Bloody Mary and pastry carts.
What to Do Nearby
If you want to go full theme, go shopping at Giardini Garden Sore, the shop on the Conservatory’s periphery that sells unique garden-oriented gifts and home decorative objects. Just around the corner, you’ll find what’s billed as the world’s largest chocolate fountain, a floor-to-ceiling sculpture at Bellagio Patisserie through which 2,100 pounds of melted milk, dark, and white chocolate circulate through 500 feet of pipes, 24 hours a day.
Another Bellagio must-do is just outside the resort. The iconic show has more than 1,000 fountains dancing to lights and music. Shows happen every 15-30 minutes from 3 p.m. to midnight on weekdays and from noon to midnight on weekends or holidays.
Of course, once you're done exploring the Bellagio, the rest of the strip awaits. Caesar's Palace and ARIA Resort are right next door, while Planet Hollywood and Paris Las Vegas are across the street.