I’ll admit that the crowds on the Las Vegas Strip can be a bit trying on the nerves at times, and there are very specific times that I avoid Las Vegas Boulevard and the most popular attractions in the city. There are spaces I love regardless of how crowded it gets, however, and one of these places is St. Mark’s Square at The Venetian.
Tucked among the Grand Canal Shoppes in The Venetian is St. Mark’s Square, which can be reached by a bridge over a canal on one side, stairs coming up from the conference center on another and down a couple pedestrian walkways that lead right into this bustling corner of The Venetian. I’ve never actually been to Venice or the real St. Mark’s Square, so I don’t know how Las Vegas’ versions compare to the real ones, but there are lots of things I really love about our local take.
All of the restaurants offer leisurely, “al fresco” dining beneath the high, cloud-painted ceiling. We’ve eaten on the square and enjoyed watching people wander by. It’s ideal for a light lunch or for something a little classier in the evening. In addition to the restaurants, there are a number of shops that surround St. Mark’s Square, but it’s not either of these things that really makes it special to me. It’s the energy and atmosphere of an open space that invites people to relax and stay awhile. Stilt walkers, characters in costume, living statues, jugglers, jesters and other entertainers make their way around the square and often perform on a small stage surrounded by benches and chairs. Lamp posts scattered sporadically across the cobblestone are punctuated by independent vendors selling masks and other Venice-themed items (though nothing is overly kitschy).
St. Mark’s Square, even in its busiest hours, feels like a place where you can spend a few minutes to relax, whether you take a seat to watch the street performers, order a cappuccino to sip at one of the restaurants or watch the gondolas float by from the top of the bridge. It’s one of those special places in Las Vegas that I like to return to over and over again.