by Lois Alter Mark for USA TODAY 10Best

Best art city in America? It might be Las Vegas

Las Vegas is full of surprises, and one of the biggest is the fact that the city is home to a thriving art scene. Wherever you look, you can find pieces of art that will stop you in your tracks. Here are ten pieces and places to enjoy.

"Smiling King Bear" at Wynn Las Vegas

Image courtesy of Jeff Green

Towering at 16 feet tall, the whimsical bear wears a spiked crown and holds an equally imposing smiling ball. A multicolored geometric masterpiece, it’s executed in the artist Okuda San Miguel’s signature prismatic style.

"LOVE" at The Venetian Las Vegas

Image courtesy of The Venetian Resort Las Vegas

"'LOVE' is about being free to love who you want, the way you want," says artist Laura Kimpton about the piece.

Murals at El Cortez Hotel and Casino

Image courtesy of Chris Wessling

Each floor of the premium rooms Tower in the historic El Cortez Hotel and Casino features this powerful mural by local artist, ORFIN, in its own unique color scheme.

"Smiley Coppers Panel I" at Greene St. Kitchen

Image courtesy of Palms Resort Casino

This restaurant is home to Las Vegas’ first permanent work by elusive street artist, Banksy. This depiction of two heavily-armed police officers with yellow smiley faces is more than seven feet tall and six feet wide.

The Artist Studio at Bellagio

Image courtesy of MGM Resorts International

The outstanding Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art is always a must-see, and what makes it even more special is the fact that you can get a rare and intimate look at the process of actually creating art at The Artist Studio next door.

The Writer’s Block

Image courtesy of Emily Wilson Photography

Sure, this indie bookstore celebrates the literary arts, but it’s also a visual delight, featuring a stunning tile mural, an artificial bird sanctuary and cozy, forest-like offices.

Downtown street art

Image courtesy of C.William Shea and Patrick Lai

Street art has taken over Downtown Las Vegas, with murals by big-name artists – as well as anonymous ones – making powerful statements and transforming buildings into outdoor galleries.

Empathy Suite at Palms Casino Resort

Image courtesy of Palms Resort Casino

This two-story, 9,000-square-foot suite at Palms was designed by world-renowned artist Damien Hirst and houses many pieces of his museum-worthy art.

The Big Shoes at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Image courtesy of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

The Cosmopolitan has art in so many unexpected places, but it’s the giant shoes by Roark Gourley that continue to feed Instagram.

ABSINTHE Electric Oak at Caesars Palace

Image courtesy of Powers Imagery for Spiegelworld

This 35-feet-tall tree stands in the ABSINTHE Courtyard and boasts 25,000 illuminated leaves and 175,000 LED lights, which are programmable and reactive to music. The ABSINTHE Electric Oak was dreamed up by The Gazillionaire.

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