Destination: California Meeting & Event Planning City Guide

  • California

Destination Articles

  • Weird, Wacky, Wonderful

    By Nikki Glouderman

    March 25, 2014

    Here’s an important thing to know about the San Francisco Bay Area: It’s a place where people really like to dress up in costumes. Each year, thousands of locals and visitors wear Santa suits, fish hats, zombie costumes, PJs and anything and everything in between to enjoy traditions and special events that embrace the zany.

    There are plenty of destinations that offer excellent cuisine, cultural attractions, natural beauty and meetings infrastructure, and San Francisco and its neighbors—including Berkeley, Oakland, Napa, Sonoma and San Jose—feature all in spades. But few, if any, destinations can rival the area’s healthy appetite for the offbeat.

    From costumed races to public pillow fights to lolcat festivals, the destination invites guests to let loose, have fun and be free to be who they want to be. For buttoned-up business attendees, this is an enticing quality that invites both laugh-filled team bonding and big-idea thinking. Hold a meeting here and expect business to receive a welcome boost of fun—just make sure attendees pack some silly costumes with their business suits.

     Above: Exploratorium, San Francisco, courtesy of Amy Snyder © Exploratorium

  • Four-Season Fun

    By Diego Vallejo

    January 28, 2014

    “…at last the Lake [Tahoe] burst upon us—a noble sheet of blue water lifted six thousand three hundred feet above the level of the sea…As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords.”

    –Mark Twain, Roughing It

    The first glimpse of Lake Tahoe’s crystal clear water and mountainous surroundings can be intoxicating. Mark Twain fell under the lake’s spell when he first laid eyes on it in 1861, as have many other visitors before or since. Whether summer or winter, rain or shine, 2 million years of perfection manages to make an impression.

  • California's Desert Paradise

    By Josef Aukee

    January 28, 2014

    It’s a boomtown where booked room nights have increased nearly 30 percent since 2011 and the number of groups meeting in the city annually has risen to 300. Greater Palm Springs is undergoing a tremendous renaissance: It continues to grow, reinvent and transform itself for groups and visitors looking for an ultra-cool place to meet and revive in this most urban of resort destinations. With visitor numbers and hotel occupancy rates rising, more than a dozen new hotels opened their doors in the past two years and several major project launches are planned through 2015.

    The cities that make up Greater Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley, including Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, Indio and La Quinta, are home to world-class championship golf tournaments and the famous Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Plus, all of them offer top-notch resorts with incentive programs and meetings in mind.

    Palm Springs isn’t only for the avid golfer or Hollywood Jet Set, though; it has come of age with stellar options for meetings that include the young and techie, incentive award winners from cold-weather destinations, and sophisticated small- and medium-size business meetings and trade shows. The area draws everyone from Hollywood history and architecture buffs to design aficionados and spa seekers. It’s often referred to as “retro-cool,” but Palm Springs has a long history of innovative hospitality and originality in style, architecture and amenities.

    It was named one of the Top 14 Destinations for 2014 by the editors of Frommer’s, noting the area’s growing reputation as a hip destination with trend-setting hotels such as the Ace Hotel & Swim Club, Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs and The Saguaro Palm Springs. The area has seen a 14 percent increase in air passengers in recent years, and is served by 10 airlines with nonstop flights from 20 major North American destinations. “It is an honor for Palm Springs to be selected as a top destination for 2014,” says Scott White, president and CEO of the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau. “This is further evidence that Palm Springs continues to be recognized worldwide as a premier travel destination.”

    With so many special events scheduled year-round, it makes sense to plan your next Palm Springs meeting to coincide with an art or music festival, antique car show or snowshoeing (in season), and have offsite fun built into your schedule.

    We found 11 extraordinary reasons to bring your groups to Greater Palm Springs.

    Main image: The Saguaro Palm Springs, courtesy of Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism

  • Bursting with Creativity

    By Dan Johnson

    December 26, 2013

    It’s no secret that many of the world’s most creative people reside in Southern California. Plenty of them are lured by great year-round weather and inspiring landscapes, but perhaps above all, they’re attracted by the dynamic, innovative work of others and the opportunities to develop their own talents.

    This can clearly be seen in the highly diverse art that has long been a major attraction and continues to be created in cities and communities throughout the Southern California area. Exceptional artwork can be found virtually everywhere, ranging from the outstanding historical collection in the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana to the vast collection of masterpieces at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles to the captivating exhibits of works by emerging artists at the Scott White Contemporary Art Gallery in La Jolla.

    From a meeting planner’s perspective, one of the best things about incorporating art outings into a group’s agenda is that there are so many different activity options, including visits to museums, galleries, art festivals and special events. Six regions in Southern California are particularly appealing.

    Main image: La Quinta Arts Festival

  • State of the Arts

    By Dan Johnson

    December 26, 2013

    California is recognized throughout the world as a hotbed of creativity and much of it is manifested in its ever-flourishing art scene. Original works by a diverse assortment of native California artists blend with those of creative visionaries from throughout the world in thousands of galleries, hundreds of major museums and dozens of fairs and festivals. Planners often arrange outings to these art attractions because they appeal to attendees and often ignite a creative spark that carries over to meeting sessions. A vast array of options is available in both Northern and Southern California, and unlike many other types of attractions, artwork is accessible year-round.

    Northern California is well known for its many thriving, dynamic cities and communities, a fact clearly reflected in the region’s fine arts. San Francisco in particular has several world-class art museums, galleries and events, and nearby Berkeley, the longtime countercultural hub, has many cutting-edge art options near the University of California campus.

    Napa-Sonoma arts are closely intertwined with the breathtaking beauty of the area’s wine country. Sacramento, a rapidly evolving city, boasts a blossoming contemporary art culture and an outstanding historical museum. The influence of Silicon Valley’s technological advances is often seen in the works of inventive artists from San Jose, its largest city, while much of the artwork in the Monterey-Carmel area draws on its inspiring ocean-side setting.

    Planners wanting to arrange trips to art museums, galleries and special events for groups meeting in Northern California have many attractive choices, and almost all the museums offer discounted group admission rates and special tours. Superb lodging and meeting places abound in these areas, too.

  • Greater Sacramento From A to Z

    By Nikki Gloudeman

    November 20, 2013

    Sacramento, California’s thriving capital city, provides a master class in creative event planning. Want to book a memorable reception? Consider an event held under suspended aircraft or on board a docked riverboat. Need to add entertainment? Cheer on the NBA Kings or mellow out to live jazz. Seeking cultural cachet? Mingle among fine art at a renowned museum or explore an expansive historic district with dirt roads, horse-drawn carriages and a preserved one-room schoolhouse.

Learn about California for Event Venues, Services & Meeting Destinations

Destination Description

California: Meetings, Conferences and Conventions

California: What Makes California the Perfect Conference, Convention or Meeting Destination

Globally recognized as much for being a beach capital as an environmental awareness hub and cultural hot spot for young Hollywood—the golden state of California offers the ultimate in possibilities for destination meetings. Whether planning a conference near its sandy coasts or scheduling a corporate event amidst the striking desert or towering mountains, California leaves corporate attendees and vacationers longing to return.

The regions that make up this state are as varied as they are intriguing, and this leaves meeting planners with a great problem to have – choosing between so many great options. One way to narrow down the destination meeting choices California offers is to visualize the type of corporate event being planned.

For a hot and sunny, laid-back beach locale, try San Diego on the southern coast, which boasts more than 300 days of sunshine a year. For a more active urban scene, nearby Los Angeles lives up to the hype—the electricity and spectacle of Hollywood will keep attendees charged, in and out of the boardroom.

For something more low key, take the meeting to the great outdoors—a commodity that California has a lot of. Tahoe is a true four-season meeting destination, offering ample meeting room options alongside winter snow activities and summer water sports.  For an even more remote option, Yosemite National Park is rife with hiking trails for all levels, perfect for team building activities or corporate retreats.

As you can see, each region in California has perfected a specific flavor and personality to suit any conference or meeting. With so many destinations outfitted to accommodate events large and small, planning a meeting in California becomes a natural choice. The hard part is choosing which region!

Plan Your California Meeting Today!

If you’re thinking of planning a meeting or corporate event in California and need help finding the ideal meeting venue, conference room, or convention center, explore our meeting planning properties in California.

Smart Meetings – Your Guide to Meeting Planning in California

Other Popular Event Destinations: