Las Vegas is filled with all of the things I don't do--smoking, drinking, gambling, and so much more--and it's easy to take a dim view of the whole place. Within a couple of hours of arrival, I was already overwhelmed and overstimulated by the noise, flashing lights and activity. And this is January.
I set out to find the good things in Las Vegas that don't involve any of the above.
The Bellagio never disappoints me. Not only is their lobby ceiling adorned by a spectacular glass flower ceiling by Dale Chihuly, the interior garden courtyard is splendidly decorated for Chinese New Year. I also wandered around a corner and found an enticing bakery with a chocolate waterfall. What's not to love about that?
Cirque du Soleil is an amazing company, and I've been to some of their performances, so I sought out the sculptures of Richard McDonald, who has done a whole series based on the Cirque performers. The sculptures themselves are great, but instead of being in one location, the works are placed in areas around four different casinos, with no map of where they are. I spent 45 minutes walking around Crystals in the Aria trying to find them, and cut my mission short after finding only three sculptures.
The Shops at Miracle Mile promote their music + fountain show, which I found to be small and uninspiring, especially after having seen the gorgeous--and huge--fountain performance in front of the Bellagio. I may have been the only person there who arrived intending to see the fountain show. It appears that everyone else just happened to be there at the moment.
I finished the day by going to the Da Vinci exhibit at the Venetian. I'm not sure what I expected, and I hadn't read anything about it before attending. They had very few pieces of anything from Da Vinci himself except for three small journals with his thoughts and drawings. Fully a fourth of the entire exhibit was devoted to the scientific analysis of the Mona Lisa, a scientist having photographed the piece in 2007 with specialized cameras and making new discoveries about it. Da Vinci himself died still owning the Mona Lisa and he considered it unfinished. The examination of it reveals that he kept tweaking it the entire time he had it. I've heard that about writers as well--they are never satisfied with their previous work and often decline to re-read their own writing, since they will want to continue editing.
The one thing I didn't get to see was the wildlife habitat at the Flamingo, 15 acres of sanctuary. I'll keep that on my list for next time.