Vegas views – beyond The Strip

By Judy Berman

Casinos, gambling, the shows, the night life. That’s what many think of when they first hear “Las Vegas.” But on The Strip and off, there are many delightful surprises.

On our recent mini-vacation to Vegas, we visited Bellagio. The Fountains provide a light show of water and music. A mesmerizing attraction found along Las Vegas Boulevard. But it’s not the only beautiful site here.

To escape the desert heat, we walked thru blocks of gaming tables and stores to view  the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art and the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

The art gallery will feature Claude Monet: Impressions of Light through Jan. 6, 2013. It showcases 20 works by Monet and eight other canvases by Impressionists such as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Camille Pissarro and Eugene Louis Boudin.

A carousel, egrets, a blue and white sailboat, and soaring balloons bring back memories of a carefree summer at the seashore in the Northeast. They are featured in the Summer Garden display of flowers and plants, part of Bellagio’s Conservatory that opened May 21st and will end on Sept. 8th.

Get off The Strip and check out the sites outside Vegas as well. One morning, we had breakfast at Mt. Charleston Lodge which is 7,717 feet above sea level. It’s about 50 miles outside of Vegas at the end of Highway 157.

From the restaurant’s deck, we breathed in the fresh mountain air and enjoyed temperatures about 30 degrees cooler than in the city. The restaurant was overshadowed by mountaintops. It was surrounded by views of juniper, pine trees, aspen and rustic log cabins. (Photo on left: Mt. Charleston)

Had we been in the mood for a walk, there were 50 miles of marked trails. Tempting, but we decided to linger over breakfast and enjoy the view. (Photo: I’m with my brother, Hank Fiet, at Mt. Charleston)

If it’s desert areas you are hankering for, Dry Lake in Clark County off Interstate 15 might quench that thirst. At a distance, it does look like there’s a lake up ahead. But there was no water on that terrain the day we visited.

The Dry Lake, at 2,096-feet elevation, is about 20 miles outside of Vegas. It’s where my Dad used to walk his dogs in the predawn hours before the sun was blazing and scorching every living thing in its path. (Photo below of Dry Lake)

Sometimes, it’s when you go off the beaten path that you make the richest discoveries. That’s what we found in Vegas.


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Main photo: Dave Berman and I at the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Las Vegas