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Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel

Art lovers can gaze at the Pacific Ocean on breaks from contemplating the exhibits at the Long Beach Museum of Art. Two of the best places to get a glimpse into the city's past are the Rancho Los Alamitos Historic Ranch and Gardens and the Ranchos Los Cerritos Historic site.

The city's largest meeting venue, the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, contains more than 400,000 sq. ft. of flexible exhibit and meeting space - including 34 meeting rooms and a grand ballroom - plus the Long Beach Arena and the Terrace theater. There are more than 5,000 hotel rooms citywide, including more than 2,000 rooms within walking distance of the convention center.

Easily accessible from Los Angeles International Airport and John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Long Beach also has its own full-service airport with service from four major airlines. The Metro Blue Line light rail system connects Long Beach to downtown Los Angeles. Many Long Beach attractions are accessible via the free Passport Shuttle.

LOS ANGELES

In dynamic, multicultural L.A., the African-American heritage attractions alone could fill up a meeting group's leisure time itinerary.

The list includes the California African American Museum in Exposition Park, the Museum in Black, Leimert Park Village - an Afrocentric shopping and dining district - the William Grant Still Community Arts Center and the African American Firefighter Museum. There's also Central Avenue, known as the Black "Main Street" of Los Angeles from the 1920s through the 1950s and now home to Eso Won Bookstore, one of the largest collections of African-American books in the nation. Downtown's Biddy Mason Park is a memorial to a former slave who helped found the city's First A.M.E .Church. In its heyday, the historic Dunbar Hotel welcomed guests like Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Du Bois and a host of African-American musicians. The Ray Charles Memorial Library is located at the site of the music legend's former downtown studios.

The newest homage to Los Angeles' prominent role in the music industry is the $30 million Grammy Museum, which opened in December 2008 in the L.A. LIVE Sports and Entertainment District downtown. Highlights at the museum include a tunnel filled with life-size figures of Grammy-winning artists and an 18-ft. table where visitors can listen to 130 kinds of music. L.A. LIVE also is home to a variety of restaurants and clubs, the NOKIA Theatre Los Angeles (home to the Emmy Awards), the Staples Center (where the Lakers play ball) and the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The convention center contains a 347,000-sq. ft. South Exhibition Hall, a 210,000 sq. ft.-West Exhibition Hall, 147,000 sq. ft. of meeting space in 64 rooms, and a full-service business center. There are over 92,000 area hotel rooms, including more than 6,500 rooms downtown. Another 1,200 rooms are set to open over the next three years.

OAKLAND

Groups planning a fall gathering in Oakland may want to arrive in time to see the annual Black Cowboys Parade and Festival in October. Several other local Black cultural and historical attractions can be experienced year-round, including the African American Museum and Library, the Museum of African American Technology Science Village, the Ebony Museum of Art and the African-American art collection at the Oakland Museum of California. For an "only in Oakland" experience, hop aboard the Black Panther Legacy Tour conducted by founding member David Hilliard.

Jack London Square, the popular waterfront entertainment district, will welcome the new Jack London Market in spring 2009 as the largest public market on the West Coast. At Lake Merritt, you can take a gondola ride and a tour of the Rotary Nature Center and the Victorian-style Camron-Stanford House. Another architectural landmark, the historic Paramount Theatre, also offers tours. Local kid-friendly attractions include the Oakland Zoo, the Chabot Space & Science Center, the Museum of Children's Art and Children's Fairyland.

The Oakland Convention Center & Oakland Marriott City Center encompasses 48,000 sq. ft. of column-free exhibit space and 12 meeting rooms in the convention center, plus 25,000 sq. feet of meeting and function space in the hotel.

PASADENA

Situated at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains just nine miles northeast of downtown L.A., Pasadena has a wide array of cultural, historical and recreational attractions.

The 22 blocks that make up Old Pasadena contain more than 130 retail stores, art galleries, theaters and restaurants. Other places to shop and eat include South Lake Avenue, One Colorado and Paseo Colorado, a three-block segment of Pasadena's Civic Center. Those with still more shopping to do can head to the Rose Bowl Flea Market or check out more than 120 stores at the Pasadena Antique Center.

The city's Pasadena Playhouse District includes the historic Pasadena Playhouse - the official state theater of California - as well as other performance venues. Another famous Pasadena landmark is the Gamble House, a classic example of the Craftsman architectural style.

The Gamble House has rentable space for events, as do several other local attractions. They include the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, the Pacific Asia Museum and Castle Green. Other points of interest include the Norton Simon Museum, the Pasadena Museum of History, the Pasadena Museum of California Art and the Armory Center for the Arts.

The Pasadena Convention Center, which currently contains the 28,000-sq. ft. East Pavilion and the 3,000-seat Pasadena Civic Auditorium, is expected to complete a $150 million expansion in spring that will add more than 85,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, 28 breakout rooms and a 25,000-sq. ft. ballroom. Accommodations are provided by more than 2,500 guestrooms citywide.

Air travel is serviced by the Bob Hope/Burbank Airport, located 15 miles from Pasadena; Los Angeles International Airport, 28 miles away, Long Beach Airport 32 miles out, and Los Angeles/Ontario International Airport, a 37-mile drive. Once you arrive, the Pasadena ARTS (Area Rapid Transit System) can transport you to many top area attractions.


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