A Sense of Meeting Place
The decision about where to take your event is an important one. From airlift to wow factor, the appeal of a destination can affect attendance, tone and the ultimate success of the meeting. Every city has its own infrastructure, style and story. After all, once you get past the ballroom square footages and number of suites, what people will remember is the feeling they had when they were in the location.
Here, in their own words, are the contours and convention center amenities that await you in some of the most popular U.S. meetings destinations. Simply match your group’s needs with the vibe and resources that fit your checklist and vision. You don’t need an app. Just keep this reference tool handy for inspiration when you need it most.
Now go out and be brilliant.
East: Visit Raleigh
Raleigh, North Carolina, is an original in every sense. In recent years, Raleigh has completely and quietly recast itself as the model of a modern, innovative, Southern city. Originality is woven into every facet of life here—in the boardroom and out—by restaurateurs, designers, tech gurus, scientists and musicians. Creativity has become as much a part of our landscape as the oak tree.
For reliable, in-the-know and local experts, look no further than Visit Raleigh. We can help meeting planners create a completely original meeting experience in our one-of-a-kind meetings destination. Additionally, genuine hospitality is not the exception, it’s the rule in Raleigh.
Once here, it’s easy for meeting attendees to get around and stay connected thanks to the area’s infrastructure and tech-oriented business climate. RDU International Airport has over 400 daily arrivals and departures, and recently completed major renovations of its terminals 1 and 2.
Raleigh Convention Center provides state-of-the-art amenities in its sun-drenched meeting spaces. Downtown Raleigh’s convention campus also features City Plaza, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts and Red Hat Amphitheater—which add more energy or enrichment to events held here.
Need to Know
- Visit Raleigh has 29 professionals on staff, including destination sales and services support for both conventions and sports events.
- The Raleigh area has 155 hotels, including 21 major meeting hotels, with more than 16,900 rooms.
- Nonstop flights arrive at RDU from 62 cities (6 of them international).
- Raleigh Convention Center is Silver LEED-certified, with 500,000 total sq. ft. of space, including a 150,000-square-foot exhibit hall.
East: New Orleans CVB
Discover the Authentic Meeting Spirit for Yourself
This city known for parades, music, art and delectable cuisine is also a place where real business gets done. Smart Meetings asked the pros at New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau to share some of their secrets for bringing that famous Creole spirit into any gathering.
Make a Grand Enterence
From colorful second-line brass band parades through an event to jazz accompaniment during receptions, the heartbeat of the Big Easy is in its music. Leveraging that resilient energy to pump up your sessions and put attendees in the mood for mingling is an easy way to let them know this is not going to be your same-old, predictable meeting.
Spice it Up
The tastes of New Orleans speak to the very soul of visitors even before they take their first bite. From zingy gumbos and jambalayas to creamy Bananas Foster and powdery beignets, take a break from the usual fare by adding a Cajun twist. Don’t forget to go local at the bar as well. You are, after all, meeting in the birth place of the Sazerac where more Hurricanes are served per-person than in any other city in the world. A new generation of mixologists is upping the game when it comes to combining flavors and reinventing classics. From frozen daiquiris to flaming coffee (known as café brulot diabolique), a signature beverage is a great way to drink in local traditions.
The city’s iconic properties offer unique meeting spaces as well. The historic Bourbon Orleans Hotel in the French Quarter preserved the Southern charm of the grand architectural spaces while modernizing the functionality indoors and outdoors. Nearby, Ritz-Carlton New Orleans is a Beaux Arts, 4-star retreat in the middle of a festival in the Garden District. Meetings take on a higher purpose when held in a wood-paneled board room under a magnificent chandelier.
Need to Know
- Guest rooms: more than 22,000
- New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center: 1 million sq. ft.
- Fun fact: Home of 300 years worth of stories.
East: NYC & Company
Meet where you want to be. A taxi ride or the subway are easy ways get from one meeting venue to the next. But to really experience all that New York City has to offer, put on your walking shoes. This is not only one of the largest cities in the world, it is also one of the greenest.
Take a Walk Through a Park
Central Park is in the middle of the action, covering 843 acres, with lots of wide open spaces for groups to discover. Strawberry Fields’ Imagine Mosaic pays tribute to the late singersongwriter who lived just across the street. Seasons change, as do the flowers at the Conservatory Garden, so something is always in bloom next. The best views could be from Aviary NYC on the 35th floor of Mandarin Oriental, New York.
On Broadway, Off Broadway, All Broadway
Did you really go to New York City if you didn’t see a show? Broadway is officially considered the 41 theaters with 500 or more seats in Times Square. These are productions with top stars bringing a crowd to life each night. Off-Broadway, on the other hand, may not leave you quite as starstruck, but the plays, musicals, dramas and other shows are more affordable and just as entertaining. There’s also a more intimate air, with audience numbers ranging from 100 to 499. And Off-Off-Broadway is for up-andcoming stars, with shows you can find in Brooklyn with less than 100 seats. Or, bring the show to the meeting by adopting a dramatic theme or booking the talent that literally walks down the street every day.
East: Greater Miami CVB
A vibrant and dynamic global hub, Miami offers a stunning array of creative venue options for even the largest meeting needs, including the new Miami Beach Convention Center, now open!
Located in the heart of South Beach, the new Miami Beach Convention Center is a bright, glass-encased facility as innovative and tech-rich as it is beautiful. In addition to the nearly 500,000 sq. ft. of versatile exhibition space and more than 180,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, the new Miami Beach Convention Center includes a 60,000-square-foot grand ballroom, a 20,000-square-foot junior ballroom, and 84 breakout rooms.
The space will feature a terrace where attendees can step out, mingle and soak up the city’s signature sunshine and ocean breeze. The new Miami Beach Convention Center is also environmentally friendly and LEED Silver-certified.
Along with the new Miami Beach Convention Center, Miami continues to reinvent itself with new hotels, meeting spaces and enhanced infrastructure. Some of the recent additions to the city include:
Brickell City Centre: Spanning 9.1 acres, Brickell City Centre includes a 352-room hotel, an open-air shopping center, two luxury condo towers, two office buildings and an entertainment center.
Brightline: The new express train service will provide intercity travel in Florida. In May, Brightline began service connecting Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with service between Miami and Orlando to follow soon.
Frost Science Museum: The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science opened its doors to the public in May 2017 at its new home in Downtown Miami’s Museum Park. The 250,000-square-foot facility combines a planetarium, aquarium and science museum on one campus.
Along with its world-famous weather and beaches, the city also offers nearly endless possibilities for entertainment and exploration. From unique hotel and dining experiences to culturally diverse neighborhoods and a thriving arts scene, Miami seamlessly blends the benefits of a sophisticated international destination with the natural beauty of the tropics. And it’s easy to get to, with Miami International Airport (MIA) offering more than 400 flights from around the globe daily and serving more airlines than any other airport in the U.S.
Need to Know
- Guest Rooms: 55,394
- Hotels/Resorts: 426
- Meeting Space: 1.2 million square feet
East: Visit Rochester, New York
This metropolitan region situated on the southern shores of Lake Ontario is also part of New York’s breathtaking Finger Lakes region. Rochester is the third largest city in New York state and is accessible by air, Amtrak and within a day’s drive of most of the northeast and eastern Canada.
From the award-winning Rochester Riverside Convention Center to top-notch lodging facilities and outstanding museums and attractions, Rochester has everything you need to produce a first-class event— including Visit Rochester‘s professional convention services staff to assist you.
The Hyatt Regency Rochester is one of two downtown hotels directly connected to Rochester Riverside Convention Center. The Hyatt Regency Rochester recently completed an $18.5 million transformation, which included total renovation of all guest rooms, meeting spaces and public areas.
Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center recently began a $4 million rehabilitation project of the convention center’s terrace and patio overlooking the Genesee River. The project will give greater access to the riverway, as well as address ADA compliance and include updated lighting, furniture and landscaping. Work is expected to be completed by fall of 2019.
Need to Know
- More than 7,500 hotel rooms in the community; 1,200 are within 1 mile of Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center
- More than 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting space in convention center
- Two hotels with enclosed connections to the convention center
- Newly renovated airport 7 miles from city center
- More than 140 annual festivals and special events
- One of the most arts-vibrant cities in the country, with many unique meeting spaces in theaters, museums and other offsite venues.
Midwest: Destination Cleveland
Make no mistake: Cleveland has emerged as a top meetings destination. Looking for a meeting destination that offers arts, culture, plenty of incredible dining options and a friendly environment? Located within 500 miles (a two-hour or shorter flight) of nearly half the country’s population, Cleveland is your city.
Business travelers can step outside their hotel or the convention center and easily walk to the hottest locations throughout the lakeside city, including:
- One-of-a-kind attractions such as the legendary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
- Award-winning, chef-owned restaurants
- The largest performing arts center outside of New York
- Three professional sports teams located downtown
State-of-the-Art Meeting Facilities Await
Opened in 2013, the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland is a hightech complex that includes direct access to the Global Center for Health Innovation, Cleveland Public Auditorium and the new Hilton Cleveland Downtown. The convention center features 400,000 sq. ft. of prime meeting and event space, including a 32,000-square-foot ballroom with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Lake Erie, and is within a 15-minute walk to nearly 5,000 hotel rooms.
For unique meeting spaces, planners have plenty of choices: from music venues such as the Rock Hall to arts and culture sites like the Cleveland Museum of Art to sports venues including Quicken Loans Arena.
We’ve Got The Room
After meetings and events, travelers can relax at one of the 18 hotels in Downtown Cleveland or the many hotels in Cleveland’s suburbs.
Notable hotels perfect for meetings include:
- Hilton Cleveland Downtown: 600 guest rooms, 55,000 sq. ft. of meeting space
- Kimpton Schofield Hotel: 122 guest rooms, 3,800 sq. ft. of event space
- Drury Plaza Hotel: 189 guest rooms, 3,900 sq. ft. of meeting space
Dine, Recline and Do Business
More than 100 eateries in Downtown Cleveland include restaurants such as Mabel’s BBQ, Lola Bistro and The Greenhouse Tavern—all owned by James Beard Award-winning chefs in the East 4th Street entertainment district. Waterfront dining in the energetic Flats East Bank and neighborhoods filled with ethnic eateries and breweries are also possibilities.
Midwest: Springfield, Missouri CVB
With the vitality and conveniences of a metropolitan city coupled with the warm hospitality of a small town, Springfield, Missouri, is an ideal place for business, conventions and events. The city offers an array of new and updated facilities to accommodate a variety of gatherings, and our services can be tailored to meet your needs. Unique meeting and event venues range from a castle to a sportsman-themed conference center, and the city’s affordability, convenient location, dining options and top-notch attractions make it the perfect meeting location.
Enjoy the historic culture of Springfield’s downtown district with a one-of-a-kind art scene and myriad local restaurants, bars, vintage shopping and boutiques. More than 1,000 local eateries offer a wide range of cuisine options, from classic Midwestern fare to farm-to-table dining and even a variety of exotic international flavors. Unique attractions include the original and largest Bass Pro Shops® Outdoor World®, with almost 500,000 sq. ft. dedicated to celebrating the great outdoors, Fantastic Caverns—one of North America’s only ride-through caves—and the new Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium, voted America’s No. 1 best new attraction. Baseball fans can get up close and personal with tomorrow’s major leaguers at a Springfield Cardinals game at Hammons Field.
Springfield is a destination guaranteed to make your event memorable, and wherever your business takes you in Springfield, we’ll make sure you always feel at home.
Need to Know
- Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium contains 1.5 million gallons of fresh and saltwater aquarium habitats.
- Fantastic Caverns is the first cave in North America large enough for ride-through tours.
- The first quick-draw shootout of the Wild West era occurred on the square in downtown Springfield.
- Bass Pro Shops® Outdoor World® is the first and largest Bass Pro® in the world and the second largest retail store in the United States.
Midwest: Fargo-Moorhead CVB
Fargo is north of normal. It might be flat in terms of terrain, but its urban sprawl is packed with energy. The city’s a little weird, a little off-center, and chock full of ‘Midwest-nice’ locals brewing surprising (and unforgettable) experiences. Meetings spaces are no exception. From a converted church sanctuary to massive trade show floors, an art gallery to an airplane hangar, Fargo turns traditional on its head.
Guests can find the extraordinary outside the meeting room, too. Cool street art, delicious craft beverages, more than 200 local restaurants, quirky boutiques and a strong Scandinavian heritage will have guests answering “Oh ya, you betcha” when asked if they like Fargo.
The event services team at the CVB offers years of experience and creative solutions to help planners every step of the way. From badges and banners to speakers and entertainment, they are at your service to ensure the event is nothing short of memorable.
While you won’t find skyscrapers, you will find a different kind of skyline—incredible North Dakota sunsets. Cap off every day with a stunning light show that goes for miles.
It’s also easy to reach by car, at the cross-section of I-29 and I-94, or by air directly into Hector International Airport (FAR). An Uber ride anywhere takes less than 30 minutes, leaving plenty of time to explore.
Fargo embraces four distinct seasons—that means four different experiences depending on when you arrive.
Need to Know
- No. of hotel rooms: 5,727
- Largest meetings space: Holiday Inn, 27,000 sq. ft
- Max Group size: 1,400.
- Metro is comprised of 3 cities, 2 states, 1 destination
Midwest: Chicago Southland
The Chicago Southland team is ready to assist you in visiting our area for the ultimate FAM—365 days a year. You choose the day you would like to visit and let us put together a full itinerary to meet your group’s needs for the perfect FAM.
Whether you need assistance for site visits, collateral material or simply interested in hosting an event in our area, we are ready to make your job easier—and fun!
We can plan a customized FAM trip for your requirements. From fullservice hotel site visits to unique meeting space venues, including Tinley Park Convention Center, and tours of team-building facilities, Chicago Southland understands the importance of maximizing your time while in the area.
Helpful Event Services
The Chicago Southland can assist in preparing your attendees for their visit. A variety of videos, brochures and electronic files are available for sharing information on hotels, attractions, cultural organizations, restaurants and activities in the area.
We are here to help you with coordinating site inspections by presenting to your decision-makers and helping you plan successful off-site events and team-building activities.
Let’s work together to introduce your group to Chicago Southland. Contact us today for a current list of booking incentives and to receive copies of our recent planning guides, including our brand-new Unique Venues & Activity Guide.
Need to Know
- The Chicago Southland is within a five-hour drive of eight states.
- The Chicago Southland is home to one of the few corporate teambuilding facilities in the Midwest.
- The Chicago Southland offers a fun brochure full of unique venue and activity ideas for meetings.
- The Chicago Southland is only 30 minutes from Chicago’s Loop.
Southwest: Las Vegas CVA
Vegas means business. When in Las Vegas, the goal is to win. The more than 42 million people who visited The Strip last year know the bright lights lead to some of the largest, most versatile spaces in the world with access to a wide range of entertainment options.
Gambling at the Classics
Gaming has come a long way since Golden Nugget and Flamingo opened in 1946. Both have undergone major renovations, but still serve up the thrills that put the city on the destination map. They have since been joined by major casino properties at The Venetian, Wynn Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay Casino and Bellagio Las Vegas Hotel.
Shows All Around
Away from the tables, Las Vegas has become known for world-class entertainment ranging from acrobatics to magic, touring Broadway shows and concerts—Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey have all dropped in. On stage, Cirque Du Soleil’s “O,” wows at Luxor Hotel & Casino and Penn and Teller continue to amaze at Rio Hotel & Casino. With all this talent walking around, finding a draw for the after party is a sure thing.
Need to Know
- Guest rooms: 148,896.
- Convention delegates in 2017: 6.646 million.
- Fun fact: $1.4 billion expansion at Las Vegas Convention Center will add 1.4 million sq. ft. and be complete in 2021.
Southwest: Visit Austin
Top 10 Reasons to Meet in Austin
Live music central. Barbecue that warrants lines around the block. Tech-friendly. Many of the same qualities that make Austin a popular leisure destination add to its allure and marketability as an exciting meeting spot.
Just 15 minutes from downtown, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) boasts more than 350 daily flights to more than 80 nonstop domestic and international locations and hosted 13.8 million passengers in 2017. ABIA is undergoing a $350 million expansion that will accommodate 4 million additional passengers per year.
A Convention Center That Rocks
Austin Convention Center delivers unrivaled in-house technology capabilities. A LEED-certified facility with renewable-energy-powered infrastructure and complimentary Wi-Fi throughout.
Outside-The-Box Meeting Spaces
Host your next gathering at a race track, on stage, around picnic tables at a Texas barbecue institution, lakeside, in a drafthouse and so many other hotspots.
Electric, Contagious Energy
Guests love Austin for its passion for entrepreneurship. Art, music, movies, locally owned shops, foodie-adored eateries, sports, the Capitol, campus and a youthful vibe—it’s all here.
A City on The Rise
Austin’s diverse business mix equals a strong economy. Take advantage of the University of Texas at Austin’s new Dell Medical School. Bonus: A wealth of off-site and medical and science speaker opportunities.
Live Music and Your Meeting
In Austin, it’s a breeze to spice up your meeting or event with live entertainment. We are home to more than 250 live music venues and a vast pool of talent. Call on the Visit Austin team to help you lock down the perfect band.
World-Class Hotels, Exclusive Retreats
With so many accommodations options—including the 1,048-room Fairmont Austin, 11,000 hotel rooms downtown and more than 39,000 rooms in the greater Austin area—finding your ideal price tag is simple.
Food and Drink
As the city’s popularity grows, so does the demand for innovative restaurants. Chefs are flocking here and constantly reinventing the culinary scene with high-end food trucks, award-winning barbecue, foodie tours via electric bikes and more.
Austin provides a very safe destination. Attendees feel comfortable once they arrive and the abundance of residents that live and play in our lively downtown districts make it fun to go out and explore.
Local, Authentic, Attendee Experiences
Multiple entertainment districts appeal to most and the city doesn’t shut down at the end of the workday. Attendees quickly see why Austin is a popular hot-spot, while you enjoy access to key business resources.
Southwest: Oklahoma City CVB
It’s hardly exaggerating to say Oklahoma City will soon be a brand-new city from a meetings perspective. In fact, new is a word we use a lot nowadays—from a brand-new convention center opening in 2020 to a new headquarter Omni Hotel, a new modern streetcar and a new 70-acre downtown park.
Oklahoma City’s New Convention Center
Construction began in June on a completely new $288 million convention center, set to open in 2020. The 200,000-square-foot exhibit hall will dominate the ground floor and feature three operable walls, making it divisible into four flexible spaces. There will be a total of 45,000 sq. ft. of meeting spaces on all levels of the building, many also having operable walls to make the spaces flexible. The rooms can be configured to provide up to 27 individual meeting spaces. A 30,000-square-foot ballroom is the main space on the fourth level, complemented by 10,000 sq. ft. of prefunction space and a 4,000-square-foot balcony. With a prime location directly across from the new 70-acre Scissortail Park and south of the Chesapeake Energy Arena, the convention center will offer planners and attendees a great location with attractions, adventure, restaurants and nightlife just steps away.
Oklahoma City’s New Headquater Hotel
The 605-room Omni Hotel will be located just south of the all-new convention center with approximately 50,000 sq. ft. of additional meeting space, four restaurants and a rooftop pool. The Omni Hotel plans to also open in early 2021.
New Modern Streetcar
Six miles of downtown streetcar will link major attractions in the downtown area this year, including a stop in front of the new convention center. Opening December 2018, Oklahoma City’s streetcar will be the most extensive of its type in the United States.
A New 70-Acre Downtown Park
Oklahoma City’s Scissortail park, which sits just west of the new convention center, will provide attendees with a variety of recreation activities, including concerts, walking/biking/running trails, picnic sites, youth sports fields, play areas, public art, interactive water features and outdoor education opportunities. The park will connect downtown Oklahoma City to the shores of the Oklahoma River with plans for the entire park to be fully open by 2021.
Need to Know
- OKC offers more than 17,500 hotel rooms city-wide, with more than 3,000 downtown.
- Oklahoma City offers 30 non-stop flights from Will Rogers World Airport.
- Oklahoma City has developed more than $5 billion of public and private investments in quality-of-life projects and improvements over the past two decades.
- Oklahoma is in the center of the U.S. and Oklahoma City is in the center of Oklahoma at the crossroads of three major Interstate highways.
Southwest: Visit The Woodlands
Nestled among 28,000 peaceful treefilled acres, The Woodlands is an idyllic destination for meetings and events that provides a welcome city escape while offering the best accommodations and amenities, and plenty of exciting dining, shopping, and leisure activities to keep attendees entertained around-the-clock.
With numerous top-rated properties to choose from, many of which are new or newly renovated, it’s no wonder The Woodlands is such a popular choice for hosting meetings and events. In total, The Woodlands offers more than 2,200 guest rooms and 160,000 square feet of premier meeting and event space, along with a team of expert staff at Visit The Woodlands who are ready to help your event reach its full potential, and provide recommendations and options that can be tailored to suit your specific needs.
The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center is a popular option, offering nearly 70,000 square feet of event space, and a convenient location just steps away from dining and entertainment. The Woodlands Resort offers a nearly equal amount of event space, with on-site amenities perfect for relaxing or bringing the family along.
The newly renovated Woodforest Bank Club at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion was completed in August 2017, and is a stunning venue to host welcome receptions, networking events, and more! Treat your guests to private, sweeping patio views of the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion concert stage, which draws some of the biggest headlining names in music year-round. The Woodforest Bank Club features 15,000 square feet of space, three full-service bars, full-service dining, and a covered patio.
There’s no better time than the fall to enjoy all the outdoor activities The Woodlands has to offer. Explore the beautiful natural surroundings with over 200 miles of serene hike and bike trails. Mobike, The Woodlands’ new bike sharing program, makes it easy for you to rent a bike for your visit.
What business trip would be complete without a visit to the golf course? The Woodlands is home to some of the most popular and pristine golf courses in Texas, including The Oaks and Panther Trail courses at The Woodlands Resort, which has been named one of the Top 75 Golf Resorts in America by Golf Digest. Enjoy stellar views on the course while hosting the perfect networking event, team-building activity, or simply enjoy an opportunity to make the most of your downtime.
Need to Know
- 30-minute drive from downtown Houston or George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
- Home to 135 parks and over 200 miles of nature pathways for walking, hiking and biking
- Over 2,200 guest rooms
- 160,000 sq. ft. of event space
- 11 million sq. ft. of shopping, dining and entertainment
- Walkability and easy access to all the above amenities
West: San Francisco Travel
It’s the place to meet. The heart of Silicon Valley is a financial, tech, foodie and cultural hub with a diverse array of modern and alternative venues available in an easily-navigated 7-mile by 7-mile grid. San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is one of the busiest in the world and connected to downtown by Bay Area Rapid Transit for easy access to the financial district, world-class music, restaurants and theater.
Expanded Convention Infrastructure
The meetings epicenter, Moscone Center will open the doors in January on an expansion that adds more than 170,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space including a spectacular, column-free 50,000-square-foot ballroom. A new pedestrian bridge allows for easy access to all 500,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibition space. A $4.5 million upgrade to Wi-Fi access can service more than 60,000 devices at once without missing a selfie.
Plus, surrounding hotels have upgraded their game to so more modern rooms are available in easy walking distance of all the meeting and entertainment options in the city’s core.
For those looking to get out of the center, San Francisco is home to a range of unique areas, each with its own flavor and personality. From Fisherman’s Wharf where groups can book Bay cruises, shop and sample fresh seafood, to the Italian restaurants of North Beach, where jazz clubs and coffee houses offer plenty of character, attendees will want a chance to check some items off their bucket lists.
A former military garrison has transformed into a national park where the residents include Walt Disney Family Museum and some of the best views of urban jungle and beach in the world.
Need to Know
- Guest rooms more than 33,000
- Moscone Center: Covers 20 acres
- Fun fact: 360 special event facilities in and around San Francisco mean you could meet in a different one nearly every day of the year.
West: Visit Seattle
Adventure awaits in Emerald City. Seattle is growing into its own capabilities. It has plenty to offer— and now it’s spreading its wings and taking off as a top destination with the space to host even large groups looking for a fresh alternative. With plenty of hipster charm, foodie appeal, innovative inspiration and only in Seattle offerings, it might be time to consider the great Northwest.
More To Love
Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) is growing—big time. A new, state-of-the-art center steps from the beloved event mecca will add 255,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space, 125,000 sq. ft. of meeting rooms and 60,000 sq. ft. of ballroom space. The modern, opendesign structure—scheduled to open in 2022—is nestled in the urban landscape that includes some of the country’s most innovative companies. You can explore that future-focus ethos today at Bezos Center for Innovation at The Museum of History and Industry. What better way to spur creativity that to put your next initiative in context while viewing “the wall of key milestones.”
There is a reason visitors flock to Pike Place. This waterfront landmark is where you can meet the local artisans, farmers and fishmongers (including the ones who turn their offerings into the flying variety) and ask for their secret recipes. You can also meet in the market. Woodpaneled Goodwin Library hosts board meetings with a view.
High Above it All
Seattle Space Needle is now $100 million better after a renovation that replaced wire caging with glass windows and floors for some of the best selfie opportunities in town. For a thrill, head to the Loupe for a rotating glass floor. For the panoramic views, the observation deck stands above skyscrapers, the ocean and mountains with floor-to-ceiling windows. You can also sign a digital globe and explore Seattle’s history through an interactive exhibit.
Need to Know
- Guest rooms: 14,343 downtown (after a 20% increase in inventory planned by 2019)
- Washington State Convention Center: 821,650 sq. ft. of rentable space (after Summit Building opens in 2022)
- Fun Fact: 10 major Fortune 500 companies call Seattle home, including Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks and Nordstrom
West: Visit Pasadena
There’s a reason Pasadena is the perfect choice for meetings. The weather is idyllic. Mountain views and blue skies abound. Intimate neighborhood allure is infused with modern energy and metropolitan offerings that make it a destination in itself.
Pasadena is located just ten miles from downtown Los Angeles, and is conveniently accessible from all LA area airports and freeways. The Gold Line light rail transports passengers from Pasadena to downtown Los Angeles and points in between.
The state-of-the art Pasadena Convention Center features 130,000 sq. ft. of space for meetings of all sizes, with spacious exhibit halls, an expansive ballroom and 29 meeting rooms. More than 2,500 hotel rooms are available within the city to fit all budgets, with 1,200 within walking distance of the convention center.
Recent changes in Pasadena include a $20 million renovation of guest rooms, lobby and meeting spaces at Sheraton Pasadena, a $25 million renovation of guest rooms, lobby, bar and meeting spaces at Hilton Pasadena, an $11 million guest room beautification at Westin Pasadena, construction of a rooftop pool, meeting space, fitness center and 25 new rooms at dusitD2 Hotel Constance Pasadena and a new 186-room upscale Hyatt Place in Pasadena’s most popular retail and entertainment center, The Paseo. The downtown six-story hotel is scheduled for completion by the end of 2018.
Pasadena provides the rare opportunity to host more personalized meetings, with all the benefits of the big city. Unique social breakout experiences run the gamut from local team-building activities like hiking Eaton Canyon, to popular wine bars, shopping excursions and cultural events with special group rates.
The city’s convenient layout, in conjunction with an array of world class business and entertainment venues, make Pasadena the perfect destination.
Some of the world’s greatest minds have chosen to live and work in Pasadena.
Plan your next meeting here and imagine the possibilities. The destination experts at the Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau offer a variety of personalized services to meeting planners. For more information, visit pasadenameetings. com or call 800-307-7977.
West: Greater Ontario CVB
Dorothy was overheard saying “Hey Toto—I don’t think we’re in Canada after all.” Don’t get us wrong, it’s a nice place to visit—in fact a lot of our mail and packages take a little vacation there often until they find their way to Southern California. Ontario International Airport (ONT) really does have passengers arriving in heavy coats and expecting snow until they learn the airport acronym is Ontario, California. We have palm trees, sunshine, swimming pools, and the occasional movie star too.
Greater Ontario is made up of two cities—Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga. Originally, an agricultural empire of citrus trees and wine vineyards, today the metropolitan vibe is awaiting your visit. The oldest winery in California started in Rancho Cucamonga and the largest winery in the entire nation in the early 1900s was in Ontario. Today, the craft brewery scene is stealing the show! With so many new industrial locations it’s hard to keep up, but we do our best, one brewery at a time. Deep culinary roots with locations such as Graber Olive House (since 1894) or Logan’s Candies (since 1933) are joined by some of the best up and coming chefs in the nation. Located just 38 miles inland of Los Angeles, the brick and mortar storefronts in our region provide affordable locations for a rich cultural blend of restaurants.
Meeting planners and leisure visitors alike love the location of Greater Ontario. It’s got everything you need—the state-of-the-art Ontario Convention Center where movies are made, the 10,000- seat Entertainment Icon Citizens Business Bank Arena, and there are over 6,000 hotel rooms. From economy to luxury, you’ll find a hotel to call home while you explore all that Southern California has to offer. Did we mention shopping? Oh yeah—within 2 miles of each other are two huge shopping malls, making this a shopping mecca where both locations offer restaurants, entertainment, comedy clubs and so much more!
Nearby Big Bear Mountain resort, the Mohave Desert, Palm Springs, Hollywood and the Happiest Place on Earth make fabulous day trips.
Go West – GO to Greater Ontario!
Need to Know
- More than 300 days of sunshine annually
- Mohave Desert, Pacific Ocean and Big Bear mountain alpine lakes is all doable in one day
- Fly into Ontario International Airport (ONT)
- More than 6,000 hotel rooms
West: Discover Los Angeles
The Hollywood sign, the glitz and glamour of a town filled with hopes and dreams, the rich history of stars being born. The City of Angels offers enough space to host the biggest bashes or most intimate affairs. Explore the trending places to meet for groups of all sizes.
The famous Hollywood sign is a contender for most iconic landmark in the city. It’s no surprise: Los Angeles is the destination for those looking for a fresh start. Many actors, musicians, filmmakers and creative souls make the move to the city for a chance to make it big. Looking for the perfect walking tour? The Hollywood Walk of Fame is self-guided and showcases some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry—ideal for a star-studded scavenger hunt.
TCL Chinese Theatre features handprints and footprints dating back to the 1920s, including those of Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Robin Williams and more. The theater also offers one of the largest screens in North America.
Music Hub for All
It’s not a trip to Los Angeles without experiencing a concert in one of its multiple world-class venues. Hollywood Bowl’s stage has featured performers from Prince to Bob Dylan and it can handle even the largest corporate group. Walt Disney Concert Hall at the Music Center is yet another famous space to watch and listen to live music, with breathtaking architecture and unbeatable acoustics creating a unique experience. It is currently home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale and can be rented out for your next masterpiece.
With Universal Studios, Warner Bros. Studio and Sony Pictures Studio all located in the area and offering behind-the-scenes tours, consider a fun excursion to a studio and learn about how the on-screen magic comes to life.
Need to Know
- Guest rooms near Las Angeles Convention Center: 5,079
- Event venues: 316
- Fun fact: Los Angeles is actually 10 regions with diverse neighborhoods and ways to entertain
West: Marina del Rey CVB
Located in the heart of the beautiful Los Angeles coastline and only four miles from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Marina del Rey is making waves as the premier meetings destination in Southern California. Views of golden sunsets alighting the tranquil harbor can be enjoyed from waterfront event space and restaurants in every corner of this quaint seaside community.
With over 100,000 sq. ft. of waterfront meeting space and 1,100 hotel rooms, the Marina is equally appealing to highend corporate business programs as it is to tech industry powerhouses that want a laid-back but trendy meeting destination. Traditional meeting space takes a back seat to creative waterside options, such as outdoor reception lawns with 360-degree harbor views or a rooftop ballroom with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the coast. No visit to the Marina is complete without some time on a boat, and having your opening reception, client party, or seminar at sea on a private luxury yacht is the perfect way to make a splash with your next corporate function.
Marina del Rey’s plentiful recreation options make for exciting team building and pre- and post-function entertainment. Treat your delegates to a parasailing or sportfishing excursion, group kayaking or standup paddleboarding, a dining or cocktail harbor cruise, beachside biking, water yoga, or a sailing regatta.
With Marina del Rey as a home base for your group event, you’re within a short drive to L.A.’s popular tourist attractions—worldfamous Venice Beach and Santa Monica are right next door. And after a busy day, there’s no better place to come back to than any of the Marina’s six waterfront hotels, all of which offer sparkling harbor views.
Meeting planners can save up to $2,000 by booking a program or event in the Marina. The Marina del Rey CVB offers a special incentive for groups with 25 or more room nights. For details, go to visitmarinadelrey.com/groups.
Need to Know
- Marina del Rey is North America’s largest man-made, small-craft harbor, with nearly 5,000 boats
- 15 Marina restaurants offer water views
- Centered in Marina del Rey, the Marvin Braude Coastal Bike Trail runs 22 miles along the Los Angeles coast
West: Visit Newport Beach, California
Newport Beach’s proximity to its awardwinning John Wayne Airport (and two additional airports just beyond the borders) is just one aspect of accessibility for attendees. The real magic lies in the unique duality of rustic coves and quaint islands blending seamlessly with upscale districts and refined retreats. This casual glamour sets the scene for groups to access real sea level-meets next-level experiences. And with a dedicated team of destination experts, Visit Newport Beach is the perfect partner to start navigating this classic coastal destination.
The Right Fit
In a destination known for a charming duality of luxury without pretention, the well-seasoned experts at Visit Newport Beach can inspire a program plan based on a group’s unique needs. No matter the size of your group, partnership with this award-winning team opens up opportunities with exclusive venue partners, sun-drenched and memorable excursions, delivering priceless experiences compliments of the oceanfront address. Qualifying sponsorship and year-round meeting planner incentives make Newport Beach an all-around win.
Looking for an only-in-Newport Beach experience? How about a cocktail aboard the historic 127-seat Wild Goose (John Wayne’s former yacht) cruising Newport Harbor at sunset? It is the largest small-yacht harbor in the United States with over 16,000 vessels and perhaps a sea-lion or two!
In the mood for something a little more intimate? Try a leisurely water adventure aboard a Duffy boat, the electric boat invented in Newport Beach. Duffy boat scavenger hunts have become a favored team-building—and Instragrammable activity.
For accessible luxury, discover the art of highend shopping at open-air retail meccas featuring couture with an ocean view, all within walking distance from a range of accessibly-priced, yet undeniably chic accommodations.
Well, Well, Well
Guests can zip from harbor to lush inland trails with electric bikes or start the day the namaste way with a waterfront yoga session. Healthy options are part of the Newport Beach way of life.
Need to Know
- Average temperature: 75 degrees
- Accessibility: minutes from John Wayne Airport and a short drive to LAX and LGB.
- Fun fact: John Wayne and Kobe Bryant have called this coastal paradise home, among many other classic and modern-day celebrities.