Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Issue: November/December 2017
African-American Guide to Meetings, Incentives & Traveling in th Northeast
By: Buck Samuels

It's easy to list the many things that make the Northeast such an interesting travel destination. You've got the dazzling fall foliage, and picturesque coastal playgrounds; winter resorts; a wealth of acclaimed cultural attractions; plus the region's central role in America's Colonial, Revolutionary War and Underground Railroad history.

The destinations profiled here are located in or near some of the largest U.S. population centers - making them very accessible to meeting attendees - and many of the larger cities offer light rail, free downtown shuttles and other public transit options that make them easy to navigate once you arrive.

Here's a glimpse of what's waiting to be discovered when you do.


The story of the Amistad, the Cuban schooner where the famous 1839 slave revolt took place off the Connecticut coast, is preserved and retold through several historical sites in the state. At the former site of the New Haven Jail, where the Africans aboard the slave ship awaited trial, stands the Amistad Memorial, created by African-American sculptor Ed Hamilton. New Haven also is the home berth of the Freedom Schooner Amistad, a recreation of the original ship that travels on educational missions. The Old State House in Hartford was the site of the first Amistad trial.

Meeting attendees and other visitors can spend leisure time at one of Connecticut's coastal resorts, or perhaps see a show and try their luck at a casino. Along with the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, the Foxwoods Resort Casino, the MGM Grand at Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun Casino contain the state's largest meeting accommodations.


From hanging out at Rehoboth Beach and other Atlantic coastal retreats to kayaking in the Delaware Bay, the First State offers a wide range of outdoor recreational attractions. Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, for example, is a popular spot for biking, swimming and hiking.

The Dover International Speedway, Fort Delaware State Park and the statewide Delaware Wine and Ale Trail are also among the area's main attractions.

History buffs may want to visit Dover's First State Heritage Park or Wilmington's Kalmar Nyckel - a recreation of the ship on which Swedish settlers first came to the Delaware Valley in the 17th century - or tour one of the du Pont family's opulent estates in the scenic Brandywine Valley.

While finding bargains at Delaware's tax-free retail outlets may not make visitors feel quite as rich as a du Pont, the shops are nevertheless one of the state's top tourist draws.


Here's one for the "Did You Know?" files of a state not readily associated with Black history: The first African-American college graduate in the United States, John Brown Russworm, received his degree from Maine's Bowdoin College in 1826.

Several notable Black heritage attractions make up Maine's Portland Freedom Trail - 16 sites with links to with the Underground Railroad and the Abolitionist Movement, including the nation's third oldest African-American church still standing.

Nicknamed the Pine Tree State, Maine is renowned for its rugged natural beauty. Boasting 5,500 miles of coastland, the state is home to the largest fleet of windjammers in North America. Altogether Maine's state and national parks - of which Acadia National Park is the largest and best known - encompass more than 540,000 acres.

Along with its natural scenery, Maine offers a unique man-made photo op: the world's largest 3-D model of the solar system, laid out over 40 miles between Houlton and Presque Isle.


Travelers to Maryland can choose from a lengthy list of Black heritage sites to explore. The capital city of Annapolis is home to the Banneker-Douglass Museum, the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial and the Thurgood Marshall Memorial at the Maryland State House.  The Frederick Douglass Museum and Cultural Center is located in Highland Beach, in Anne Arundel County. Columbia is the home of the African Art Museum of Maryland and the Howard County Center of African-American Culture, along with an exhibit at Columbia Air Center commemorating the site of the state's first Black-owned and operated airfield. On Maryland's Eastern Shore, the Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center and other related sites in Cambridge pay tribute to the most prominent figure in the Underground Railroad.

Maryland's nearly 4,000 miles of shoreline, including the Chesapeake Bay and 31 miles of Atlantic Coast, provide great settings for fishing, sailing and beachcombing.


Baltimore is best known for its beautiful waterfront, authentic history and convenient East Coast location. With more than 130 attractions, museums, historic sites and performing arts groups, Charm City promises something for everyone. From "The Star-Spangled Banner" to African American history, pop culture to sharks and dinosaurs, there is something exciting around every corner. Many of our venues are perfect for off-site parties, receptions and small gatherings.

Baltimore offers dozens of facilities - from casual, elegant and hip to exquisitely traditional, perfect for meetings of all sizes. The Baltimore Convention Center (BCC) can accommodate up to 75 percent of today's meetings and conventions with 300,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, 50 flexible meeting rooms and a 36,672-sq. ft. ballroom. The BCC has invested in upgrades, including a recently completed outdoor terrace that can serve as an event space or place to relax, new audio systems, enhanced Wi-Fi, and upgraded culinary offerings. The BCC and the city's hotels have also put a number of green initiatives in place, and many Baltimore hotels and attractions - as well as the BCC - are Maryland Green Travel partners.

Visitors will find it easy to explore Baltimore's cultural legacies in their free time via the Baltimore Legends & Legacies Heritage Pass, which provides discounted admission to the city's premier African-American cultural institutions including the National Great Blacks In Wax Museum, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, and the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park. Baltimore also offers an award-winning Dream Baltimore Heritage Guide. This free visitor guide, specifically dedicated to the city's multicultural history and attractions, is available for visitors online, at the Baltimore Visitor Center, at other locations around the city and by request via mail.

Baltimore, located at the crossroads of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and a region of 50 million people, gives you an edge in attracting attendees. Located off I-95, at a convenient stop on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor and 15 minutes from Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport - with 650 daily flights from 70 destinations - Baltimore is well situated to make it easy for your attendees to get there. For those who drive, more than 40,000 off-street spaces in downtown garages and lots make parking convenient.

To learn more about the benefits of hosting a meeting or special event in Baltimore visit or call (800) 343-3468.


From Plymouth Rock, the site of the 17th century Pilgrims' landing, to Beacon Hill, where a large community of free African-Americans resided in the 19th century, the Bay State is home to some of the most iconic places in U.S. history.

Massachusetts' maritime history is evident in the lighthouses dotting its coastline. The home of one of the nation's first Black sea captains is one of the 22 sites on the African American Heritage Trail on Martha's Vineyard.

That island and other seaside resorts like Cape Cod and Nantucket Island are among the state's most popular recreational attractions. Outdoor enthusiasts traveling to Massachusetts will also discover plenty more options, from whale watching excursions in Stellwagen Bank to canoeing on the Concord River.

Notable cultural attractions include the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton and Jacob's Pillow, and the nation's oldest international dance festival, in Becket.


Famous for its hospitality and friendly spirit, Greater Boston is one of the premier meeting destinations in the United States.  Bean Town has a thriving economy, history and charm, which make it ideal for both business and pleasure. Each year, it welcomes over 18 million visitors, convention delegates.

Boston has a plethora of convention and event facilities that can host events of all types and sizes, each offering you their own unique advantages.  Located in the heart of Boston's beautiful, historic and restaurant-rich Back Bay, the Hynes Convention Center has long been a favorite business destination for mid-sized shows, special events and expositions. It also offers meeting space. The Hynes is in close proximity to the new Boston Exhibition and Convention Center (BCEC), and in the heart of Boston's most popular hotels, historical sites, and tourist attractions.

For more intimate gatherings, Boston offers a dozen conference centers, including the Boston Executive conference Center, Conference Center at Waltham Woods, and the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School, to name a few.


Whether it's skiing in the White Mountains, cruising on Lake Winnipesaukee, camping in the Great North Woods or enjoying summertime fun at the beaches and resorts of the state's 18-mile-long Seacoast Region, New Hampshire offers plenty of outdoor adventure.

There's also lots of history to explore. In Portsmouth, you can visit Strawbery Banke, a site that depicts four centuries of community history. The capital city, Concord, is home to the Museum of New Hampshire History and 20 minutes away from the Canterbury Shaker Village.

A trip to the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region offers the chance to tour a historic summer estate at The Fells in Newbury and the campus of Dartmouth University in Hanover.  Art and architecture buffs might be interested in the Currier Museum of Art and Frank Lloyd Wright's Zimmerman House in Manchester.


One of the most interesting places in New Jersey's African-American history was the town of Lawnside in Camden County. This historically Black community came to be when a Quaker purchased land and resold the plots to former slaves. Today, visitors to Lawnside (originally called Free Haven) can tour the home of freedman Peter Mott, which served as a station on the Underground Railroad.

Other Underground Railroad sites in New Jersey include the Goodwin Sisters House in Salem City, Mount Zion AME Church outside Swedesboro, Macedonia AME Church in Camden, Croft Farm in Cherry Hill, the Burlington Pharmacy in Burlington and Jacobs Chapel AME Church in Mount Laurel.

The historic homes, beaches, shops and restaurants of places like Cape May and the Wildwoods make the Jersey Shore a popular recreational retreat. The shore provides the setting for several food and music festivals.


With an abundance of flexible meeting spaces ranging from 500,000 to just a few dozen sq. ft. (a total of 770,340 sq. ft. citywide), a world famous beach and Boardwalk, endless entertainment options, an outstanding array of accommodations with an inventory of over 15,000 rooms, and eight spectacular casino resorts available for high energy gaming action, Atlantic City is one of the top convention and vacation destinations in the nation..

Anchoring AC's meeting infrastructure is the Atlantic City Convention Center.  The Center, designed to incorporate and reflect Atlantic City's seaside location, features 500,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space in five halls, 109,100 sq. ft. of meeting space in 45 rooms, and 32,000 sq. ft. of pre-function space.

Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and the harbor, Harrah's Waterfront Conference Center is the newest, largest, most technologically advanced meeting facility from Baltimore to Boston. The $125.8 million Conference Center brings another 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting space to Atlantic City - in spectacular fashion. The massive, flexible meeting space can easily be reconfigured into as many as 63 individual meeting rooms including two 50,000-sq. ft. pillar-less ballrooms that can accommodate up to 5,000 guests.

Another option and an ideal retreat and place to meet, Resort's Casino Hotel recently added 64,000+ sq. ft. to the Resort's Conference Center. Resorts offers a total of 24 meeting rooms (14 with natural light and ocean views) including 4 ballrooms. Resorts Conference Level alone boasts 17 meeting and function rooms. The Tower Conference Level (ideal for groups of 10-300) features 4 conference rooms providing breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and Atlantic City Skyline.

Want more?  Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa has added a bi-level 18,000-sq. ft. Conference Center to their luxurious property situated in Atlantic City's Marina District. This allows additional events such as weddings, special occasions, trade shows, business expos and more and features two stories of highly customizable event space including five meeting rooms, a boardroom and an office on the lower level.

            No trip to Atlantic City should be all work and no play.  The Atlantic City Boardwalk is the backbone of this seaside resort city, providing access to hotels, resorts, shops, casinos and more.  It's a great place to stroll, people watch, jog, head for the beach, or visit several piers featuring a number of attractions and unique shopping venues.

The Atlantic City area is full of history and locations to celebrate it. Among them: Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton College, Atlantic City Historical Museum, Atlantic City Ballet, the Civil Rights Garden, New Jersey Korean War Memorial and Atlantic City Art Center. Other notable sites off the Boardwalk include: the famous Absecon Lighthouse, the Atlantic City Aquarium, abundant antiquing, nearby historic villages, lush gardens, wineries, zoos and more.


No place on planet earth exudes living life to its fullest more than the Big Apple.  The energy of this great city is palpable.  From the bright lights and excitement of Times Square to the sites and sounds of Harlem, New York City is the nation's top travel destination.

            Everyone knows the iconic entertainment venues and tourist attractions that make up this great city:  The Empire State Building, Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Broadway, the Statute of Liberty, Yankee Stadium and the Bronx Zoo, just to name a few.  A don't forget Restaurant Row and fine dining.

            Arguably the most famous of all New York venues is the Apollo Theater.  Located on W. 125th Street (Frederick Douglass Blvd), this theater exerted greater influence on popular culture than anyplace in the world, and for African-Americans this is the place where careers are made.

            Amateur Night at the Apollo started back in 1934 with young, talented new performers such as 15-year-old Ella Fitzgerald.

            Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Count Basie, James Brown, Bill Cosby and numerous Motown acts all performed and/or debuted at the Apollo.

            Today, the Apollo continues its fine tradition attracting new and seasoned world-class talent.


Historical attractions linked to Pennsylvania's African-American heritage can be found in both small towns and big cities.  Places like the Johnson House Historical Site in Philadelphia, the Kennett Underground Railroad Center in Kennett Square, the Blairsville Underground Railroad Museum in Blairsville and the Thaddeus Stevens-Lydia Hamilton Smith Historic Site in Lancaster highlight the state's role as a refuge for slaves seeking freedom. That story is brought to life through an Underground Railroad re-enactment called "Living the Experience," performed at Lancaster's Bethel AME Church.

The pivotal Civil War battle is commemorated at Gettysburg National Military Park, while a key turning point in the American Revolution is remembered at Washington Crossing, the spot where George Washington famously crossed the Delaware River.

In the Pennsylvania Wilds region, one of the state's top sightseeing attractions has become more accessible via a new pedestrian walkway at Kinzua Bridge State Park providing views of the Kinzua Gorge.


Philadelphia is the clear choice for your next meeting. With a state-of-the-art Convention Center located in the heart of the city (boasting the largest ballroom on the East Coast), plus world-class shopping, nightlife, culture, dining and thousands of hotel rooms all within a few blocks, there is nothing missing to make your next great meeting here.

The second-largest city on the East Coast and fifth largest in the United States, Philadelphia is within 200 miles of 46 million people. It's the cradle of liberty, a city of medical firsts and the only UNESCO World Heritage City in the nation. It's home to James Beard Award-winning chefs, was named one of the most walkable cities in the nation and lies less than 2 hours from New York City and Washington, D.C. by Amtrak's Acela Express. Philadelphia's location in the center of the Northeast Corridor makes it easy and affordable for attendees to travel here.

When you hold a meeting, convention or trade show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, you are not just investing in a building or floor space, you are investing in an experience.  With over 1 million sq. ft. of sellable space and 79 meeting rooms, the Pennsylvania Convention Center combines historic preservation and architectural innovation with state-of-the-art technology, making it one of the most adaptable, high-tech convention centers in the nation.

The Center's convenient location in the heart of downtown Philadelphia means exploring the City's neighborhoods is as easy as putting on a comfortable pair of shoes. A floor-to-ceiling glass facade entrance on North Broad Street serves as the gateway to Philadelphia's arts and culture venues on Broad Street and the City's renowned museums along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, via Lenfest Plaza. The Arch Street entrance leads to the famous  Reading Terminal Market and Philadelphia's Historic District.

With more than 11,000 hotels rooms in Philadelphia (including more than 9,000 within a 15-minute walk of the Pennsylvania Convention Center), you are sure to find the perfect spot for your group. Choose from the quirky and boutique to budget-friendly or big-name brands. Whatever your needs, Philadelphia is there for the making.

As America's birthplace, Philadelphia is the nation's only World Heritage City. Where else can you walk from the sites where political luminaries debated standing up to a king to the home of the largest collection of Rodin sculptures outside of Paris before making your way through a giant-sized human heart?   Be sure to explore the African American Museum in Philadelphia, which collects and preserves art and artifacts and, through exhibitions and programs, interprets the history and stories of African-Americans and those of the African Diaspora.


Pittsburgh offers a wide variety of unique and innovative venues sure to impress. The expansive and sustainable David L. Lawrence Convention Center boasts both Platinum and Gold LEED® certifications. With 313,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, 53 meeting rooms, two lecture halls, an outdoor rooftop and garden, and the largest ballroom (31,000 sq. ft.) in the region, there's versatile space for any group size. Additionally, 5,000 hotel rooms located within downtown place the convention center just steps away from hotel options to suit every budget.

Pittsburgh is home to some of the finest hotels in the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as a delightful cross section of other accommodations.  In Downtown Pittsburgh, you'll find a wide variety of hotel options to suit every taste and budget. From elegant to accessible, Victorian-era charm to contemporary, you're sure to find the right room right where you need it. Though the different properties may all set unique moods, all include state-of-the-art features like high-speed internet.

A 90-minute flight for 70% of North America's population, a six-hour drive from nine states, Washington D.C. and parts of Canada, and consistent shuttle, bus, taxi and ride-share services make Pittsburgh easy to get to.


The Providence Black Repertory Company and a small museum at the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society turn the spotlight on the African-American history and Culture of the Ocean State.

Providence also is home to the Meeting House of the First Baptist Church in America and the Culinary Archives & Museum at Johnson & Wales University. One of the city's favorite family attractions is the 430-acre Roger Williams Park, which encompasses the Carousel Village, the Museum of Natural History and Roger Williams Park Zoo.

Rhode Island's more than 400 miles of shoreline includes several prime resorts ideal for a family reunion or incentive trip. One such retreat is Block Island, located 10 miles off the southern coast.

Newport's Gilded Age mansions are among the state's top sightseeing attractions. The International Tennis Hall of Fame and the White Horse Tavern - the nation's oldest operating saloon in the United States - are also found in Newport.


The Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburg, near Burlington, houses exhibits on the history of the Underground Railroad in Vermont.

Vermont's number one tourist attraction is the Ben and Jerry's Factory in Waterbury Center. Other top historical, cultural and recreational sites include the Vermont State House in Montpelier, the Vermont Ski Museum in Stowe, Green Mountain National Forest and Lake Champlain.

Agritourism is booming in the Green Mountain State, at places like the Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock, the Cabot Creamery Factory in Cabot and Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, where another favorite attraction is the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory.

Visitors might consider planning a meeting or leisure trip to coincide with a special event like January's Winter Festival in Bennington, the Vermont Maple Open House Weekend held at sugarhouses throughout the state in March, the statewide Vermont Open Studio, with nearly 300 artists and artisans participating, or the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival in June.


DC's most talked about tourism attractions these days are the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History & Culture and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. The stunning new museum building, which prominently sits between The Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, features three tiers of inverted half-pyramids, sheathed in a shimmering bronze-hue screen cut in an abstract pattern based on the intricate ironwork created by freed slaves in New Orleans and Charleston, S.C.

The MLK Memorial is first monument on the National Mall to honor a non-president and first to honor a person of color.  The centerpiece is 30-ft. statue of King carved into a block of granite called the Stone of Hope, positioned as if emerging from a split boulder called the Mountain of Despair. A 450-ft. curved granite wall is inscribed with 14 quotes from King.

The 2.3 million-sq. ft. Walter E. Washington Convention Center is the city's largest meeting venue, containing more than 700,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space. There are nearly 28,000 hotel rooms citywide. Just across the street from the Center, the Marriott Marquis Washington, DC, the capital's largest hotel and Marriott International's 4,000th property, spans an entire block.  This dynamic hotel is designed to make event planning nearly effortless by offering fully outfitted function facilities, awe-inspiring accommodations and easy access to out-on-the-town activities, all in one place.  The dazzling property, majority owned by African-American developer Norman Jenkins, features 1,175 rooms and 49 suites, and ore than 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting and event space, including a 30,000-sq. ft. Grand Ballroom, two 10,800-sq. ft. ballrooms, more than 53,000 sq. ft. of meeting rooms, and a 2,500-sq. ft. rooftop terrace.

Visitors with an interest in African-American history and culture will discover plenty of possibilities in DC beyond the King Memorial.  A good starting point would be Howard University, a historically Black private university that w as founded in 1867 in Washington, DC, and is the home to 13 schools and colleges offering undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and professional degrees in a number of disciplines.

The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, preserving the last residence of Frederick Douglass (1818 -1895), one of the most prominent African-American leaders of the 19th century, is another possibility.  Be sure to include the Emancipation Statue, built almost entirely with funds donated by former slaves, the Mary McLeod Bethune Statue in Lincoln Park, and the African American Civil War Memorial on your list of things to do and see.  Thee any many other historical point of interest can be found along the Black History National Recreation Trail

This just scratches the surface of what DC has to offer.  Of course there are the White House, the Washington Monument, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial - the list goes on and on.  So plan to stay in the nation's capital for a few days at a minimum before or after your conference so you can take in al the city has to offer.

The tourism offices listed with this article can provide additional information to help plan your Northeast meeting, family reunion or incentive trip.


  • Connecticut Office of Tourism - (888) CT-VISIT
  • Delaware Tourism Office - (866) 284-7483
  • Destination DC - (202) 789-7000
  • Maine Office of Tourism - (888) 624-6345
  • Maryland Office of Tourism - (866) 639-3526
  • Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism - (800) 227-MASS
  • New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development - (603) 271-2665
  • New Jersey Division of Travel & Tourism - (800) VISIT-NJ
  • New York State Department of Economic Development - (800) CALL-NYS
  • Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership - (800) ONTARIO
  • Pennsylvania Tourism Office - (800) VISIT-PA
  • Rhode Island Tourism Division - (800) 250-7384
  • Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing - (800) VERMONT