Ah, Las Vegas. The city known for doing everything big also can be emotionally emboldening in subtler ways. Picky eaters become adventurous foodies and usually reserved folks suddenly steal the spotlight. These only-in-Vegas moments, these temporary transformations, form the foundations of great stories and experiences you remember forever.
We recently asked eight veteran visitors to Vegas to recount their favorite, uniquely freeing moments from over the years. Here are some of the anecdotes they recall best.
Fremont Street Experience
“On my first trip to Las Vegas, my fiancé and I went to visit the iconic Fremont Street Experience to take the ultimate leap of love with Slotzilla Zip Line. We chose to go big and ride the Zoomline–jumping from the 12-story slot-machine-themed platform we flew 1,750-feet under the iconic Viva Vision canopy. With the concert above us and the crowd below, there was nothing like the thrill of soaring over Fremont Street and feeling the electrifying energy radiating from the crowd below.”
— Nicole Bingham, 36, Scottsdale, Ariz.
The Venetian Resort
“In college, a few friends and I road tripped out to Las Vegas from Los Angeles to see the magazine we’d created roll off the printing press for the first time. I remember standing in the massive facility and reveling in how all our hard work and late nights had resulted in this incredibly exciting moment. For most of my life, I had lived in a suburb where people valued life paths that felt safe and predictable. But laying in bed that night at The Venetian Resort, I started thinking about how people in this vibrant desert city were the opposite; they embraced bold ideas and big dreams. High risk, high reward, one person had reminded me. It was then that I made the decision to put my nerves aside and pursue a career in publishing — no matter where it led.”
— Carrie Rossi*, 30, Chappaqua, N.Y.
*indicates name has been changed
“The year I turned 21, my grandparents took me to Caesars Palace. The first trip to Las Vegas was a rite of passage in my family. We dined at the historic Bacchanal Room [now no longer around, though the name is now resurrected in Bacchanal Buffet]. We went to VIP Super Bowl parties, had a birthday drink at Cleopatra’s Barge, and made countless memories together. Those early days at Caesars imprinted me with an appreciation for the luxe side of Las Vegas that is still found there.”
— Jen Leo, 47, Carlsbad, Calif.
The Beatles LOVE Theater
“Last summer, hours after we arrived in Las Vegas from New York City, my family and I sat center stage at Cirque du Soleil’s tribute to The Beatles, aptly named LOVE — one of the best live performances we have ever seen. The choreography, costumes, music, staging and overall artistry was nothing short of mesmerizing. I had forgotten how eternally relevant The Beatles are. The performance came at a time when I was particularly discouraged by the state of the world. The evening captivated my imagination — and that of my 8 and 14-year-old children, who watched with mouths agape as acrobatic dancers brought timeless lyrics to life and helped us all escape from the mundane. Vegas took on a new air of possibility to me that evening. We stepped from the theater with souls on fire by the simple mantra that all you need is love. Our two-week vacation through the desert Southwest could not have started better than when we sat awestruck in the theater at The Mirage, soon driving down Route 96 looking back fondly on yesterday, to quote McCartney.”
— Anaga Dalal, 45, Pelham Manor, N.Y.
The Chelsea Inside The Cosmopolitan
“On a recent visit, after seeing one of my favorite country brands perform at The Chelsea inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, a friend led me to a smaller room with a full band set up in the middle on stage. I looked at him as if to ask, “Another concert?” and he said, “You’ll see.” Once our intimate audience’s curiosity had reached its breaking point, the same lead singer walked out and started to play a private show. I’ll never forget that night — the dancing, the smiles, and feeling of closeness fostered by singing along to our favorite songs.”
— Mattias Horseman, 27, Austin, Texas
Canyon Ranch Spa + Fitness
“Every year, I go away for a long weekend with some of my closest girlfriends who each live in a different city. We convene from San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and New York City. This year we opted for Vegas, since it’s so easy for everyone to get to, and it was the best decision ever! We booked a suite at Encore at the Wynn so all four of us could comfortably sleep in the spacious room, and it was a luxurious yet low-key home base to return to at the end of each day. We loved every meal, from Yardbird for brunch to Lotus of Siam and Esther’s Kitchen for dinner. During the day, we relaxed in the sun with cocktails at the Downtown Container Park and treated ourselves to an afternoon at Canyon Ranch Spa + Fitness. It was so much more than a girls’ weekend. Protecting this time with each other despite our busy lives is a bold act that sustains our friendship.”
— Meredith Bergman, 42, San Francisco, Calif.
Las Vegas Convention Center
“I drove in to Las Vegas from L.A. for the International Pizza Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center. I ended up meeting a dude named Nino Coniglio, big pizza guy in from Brooklyn. I ended up moving to NYC with him a week later! Two years later, he proposed to me at the same expo! In front of hundreds of people! Pretty sure he planned it the day before and found the ring at a local jeweler in Vegas. I couldn’t have imagined it being any more perfect.”
— Shaelyn Brand, 33, Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Book in The LINQ Hotel + Experience
“Every year I go to Vegas with my high school buddies for Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. We watch the NFL playoffs, have at least one nice dinner, and reconnect. It’s a great tradition and a way to stay in touch with old friends. This last trip helped me get through a tough time. I got divorced last September, and it was so nice to experience that camaraderie and just feel normal again. We watched the game at The Book in The LINQ Hotel + Experience and ate dinner at the Yard House in the LINQ Promenade + Experience. With all the changes in my life, this is something that stays the same. My friends are always there. We’ll always have Vegas.”
— Michael Cotter, 42, Los Angeles, Calif.