Ohio is the New Comeback Destination

Convention CentersDestinations

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland

Ohio is making a comeback as a meetings and tourism destination. Columbus is the state capitol. Cincinnati is famous for its big river, baseball and beer. Cleveland has the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Akron, where Goodyear is headquartered, is known as the city of inventions. All four cities are on the rise, as more companies view Ohio as a great destination for doing business.

Cincinnati

Situated along the Ohio River, across from Kentucky, Cincinnati has retained its Southern charm while remaining decidedly Midwestern. Some of the nation’s top corporations have facilities or offices in Cincinnati, including automobile, banking, food, energy, telecom, and construction firms.

With big companies come big meetings. Cincinnati accommodates them with large hotels from Hilton, Hyatt, Westin and Marriott that offer 21,000–40,000 sq. ft. of event space.
The city is famous for historic venues and boasts a somewhat rowdy past grounded in baseball, football and beer. Cincinnati USA, the city’s CVB, recommends exploring the preprohibition lager tunnels that reflect the city’s brewing heritage. Or visit one of the city’s prospering microbreweries. MadTree Brewery, one of the most popular in town, offers a 50,000-square-foot facility for private events, with seating for 120–250 guests. There’s also Taft’s Ale House, once Cincinnati’s oldest protestant church.

Orchid’s Palm Court at Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza 

For refined dining in Cincinnati, there’s Orchid’s Palm Court AAA Five Diamond restaurant, located at Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza. Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse serves prime-cut beef and fresh seafood. Nada, a local favorite, is known for adventurous Mexican cuisine.
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) has connecting flights to major airports and regional hubs. Numerous airlines, including American, Delta, United, Frontier—and soon, Southwest—fly into the airport.

Cleveland

Cleveland is accessible, visible and growing. Sixty percent of the nation’s Fortune 500 companies have a presence in the city, according to Destination Cleveland, the city’s CVB. The city has undergone a massive $3.5 billion redevelopment devoted to improving the downtown district. A walkable downtown area provides greater accessibility to Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland, which has a 225,000-square-foot exhibition hall, more than 140,000 sq. ft. of meeting rooms and a 32,000-square-foot ballroom.
Along with the expansive convention center, Cleveland’s 18 downtown hotels offer more than 5,000 guest rooms. These include properties from Hilton, Westin, Renaissance, Marriott and Hyatt.

Sharon Gronowski, vice president of convention services for Destination Cleveland, describes the area as “eclectic, unpretentious and gritty, yet sophisticated.” With world-class art museums, award-winning restaurants, professional baseball and football teams, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, it’s an apt description.

In Cleveland’s downtown University Circle, visitors can explore 45,000 works of art on display at Cleveland Museum of Art. They can attend a classical music concert at Severance Hall or enjoy a performance at Playhouse Square.

For dining, James Beard Award-winning chefs Michael Symon and Jonathon Sawyer pamper business travelers at Lola and The Greenhouse Tavern. Other renowned restaurants are Urban Farmer Steakhouse at the Westin Cleveland Downtown and Blue Point Grille, a seafood establishment.

Columbus

Ohio’s capitol is the 15th-largest U.S. city. Columbus is considered affordable, which explains why the city is a destination for open-minded millennials. It was one of only 38 U.S. cities to score a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index in 2015.

The city offers plenty of outdoor paths for running, hiking and walking. Five on High, a five-mile span of High Street, connects the downtown districts. Visitors will find cool galleries in the Short North Arts District, meticulously designed Victorian homes, and fun places to eat, drink and celebrate in the Ohio State University District.

Greater Columbus Convention Center, Ohio

With more than 1.7 million sq. ft. of event space, Greater Columbus Convention Center is undergoing a $125 million expansion. Scheduled for completion this summer, it will offer 373,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space.

Flowers & Bread is a cafe, bakery, floral studio and private event space for offsite gatherings. Gallerie Bar & Bistro, located in the Hilton Columbus Downtown, is inspired by farm-fresh French cooking. The Guild House features American cuisine made from locally grown ingredients. Martini Modern Italian blends contemporary and classic dishes. Black Point offers traditional prime-cut aged steaks and fresh seafood.

Six airlines and their regional affiliates fly to Columbus via John Glenn International Airport (CMH), with 150 daily departures to 34 destinations.

Further Reading:

Meetings of the Heartland: Ohio and Indiana