Yelp celebrates its 15th “burstday” this month — that’s 15 years of connecting people with great local businesses. And this growth — roughly 200 million reviews and growing! — would not have been possible without a great community behind it.
Enter: the Yelp Elite Squad, aka YES!
YES! came about shortly after Yelp’s inception as a way to bring together Yelp’s most prominent writers, photographers, and adventurers. This crew of OG influencers are the source for where to go and what to do in their cities, and Yelp community managers and ambassadors in the United States and Canada host regular, exclusive events for them to expand their horizons to even more local businesses, nonprofits, and experiences.
While all of our Yelp Elite events strive to be one-of-a-kind, some especially turn the fun, adventure, and uniqueness up to 11. So in honor of Yelp’s Big 1-5, we’ve collected 15 of our favorite, unparalleled Yelp Elite events. #ItsNeatToBeElite!
1. A Big Fat Real Yelp Wedding — Boston
The Boston Yelp Elite Squad achieved a definite first: a real-life, honest-to-goodness wedding at an Elite event! Two Yelp Elites merged their love of Yelp, bowling, cupcakes, hard cider, the Deathray Davies, and, well, each other by exchanging vows in front of family and 130 of their closest (and newest!) friends at a candlepin alley/organic pizza joint.
2. Underground Friendsgiving — Indianapolis
The Yelp Indy Elites gathered to celebrate their incredible community and stellar local businesses with a friendsgiving in the Indianapolis City Market Catacombs. This candlelit dinner under the city included cocktails, dinner, and giant macaron desserts, among other surprises.
3. Milk Bar and Chef Christina Tosi, of “Chef’s Table: Pastry” — Los Angeles
Los Angeles Yelp Elites were lucky enough to not only be the first among sweet toothed Angelenos to check out the Los Angeles location of Milk Bar but to also learn about it from its owner, Chef Christina Tosi, who was on Netflix’s documentary series “Chef’s Table: Pastry.” She even demoed the process behind the confectionary dream that is the Birthday Cake truffle.
4. Road Trip to Bucks County — Philadelphia
Philadelphia Yelp Elites hit the road for a special trip to the charming and historic Bucks County. This overnight experience included wine tastings, castle tours, a casino, ice cream, beer gardens and breweries, and self-guided tours of where George Washington crossed the Delaware River and turned the tide of the Revolutionary War. It was history meets adventure meets great eats and drinks!
5. Adult Field Trip to Maker’s Mark Distillery — Louisville
The Louisville Yelp Elite Squad enjoyed a one-of-a-kind experience at the oldest operating bourbon distillery in the world. This in-depth, all-day tour of Maker’s Mark’s scenic grounds included parts not on the regular tour, as well as lunch, expanded bourbon tasting, and dipping bottles of Maker’s Mark bourbon to keep into the brand’s signature red wax.
6. Yelp Games at Macy’s — Fort Lauderdale
It was Broward vs. Palm Beach with Yelp Elites putting their game faces on to battle it out for county supremacy. The venue: Macy’s! The games included flicking paper footballs into slow-cookers, making the bed, dressing mannequins, and applying makeup while blindfolded, among others. Palm Beach came out on top, and afterward, all of the participants came back together over more fun, food, and drinks at a nearby restaurant.
7. Cactus Club’s Summer Kick-Off Tour — Vancouver
Why only limit an event to one restaurant? Vancouver Yelp Elites embarked upon a four-restaurant tour via party bus. The stops included appetizers and happy hour drinks, a three-course sit-down dinner on the beach, a test kitchen serving desserts, and late-night bites with a DJ.
8. Behind-The-Scenes with Playhouse Square — Cleveland
Cleveland Yelp Elites stepped into the limelight and explored Playhouse Square, the country’s largest performing arts center outside of New York. The behind-the-scenes tour included spooky ghost stories, history, spiral staircases, underground tunnels, the stage, and the largest outdoor chandelier in the world.
9. International Adventure — Tampa
Tampa Yelp Elites were wined and dined in impeccable fashion during a progressive dinner by five restaurants at International Plaza and Bay Street. From Florida snapper to burrata and prosciutto toast to ending the evening with whiskey bread pudding, each restaurant wowed the guests, who also took home gift bags that included $50 Lily Pulitzer gift cards.
10. A Night At Momofuku — Las Vegas
Michelin star Chef David Chang — well known restaurateur, TV personality, and creator of Netflix’s “Ugly Delicious” — and his rock star team created a truly unique menu for the Las Vegas Yelp Elites that covered the span of his culinary career. With bao buns, braised short rib, specialty ramen bowls, seafood towers, and cake, the Elites were treading some tasty foodie flood waters.
11. Scavenger Hunt with Morena Storage — San Diego
An Elite Event at a storage facility … sounds crazy, right?! Well, seeing that the San Diego Elite Squad is known as being trendsetters, they joined forces with Morena Storage for this Yelp Elite event first! Tacos were served hot off the grill. Ben & Jerry’s pulled up a Tesla to serve scoops of ice cream. Mike’s Hard Lemonade set up a stand, and a scavenger hunt through all three levels was coordinated, with funny money awarded and a “Storage Wars”-style auction resulting in a bidding battle for mysterious prizes.
12. Perfect Day in Temescal — Oakland
East Bay Yelp Elites got a fascinating and in-depth look at the rich history and art scene of one of Oakland’s most diverse and colorful neighborhoods. The tour started off with drinks and made various stops along Temescal’s main strip, concluding at new hotspot, North Light, for a light bite and drink!
13. Purple Party at Prince’s Paisley Park — Twin Cities
Twin Cities Yelp Elites came together to celebrate the life of a musician, an icon, a legend — Prince! Guests enjoyed a guided VIP tour through Paisley Park, which included intimate views of Prince’s personal office, studios, and the venue where “Purple Rain” was filmed and countless concerts were performed. Guests even had the opportunity to take a photo in Studio B in front of Prince’s purple piano and to listen to clips of unreleased music!
14. Staycation at The Last Hotel — St. Louis
Yelp St. Louis was pampered by one of the most compelling experiential luxury hotels in the city! Yelp Elites enjoyed a complimentary night’s stay at the Last Hotel, as well as complimentary drinks and bites at their rooftop pool and breakfast with a custom menu created just for Yelp.
15. Orlando Magic Elite NBA Experience — Orlando
Orlando Yelp Elites were treated to a private tour of the Amway Center before doors opened to guests. The Orlando Magic treated Elites to drinks at ‘Rona’s and Rita’s, Amway’s rooftop bar, followed by courtside seats during the warm-up and finally fabulous lower bowl seats for the Tier 1 game against the San Antonio Spurs. This was a party to remember!
Here’s to 15 years of amazing local businesses and local love.
Are you a champion of local businesses? Do you spread the word and share the love for local on Yelp? You should join the Yelp Elite Squad!
The Yelp Elite Squad is our way of recognizing people who are active in the Yelp community and role models on and off the site. Whether that’s writing reviews, uploading photos and videos, or curating killer Yelp Collections, the yelpers in the Elite Squad are always helping others in the city find new businesses to support, spreading the good word about new finds and local favorites alike.
Learn more about the Yelp Elite Squad, and nominate yourself here.
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