Wish You Were Here
Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel


LOS ANGELES, CA

The city of Los Angeles may not be considered a traditional walking city by any account. The massive metropolis is spread out across 400 square miles and a car is very necessary to get the full benefit of what the city has to offer. But Los Angeles is a patchwork of smaller cities within a city, that allow for centralized experiences that can be enjoyed on foot. The Hollywood area is a good starting point to discover LA’s pedestrian delights. Located in the dead center of Los Angeles County, Hollywood has plenty of landmarks within walking distance. On Hollywood Boulevard alone you can snap photos in front of the Chinese Theater, catch a Disney film at the El Capitan, shop or enjoy a free musical performances at the Hollywood & Highland complex, and grab a burger at Mel’s Drive In. Not too far away on Sunset is the enormous Amoeba Records, a dream for lovers of music old and new. Area hotels include the trendy yet timeless Roosevelt Hotel and the 604-room Renaissance Hollywood. A 10-minute train ride and you’re at Universal Studios Hollywood and Citywalk. This entertainment complex has several fine restaurants, shops, an IMAX theater, and nightclubs.

Downtown LA is accessible by subway from Hollywood. Catch a train at Hollywood & Highland or Hollywood & Vine straight into the heart of downtown. Downtown LA is fast becoming the hippest part of town thanks to the striking design of the Disney Hall, the rooftop glamour of the Standard Hotel, the Museum of Contemporary Art, plenty of trendy new bars and restaurants, and access to the Los Angeles Convention Center (with its 870,000 sq. ft. of meeting and exhibition space) and Staples Center, two of the most impressive venues in the country. Hotels in the downtown area range from the luxury of the Wilshire Grand to the affordable and convenient Holiday Inn.

            For more information contact LA Inc. The CVB — (213) 624-7300.




MIAMI, FL

Miami is best known for South Beach, a sexy and walkable beach destination that is truly one-of-a-kind. While South Beach may only cover around 20 blocks of the city it is the focal point of Miami’s nightlife and culture. Famous landmarks are all within walking distance, in fact, Miami is best enjoyed on foot; it’s the recommended mode of transport to maximize people watching. Ocean Drive beckons with its fabulous Deco-style hotels and sidewalks cafes. Lincoln Road is a delightful pedestrian promenade filled with charming shops, top-notch restaurants, and art galleries. But the two main draws of Miami are definitely the beach and the nightlife. During the day, simply stroll up and down the boardwalk or better yet rent a bike or rollerblades. South Beach is wide and long so you will definitely find a spot that is to your taste. The walking nature of the city makes Miami the ideal destination for club hopping. Start at sixth and Washington and make your way north towards Lincoln Road, sampling the wide assortment of bars and nightclubs that saturate the area.

But South Beach’s walkability also makes it a boon for business. The Miami Beach Convention Center is centrally located close to Lincoln Road and Collins Avenue’s hotel row, home to classic properties like the Delano, the Surfcomber, and the National.  Within striking distance is the Miami Convention Center, offering 500,000 gross sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space.

Downtown Miami is also seeing a growth spurt. With the completion of the new Carnival Center for the Arts on Biscayne Blvd, the widespread building of new residences and hotels, access to shopping and dining at Bayside Marketplace, and convenient public transportation, downtown Miami is fast becoming the new place for Miami residents and visitors to explore. And with hotel properties like the Intercontinental and the Hyatt Regency in the area everything is an easy walk away.

            For more information contact the Greater Miami CVB — (800) 933-8448.


PHOENIX, AZ

Downtown Phoenix has become a destination unto itself thanks to several multi-million dollar projects that have generated life into the heart of the nation’s fifth largest city. Although the scenery and charm of the Sonoran Desert still remain, visitors will notice a big change when they visit Downtown Phoenix's 90-block core, called Copper Square. The district is home to more than 95 unique restaurants and bars, including Pizzeria Bianco, Stoudemire's Downtown, Seamus McCaffrey's Irish Pub & Restaurant, Alice Cooper's Town and Jackson's On Third, as well as numerous specialty shops. There’s a flurry of development and growth, as well as a newfound energy. About $2.3 billion is being spent to bring new life into the vibrant downtown. The new Phase One West Building at the expanding Phoenix Convention Center opened in 2006. Phase Two of the expansion is underway, and the facility will triple in size to 900,000 sq. ft. The $600 million expansion will be complete in 2009 and will elevate Phoenix to top-tier status in the convention market.

The first Friday evening of each month brings added energy to Downtown Phoenix as more than two dozen art galleries, as well as working artists studios, bars and coffee houses, open their doors to art enthusiasts of all types. Otherwise known as the First Fridays Art Walks, this program has helped cultivate the downtown cultural scene, giving it more of an "open-house" atmosphere. Additionally, Downtown Phoenix offers everything a visitor or resident would want. Captivating exhibits are provided by numerous cultural venues, including the Arizona Science Center, Phoenix Art Museum and the Heard Museum. The performing arts can be experienced at the historic Orpheum Theatre, the Herberger Theater Center and the Dodge Theatre. Also, Phoenix Symphony Hall has completed an $18.5 million renovation that coincides with the Convention Center expansion project.

For more information contact the Greater Phoenix CVB — (877) 633-8749.




PORTLAND, OR

Portland has a small, personable downtown with half-size city blocks and plentiful public spaces, so it is the ideal city to explore on foot. More than that, Portland has an incredible light rail system called MAX, a modern streetcar line, and cycling obsessed commuters, so you know this is a place where people don’t use their cars. While some may opt to discover the wealth of public art and fountains on their own, Portland walking maps are available at the visitor information center at Pioneer Courthouse Square. Portland is one of the greenest cities in the country, with 37,000 acres of parkland in the metro area and the nation’s largest urban wilderness – the 5,000-acre Forest Park.

Portland’s neighborhoods all have distinct personalities, which is perhaps unusual for a relatively small city. The Pearl District is a thriving community boasting a successful mixture of art, commerce and residential life. Locals have transformed the warehouses into clever retail spaces, cavernous studios, eclectic galleries and upscale lofts. The city’s Cultural District is full of ancient elms, rich green lawns and inviting park benches. Flanking this green space are the historic Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, a modern theater complex, the nationally recognized Portland Art Museum, and the campus of Portland State University.

The Oregon Convention Center is strategically located on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and boasts 225,000 total sq. ft. of exhibit space and 50 meeting rooms.

Old Town/Chinatown is a bustling arts and entertainment district and the site of some of Portland’s best music venues and art galleries. Every weekend from March through December, Old Town hosts the Portland Saturday Market, the nation’s largest and longest running open-air crafts market. Travel between these many distinct areas is easy aboard the sleek, Euro-designed Portland Streetcar. In “Fearless Square” a 330-block area of downtown, transportation on all MAX, light rail trains, buses, trolleys and streetcars is free.

            For more information contact Oregon CVSN — (800) 888-OREGON.




SAN ANTONIO, TX

San Antonio is a unique destination that has retained a sense of history and tradition, while carefully blending cosmopolitan progress. Many of the city’s attractions are located near to the famous Alamo, so you can easily explore by foot. Historic attractions such as La Villita, the San Fernando Cathedral, Jose Antonio Navarro State Historical Park, and Market Square, the largest Mexican marketplace outside of Mexico, are all nearby

Amidst the daily hubbub of the busy metropolitan downtown, sequestered 20 feet below street level, lies one of San Antonio's jewels - the Paseo del Rio. Better known as the "River Walk,” these cobblestone and flagstone paths border both sides of the San Antonio River as it winds its way through the middle of the business district. The River Walk has multiple personalities – quiet and park-like in some stretches, while other areas are full of activity with European-style sidewalk cafes, specialty boutiques, nightclubs and gleaming high-rise hotels. The River Walk stretches for approximately two-and-a-half miles from the Municipal Auditorium and Conference Center on the north end to the King William Historic District on the south. Rio San Antonio Cruises, the river's floating transportation system, provides a novel method of sightseeing and people watching in downtown San Antonio. Groups can also dine aboard open-air cruisers as they wind their way along the scenic waterway. River taxis deliver visitors to Rivercenter, a dazzling three-level glass shopping, dining and entertainment complex, and to the newly expanded 1.3 million-sq. ft. Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

Downtown travel is a breeze on the VIA Streetcar, an open-air rail streetcar. Four streetcar routes to downtown locations are offered, including the Alamo, the Spanish Governor's Palace, La Villita, Sunset Station, the Southwest School of Art and Craft, the Institute of Texan Cultures, the King William Historic District area and downtown shopping. There is convenient access to all routes from the downtown streetcar station on Convention Plaza.

            For more information contact the San Antonio CVB — (800) 447-3372.




SAN DIEGO, CA

The heart of San Diego is the downtown area, where historic neighborhoods and modern developments blend seamlessly. With the San Diego Bay and shimmering skyscrapers as a backdrop, downtown San Diego is one of the most scenic city centers in the country. With more than 11,000 hotel rooms ranging from trendy new boutiques to historic landmarks, there is no shortage of places to stay. All the downtown properties offer easy access to the 2.6 million-sq. ft. San Diego Convention Center and the area’s eight distinct neighborhoods such as the redeveloping East Village, the Bayfront Embarcadero, and festive Little Italy.

No matter where you stay, walking to some of the city’s best attractions is easy, such as Padres’ baseball stadium PETCO Park, the USS Midway/San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum, the Maritime Museum of San Diego, San Diego Bay, and popular shopping areas like Horton Plaza and Seaport Village. The historic Gaslamp Quarter, located directly across from the San Diego Convention Center, is home to approximately 100 restaurants, 40 nightclubs and bars, and 100 unique retail shops.

Beyond downtown, the bankers Hill and Balboa Park neighborhoods also offer diverse hotel choices along with well-known attractions like Balboa Park, the largest urban cultural park in the world. Within its borders are 15 major museums, beautiful gardens, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Other neighborhoods include North Park and Hillcrest, both of which offer convenient access to the downtown area, along with a diversity of activities and attractions to see and do. For transportation if your feet start getting tired, consider the San Diego Trolley light-rail system, which connects downtown and Mission Valley to the San Diego Convention Center and other points of interest throughout the downtown core.

            For more information contact the San Diego CVB — (800) 544-6338.




TAMPA BAY, FL

 Tampa is revered for its beautiful weather, close proximity to Disney World, and the gorgeous park/zoo hybrid Busch Gardens. But the city has much to offer those who wish to explore its bounty on foot. The downtown skyline marks the bustling waterfront region of downtown Tampa, and provides the backdrop for some of the area's most recent tourism developments. The St. Pete Times Forum, Channelside entertainment district, and Garrison Seaport provide visitors and residents alike with plenty of opportunities for fun and relaxation. The Forum serves as the home to professional hockey and arena football, plus many other world-class concerts and events.

 At Channelside, numerous shops, restaurants and an IMAX theater center around a Mediterranean-style courtyard complete with fountain and skyline terrace views. Cruise passengers from near and far get treated to the newly renovated terminals at the Garrison Seaport. Rounding out the east side of the downtown waterfront is the spectacular Florida Aquarium. Anchoring the west side of downtown along the scenic Hillsborough River is the Tampa Convention Center, Tampa Museum of Art, University of Tampa and the Henry B. Plant Museum (formerly the Tampa Bay Hotel), and the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.  The 600,000-sq. ft. Tampa Convention Center offers 200,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, a 36,000-sq. ft. ballroom, and 36 breakouts which total over 42,000 sq. ft.

Just a few blocks away is Ybor City, a National Historic Landmark District and former "cigar capital of the world." Ybor City also doubles as the nightlife capital of Florida's west coast. During the day, visitors can explore the heritage and ethnic diversity of the area at the Ybor City State Museum, then dance the night away at any number of clubs and hotspots in Centro Ybor or all along the main thoroughfare of the infamous 7th Avenue.

            For more information contact the Tampa Bay CVB — (800) 826-8358.

So why not save some gas money and book your next meeting or event in one of these destinations. Convenient and compact, walking cities truly offer everything your attendees will need from easy access to meeting facilities and hotels to numerous dining, shopping and entertainment options. Just remember to bring your walking shoes.

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