East Coast Highlights
Think Beyond the Usual For Coastal Meeting Delights
By Gretchen Kelly
The East Coast of the U.S. is not just about New York City, Boston and D.C. Dotted all along the area considered “the Mid-Atlantic Region” and into southern New England (Connecticut, Rhode Island) are venues that are diverse, easily accessible and full of local color. So next time you think, “let’s meet on the East Coast,” think beyond the Big Apple, Beantown and DMV and check out some of these meeting gems just beyond the Beltway, the Big Dig and the GW Bridge.
Local Expert Tip
“Connecticut offers a wide variety of impressive meetings and sports venues that vary in size and amenities in an easily drivable state, rich with historic and cultural arts attractions that double as locations for unique off-site events. There are great options for every group: from exciting urban centers such as Hartford, New Haven and Stamford, to scenic green rolling hills and country sides, to quaint and cozy New England towns, to the sparkling Long Island Sound shoreline.”
— Robert Murdock, president of Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau (CTMEETINGS)
5 Fantastic Places to Meet
Kingsmill Resort: Another Williamsburg venue set on 2,900 protected acres along the James River features a rich history dating back to Colonial America. The legendary AA Four Diamond golf and spa destination also offers three- and four-bedroom cottage options.
330 rooms, 16,000 sq. feet of meeting space.
140,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space, 40,000 sq. ft. ballroom, 25,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space.
Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center is a stone’s throw from D.C.’s Union Station, but set in an area of natural beauty by the Potomac, adjacent to a clean and walkable downtown and the Capital Wheel, a huge Ferris wheel that includes VIP capsules.
Total meeting space 546,889 sq. ft., 94 meeting rooms
The 30-acre Interlaken Inn in Connecticut’s Lichfield Hills has long been known to excel at creating inventive team-building events (including a corn maze in the fall and tea tastings at nearby Harney’s Tea). Accommodations range from traditional rooms to villa-like house accommodations for VIPs.
8,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; 85 guest rooms.
Newport, Rhode Island’s Castle Hill Inn. Built in 1875 and host to the likes of Grace Kelly and Thornton Wilder, the property looks like a movie set from the turn of the century, but includes three meeting rooms as well as outdoor meeting space.
6,376 sq. ft. of total meeting space, 3 meeting rooms.
5 Reasons to Meet at the East Coast's Non-Capital-City Venues
Prince George’s County: Located close to downtown D.C., this historic region comprises both Gaylord National Harbor Resort and Convention Center and MGM National Harbor Hotel and Casino. “Prince George’s County, located in the Capital Region, is a knowledge hub like no other. Blending global leadership and local innovation, “The Crown Jewel of Maryland,” offers a diverse & distinctive advantage for all types of businesses and meetings. Hosting your event in Prince George’s guarantees you are in the heart of the action & provides a perfect backdrop for your special events, meetings and conventions,” says George Cooley, II, CTIS, executive vice president of Experience Prince George’s.
Lancaster, PA: “Unlike most traditional Mid-Atlantic meeting locations, Lancaster County is easily accessible via Amtrak and four regional and local airports, yet offers a wonderful blend of urban style in its hip city and rural splendor in its famous Amish countryside. The area boasts almost 9,000 overnight rooms and approximately 1 million total square feet of modern event space in its meeting and conference facilities, with a wide range of venues to meet needs large and small.
Visit Williamsburg: Greater Williamsburg is perhaps best known as the site of the Colonial Williamsburg complex. The Williamsburg Inn was renovated to the tune of $8 million in 2019, including an expanded Queens Terrace for large events. Taken together, Colonial Williamsburg Resorts offer three separate hotels with 67,000 sq. ft. of total meeting space, all steeped in history, pageantry and Virginia hospitality.
Newport: Newport, Rhode Island, once the summer home of robber barons, is now the filming site of the new HBO series, The Gilded Age, as well as a mansion-studded fantasy backdrop replete with sprawling lawns for events in warm weather seasons.
Coastal Connecticut: Towns in Connecticut close to water include Old Saybrook, home to Saybrook Point Resort & Marina (6,000 sq. ft. of meeting space); Greenwich, Mystic and many more. Even major cities like New Haven and Hartford are only a stone’s throw away from tranquil coastal areas popular for day trips, private yacht experiences and incentive activities like sailing.
What Does Mid-Atlantic Really Mean?
In geographical parlance, Mid-Atlantic is usually used to mean the area between what’s traditionally “north” and what classifies as “south” or “south-eastern.”
Some experts differ but most include seven states: Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.
The region comprising “The Mid-Atlantic” was called “typically American” by historian Frederick Jackson Turner.
Sources say that the Mid-Atlantic region is one of the most affluent in the U.S. with 43 of the wealthiest counties in the country.
As the states in the region comprise Virginia and Pennsylvania, home to areas closely connected with America’s fight for liberty from the British, the region is also full of history and historic reminders like the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and Historic Williamsburg in Virginia.
Another fun fact: the “Mid-Atlantic Accent” was a hybrid American/British accent used by Hollywood to denote Americans with “breeding” and style like Cary Grant and Grace Kelly.
In the category of “Mega Convention Centers” (350,000 sq. ft. to 999,999 sq. ft. of prime exhibit space), Mid-Atlantic venues make slots 19 and 20 of the list: Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. (703,000) and Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia (679,000).
Major hub airports in the Mid-Atlantic include: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LaGuardia International Airport (LGA); Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA); Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), and Baltimore Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI).
Smart Tip from LANCASTER
“O f our top meeting venues, the Lancaster County Convention Center and adjoining Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square in Lancaster City seamlessly incorporate the 110-year-old Beaux Arts façade of the landmark former Watt & Shand department store and offer a combined 90,000 sq. ft. of meeting space,” says Joel Cliff, director of communication and advocacy, Discover Lancaster.
Close to Philly but not in Philly, Lancaster County with its trademark Amish cultural connections infuses meetings with a sense of place. Lancaster County Convention Center features 90,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and 27 meeting rooms. Freedom Hall offers space for 6,500 guests and 416 adjacent guest rooms and suites.