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

BATON ROUGE, LA

Tourism officials in Louisiana's capital city had a little fun with state's Cajun and Creole heritage in naming one of the convenient services that makes it visitor friendly. Infeaux on the Geaux is Baton Rouge's mobile visitor information center, clueing travelers in on the area's great attractions, restaurants and activities.

Your itinerary might include a visit to the nation's tallest capitol. At 34 stories high, the Art Deco-style building offers a spectacular birds-eye view of the city from its 350-ft.-high observation deck. A bust of P.B.S. Pinchback, America's first Black governor (though he served just 35 days during Reconstruction), is located in the capitol's front lobby.

America's largest historically Black University is also located in Baton Rouge. Two notable attractions on Southern University's flagship campus are the Red Stick Monument and the Southern University Museum of Art, which overlooks the Mississippi River. The Odell S. Williams African American History Museum houses exhibits on Black inventors, African art and rural artifacts. Other possibilities for your list of things to see and do include the Louisiana Art and Science Museum, the Old State Capitol, the Louisiana State Museum, the Shaw Center for the Arts, the BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo and a swamp tour.

For meeting groups, the largest venue is the Baton Rouge River Center, with 200,000-plus sq. ft. of space, including meeting, exhibition, concession and kitchen facilities. The center encompasses the Arena, the Theatre for the Performing Arts and a new 70,000-sq. ft. Exhibition Hall that combines with the Arena to create more than 100,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space.

There are more than 8,000 guestrooms citywide, including 3,000 committable rooms.

The Baton Rouge Area Convention & Visitors Bureau offers such event planning services as pre-convention counseling, site inspections, fee-based housing assistance, attendance-building materials and a special farewell and souvenirs for motorcoach groups.


BIRMINGHAM, AL

To be sure, Birmingham's Southern food and culture are among its signature charms, but this city also is home to a year-round event that's quite cosmopolitan. Each year, a different nation takes the spotlight in a series of cultural events that make up the Birmingham International Festival. Discounted admission at many of the city's cultural, historical and recreational attraction is available through the purchase of a Birmingham Passport from the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau. The card covers the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Birmingham Zoo, McWane Science Center and the renowned Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. The Civil Rights Institute is part of the Civil Rights District, which also includes Kelly Ingram Park, Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and other sites.

An evening of entertainment might feature a stroll through the historic Five Points South neighborhood for some dinner and live music. Shopping enthusiasts can explore the Riverchase Galleria, The Summit or the WaterMark Place outlet center in nearby Bessemer.

Recreational amenities include several local courses that are part of the Alabama's Robert Trent Golf Trail, plus hiking trails and picnic sites at Ruffner Mountain, a 1,000-acre nature preserve only five miles from the center of Birmingham.

The Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex contains 220,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, 74 meeting rooms, a 25,000-sq. ft. ballroom and a 19,000-seat arena. The convention center connects directly to 770 of the city's more than 14,000 total guestrooms. Another 1,300-plus downtown hotel rooms are in the pipeline.

The Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau offers meeting groups one free registration assistant for four hours for every 100 room nights, with additional registration assistance available for a fee. The CVB also provides many other services, such as site inspections, promotional materials and help with planning theme events.


CHARLOTTE, NC

The dynamic paintings and collages of Charlotte native Romare Bearden will be among the star exhibits when the new Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture opens in summer 2009.

Named in honor of a former African-American mayor of the city, the new $18.6 million facility is a reincarnation of the Afro-American Cultural Center, which has outgrown its current home in the former Little Rock AME Zion Church. With nearly 50,000 sq. ft. of space, the new center will be more than four times larger.

The current center is one of the stops on a Black heritage tour offered by Queen City Tours that also includes a slave cemetery and Charlotte's first Black hospital, Good Samaritan. History buffs might also enjoy a tour of the Charlotte Museum of History, which has the city's oldest surviving building, the Hezekiah Alexander House, on its grounds.

Groups traveling with kids will want to put Discovery Place, one of the most acclaimed science museums in the Southeast, on their itinerary. Other museums of note include the Levine Museum of the New South, the Mint Museum of Art and the Mint Museum of Craft & Design.

The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center presents the annual Broadway Lights series and other entertainment, while the unique ImaginOn: The Joe and Joan Martin Center blends live performances with changing interactive exhibits.

The city's largest meeting venue is the 850,000-sq. ft. Charlotte Convention Center, which contains 280,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space, a 35,000-sq. ft. ballroom and 46 meeting rooms. The metro area offers more than 30,000 hotel rooms, including 4,100 rooms within walking distance of the convention center.

The Charlotte Convention & Visitors Bureau provides a host of meeting and event planning services, from transportation assistance to an information table at your headquarters hotel or the convention center.


DENVER

A trip back in time to the world of African-American pioneers, cowboys and Buffalo Soldiers is as close as Denver's Black American West Museum & Heritage Center. Located in the former home of Dr. Justina Ford, the city's first Black physician, the museum is one of several visitor attractions in the historic Five Points neighborhood.

During the 1930s and '40s, Five Point jazz clubs were jumping with the sounds of Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton and other famous musicians. Today you can check out such area sites as the Stiles African American Heritage Center, the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library, the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble Studios and the Roundtree Art Center.

The Museum of Contemporary Art is located in LoDo - short for "Lower Downtown" - a favorite local gathering spot filled with galleries, restaurants and pubs. For shoppers, Berkeley Park, Highlands and Old South Gaylord are among the top choices.

You can take a free tour of Denver's Coors Brewery - the world's largest single brewing site - as well as the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in nearby Fort Collins.

Tours of the Colorado State Capitol are also free, offering a glimpse of the a 24-karat gold leaf dome, the indoor wainscoting exhausted the entire world's supply of Colorado onyx, and a staircase that lets you climb to the exact one-mile-high level in the "Mile High City."

The Colorado Convention Center contains 584,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space on one level, 63 meeting rooms and two large ballrooms. There are 7,300 hotel rooms within walking distance of the convention center.

The Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau offers free housing service for groups using three or more hotels and at least 1,200 rooms on peak nights, along with a host of other services for planning meetings, reunions and group trips.


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