Very Cool Off-Sites in Florida

In places such as Florida, not all meetings are restricted to hotel and convention center rooms. Planners are finding that there are plenty of intriguing off-sites available in the Sunshine State, including the following.

Jackie Robinson Ballpark (Daytona Beach): You can meet in the very spot where American professional baseball was integrated when Jackie Robinson walked onto this field during a spring training game in 1946. This historic, 4,000-seat ballpark was built in 1914, so it’s seen a lot of history. It has several meeting spaces, and can hold 200 attendees.

The Ritz Theatre and Museum (Jacksonville): The Ritz Theatre and Museum features an intimate 400-seat theater with a state-of-the-art sound system, lighting and a performance stage that are ideal for speakers. Companies often use the beautiful lobby for events or meetings, and it can comfortably host up to 150 people for a banquet-style event or up to 500 for a cocktail hour. The Ritz was constructed in 1999 on the site of the original theater of the same name, in the same Art Deco style and with a big marquee out front.

The Naples Princess (Naples): In Naples, the water beckons pretty much everywhere you look. This 105-foot yacht just completed a major renovation last year. Once aboard, you’ll pass spectacular homes and natural beauty in Naples Harbor and Port Royal. Your attendees can feast on lunch, dinner or hors d’oeuvres, and if you go on a sunset cruise, they’ll be awed by the sight of the tropical sun slowly dipping into the Gulf of Mexico.

Sarasota Opera House (Sarasota): Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the opera house has recently completed a $20 million upgrade to restore it to its original 1920s beauty. The elegant theater seats over 1,000, and there are several other meeting spaces, along with four large banquet rooms, two lounges, a private dining room and a beautiful courtyard. There’s also an on-site kitchen.

The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art (St. Petersburg): This museum opened just last year in Downtown St. Pete. It houses 400 to 500 premier works of art from the personal collection of area residents Tom and Mary James. It cost $50 million to put together this 80,000-square-foot facility, which features a two-story indoor sculpture court with a waterfall and eye-catching art. A variety of spaces can be rented by planners.

Read more about Florida’s meetings offerings in Steve Winston’s story, “The Sunshine State Casts a Shiny New Light of Meetings,” in the November issue of Smart Meetings.

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