The Sphere, a giant illuminated dome that was recently built next to The Venetian Resort, is the new shining star of Las Vegas, adding a brilliant orb of flashing lights to the colorful skyline of The Strip.
The Sphere (255 Sands Ave.), sometimes simply called Sphere, opened in the summer of 2023 at a reported cost of $2.3 billion and became an instant landmark. Its exterior is covered with 1.2 million multi-color LED lights that are programmed to create ever-changing, awe-inspiring displays. Abstract art, trompe l’oeil, and occasional advertising campaigns swirl across the surface, with the brightest images lighting up around sunset and usually culminating in a recreation of the moon by late night. The effect is both exhilarating and hypnotic, like the world’s most intense screen saver, but one with a sense of humor.
But the interior of the Sphere is a tourist draw of its own: a massive event venue of up to 17,000 seats across nine levels for concerts and movies. It's being promoted as “the most technologically advanced performance space in the city” based on features including a wraparound LED screen at 16K, the highest resolution in the world at a scale like this, and mechanisms to create "4-D" immersive shows using enhanced sound, wind, and aromas.
It certainly is an enormous space. At 366 feet (111 m) tall, the exterior shell of the Sphere is now the largest dome structure in the world, big enough to fit London's Big Ben, New York’s Statue of Liberty, and the U.S. Capitol dome inside with room to spare.
Entering the Sphere for an event costs money, but it's easy to indulge in its outdoor lighting displays in other ways. Some resorts are better situated for views than others, and several spots around town have become famous, or perhaps infamous, among locals for attracting Sphere-gazing crowds.
The Hughes Center (3800 Howard Hughes Pkwy.), a mixed-use tech business incubator, has a parking garage along Paradise Road with unobstructed views. Visitors were paying $10 to park for the evening and hang out, but the crowds, and the trash they left behind, made the situation too much of a hassle, and management told Frommer’s that it has plans to close its garage at night.
However, there are several other great spots for Sphere-watching that don’t involve stopping traffic, clogging pedestrian bridges, or getting assaulted by street performers in threadbare Elmo costumes. Here are some of our recommendations for where to admire the Sphere.
Street parking along Westchester Drive and Manhattan Street
The northern border of the Sphere is on Sands Avenue, a very busy street, so seeing the Sphere up close there is a good way for you to cause a traffic jam. You will get honked at excessively by weary Uber drivers. Instead, drive along the eastern edge of it on Manhattan Street, or along its south on Westchester Drive, and join the other spectators who have parked along the roads to watch the light show. Parking here is free (for now).
McDonald’s on Paradise & Twain
3700 Paradise Rd., Las Vegas
Reminiscent of the famous Pizza Hut in Cairo that faces the Pyramids, this McDonald’s east of The Strip serves great views of the Sphere. Both the parking lot and the interior of the restaurant are low-key places to relax and watch the lights, with some chicken nuggets and a Coke. Date night: planned.
4627 Koval Ln., Las Vegas
Although it’s located several blocks away, the driving range chain Topgolf has a partial view of the Sphere (partly obstructed, ironically, by Topgolf’s own billboards). The bar on its top level is the best viewing area in the building for both the Sphere and the rest of The Strip. The effect of the entire panorama is pretty cool.
The Venetian Resort Las Vegas and The Palazzo at the Venetian Resort
3355 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
Of course the Venetian and its sister hotel The Palazzo have fantastic views of the Sphere—they’re part of the same property. The east side of The Venetian is positioned directly opposite of the structure, giving hotel guests prime viewing opportunities. Sphere view rooms will cost extra at booking, or try a $20 tip to the front desk clerk at check-in for a prime room assignment.
(Photo credit: The Venetian Resort Las Vegas)
Wynn Las Vegas and Encore at Wynn Las Vegas
3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Although The Wynn is directly across Sands Avenue from the Sphere, the Wynn hotel tower faces mostly east and west, so most of its rooms don’t have good views. But Encore rooms, at the southeast corner, face the Sphere nicely. The best viewing spot at this property, however, is the top of the Wynn’s self-park garage, which is beside the Encore tower. Drive to the top level and you'll have the best view in the city. If you're not a guest of the hotel, you can park for four hours for free.
Holiday Inn Desert Club Resort
3950 Koval Ln., Las Vegas
This Holiday Inn is directly south of the Sphere, so when you make your reservation to stay there, ask for a room in buildings 3, 11, or 15 that has Sphere views. Rooms can’t be guaranteed, but the front desk will log room requests before check-in if they are available.
Westgate Las Vegas
3000 Paradise Rd., Las Vegas
At Westgate, book a Premier Room in the East Tower. At check-in, ask for an even-numbered room with southern views. Not only will you get views of the Sphere from over the Wynn golf course, but much of The Strip will also be visible.
Treasure Island Las Vegas
3300 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Treasure Island’s view is mostly blocked by The Venetian, but corner rooms in its south tower have a direct sightline. Tip the front desk attendant for one of those.