Urban & Outdoor Discoveries in WashingtonBy Heather Larson

Meet in the city with a bit of nature on the side

Urban & Outdoor Discoveries in Washington

The Evergreen State has several claims to fame, including the volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980; one of the top three highest wine production areas in the U.S. (with California and New York); the iconic Space Needle, which celebrated its 50th birthday this year; and the town of Forks that served as the setting for the successful Twilight series of books and films. All of these sites are definitely worth a visit, but often the best way to discover more about a place is by peeling back the first layer of popular attractions and delving deeper into what the region or state has to offer.

That’s where convention and visitors bureaus come in. Meeting professionals will find them very helpful and knowledgeable, not only with meeting and event planning, but also with finding unusual and inventive leisure and team-building activities for groups. Enlist their assistance for the ultimate experience. For example, the staff at Seattle’s CVB, might suggest what boat tour to take to see the houseboat where Sleepless in Seattle was filmed on Lake Union. They can also map out where to spot a variety of popular Dale Chihuly glass art pieces—they’re not just in Museums—and where to witness locally blown glass artwork. Or they can even suggest where to grab a quality locally brewed beer or see one of the largest air and space museums in the world.

But the interesting tidbits don’t end in Seattle.

Just east of Seattle, Bellevue has blossomed into its own destination. The newest and trendiest nightlife can be found at Blue Martini Lounge in The Shops at the Bravern commercial center. To the south, Tacoma boasts a totally free light rail system that runs through the downtown core into the theater district. Plus, the Tacoma Art Museum boasts a 110-piece Chihuly collection. Southeast of towering Mount Rainier, Treveri Cellars in Yakima makes the sparkling wine that was served at the White House for the 2011 holidays. Spokane, in the eastern part of the state, has a new culinary walking tour named Your City Bites, which combines a little history with delectable food and chocolate tastings.

Washington has more than stunning meeting space, incomparable hotels, world-class chefs and legendary attractions; it has a whole second layer to show off that groups won’t want to miss.