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

NORFOLK, VA

With three downtown convention hotels and two other major event venues working together, planning a meeting in Norfolk can be hassle-free. The Waterside Connection links the Waterside Marriott, the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside, the Radisson Hotel Norfolk, the Waterside Festival Marketplace and the Norfolk Scope Arena to allow one-stop shopping for booking large events using multiple sites. The hotel properties offer a combined 55 meeting rooms, 121,000 sq. ft. of convention space and 1,200-plus committable guest rooms and suites.

Several Norfolk visitor attractions make unique and memorable settings for offsite events. The historic Attucks Theatre, a community cultural center named for the African-American Revolutionary War hero Crispus Attucks, hosts banquets and other events. Also accommodating groups on special occasions are the Virginia Zoological Park, Norfolk Botanical Gardens, the Chrysler Museum of Art, Nauticus, The National Maritime Center, and the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center.

Memorial Day weekend is the occasion for Norfolk's largest Black heritage event, AFR'AM Fest in Town Point Park. The list of African-American heritage attractions you can see year-round includes the Martin Luther King Memorial and three historically Black congregations: St. John AME Church, First Baptist Church and the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception. The West Point Monument in Elmwood Cemetery pays homage to African-Americans who served in the Civil War and the Spanish American War.

The city's best-known attraction is the Norfolk Naval Base, which is the largest naval facility in the world.

A Passport to Fun card, available for purchase from the Norfolk Convention & Visitors Bureau, provides discounts at several major attractions, restaurants and shops.

Norfolk is a popular destination for both military and family reunions, and the Norfolk CVB offers a wide range of reunion planning services, including housing services for larger reunions and help with finding offsite venues and organizing tours.


OAKLAND, CA

For a group with eclectic tastes, one of the best spots in Oakland is Jack London Square, where you can shop, dine on the waterfront, listen to some live jazz and tour the historic USS Potomac, known as President Franklin Delano's Roosevelt's "Floating White House."

Another local hangout serving up plenty of variety is historic Old Oakland, with its restored Victorian structures turned into shops, galleries and restaurants. Avid shopping devotees might also want to check out College Avenue, Piedmont Avenue and Monclair Village.

Reunion groups will appreciate Oakland's family-friendly attractions like the Chabot Space & Science Center, which hosts live planetarium shows on Saturday afternoons; the Oakland Museum of California, where visitors can walk across giant map of the state; the 25-block Chinatown area; and Lake Merritt, which offers many types of outdoor recreation.

Local Black heritage attractions include the Ebony Museum of Art, the African American Museum & Library at Oakland and the Museum of African American Technology Science Village, a facility of the Northern California Council of Black Professional Engineers that highlights the contributions of Black inventors, scientists and engineers. The Black Panther Legacy tour, led by one of the organization's founding members, provides an insider's view of the legendary activist group's impact on the community.

The city's largest meeting venue is the Oakland Convention Center, offering 64,000 sq. ft. of exhibit and meeting space, including 12 meeting rooms. Located only 10 minutes from Oakland International Airport, the convention center is connected to the Oakland Marriott City Center, which has an additional 25,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space and 483 guestrooms.

The Oakland Convention & Visitors Bureau can help meeting planners with site inspections, finding lodging, contacting vendors and registering attendees. Free brochures, media lists, maps, video, images, postcards, pens, other gifts are also available.


PENSACOLA, FL

From its aviation history to its African-American heritage, several attractions in this popular vacation destination allow you to peer into its past.

The National Museum of Naval Aviation at the Pensacola Naval Air Station features more than 150 vintage aircraft and a Top Gun F-14 flight simulator. The Naval Air Station site also includes two pre-Civil War fortresses and a lighthouse dating to 1859. Another local site highlighting the area's military history is Johnson Beach, named for an African-American soldier from Pensacola who died in the Korean War.

Julee Cottage, located in Historic Pensacola Village, is a museum housed in what was once the 19th century home of a free Black woman. Nearby, the African American Heritage Society maintains a small art gallery and gift shop in the historic Kate Coulson House.

At the free T.T. Wentworth Jr. Florida State Museum, one of the exhibits is an anchor thought to have belonged to Don Tristan de Luna, one of the first Europeans to sail to Pensacola Bay in 1559. The museum also has a display on the African-American press called The Black Ink.

With 52 miles of beaches, Pensacola's Gulf Coast setting and outdoor recreational amenities are its main attractions. Options for active travel adventurers include canoeing on Coldwater Creek, kayaking in Pensacola Bay and biking along the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

The greater Pensacola area offers more than 150,000 sq. ft of flexible event space, more than 7,000 hotel rooms and 2,000 condo units.

The Pensacola Bay Area Convention & Visitors Bureau will help planners of family, class and military reunions find reunion sites and hotel accommodations. The CVB also provides a wide range of meeting and convention planning services, including FAM tours, assistance with site selection and accommodations, and help with planning spouse and youth activities.


PHOENIX, AZ

If the sunshine and the beautiful Southwest scenery are what draw you to Phoenix, a long and varied list of cultural, recreational and entertainment attractions will keep you occupied once you arrive.

Don't miss a chance to tour the city's African American Cultural Trail, which takes you to places like the Helen K. Mason Center for the Performing Arts, home base where the Black Theatre Troup performs; the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center, housed in the former Phoenix Union Colored High School; the Eastlake Park Civil Rights Memorial; the Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the oldest Black church in Phoenix; the Booker T. Washington School Memorial Room, located at the city's first all-Black elementary school; and the historic Swindall House.

For a great family reunion activity or corporate teambuilding event, head for Arizona's Pioneer the Past, where groups of up to 1,200 can suit up for the Wild West Olympics, Sports Olympics, Cowboy Games and other fun activities.

Other local points of interest include the Phoenix Art Museum, the Heard Museum, the Arizona Capitol Museum, and the Arizona Doll & Toy Museum and Arizona Science Center in Heritage & Science Park.

The Phoenix Convention Center has completed the first phase of its $600 million expansion, adding 62,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, 48,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and a 45,000+ sq. ft. ballroom. Phase two, expected to be completed this fall, will replace an existing building with another containing a 310,000-sq. ft. exhibition hall, 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and a 50,000-sq. ft. ballroom. There are more than 55,000 guestrooms in Greater Phoenix.

The Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau can arrange site inspections of meeting facilities, make customized bid presentations and proposals for meeting group boards of directors and provide a host of other services.


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