Wow – where do I even begin? You may remember last week how I posted that I was so excited to be heading to Las Vegas with Dane to celebrate my 30th birthday at the Celine Dion concert. Well, I had absolutely no idea that there was so much more behind Dane’s “You and I are going to celebrate” facade. Granted, I had never been to Las Vegas before, so I was more than thrilled to be heading there and even more thrilled to be seeing Celine, but what transpired is more than my wildest dreams. Today I’m sharing every detail of my 30th birthday celebration in Las Vegas, along with as many snaps as I have from the most magical weekend 🙂
My 30th Birthday In Las Vegas
Dane and I flew out of Honolulu on the red-eye Thursday night with a connection in Los Angeles. I was so excited, because my sister had gifted me this little foot rest travel hammock for plane travel and I was eager to test it out. Safe to say it’s perfect for shorter people like me and makes for EXCELLENT sleeping. I loved it!
We arrived in Las Vegas around 7AM, showered at an airport lounge since we fully expected our room not to be ready yet, and took a cab straight to The Cosmopolitan to drop off our bags. It turns out, our room was ready! We were both pretty excited about that, but since we were already showered we just took our bags up and went to check it out briefly. First of all, I loved that we were in Suite 3089 — I was turning 30 and born in 1989 so it seemed a little bit extra special. Anyway, Dane had booked us a wrap-around penthouse suite, which I had no clue about, so when we walked in and into a place bigger than our own house I was just like…WHOA!
After that, we were both pretty hungry so we walked down the strip and to HEXX Kitchen + Bar for food. Honestly, we picked it because it was close to where we were standing and I was on the verge of hanger, but it was EXCELLENT! We both opted for the Eggs Benedict (they serve it over a bed of scalloped potatoes, no bread) and it was so good. Our waitress asked us what brought us to Vegas and when she found out it was my birthday, she stopped the entire restaurant and sang to me. It was equal parts mortifying and special, LOL!
I loved walking up and down the Strip – it’s truly a feast for the senses and is honestly some of the best people watching I’ve ever done. Next up, we walked through The Bellagio, because I wanted to see the glass ceiling decor in the lobby and then see their seasonal display. They happened to be putting the final touches on the Chinese New Year decor in the atrium, but even from afar, it looked incredible! The glass ceiling flowers were just as beautiful in person as I imagined they would be from photos!
While we were there I said to Dane that I really wanted to throw a couple bucks into the slot machines just for fun. He was basically like – it’s your birthday weekend, we will do whatever you want! So we walked around looking for ‘Jackpot Party’ (my favorite machine that has a bit of sentimental value within my family) and sat down when we found it. I put $20 in and immediately won $70, so I was going to cash out when I heard “HIT THIS BUTTON!” and got tapped on the shoulder. It was our friends Craig and Teresa who had recently moved from Hawaii to New York.
Honestly, I thought it was a little strange, but they played it off like they had miles that needed spent and it seemed plausible since she travels heavily around the country for work. It was way too casual (at least to me) to feel planned, so I truly did not think anything of it. We talked with them about grabbing drinks after the Celine concert and they headed off to lunch. It seemed like a great coincidence, but I didn’t really think anything of it.
Dane and I both wanted to workout, so we walked back to The Cosmopolitan. From The Bellagio, it should have been a straight shot, but Dane was weaving through corridors and through the casino, around bars, up escalators. Finally I’m like – WHAT ARE YOU DOING? I was annoyed, LOL! The next thing I know, our friends Blake and Sarah (you might recognize her from Total Basset Case) popped out. I was floored and had no idea what to think. They had come from Ohio to celebrate with us for the weekend and had just gotten in, so they were heading to get food.
At this point, I was really impressed with Dane’s handiwork getting our friends to come there, but I didn’t even connect Craig/Teresa with Blake/Sarah. They’re two separate friend groups, so I really just figured that he had invited Blake and Sarah and Craig and Teresa were a happy coincidence. They went to eat and we went to work out and got to see the awesome Bellagio Fountains from the treadmill.
You can imagine how excited I was when we came back to the room and this set-up was waiting for us! Do any of my OG blogger friends remember Lindsey at Bargain Blonde? Well she is a blog friend turned real life friend for me and had this delivered to us! People are the sweetest – TRULY! And so I had said to Dane – Oh, text our friends to come share a glass of bubbly with us before we go to dinner.
I was floating on air, because I was so excited to go see Celine Dion, so I was getting ready, drinking champagne and living my best life. Blake and Sarah showed up and we were out on the balcony enjoying the most epic sunset ever when we heard a knock on the door. I didn’t think twice about it, because housekeeping had stopped by twice to check on the mini bar and another time to see if we needed anything, so I honestly just assumed it was them coming back for round 3.
All of a sudden I see my brother-in-law walking down the hall saying “Is there a party going on in here?” He had his girlfriend and my mother-in-law with him and I just about lost it. It was so special to have them there. I was immediately like “Dane! We have to change our dinner reservation, I want everyone to come”. Looking back, that seems kind of silly, because he, of course, had already master planned it. We walked across the street to Rao’s at Caesar’s Palace for dinner, but stopped for a few photos briefly before heading in.
We were waiting for our table to be ready, when I hear “Can we add two more?”…and it was my parents! I don’t know how I didn’t cry, but I was so freaking happy to see them. We all sat down and I found out that my parents were going to see Celine with us, which made me so happy, because they had spent the week prior telling me how jealous they were that I was going. They tricked me big time!
The food at Rao’s was excellent and the table split a few bottles of wine. The service, food, wine and company were so tasty, but I was like an eager beaver to see Celine Dion. I’m telling you, seeing her perform has been on my list of “I want to do that” for so long, that I was practically shaking. We left dinner and headed to the Colosseum at Caesars for the show. Dane needed to grab our tickets at will-call, so the rest of us waited outside the doors. Imagine my shock when Eric and Casey (our friends from Charlotte who traveled to Iceland with us) rounded the corner with him. At this point, I lost it. I was in complete shock, because Casey had JUST been messaging me that she wanted play-by-play updates of my weekend since she would be busy that weekend. She had purchased in-flight wifi to keep up the charade!
Celine’s show was nothing short of spectacular. Her residency ends in June, but it is worth every single penny. On top of having killer vocals, she’s an entertainer. She has a tremendous stage presence and her talent is second to none. #BeyonceWho After the show, we headed back to The Cosmopolitan to check out the Ghost Donkey tequila bar. The Cosmopolitan has a secret bar (Ghost Donkey) and secret pizza shop that they don’t mark on maps, but since I had scoped out our hotel before our trip, I knew I wanted to try the tequila and Dane knew he wanted to try the pizza.
The bar itself is a legitimate hole-in-the-wall and inside is what I imagine heaven to be like – loads of bright neon, twinkly lights hanging from the ceiling, tequila as far as the eye can see and the most delicious hand made chips and guacamole. We ordered a round of drinks, squished everyone into a booth our friend Eric commandeered and were just chatting and laughing when I see our friends Lexie and Drew pop up from the other side of the bar.
At this point I don’t even know what to think, because I had been very sure the surprises were through, but I was so elated to see them! We were up until 1AM, but I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open any longer.
We got back to our room and I had the most thoughtful basket of goodies waiting for me from my college roommates. They couldn’t make the weekend, but wanted to make sure I brought in 30 the right way, so they sent a ‘Vegas Survival Kit’ with things like Advil, candy, Gatorade and water inside. It was so sweet!
The next morning we woke up and all I wanted was a coffee ASAP, but since the hotels in Las Vegas don’t have coffee machines in the rooms, I knew it meant a trip downstairs. Now that I knew all my favorite people were also in town, I was eager to see everyone and kept asking Dane “Where is everyone staying? How did you plan all this? Are there any more surprises? What’s going on? Is there a plan?” He was mum on nearly every detail, which really added an element of fun to our entire stay. My mom texted me saying she was downstairs at Holstein’s and had a special birthday surprise. She kept texting me rapid fire (not normal), so I was like “Dane we have to go – she’s relentless this AM – hurry up!” Turns out – she had my aunt and uncle from PA and my mother-in-law had my other aunt in tow from FL and they were waiting for us to eat! TALK ABOUT BEING SHOCKED!
I was so overwhelmed with happiness that I didn’t really even know where to begin – who should we hang out with for the day? What was everyone’s plan? Luckily, Dane had handled all of it ahead of time and we walked around with our families and met up with friends along the way. It sort of went that way the whole weekend, as we tried to split our time as evenly as possible. It can be a bit overwhelming trying to wrangle a larger group, which is why Dane picked Las Vegas, since it offers a little something for everyone.
I knew we were going to Javier’s at ARIA for dinner (my pick long before I knew we had such a large group), but I had no idea that Dane and my mom had arranged for me to have a confetti birthday cake from Christina Tosi’s Milkbar (something I’ve dreamed about for a long time!) with rainbow flame candles and a champagne toast in the room before we went out. It gave us a chance to have our entire group together and it felt so good. I looked around the room and just felt so abundantly loved – I cannot think of a better way to describe it.
It all started to make sense about why Dane had wanted the large suite, LOL! We loved the food at Javier’s (it’s upscale Mexican) and the service was wonderful, even though our entire party couldn’t sit together. The chips and salsa they put on the table to start was oddly my favorite part, but I make no apologies for that, I am who I am (ha!) and just genuinely love chips as a snack. I also had a delicious jalapeño margarita and an avocado and shrimp chopped salad. It was delicious!
Anyone who knows me, knows that I do not typically stay up late, so two late nights in a row coupled with a red-eye, had me dragging a bit the night of my birthday. After dinner, we headed back to our room and hung out for a little bit before calling it a night. I also knew we had an early brunch reservation the next morning, so I wanted to make sure I could be up and excited about that.
Brunch was OUT OF THIS WORLD! We went to Wicked Spoon at The Cosmopolitan and I cannot say enough good things. My friend Lindsey (who sent the champagne) had our party set up in a private room with all my favorite foods – macarons, avocado breakfast toast, gluten free French toast and chocolate covered strawberries. Then there was the actual buffet in the main dining hall where — oh my stars, every single food group and station you can imagine. Italian, Mexican, Asian-inspired, desserts, made-to-order breakfasts, carving stations….I mean, you name it and it was there. We didn’t do the bottomless champagne option, but it’s there if that is something that is of interest 🙂 We had THE BEST morning enjoying food and chatting and having that private room was just awesome, because it was a bit quieter and easier to chat with everyone.
Everyone was starting to leave for the weekend, so we spent a good portion of our day meeting up with various friends who had to catch flights and saying our “see you laters”. We did a boat load of walking all weekend (around 17k steps per day!), but it was so worth it!
That night, we had a reservation at Giada’s at The Cromwell and it was another terrific meal. None of us had really eaten since brunch was so big, so we didn’t hold back! They had a Chianti on their wine list that I really love, so for me, that was the bonus. For Dane, it was discovering there was an awesome photo booth in the lobby. I adore this man and his adventurous spirit!
They serve a vegetarian bolognese that is out of this world good, so I would 10/10 recommend ordering that if you venture there!
Afterward, we headed back to our hotel to test out the “secret drink” at the Cosmopolitan’s Chandelier bar. It’s the Verbena cocktail and everyone raves about it! You start by sucking on the flower it is served with, then sipping the drink. The flower creates a tingling sensation on your tongue and then when you sip, your whole mouth feels like it is freezing over and tingling. It’s without a doubt the ultimate cocktail treat – One of the very best I’ve ever tasted!
It felt like the weekend moved at warp speed once things got rolling and that part made me really sad, but honestly — I still have a ridiculous goofy smile plastered across my face. I’m simply astounded by how Dane pulled off this epic celebration and my heart is so, so full. Friends and family came from all across the country to make my 30th birthday weekend so special and I could not be more grateful. Dane later showed me the planning e-mails and secret Facebook group he had created. I would be remiss in not mentioning how impressed and grateful I am for his thoughtful heart.
Some highlights from people who were in our group include: The High Roller Ferris Wheel, zip lining at The Linq, Beerhaus beer garden at MGM Park, visiting the Hoover Dam, the roller coaster at New York, New York, Cirque du Soleil’s “O” show and Mon Ami Gabi.
The next morning, Dane and I said goodbye to the last few groups of people, fit in a workout and headed straight for the airport. We wound up with a full Crack Pie from Milkbar to take home and I sure as heck wasn’t leaving it behind! So we had that as our carry on and made our way back to Honolulu. It was so bittersweet to leave such a special weekend in the rearview mirror, but I know that the best is truly yet to come.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who made my birthday so special, the wishes from near and far and virtual greetings from around the world – I love you guys!