The “Tar Heel” State will make your meeting stick

By Gretchen Kelly

North Carolinians are sometimes called “Tar Heels” from the time before and after the American Revolution when ships were hulled with pine pitch sourced and made here. The name stuck and resonates with residents who pride themselves on their resilience and resourcefulness. That pitch-in quality is on display throughout the state where meeting planners will find venues with history, style and innovation, along with staff who echo their forbearers’ can-do attitude.

5 Reasons Meetings Profs Love North Carolina

crowd as ncma museum park
NCMA Museum Park
  • Easy Access: Raleigh, Wilmington and Charlotte all have their own international airports serviced by the big three: American, Delta and United Airlines. It is also an easy drive-to destination for many Americans: Almost 100 million people are within a half-day’s drive of Raleigh.
  • Museums and History: Raleigh preserves more than 200 historic places on the National Register. Many of its museums (North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, North Carolina Museum of History and North Carolina Museum of Art) are all free-admission. Charlotte is home to NASCAR Hall of Fame, the walkable outdoor museum of Victorian-era gingerbread homes of the historic Fourth Ward and the masterpieces in Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.
  • Coastal North Carolina: Home to windswept beaches and pristine coastal towns, North Carolina also boasts a coastal city, Wilmington on the Cape Fear River. Wilmington’s Riverwalk is lined with restaurants, galleries and shops, all part of its walkable Historic District.
  • Thriving Business, Banking and Research Industries: Charlotte is home to the corporate headquarters of Bank of America, Truist Financial and the east coast headquarters of Wells Fargo, which makes it the second-largest banking center in the United States. Raleigh is home to North Carolina State University (NC State) and is part of the think-tank “Research Triangle” together with Durham (home of Duke University and North Carolina Central University) and Chapel Hill (home of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), all sources of expert speakers and workshop leaders.
  • A Wealth of Hotels and Resorts: One of the newest in Raleigh is AC Hotel by Marriott Raleigh Downtown: a design-forward hotel blending European soul with a Southern perspective. Four meeting rooms give way to more than 2,200 sq. ft. of meeting and event space. The property also includes a 7th floor rooftop bar/outdoor terrace. The Willard Rooftop Bar serves specialty cocktails, local craft beer and an elevated dining experience with views of the downtown Raleigh skyline. The Westin Charlotte connects to Charlotte Convention Center with over 47,000 sq. ft. of recently refreshed, versatile meeting space.

5 Fantastic Places to Meet

Expert Tips

malinda harrell wearing blue top“Raleigh is a modern southern city with all the comforts of home. Be sure to explore local shopping and dining if you are downtown. Nearly 90% of downtown businesses are locally owned, and more than 50% of those are woman-owned. Planners can also step up their events by combining meetings with sightseeing at one of our extraordinary museums or parks which can double as an off-site venue.”

– Malinda Harrell, director of sales, Visit Raleigh


john sneed wearing blue dress shirt, gold tie and grey sport coat“Wilmington’s walkable Convention District is one of the biggest draws for planners. The city’s multi-use Convention District is located riverfront and within the city’s walkable River District–all connected by a nearly two-mile scenic Riverwalk that makes it easy for attendees to get around. The Convention District integrates Wilmington Convention Center–the only convention center on the North Carolina coast–with the city and its businesses, experts and academic resources. It is home to multiple hotels, restaurants and retail, with more under development, plus an event pier, marina and riverfront park, all of which come together to create a campus-like environment for meeting and event attendees.”

– John W. Sneed II, CSHP, vice president of sales and services, Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau

This article appears in the March 2023 issue. You can subscribe to the magazine here.