Top 10 Cities for Meetings and Events

Written by: Editorial Staff

November 11, 2010
Filed Under Places 

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Contributed by Aurora LaJambre, Info Guru

Many cities compete to host major industry events because they draw hundreds to thousands of professionals from across the country that buy food, stay in hotels and maybe take in a show or two while in town.

Centrally located cities are most convenient for travelers coming from every corner of the country, but it takes more than a shorter plane ride to make a city great for meetings and events. The top 10 best cities for meetings and events are each on this list for a different reason.

10. Austin

Recently named Kiplinger’s #1 Best City for the Next Decade, Austin is the hip alternative to other major Texas cities. This is a city where a vibrant music scene thrives in the company of independent film and creative technology companies. Austin is on many people’s list to visit anyway. In a city where business and creativity go hand in hand, attendees can work and play without caring where one ends and the other begins.

9. Nashville

Southwest airlines offers relatively affordable flights to Nashville from many locations. Heavy doses of southern hospitality make this a top city for meetings and events. The Nashville Convention Center offers 118,000 square feet of exhibit floor space. The pedestrian-friendly downtown area is only 8 miles away from the Nashville International Airport. Attendees can visit historic sites, honky tonks, museums and a variety of restaurants.

8. San Diego

With a year round temperate climate, recreational activities and beautiful beaches, San Diego is a top city for meetings and events. The San Diego Convention Center hosts tradeshows, seminars, and conferences right on the Sand Diego Bay in the center of downtown. Attendees have their choice of hundreds of restaurants, museums and social venues against a backdrop of ocean and lights. Sand Diego is also less congested than its nearest competition, Los Angeles.

7. New York

Holding an event in New York City adds to the appeal for many potential attendees looking to combine business and pleasure. While not the most affordable city, it is accessible by 3 major airports and home to two train stations. The public transportation system makes the city completely accessible so the thousands of restaurants, venues and cultural institutions are all within reach.

6. Atlanta

Atlanta makes the list for accessibility and affordability. With about 2,500 daily flights and 250 direct destinations, approximately 80% of the U.S. population is within a 2 ½ hour flight of Atlanta. You can connect to Atlanta’s public transportation metro, MARTA, directly from the airport and travel directly to the downtown convention area. Plus, it’s hard to imagine having difficulty finding a place to stay with over 10,000 hotel rooms within 8 blocks of the convention district.

5. Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. is a meeting planners dream. The new Walter E. Convention Center is centrally located within walking distance of Union Station and has about 70 meeting rooms. Downtown, attendees can hit up as many of the Smithsonian’s free museums as they want, relax on the mall, visit the nation’s historic monuments or hop on a tour bus pass the Whitehouse, Arlington Cemetery and Embassy Row. And don’t forget about the food. From Ethiopian, to Peruvian, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Middle Eastern and Soul Food, Washington D.C. has something of everything made just right.

4. Orlando

Aside from a certain amusement park full of children, Orlando is home to world class golf courses, wildlife refuges, the Kennedy Space Center, national parks (including the Everglades) even a vineyard. Many conventions are held at resorts on gorgeous estates with restaurants, horseback riding and entertainment – ideal for attendees who want to relax after all-day workshops and seminars.

3. New Orleans

New Orleans prides itself on doing things differently than the rest of the country, and conferences and conventions are no exception. Rich with history, music, art and food, New Orleans has a down-to-earth vibe that makes everyone feel welcome. Convention centers are located in the heart of the city so attendees can soak up local culture while doing some professional networking.

2. Las Vegas

With sunshine, slots, pools neon lights, Lax Vegas is like Disney World for grownups. Vegas is a given on many cities of top cities for meetings and events for good reason: Attendees never lack for something to do. Home to 136,000 hotel rooms and 3 of the largest convention centers in the U.S., all close to the airport, it’s not hard to see why over 23,000 meetings a year choose Las Vegas.

1. Chicago

Thanks to the high volume of traffic handled by Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, voted the “Best Airport” in the country for nine years, flights to Chicago are usually quite affordable. Venue locations are centrally located: McCormick Place is located on Lake Michigan and consist of four buildings that accommodate meetings and events, or Navy Pier offers a ballroom for exhibitions and banquets. Smaller events can choose from 30,000 hotel meeting rooms. Attendees only need to look up to appreciate and photograph some of the greatest architecture in the country.


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