Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Issue: July/August 2016
Second Tier: Top Choice
By: Rufus McKinney
Some planners are under the misconception that second tier means second rate.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Among the most popular and attractive destinations are many that are considered second tier.  And yet they offer world-class accommodations, cutting edge meeting facilities and top-of-the-line services, not to mention great attractions, fascinating history and culture, and superb dining - all those things that make any travel experience memorable.  BM&T has offered 10 possibilities here for your consideration.


AUSTIN, TX

When it comes to meetings and conventions, Austin is a city that planners and visitors always agree on. State-of-the-art infrastructure, innovative meeting spaces and world-class hotels are nestled in the center, and the heart, of the city. Within a few walkable blocks you'll also find the famous Lady Bird Lake hike and bike trail, legendary live music venues and some of the best margaritas in the country.

With 900,000 sq. ft. of high-tech, highly desirable meeting space right in the heart of downtown, the Austin Convention Center is just steps from much of what makes Austin so dynamic and engaging.  The Center offers 246,000 sq. ft. of contiguous, column-free exhibit space, two ballrooms of 43,000 and 23,000 sq. ft. each;, and 54 meeting rooms.

Meeting planners and their delegates, as well as travel agents and their vacation clients will have no trouble finding the right accommodations to fit their needs and budgets.  Austin boasts 35,000 hotel rooms citywide, at a wide range of price points, as well as 8,568 amenity-filled downtown hotel rooms just steps from the Convention Center.

Years ago when people talked about Austin they would quickly mention the music. But that's just the beginning of what they're saying these days. Austin is also home to a wonderful ballet, world-class museums, one-of-a-kind shopping and beautiful outdoor spaces. So when your meetings are done for the day, you can just as easily spend your time paddling the lake as you can strolling through a celebrated history museum.

Austin's attractions offer something for everyone. The Austin Aquarium provides children and families access to the excitement and learning opportunities of the ocean without the long trip to the coast, while the Austin Zoo is where visitors from around the world can come to learn about animals close-up, spend some time outdoors getting exercise and have fun.  And the Austin Golf Trail has assembled some of Austin's finest golf courses, earning it a reputation as one of the country's premier golfing destinations.            Be sure to include a visit to the George Washington Carver Museum in your schedule. Paying homage to Austin's African-American heritage, the museum features four galleries, a theater, dance studio, museum store and library. The Mexican American Cultural Center anchors the Hispanic community, and an increasing Asian influence has resulted in many festivals, parades, marketplaces and cultural performances.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport greets passengers with live music from multiple stages upon arrival. Frequent shuttle service to downtown is also available - just a short 15-minute drive from the airport.

BIRMINGHAM, AL

Whether you're hosting 400 or 4,000, Birmingham's wide variety of meeting spaces and lodging options guarantees that they have the right place for you. From the state's largest meeting facility, the Birmingham- Jefferson Convention Complex, to non-traditional venues such as Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, the city is well equipped to accommodate meetings and conventions of all sizes.

The Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex is Alabama's foremost convention, meeting and entertainment center. Events and meetings of all types can be accommodated in its five public buildings: Arena, Concert Hall, Theatre, Exhibition Halls and Ballroom. The complex also includes a large central piazza used for outdoor events.

The Exhibition Hall covers 220,000 sq. ft. of space for presenting expansive trade shows and exhibitions. For smaller events, the North Exhibition Hall has a movable wall that can be placed at 30,000-sq. ft. increments for further flexibility.  The Convention Complex also offers full catering services for any size group.  Three skywalks connect to the 757-room Sheraton, 294-room Westin, Uptown and the BJCC Exhibition halls, meeting rooms and arena. This gives convenient access for patrons attending conventions or meetings.  Including the Sheraton and the Westin, Birmingham offers 15,000 hotel rooms to satisfy every taste and budget.

After the day's work is done, there's never a shortage of fun things to see and do in Birmingham. Their dining scene is filled with one-of-a-kind restaurants that serve up everything from the world's best barbecue to gourmet cuisine. Also, your group will enjoy exploring some of the South's best shopping centers, museums and attractions.

African-American history and culture abounds in Birmingham.  Beginning at Kelly Ingram Park, the Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trail winds through downtown, marking significant locations along Civil Rights <arch Routes.  Designed as a self-guided tour, the route includes signs marking actual Civil Rights events that occurred on the very street that are part of this trail.  Richly detailed exhibits in the Civil Rights Institute reveal slices of black and white life in Alabama from the late 1800s to the present. A series of galleries tells the stories of daily life for African-Americans in the state and the nation and how dramatically different it was from the lives white people of that era took for granted. The powerful Movement Gallery presents the Civil Rights Movement for 1955 to 1963, while the Processional Gallery uses life-size figures representing all ages and races to portray the "walk to freedom."

Other must see cultural attractions include the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, within the historic Carver Theatre, the Birmingham Museum of Art, and the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church National Historic Landmark

Outdoor entertainment is the dominant part of Birmingham's character. Local parks  give the city more green space per capita than any other city in the country, so outdoor recreation is easily accessible. Hiking and biking are virtually year-round sports, along with fishing in what is acknowledged as the "Bass Capital of the World".

Birmingham is located in the heart of the Southeast, with three major interstate systems merging in the middle of the city. Not to mention, the Birmingham airport has more than 100 nonstop and direct flights, while being located just seven minutes from downtown.

CINCINNATI, OH

Considering hosting a meeting or convention in Cincinnati?  With six hotels within walking distance of the convention center (more than 3,200 hotel rooms - from headquarter hotels to stylish boutiques are within three blocks), exemplary shopping, world-class dining, a lively arts and music scene and a burgeoning downtown theater district, you're guaranteed a meeting experience unlike any other. And thousands more rooms are a few minutes away throughout Cincinnati and on the Kentucky riverfront.

The Cincinnati Duke Energy Convention Center recently underwent a $135 million expansion and renovation to become the Midwest's best-in-class center. The expansion means Cincinnati can accommodate 75 percent of the existing convention, conference and meetings market in the United States. Its easy-to-navigate footprint allows attendees to explore the city, with countless restaurants, clubs, attractions and live music a 2-minute walk from their hotel. They can mix and mingle rather than wasting time being shuttled.  The facility offers 750,000 gross sq. ft., which includes 200,000 contiguous sq. ft. of exhibit space, a 40,000-sq. ft. Grand Ballroom, an additional 17,400-sq. ft. ballroom, and 30 deluxe breakout rooms.

When the meetings end in Cincinnati, the fun just begins. Cincinnati has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years with more than $2 billion in downtown and Riverfront development. The region boasts an outstanding lineup of arts and cultural attractions. Attendees can take in a Reds or Bengals game, visit art museums or put a couple bucks down on a roulette wheel. And foodies will be in heaven too, with more than 4,000 restaurants ranging from four-star French to Cincinnati-style chili.

There are so many things to do, places to go, stores to shop, and restaurants to sample that no visit seems long enough. And if sports is your thing, in addition to the Reds and Bengals, there are the Cyclones, Bearcats, Musketeers and more than 75 golf courses waiting to take your game to the next level.

No visit to Cincinnati would be complete without taking in the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The Freedom Center uses exhibits and educational programs from the era of the Underground Railroad to inspire modern action by promoting a better understanding of freedom today.  The Center also makes the perfect alternate venue for your conference, offering 6,816 sq. ft. of meeting space able to accommodate banquets and theater style seating for 300, and for classroom style seating for 180.

Another alternate venue option is the Jack Cincinnati Casino, which provides first-rate event facilities, with services and amenities for groups up to 1,900 attendees. Their meeting and event space offers 33,000 sq. ft. configurable into 11 individual rooms.

Cincinnati USA is less than a half-day car ride from 60% of the U.S. population. Interstates I-75, I-71 and I-74 link Cincinnati USA to the rest of the country.  Cincinnati has more flights into and out of the area than any other city within a two-hour radius. Cincinnati location is within 500 miles or a one-hour flight of 60% of the U.S. population.  The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) offers 150 daily departures with nonstop connections to around 50 destinations.

DENVER, CO

When it comes to meeting planning, Denver has it all: A state-of-the-art convention center; a central location; an international airport; a walkable downtown district packed with shopping, dining, nightlife and cultural attractions; thousands of hotel rooms; and a convention bureau that knows how to create a successful event.

Located in heart of Downtown Denver, one of the most visitor-friendly downtowns in the country, and within walking distance of 9,400 hotel rooms, the Colorado Convention Center is ideal for any size meeting or convention group.  The facility boasts 584,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space, the 50,000-sq. ft., Mile High Ballroom, 35,000-sq. ft. Four Seasons Ballroom, 63 meeting rooms, and the auditorium-style Bellco Theatre with fixed seating for 5,000.

Denver has a downtown hotel package that puts a smile on a meeting planner's face.  The downtown district is home to 8,400 rooms within short walking distance of the Colorado Convention Center, including an adjacent 1,100-room Hyatt Regency, the 1,200-room Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, the 615-room Marriott City Center, the 511-room Grand Hyatt and the 430-room Westin Tabor Center.

Downtown also boasts upscale boutique hotels like the Five Diamond Ritz-Carlton Denver, Four Seasons Denver, Brown Palace Hotel & Spa, Hotel Teatro, Hotel Monaco, The Curtis Hotel, The Oxford Hotel and the Warwick Denver Hotel.

Metro Denver has 42,000 first class hotel rooms in the area, conveniently linked to downtown by efficient highways and light rail.  There are more than a dozen hotels in the Denver Tech Center led by the 628-room Denver Marriott Tech Center, all with easy-to-use light rail service to downtown.

Conveniently located just 15 minutes from Boulder and Denver, the Westin Westminster offers 369 luxury rooms with mountain or park views. The Omni Interlocken Resort has 390 rooms, a spa and 4-star golf course, while the Inverness Hotel and Conference Center has 302 rooms and a championship golf course.

From downtown amusement parks to fascinating museums, Denver's attractions deliver unique and unforgettable experiences.

The Black American West Museum is a top visitor attraction for those interested in history and culture.  For decades Hollywood westerns depicted a Wild West that was populated almost entirely by white people. The Black American West Museum puts this myth to rest permanently by highlighting the prominent role Blacks played in the settlement of Colorado as miners, soldiers, homesteaders, schoolteachers, ranchers, blacksmiths, cowboys and lawmen.

Want more?  The Denver Performing Arts Complex has nine theaters seating 10,000 people and is second only to New York's Lincoln Center. Downtown Denver has three major sports stadiums, an assortment of art and history museums, a river offering white water rafting, more than 8,400 hotel rooms, a $140 million theme and water park, a $100 million aquarium and 300 restaurants.

Denver is just 340 miles from the exact center of the Continental United States -

closer to the center of the nation than any other city of comparable size. In addition to easy air access, Denver is at the intersection of two major Interstate highways, has two AMTRAK passenger trains daily and is a major hub for interstate motorcoach travel.  Denver International Airport (DEN) offers 1,600 daily flights, including non-stop service to more than 180 worldwide destinations, including 23 international cities.  A new airport rail line whisks visitors to the downtown area for only $9 each way.

FORT WORTH, TX

The City of Cowboys & Culture is the 16th-largest city in the United States and part of the No. 1 tourist destination in Texas, welcoming 6.5 million visitors annually. Fort Worth is comprised of seven primary entertainment districts each offering distinct dining, shopping, entertainment and cultural amenities. In only a few days you can enjoy a range of experiences: from NASCAR racing to rodeos, world-class museums to cowboy cuisine, boutique shopping to a Top 5 zoo, biking to horseback riding. Explore each of our unique districts to see what Fort Worth has to offer you.

Fort Worth, Texas is a thriving center of culture, cowboys and commerce. Visitors are often surprised by everything Fort Worth has to offer: the Historic Stockyards, remarkable museums, a dazzling downtown area, Texas Motor Speedway, spectacular annual events and a lot more.

Within walking distance of thousands of downtown Fort Worth hotel rooms, a variety of delicious restaurants and fabulous shopping, and offering more than 250,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, the Fort Worth Convention Center is the perfect venue for your next event.  Other amenities include nearly 60,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space in 41 breakout rooms, an impressive 28,160-sq. ft. ballroom, a multi-functional 13,5000-seat Arena, and a 55,000-sq. ft. Events Plaza that connects to the one-of-a-kind Fort Worth Water Gardens

Masterpieces abound in the museums of the Fort Worth Cultural District, located a few miles west of downtown. This is, without question, one of the finest collections of museums in America. In a single, park-like setting, you can span virtually the entire history of art, from priceless antiquities to Impressionist milestones to modern artworks. It's a wonderful place to find inspiration, broaden your horizons and spend some quality time with your family.  The Cultural District is also home to the Will Rogers Memorial Center, home of the Annual Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, as well as the acclaimed theater, Casa Mañana.  Near the Cultural District, explore nature's masterpieces at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens, The Fort Worth Zoo and the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, or go jogging or biking along the river in Trinity Park.

Fort Worth hosts a big variety of special events throughout the year - from street festivals and blockbuster art shows to major concerts and exciting sports.  Shopping in Fort Worth is an attraction in itself. Whatever you're looking for, you're very likely to find it there - from fabulous to funky, from classy to casual. The city is home to national department stores, one-of-a-kind boutiques, upscale shops, flea markets, antique stores, and some of the finest malls in the Southwest.  And when the sun goes down, Fort Worth really comes alive. Opportunities such as nightclubs, restaurants, movies, and live theaters abound.

Fort Worth's city center buzzes day and night with people, energy and opportunity. It's one of the cleanest, safest and most walkable urban areas you'll find anywhere - the perfect place to soak up the excitement and friendly ambience of Fort Worth. The heart of downtown is Sundance Square, a 35-block shopping and entertainment district where charming, beautifully restored buildings stand alongside glittering skyscrapers. Here, you'll find locals, downtown residents and visitors among a multitude of  restaurants, shops, galleries and performance venues.  Relax in the popular Sundance Square Plaza where you can find annual programs and events, people watch under the enormous umbrellas, grab a bite to eat on a patio or take a selfie in front of the whimsical water fountains

Fort Worth is conveniently located 17.5 miles from DFW International Airport. With 1,850 flights daily, DFW Airport serves as a gateway for visitors from around the globe, making Fort Worth an easily accessible international and domestic leisure destination.

GREENSBORO, NC

With a two major convention complexes, a great selection of 135 attractions, more than 500 restaurants, 87 accommodations from which to choose, and centrally located in North Carolina's picturesque heartland, Greensboro is the perfect place for your next meeting, or to send your vacation clients to relax and be immersed in entertainment.

Anchoring the area's meetings industry is the 450,000-sq. ft. Greensboro Coliseum Complex which seats more than 22,000 and boasts a 30,000-sq. ft. Pavilion as well as a 167,000-sq. ft. Special Events Center with 150,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space.

The other major convention facility, the Sheraton Greensboro at Four Seasons, hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including trade and consumer shows, conventions, concerts, family shows, arts and entertainment events, as well as professional, college and amateur sports. The Sheraton features 985 guest rooms and 250,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, with rooms ranging in size from 342 sq. ft. to 40,000 sq. ft., including 70 breakout rooms and 14 board rooms.

Greensboro has more than its share of African-American historical and cultural sites for your exploration and enjoyment.  The International Civil Rights Center & Museum is a definite must see.  Located in the former F.W. Woolworth retail store at 134 S. Elm St., this vital piece of history takes you on a journey into American civil rights history with vivid photography, artifacts, video reenactments and interactive galleries. It was here that over 50 years ago, four teenage NC A&T State University students, known as the Greensboro Four, sat down here at the "whites only" lunch counter and began America's sit-in movement that sparked a nationwide push for equality and justice for all. Today, the ICRCM stands as a monument of courage and change

The African American Atelier, Inc., a non-profit art organization, seeks to promote an awareness, appreciation and sensitivity to the visual arts and culture of African-Americans and to work in harmony with other ethnic groups.  The Atelier exhibits only original art and presents six to eight exhibitions each year in its 2,000-sq. ft. modern facility located in the Greensboro Cultural Center. The exhibition facility is divided into three art gallery areas consisting of a large Main Gallery which showcases the major rotational exhibits and two small art galleries: Atelier's Eva Hamlin Miller Gallery dedicated to Atelier's co-founder and first curator (Eva Hamlin Miller) supports group and solo exhibits held at the facility.

Greensboro is served by Piedmont Triad International Airport, averaging 280 takeoffs and landing each day.

JACKSON, MS

Boundless opportunities for success await your Jackson meeting, conference, or convention. With a diversity of Jackson Mississippi meeting facilities, planners like you can easily choose a fantastic destination and theme for your event. Chart a new corporate direction within the cutting-edge space of the new Jackson Convention Complex - the centerpiece of our downtown renaissance. This massive facility showcases state-of-the-art technology, a 382-seat theater, over 330,000 sq. ft. of prime meeting and exhibit space, a crystalline, folding glass façade, a business center and a 9,000-sq. ft. kitchen and catering facility.

But Jackson is more than just work. Savor mouthwatering cuisine in 300 restaurants. Experience dynamic culture at fascinating museums … devoted to the city's visual arts, history and heritage, and sports. And with a variety of year-round events, there's always something fun and festive going on. At the end of the day, you and your attendees can sleep blissfully in some of Jackson's 4,500 hotel rooms.

There's no shortage of fun, family-friendly things to do in the City with Soul.

Celebrate the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement at Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center. Close your eyes and hear the cheers of the crowd at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum - named among the Top 10 "Most Amazing Baseball Museums in America" by ESPN. Take the kids to see the enchanting animals at the Jackson Zoological Park. Learn about the wonders of nature at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. See a memorable performance by the world-class Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, or grab a drink and a bite to eat at an authentic blues "juke joint."

The diversity of Jackson tourism sights will send you into a blissful sensory overload.

From slavery and the tumultuous Civil Rights era, Jackson Mississippi African-Americans have emerged as a major force for the city's development and leadership. Relive a dramatic and inspirational story as you visit fascinating Jackson black history sites.

Be sure to block out time for you and your delegates to explore the Farish Street Historic District.  This 125 acre area, late nineteenth century grid patterned neighborhood is the largest and only primarily residential district in Jackson spanning more than 100 years. The District was the Mecca of a thriving Black professional and trade community before desegregation. It's also home to the Farish Street Baptist Church, one of the three oldest African-American churches in the District.  Walking tours will reveal a variety of styles, which include antebellum, Creole, Queen Anne, shotgun and bungalow cottages in addition to business structures which represent the early 20th century. Farish Street is under renovation to become a thriving entertainment district.

Other Black history sites include the Medgar Evers Library, named for the famed Civil Rights activist, the COFO Civil Rights Education Center, its mission to honor the past, deal with issues of the present, and offer hope for the future, and the historic Alamo Theater.  Among other things, the Alamo served as a performing arts theater featuring Black Vaudeville acts, stage bands and Black performing artists, and also functioned as a cinema featuring "chase westerns" and African American films.

Located at the crossroads of I-20 and I-55, Jackson is easily accessible by all modes of transportation. The Jackson International Airport is situated only 15 minutes from downtown. Check out our Jackson transportation services for your attendees.

KANSAS CITY, MO

Along every boulevard and around every corner, there's something to do that's unique to Kansas City. With a thriving creative arts scene, eclectic mix of entertainment and die-hard sports - it's safe to say there's something for everyone.  KC also has an impressive array of world-class convention facilities and accommodations, providing many options for meeting planners bringing groups to the area.

Undergirding area's meeting infrastructure is the Kansas City Convention Center.  The eight-square block convention and special event facility can accommodate every need with 388,800 sq. ft. of column-free exhibit space on one floor; 48 state-of-the-art meeting rooms; a 2,400-seat fine arts theater; an arena that sits more than 10,700 people and a unique outdoor festival plaza. And not only is it all in one location, the complex is connected to major downtown hotels and parking by skywalks and underground walkways. Encompassing more than 800,000 sq. ft., the Kansas City Convention & Entertainment Facilities can serve all your meeting needs under one roof.

The complex's versatile Conference Center complements your function and meeting space options when holding a meeting at the Exhibit Hall or serves as the perfect stand-alone facility for smaller conferences, meetings and special events. The architectural elements of the Conference Center provide a visual link between Bartle Hall and the beautiful Art Deco style of Kansas City's historic Municipal Auditorium. The new 40,500-sq. ft. Grand Ballroom is expandable to 46,484 sq. ft. for events up to 4,000 people.

Another popular meeting venue in KC is Crown Center.  Home to the international headquarters of Hallmark Cards, Inc., the 85-acre Crown Center is frequently referred to as a "city within a city." The mixed-use community melds residential and office spaces with innovative shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. Crown Center Square houses live music performances, the city's only public outdoor ice-skating rink and several large fountains. Features include: three levels of shops featuring national names, specialty merchants and local chains; easy access to two hotels - the 730-room Sheraton Kansas City and the 724-room Westin Kansas City; and three live entertainment venues.

If you are looking for African-American history and culture, Kansas City has plenty to share.  Located in the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District, the American Jazz Museum offers the sights and sounds of a uniquely American art form come alive at the first museum in the country devoted exclusively to jazz.  Rare photos, listening stations, memorabilia and personal items tell the stories of jazz legends Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Charlie Parker. Other exhibits highlight Kansas City's unique contributions to the American medium.

Also part of the Museums at the 18th & Vine complex, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum recreates the look, sounds and feel of the game's storied past. Video presentations and memorabilia in the 10,000 sq. ft. multimedia exhibit chronicle the history and heroes of the leagues from their origin after the Civil War to their end in the 1960s.  As the centerpiece of the NLBM, the Coors Field of Legends features 10 life-sized bronze sculptures of Negro Leagues greats positioned on a mock baseball diamond as if they were playing a game.

Other area attractions include the Kansas City Zoo, Kansas City Aquarium, Worlds of Fun & Oceans of Fun theme park, the Power & Light District, Sprint Center, Harrah's Casino and Hotel, and Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Coming soon is a new 800-room Hyatt convention hotel to be built in downtown KC. The new hotel, located across from the KC Convention Center Grand Ballroom, will feature 75,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

KC is served by the Kansas City International Airport with400 daily flights and non-stop service to 43 destinations.

MILWAUKEE, WI

For a city with the ideal mix of business and pleasure, there's no place better than Milwaukee. Charming millions of visitors every year, Milwaukee plays host to guests looking for an ideal meeting dest4ination, as well as those in search of a fun getaway. But regardless of why you go, you'll surely return because Milwaukee knows how to take care of business while you have a good time.

Centrally located in the heart of downtown, the Wisconsin Center is connected by skywalk to more than 1,200 hotel rooms at the Hilton Milwaukee, the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee and the SpringHill Suites Milwaukee Downtown Marriott. The center is an easy walk from a number of popular downtown attractions, including the scenic Milwaukee RiverWalk, the Milwaukee Public Museum and the BMO Harris Bradley Center and is surrounded by vibrant dining and nightlife.  The center is within one-half mile of 3,457 additional hotel rooms.

The Wisconsin Center is also a practical choice for organizers, offering state-of-the-art technology, one-way loading dock traffic, almost two blocks of covered curb space under the center for dropping off passengers and a 190-space parking lot that can also be transformed into outdoor event space.

Amenities include 188,695 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space, a 37,506-sq. ft. Grand ballroom with a capacity for 2,530 banquet-style or 4,440-theater style, an additional 39,640 sq. ft. of meeting space that can be divided into as many as 28 meeting and breakout rooms, and a whopping $1.2 million in public art. 

Milwaukee's hotel scene is just as impressive, with a full range of offerings designed to meet your specific needs and budget.   The city's two major full-service convention hotels, the Hilton Milwaukee (729 rooms) and the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee (481 rooms) are just a skywalk away from the Wisconsin Center, and national brands that make business travel easy are located throughout the city. Upscale boutique hotels - including properties reflecting the city's brewing and motorcycle history - join a legendary historic hotel, a luxury casino hotel and value-priced offerings to round out a full range of accommodations to choose from in Milwaukee.  Over 14,450 rooms can be found in the Greater Milwaukee area, a number that will grow in the near future with the addition of at least three new properties - a 200-room Westin, a 94-room Hilton Homewood Suites, and a 100- to 150-room Cambria.

Another option, located minutes from downtown Milwaukee, the 381-room Potawatomi Hotel & Casino offers high-stakes bingo, nearly 100 table games, 3,100 slot machines, a 20-table Poker Room, a 500-seat theater and an Off-Track Betting Room. If you're looking for a location to host an event, the Casino offers nearly 42,000 sq. ft. of catering space.

Home to world-class museum collections and both the oldest and largest performing arts organizations in the state, Milwaukee's arts scene is one of the Midwest's best-kept secrets. From the famous Santiago Calatrava-designed "wings" of the Milwaukee Art Museum to the best of Broadway on tour, arts lovers will find so much to love during their time in Milwaukee.  Milwaukee boasts an impressive list of African-American heritage attractions, the Wisconsin Black Historical Society Museum, the Hansberry-Sands Theatre Company, and the African American Children's Theatre.

Fly to Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport non-stop from 36 cities and from 106 with just one stop. Eight airlines, including top carriers like AirTran, Delta and Southwest Airlines, serve Milwaukee with 300 daily departures and arrivals.

ST. PETERSBURG, FL

Visitors can enjoy the best of all worlds in St. Petersburg/Clearwater, from award-winning beaches to theme parks and everything in between. A dazzling array of world-class museums, galleries and performing arts have made St. Petersburg/Clearwater the cultural gem of Florida's west coast, including the world-renowned Dali Museum.

The gorgeous beaches of St. Petersburg/Clearwater consistently rank as the best in the U.S.

The area's eclectic mix of beach and downtown communities provides diverse options for hotels, dining, shopping and nightlife, from sophisticated resorts and nightclubs to casual beachside dining and surf shops. Numerous year-round events add to the fun including art and music festivals and professional sports games.

While St. Petersburg/Clearwater doesn't have a convention center, it boasts a number of top-of-the-line hotels with ample same for small- to medium-sized meetings.

For example, Innisbrook, A Salamander Golf & Spa Resort, owned by Sheila Johnson, is the perfect location for your next seminar or conference, no matter how large or small. Their rooms can handle up to 2,000 people. The expansive resort features 24 meeting rooms with 65,000 sq. ft. of indoor meeting space as well as spectacular outdoor venues on 900 beautiful acres. Innisbrook, home of the PGA TOUR's Valspar Championship, provides the ultimate in audio-visual services, and their professional, service-oriented staff delights in exceeding all expectations. 

Another possibility, TradeWinds Island Grand Beach Resort, the largest beachfront meetings resort on Florida's west coast, sports a sophisticated tropical vibe and exceptional service.  A long-tenured convention services team and on-site group reservations department earn rave reviews for professionalism and friendly service. Over 70,000 sq. ft. of meeting space includes 28 breakout rooms, tropical courtyards and beachfront terraces for groups up to 1,000.

The newly renovated Hilton Clearwater Beach has a casual elegance and features 416 guest rooms and suites, a 9,800-sq. ft. ballroom, a junior ballroom, seven additional breakout rooms and four beachside decks, making this the perfect location for large conferences, meetings and social events. 

As St. Pete/Clearwater obliterates tourism records, hotel developers are seizing the moment with some 2,000 brand new rooms in the works, with more than 1,000 planned for Clearwater Beach alone.  New properties in the works include the 450-room Wyndham Grand Resort, Clearwater Beachand 173-room Hyatt, downtown St. Pete.

After the meetings are over, you'll find endless ways to relax and recharge the batteries.  The communities of the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area cover a peninsula in the Tampa Bay area, from Tarpon Springs at the far north to Tierra Verde in the south. Much of the area's fame comes from these awesome, award-winning Florida beach towns. Among the most alluring are Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach.

Craving an island getaway? There's no place quite like Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island, especially during a weekday. These are completely undeveloped Florida beaches that are only accessible by boat - so you're guaranteed a blissful break.

You'll be able to find your happy place on this 35-mile stretch of Florida beaches. Sip a cocktail with your toes in the sand, fly over the water in a parasail, or finally try your hand (and feet) at stand-up paddleboarding.

No matter where you go while visiting in the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area, you'll get a glimpse of authentic Florida with superb meeting facilities, great people, tons of attractions, and fun (and beaches) for miles. 

The area is served by St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, where you can enjoy non-stop service to destinations around the United States and Canada with value-conscious airlines.
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