Destinations

Across the Country: How Immersive Experiences Shine Throughout the U.S.


Five people gaze in wonder at projection images of rain and falling flowers on the walls of a large interior space within Superblue Miami. It is part of the Universe of Water Particles Transcending Boundaries exhibit by teamLab.

Skift Take

Attendees are craving much more than education sessions and networking receptions. As event organizers try to cook up a recipe for elevated engagement, the key is finding a place that can lay the foundation for a truly immersive experience. Skift Meetings worked with Brand USA to find the country’s best-in-class immersive experiences. Here are five destinations that can redefine your next event.

This content was created collaboratively by Brand USA and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.

If you want to make your next meeting have a bigger impact, you need to focus on finding a place that will take attendees out of a traditional environment and awaken their senses in new and unexpected ways. According to Freeman’s 2024 Trends Report, 64 percent of attendees value immersive experiences — far outpacing some of the other areas where meeting planners spend a lot of their time and money, such as the food and beverage offerings, after-hours events, and wellness opportunities. Translation: Find a way to make attendees feel transported out of their ordinary lives to help them feel truly present in the moment.

As you search for the right destination to host your next meeting, consider these five places across the U.S. where innovators are elevating the concept of immersion.

Miami: Art, Redefined

Home to the annual Art Basel show, Miami has always been known as an all-star city for creative expression. Now, groups can do much more than look at paintings or marvel at art deco design; they can feel like they’re stepping inside a new world at the first-ever Superblue in Wynwood where projection artists use every inch of the 50,000-square-foot space to bring their visions to life. Consider Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s biometric light display — which syncs 3,000 LEDs to the rhythm of an individual’s heartbeat with a palm-reading sensor — or Es Devlin’s mirrored labyrinth maze. For those looking to treat attendees to a private experience, the venue offers 5,000 square feet of dedicated event space accommodating up to 300 guests.

Gallery visitors lie on the floor looking up at their reflection on the ceiling, with curved patterns of geometric maze walls surrounding them. The walls are mirrored and do not reach the ceiling, in this way allowing their patterns to be viewed from the ceiling mirror.
Es Devlin. Forest of Us. 2021. Exhibition View of Every Wall is a Floor, 2021. Superblue Miami, Miami, Florida. Photographer: Andrea Mora.

Want to send your attendees home with a reminder of just how incredible the event was? Invite them to snap a photo booth portrait, and then let them step into the interior of an oversized printing press where they’ll be part of the memento’s production process.

Houston: One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Meetings

What better way to inspire your attendees to chase out-of-this-world performance than by giving them an up-close and personal look at how NASA astronauts have actually traveled out of this world? At the Space Center Houston, groups can step inside the world’s only shuttle mounted on a shuttle carrier aircraft, meet with NASA astronauts to hear their space stories, and book VIP tours that make stops at the Apollo Mission Control Center and the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory. It’s much more than an immersive experience of the past, too: Groups will get a chance to see the Artemis Exhibit and learn about the bold plans to return humans to the moon for the first time in more than half a century.

An interior shot of the Space Center Houston, with an authentic astronaut space suit hanging from the ceiling next to satellites, with a large photo of the Earth from space in the background.
Space Center Houston. Image credit: Houston First Corporation, Lance Childers.

Multiple spaces across the museum are available for private events — including Independence Plaza’s NASA 905, the first shuttle carrier aircraft; and the Starship Gallery, featuring the world’s largest Moon rock collection on display alongside real spacecraft.

San Francisco: Listen Closely

With artists like the Grateful Dead, Carlos Santana, and Sly and the Family Stone calling San Francisco home, the Bay Area has always been synonymous with innovative sounds. At Envelop SF at The Midway in the Dogpatch neighborhood, attendees get a chance to celebrate the history of electric grooves and can turn up the volume in a new way to appreciate every note. Instead of the lo-fi, compressed audio quality we’re all used to hearing from streamed music transmitted through ear buds, Envelop uses 32 speakers to deliver a premium 3D sound experience for dance parties, sound bathing yoga sessions, and album listening parties.

While The Midway may be extending the concept of ‘fine dining’ to ‘fine listening,’ the all-encompassing sensory delight continues over dinner, too. The Midway features multiple culinary activations such as Tasting California’s Landscape, where a meal becomes a multidimensional work of art and emerging technology. And for groups who would rather make their own magic than be seated and served, competitive cocktail and cooking courses offer an opportunity to become mixologists and kitchen masters for an evening.

New Orleans: Bravery Brought to Life

In addition to giving attendees an opportunity to immerse themselves in the one-of-a-kind music scene that echoes across every corner of New Orleans, the Crescent City is the place to give groups an awe-inspiring appreciation for the sacrifices made during the most destructive global conflict in history. The National WWII Museum stretches across six acres and six pavilions (with a seventh in the works). To give your group a real feel for what Allied soldiers endured, start with a screening of Beyond All Boundaries. Narrated by Tom Hanks, the 4D experience in the Solomon Victory Theater includes vibrating seats and effects that transform the big-screen experience into a personal journey.

A large screen showcasing a wartime scene at sea, with darkened theatre seats barely visible in the foreground. The mechanized enhance the immersive experience.
National WW II Museum, Beyond All Boundaries.

Dive deeper into World War II aboard the final mission of the USS Tang, where attendees will take on the role of real crew members on the submarine. The immersive experience of the moving floor, flashing lights, and smoke effects may require an advance warning for attendees, but they serve as a reminder of the risks that every service member faced in naval warfare in the 1940s. And the museum’s newest addition, Voices from the Front, does what might have seemed impossible just a few years ago: It brings the 1940s to the 2020s by giving attendees a chance to interact with heroes who have passed away. Using artificial intelligence and archival interviews with veterans, Home Front workers, and witnesses to the war, attendees can ask questions and engage in two-way conversations to learn more about their lives.

In this interactive immersive experience, a woman sits across from a life-sized projection of an elderly woman recounting stories of her past experiences during WWII.
National WWII Museum, Voices from the Front.

For bigger events, you can choose from spaces that range from the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion (comfortable for 600 guests at a reception) to the 24-capacity Purple Heart Board Room. For an extra dose of inspiration and connection to the local culture, invite an expert from the Historian Speakers Bureau to share the story of Louisiana’s role in World War II.

Los Angeles: Escape the Ordinary

A flashlight, a cassette deck, and a woman you’ve never met named Josie? That may sound like an odd combination for an event, but The Nest, an intimate Los Angeles theater experience that takes cues from video games and escape rooms, proves that immersive experiences don’t have to feature oversized screens or large crowds. In fact, large crowds aren’t allowed. Organizers say that the best way to enjoy the 60-minute experience is with just one other person, although groups of up to four people are allowed. The emotional journey involves looking at effects and listening to a stranger’s diary with a goal: to help participants reflect on their own memories and gain a new appreciation for how valuable a lifetime of all those moments can be.

Bigger groups can head to Maze Rooms, which specializes in more traditional escape room experiences that take cues from Hollywood films. From Wild West-style adventures to alien-inspired rooms, the company operates seven locations throughout the metro area where attendees can work together to navigate their way to freedom.

As you plan your next program, make sure you’re prioritizing the kind of immersive experiences that these five destinations deliver. Of course, it’s not limited to just these standout cities. Across the U.S., destinations are doing more to deliver the kind of magic that will motivate prospective attendees to register for events and return home to tell their friends and colleagues FOMO-inducing stories about their time away from home.

This content was created collaboratively by Brand USA and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.

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