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HIGH POINT, NC

High Point knows how to roll out the welcome mat for big crowds: Its International Home Furnishings Market is the largest such event in the world. And a destination where one of the main landmarks is a building shaped like a giant chest of drawers is bound to be a friendly place to visit.

High Point knows how to roll out the welcome mat for big crowds: Its International Home Furnishings Market is the largest such event in the world. And a destination where one of the main landmarks is a building shaped like a giant chest of drawers is bound to be a friendly place to visit.

Besides viewing the World's Largest Chest of Drawers, constructed in 1926 to help market High Point as the "Home Furnishings Capital of the World," you can find out more about the city's important role in this industry at the Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library.

The High Point Museum & Historical Park has exhibits on the local furniture, transportation and hosiery industries, as well as displays on early entrepreneurs and famous High Point natives like jazz musician John Coltrane.

The John Coltrane Commemorative Marker is posted near his boyhood home, while the 8-ft. bronze John Coltrane Statue is located at the corner of Commerce Avenue and Hamilton Street. Another local Black heritage attraction is the Rosetta C. Baldwin Museum, which honors a prominent African-American citizen of High Point.

Major historical attractions include Mendenhall Plantation, home to an early 19th century Quaker family that supported abolition; the Museum of Old Domestic Life, a Quaker museum housed in the 1858 Springfield Meeting House; and Historic Castle McCulloch Gold Mill, a restored gold refinery built in 1823 and restored in mid-1980s, which is available for events.

Meeting venues include Showplace, a 450,000-sq. ft., five-story facility that accommodates up to 500 exhibitors, and the Suites at Market Square, offering 75,000 sq. ft. of flexible exhibit space on three floors and space for groups of 200 to 5,000.

Complimentary services of the High Point Convention & Visitors Bureau include bid preparation and presentation, tour planning and housing assistance for groups using two or more hotels.


IRVING, TX

Irving may be right in the midst of the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area, but a visit to one of the city's favorite attractions will transport you to the setting of major Hollywood movies like Robocop" and "JFK." Daily tours are on tap at the 72,000 -sq. ft. Movie Studios at Las Colinas. Another popular tour takes you behind the scenes at Texas Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. For sports enthusiasts who like to do as well as watch, Campion Trails offers scenic paths for hiking, jogging and cycling. The Las Colinas Equestrian Center has public riding lessons for individuals and groups. Another attraction that might be fun for the kids or an active family reunion group is the Dr. Pepper Starcenter Ice Arena.

Irving may be right in the midst of the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area, but a visit to one of the city's favorite attractions will transport you to the setting of major Hollywood movies like Robocop" and "JFK." Daily tours are on tap at the 72,000 -sq. ft. Movie Studios at Las Colinas. Another popular tour takes you behind the scenes at Texas Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. For sports enthusiasts who like to do as well as watch, Campion Trails offers scenic paths for hiking, jogging and cycling. The Las Colinas Equestrian Center has public riding lessons for individuals and groups. Another attraction that might be fun for the kids or an active family reunion group is the Dr. Pepper Starcenter Ice Arena.

A more laid-back way to spend some leisure time is a gondola cruise on the Mandalay Canals or Lake Carolyn, or a stroll along the Mandalay Canal Walk at Las Colinas.

Be sure to bring a camera to get your own souvenir pix of three of Irving's most notable landmarks: the enormous Mustangs of Las Colinas sculpture, the Las Colinas Flower Clock and the Marble Cow Sculpture on Bluebonnet Hill.

The new Irving Convention Center and Entertainment Complex will open its first phase in 2009 on a 40-acre site in the Las Colinas area, bringing 50,000 sq. ft. of column-free exhibit space and 40,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. Phase two will add a 300,000-sq. ft. entertainment venue, 215,000 sq. ft. of restaurants, retail and cinema, and a full-service hotel.

There are more than 11,000 guestrooms in Irving, and all 70 hotels are within 15 minutes of the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

The Irving Convention & Visitors Bureau provides four hours of complimentary registration assistance for groups of 10 or more, plus other perks from planning itineraries to promotional materials.


JACKSON, MS

Some of Jackson's most interesting attractions are conveniently clustered in the historically Black Farish Street Entertainment District. Visitors to the area can see such important landmarks to African-American history and culture as the Farish Street Baptist Church and the Alamo Theatre. Recently, the old Trumpet Records studio on Farish Street was named part of the statewide Mississippi Blues Trail, as was the site of the legendary Subway Lounge, which was located in the basement of the Summers Hotel, one of two local hotels that served African-Americans during the days of segregation.

Jackson is home to the nation's first permanent civil rights exhibit, which you can see on a tour of the Old Capitol Museum. The list of Black heritage attractions continues with the Medgar Evers Home Museum, the Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center, Jackson State University and Tougaloo College, whose grounds include the Boddie Mansion, one of the few homes in Jackson to survive the Civil War.

The Mississippi Museum of Art has showcased many world-class exhibits, while the Jackson Municipal Art Gallery offers more eye candy for art lovers. If you're traveling with kids, a visit to the Ronald E. McNair Space Center, the Mississippi Agriculture & Forestry Museum, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science or the Jackson Zoo might be a good bet.

For nighttime entertainment, great live jazz is the fare at Birdland, which hosted quite a few legendary musicians back in the days when the club was known as the Crystal Palace.

In early 2009, Jackson's new $65 million, 246,000 sq. ft. Capital City Convention Center is expected to open next to the existing 74,000-sq. ft. Mississippi Telecommunications Conference and Training Center.

Complimentary services from the Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau include site inspections for planners, program planning assistance, registration assistance, hotel and meeting venue canvassing, and promotional materials.


KANSAS CITY, MO

What's friendlier than a barbecue? In Kansas City, you can chow down at any of the more than 100 eateries serving up the distinctive 'cue that gives this destination its culinary fame. Another famous Kansas City product is its music, and there are more than 20 nightclubs featuring live jazz and blues. A visit to the American Jazz Museum will clue you in on some of the stories behind the music. History buffs might enjoy exploring the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which of course will also appeal to sports lovers. Speaking of sports, one of Kansas City's newest attractions is the all-glass Sprint Center arena, which opened last fall along with the new downtown entertainment district known as Kansas City Live! Four riverboat casinos offer additional entertainment options. At the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, where admission is free, the new Bloch Building features five levels of galleries housed in a glass structure with curved ceilings. You can check out more art in the Crossroads Arts District or the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. To learn about the artists who help create some of the world's most popular greeting cards, you can tour the Hallmark Visitor Center. The Kansas City Convention Center, which recently underwent a $150 million renovation, boasts one of the 10 largest ballrooms in the United States, at 46,484 sq. ft. The facility also contains more than 67,704 sq. ft. of meeting space, 389,000 sq. ft. of contiguous, column-free exhibit space and a 133,000-sq. ft., three-level conference center. An outdoor plaza and sculpture garden can host events for up to 2,000. Lodging accommodations are provided by more than 26,000 area guestrooms. The Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association offers help with promoting attendance, Passkey housing services and an online convention planning guide.


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