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

Many of you are probably wondering how this next city got on our list, but Muskegon, MI. is an up and coming destination that is looking for the African-American tourist and your convention business. For those of you who aren’t quite sure where Muskegon is located, it’s in western Michigan on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan.

There are several venues for those group gatherings. LC Walker Arena has seating for 6,000, meeting rooms for 1,000 and seated dining for 1,000. Numerous other facilities and hotels with a capacity of 500 or less are also available.

Kayaking, canoeing and boat cruises are among the favorite pastimes for locals and visitors alike. Muskegon has a wonderful maritime history that’s on display for all to explore.

Golfers, you have 12 courses from which to choose. If you are a winter sports buff or you need to build a little camaraderie among those employees, try a team building exercise at the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex. You can try your hand at cross-country ski courses and ice rinks — both lighted at night, snowshoe trails and one of only five luge runs in the United States. For more on Muskegon, go to www.visitmuskegon.org.

Nestled in the majestic beauty of the Pacific Northwest is Portland, OR. Portland has played host to numerous African-American conventions. It’s a testament to the city of Portland to be able to attract African-Americans to a city with a population that’s less than five percent Black.

African-Americans have made a significant contribution to the development of Portland through their work in the railway industry and the World War II shipyards.

There are several Black churches in Portland and two African-American newspapers. Portland has the oldest continuously chartered NAACP chapter west of the Mississippi.

The Oregon Convention Center is the largest in the Pacific Northwest with over one million sq. ft. of space. The transportation system once you arrive is second to none and easy to navigate.

There are art galleries, boat tours, casino gaming opportunities, nightclubs, skiing and so much more in and around Portland. And here’s another Oregon plus — no sales tax, so enjoy the shopping.

Portland is one of those great American cities that speaks for itself. Call the Oregon Convention & Visitor Services Network at (800) 909-2882, Ext. 245, to learn more about this one of a kind destination.

Many of you in my age group might remember the late 1970s – 1980s hit television series Mash. The sitcom followed the life of a bunch of misfit doctors and their support staff during the Korean War. The company clerk Corporal Max Klinger, played by actor Jamie Farr (the one who wore dresses so they would think he was crazy and kick him out of the Army) constantly referred to his beloved hometown of Toledo. He spoke of the town with great reverence. Toledo happens to be Farr’s hometown in real life as well.

We love Toledo too and truly believe it is one of America’s great communities and an emerging market for the African-American tourist and those meetings and conventions. Toledo has some exquisite small and mid-sized gathering spots for meetings, banquets and conventions. The largest meeting venue in Toledo is the 75,000-sq. ft. SeaGate Convention Centre that is physically attached to the Radisson Hotel and the Hotel Seagate with a combined 600 rooms. In total, Toledo is home to over 7,000 hotel rooms.

For those of you looking to take the family, the Toledo Zoo is the city’s number one tourist attraction and one of the best in the country. It’s a community with abundant nightlife, great theater and plenty of other activities for an enjoyable family experience.

The jewel of east Tennessee is Knoxville, home to the University of Tennessee. Knoxville is located within a days drive of over half the U.S. population making it easy to plan a family vacation, family reunion or other group gathering.

Meeting planners, Knoxville has a new 500,000-sq. ft. convention center and 7,500 hotel rooms countywide. It has big-city amenities with a small town charm. There are several great places for corporate meetings including the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

In you are one of those who loves to stay in touch with your roots, Knoxville was the adopted hometown of Roots author Alex Haley. Haley is honored with a large statue at Haley Heritage Square. If you happen to be in Knoxville in late June, checkout the Kuumba Festival. The festival represents the shared heritage of African, African-American and African Appalachian in the Diaspora and how that heritage shaped eastern Tennessee life.

From blues to reggae, jazz to rock, Knoxville has a vibrant nightlife with numerous venues to suit just about every musical taste.

Knoxville is a family-friendly city with outdoor boating activities along the Tennessee River, one of the better zoos in the southeastern United States and Fort Kid with thousands of sq. ft. of rides, slides and swings. Go to www.Knoxville.org to learn more about this one-of-a-kind American city.



When you say the word Tuskegee, the first thing most of us think about is the world famous group of World War II aviators, the Tuskegee Airmen. But there is more to Tuskegee, AL starting with one of the best historically Black colleges in the country, Tuskegee University.

While small in size with fewer than 12,000 residents, it’s richly steeped in African-American culture and history. One such cultural event held annually the Saturday before Mother’s Day is The Carver Arts & Crafts Festival. This multi-faceted event celebrates the life of Dr. George Washington Carver.

Carver revolutionized the southern agricultural economy by showing that 300 products could be derived from peanut oil. By 1938, peanuts had become a $200 million a year industry. Carver went on to teach at Tuskegee University.

Civil rights hero Rosa Parks, music legend Lionel Richie and nationally syndicated radio personality Tom Joyner all hail from Tuskegee.

Tuskegee is in east-central Alabama about 40 miles from Montgomery and 125 miles from Atlanta. And if you need a place to stay while in Tuskegee, the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center is right on the campus. The conference center is 17,000 sq. ft. and the largest space in the center is a ballroom that can hold up to 350 people



At the polar opposite in terms of location and experience from Tuskegee is Sitka, Alaska. I know, by now you think we’ve lost our minds. But one thing African-Americans have always been noted for is our adventurous spirit and there is no better place for a new adventure than Sitka.

Sitka has a majestic beauty that many of us have only experienced in some photo album or guidebook. To be in Sitka is truly like being one with nature.

Bring your camera for the year-round marine and wildlife viewing opportunities. Catch a glimpse of humpback whales, sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, brown bears and black-tailed deer.

Boat tours, guided sea kayak tours, diving, snorkeling are just some of the ways to experience Sitka wildlife. You can also take an all-terrain-vehicle tour through some of the most breath-taking wilderness trails anywhere in the world. And don’t forget to ask about the numerous fishing opportunities.

If you prefer an aerial view try “flightseeing” tours. Take in the majestic views of mountains, lakes, wildlife, volcanoes and glaciers from high above or from the water on a floatplane.

Most shops are filled with artifacts that represent the local culture both past and present. Sitka was once-upon-a-time part of Russia, and you can see that reflected in a lot of the local art. Native Americans and Eskimos have a long and continuous history in Alaska and you will find plenty of souvenirs, jewelry, baskets, quilts and apparel reflecting that contribution in shops all over Sitka.

This seaside community is located on the western side of Baranof Island along the Alaskan panhandle. It’s the fourth largest city in Alaska by population and the largest city in the United States by area.

Sitka can only be reach by air or sea. Direct flights from Anchorage, Juneau and Ketchikan, AK along with Seattle are available. If you prefer the water route try one of the numerous ferry services and sea charters along the Alaska Marine Highway System.

For small meetings of 500 or less, Sitka has several venues to choose from including Harrigan Centennial Hall and the Alaska Raptor Center to name a few. If you are interested in one-stop shopping for your event try the Westmark Sitka with 100 guest rooms, several meeting or banquet rooms and a theater capacity of 175 people.

To learn more about Sitka go to www.sitka.org.

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