There are plenty of day trips you can take from Las Vegas if you want to experience natural wonders, but not everyone is up to a hike in the hot outdoors. And what if your plans keep you close to the city? When you’re overwhelmed with the concrete and neon, sometimes all you want is a little greenery and a breath of fresh air. Try one of these spots on or near the Strip to experience a little bit of oasis in the desert.

Conservatory and Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio Hotel

3600 Las Vegas Blvd S

Just past the Bellagio’s grand lobby lies a garden wonderland that just might make you think you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole. The Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are a paradise of plant and flower displays that are so stunning, you might not even believe they’re real. Designed and maintained by 140 expert horticulturists, the greenery is decidedly alive, and it’s whimsically arranged to suit every season. Take a leisurely walk during the Spring for beautiful blossoms, and listen for the birdsong from the aviary. Fall and Winter feature appropriate holiday displays, and there’s even one for Chinese New Year. Every time you visit, the plants, trees, ponds, and bridges will be entirely different. Tip: visit in the morning to avoid the crowds, and enjoy a brisk nature walk to start your day. The Conservatory is open 24 hours, though, so you can enjoy it any time.

Tropical Rainforest at the Mirage Hotel & Casino

3400 Las Vegas Blvd S

Lots of luxury Vegas hotels have magnificent lobbies, but as soon as you’re inside the grand foyer of the Mirage, you’ll feel like you’re back outside again –only you’ve been teleported to a cool, green rainforest. More than just a whimsical decorating theme, the Mirage has gone all-out, with meandering lagoons, hundreds of blooming exotic orchids and birds of paradise, real cascading waterfalls, and huge palm trees. The sky-high 100-foot dome lets in natural sunlight, but the temperature is kept cool, with light water misting throughout the day to maintain the rainforest vibe and keep the plants lush. You’ll easily forget that you’re in a desert hotel. The lobby is open to the public 24 hours a day, every day, so you can easily take a quick tropical break whenever you need it most.

Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat

3400 Las Vegas Blvd 3400 S
Admission charge

Located in the very back of the Mirage, this attraction really does seem like a secret garden. Who would think that dolphins would be frolicking so close to the Vegas Strip? Once you find Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, you’ll discover not only dolphins, but gorgeous and exotic wild cats like leopards, a panther, and rare white tigers. The setting itself recreates the tropics, with lush landscaping that evokes the animals’ natural habitat. Be aware that the attraction can be crowded during peak hours, so arrive early for the best view. (The cats are most active in the morning hours, so that’s another plus.) For an even more peaceful experience, sign up for one of the Yoga With the Dolphins sessions, and enjoy the relaxing calm that nature’s most serene creatures inspire –all while in a private small group setting.

Wildlife Habitat at the Flamingo Hotel

3555 Las Vegas Blvd S

You don’t have to stand behind a guardrail to view the wildlife at the Flamingo Hotel. The creatures waddle, fly, swim, and live freely in and around the ponds, waterfalls, islands, and green foliage of the custom habitat maintained by a team of animal experts. Have a seat by the stream or casually stroll the brick walkways and see how many of the 300 varieties of birds you can spot. (Serious bird watchers can ask for a checkoff list from a hotel employee.) Besides the signature flamingos, the grotto is also home to swans, ducks, pelicans, and more. A wild turkey has even been spotted in the bushes. Elegant koi fish and plenty of turtles enjoy the water features almost as much as you will. Many visitors have remarked that the sounds of birds and wildlife are so vivid that they almost seem like a nature CD that some use for relaxation. The sounds are as real as can be, though, and so is the relaxing atmosphere.

The Lazy River at the MGM Grand Hotel

3799 Las Vegas Blvd S
Free for guests – Tube rental fee, locker fee

While you won’t get to experience solitude at the perennially-popular MGM, you might still appreciate this sunny pool feature for its ability to evoke a laid-back day in the mountains. The Lazy River is part of the MGM Grand’s huge complex of pools, and it features an 8,000-foot artificial river that’s perfect for floating and forgetting. The river describes a loop, so you can float endlessly around the landscaped trees on a rented tube, or you’re welcome to float on your back, which plenty of people do. Occasional waterfalls and geysers will shower you with a mist of water, so staying cool is no problem. The hotel generously allows drinks in the pool, so feel free to sip a tall tropical drink as you enjoy your time on the river.


Brendon has been in the Las Vegas travel industry for the past 15 years. As a frequent traveler to sin city he maintains a respect for Americas playground.
More Posts by Brendon → Google Plus → Twitter →