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

PORTLAND, OR

Portland's Metropolitan Area Express (MAX) light rail system makes it easy to zip around town to see some its outstanding visitor attractions. Hop on the train to go explore places like the Portland Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Craft, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, the Oregon Zoo and the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum.

A ride on the Aerial Tram will reward you with spectacular sights of the Willamette River, Mount Hood and the downtown skyline. The tram's two gondolas are named "Walt," for Walt Reynolds, the first Black graduate of Oregon Health & Science University, and "Jean," for Jean Richardson, the first female engineering graduate of Oregon State University.

The cultural hub of Portland's African-American community is the Albina district, where you can shop, dine and browse the art galleries. The building that was once the Golden West Hotel has an important link to Portland's Black history: Until the early 1950s it was the only local lodging facility that served African-Americans.

The Convention Center was the first in the nation to receive a LEED green design certification for an existing building when it completed a $116 million renovation and expansion. The center contains 255,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, the 34,400-sq. ft. Grand Portland Ballroom, the 25,200-sq. ft. Oregon Ballroom and 52,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Most convention services offered by the Portland Oregon Visitors Association are complimentary, including planning youth and spouse activities and pre- and post-convention tours; help locating offsite venues; an attendance promotion toolkit; and online reservations for meeting delegates. In addition to the POVA, meeting and event planners can get assistance from the Oregon Convention & Visitor Services Network, which has a Multicultural Resource Directory and a Meeting Planners Information Kit on its Web site.


ST. TAMMANY PARISH, LA

If you're fond of nature and the outdoors, you'll find plenty of diversions in St. Tammany Parish. Located just across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, St. Tammany is known for the quieter charm of its historic downtowns, large rural areas and natural animal habitats. At the same time, it has the fastest growing population in Louisiana.

Cities and towns in the parish (Louisiana's version of a county) include Abita Springs, Bush, Covington, Folsom, Lacombe, Madisonville, Mandeville and Slidell. The list of attractions and activities includes swamp tours, eco-tours, nature centers, museums, brewery tours, biking, kayaking, bird watching, fishing and horseback riding.

Covington is home to the Abita Brewing Company, the Heiner Brau Microbrewery & Museum and the Insta-Gator Ranch & Hatchery. In Folsom, you can visit the Global Wildlife Center and the Sunflower Farm and Ranch. Lacombe is the place from which to embark on a cruise aboard the Magnolia Belle Riverboat, while Madisonville, a historic boating community, is the site of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum and Research Center, which offers space for meetings. Mandeville's Fontainebleau State Park and Northlake Nature Center might make great settings for a group outing, while the city's Tammany Trace offers a scenic route for biking and horseback riding. Attractions in Slidell range from the antique shops in Old Towne to the Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge. One of the largest meeting and event venues in St. Tammany is the 50,000-sq. ft. Northshore Harbor Center in Slidell, which offers high-speed ports, water and electricity connections on the tradeshow floor and a WiFi-ready lobby and pre-function area.

The Louisiana's Northshore/St. Tammany Parish Tourist and Convention Commission offers a number of complimentary services, including housing assistance, site and facility coordination and registration staffing. Family reunion planning assistance includes room blocking and help with selecting venues and activities.


WICHITA, KS

In a destination known for its western heritage and aviation history, it's easy and inexpensive to get to many of Wichita's cultural and historical treasures. For only a quarter, the "Q" Line Trolley will transport you from your downtown hotel to the cultural district known as Museums on the River.

The district is home to the Wichita Art Museum, Kansas' oldest museum; Botanica, The Wichita Gardens, which features 24 themed plant displays; the Mid-America All-Indian Center and Museum; Exploration Place, a hands-on science museum; and the Old Cowtown Museum, which includes an exhibit on the history of African-American cowboys.

Calvary Baptist Church, constructed in 1917 and standing today as one of the state's oldest remaining Black worship places, houses the Kansas African-American Museum. The three-day Wichita Black Arts Festival takes place each September in McAdams Park.

Fans of the arts can check out playbills at the Orpheum Performing Arts Center and explore the exhibits at the Wichita Center of the Arts. Other local attractions include the Kansas Aviation Museum, located in the original Wichita Municipal Airport Terminal Building; the Museum of World Treasures, which showcases dinosaurs, mummies, jewels and other finds; the Old Town Marketplace, which offers live entertainment, restaurants, shops, museums and galleries; and the Sedgwick County Zoo, which has classroom, an auditorium and event space. Two more alternative meeting spaces are the visitor center at the Old Cowtown Museum and The Grand Chapel, a renovated church. Wichita's premier meeting venue is the Century II Performing Arts & Convention Center, which contains more than 200,000 sq. ft. of exhibit and meeting space. The center is connected to the Hyatt Regency Wichita, and there are more than 7,000 hotel rooms citywide.

The Greater Wichita Convention & Visitors Bureau provides assistance with meeting site coordination, registration, housing, activity planning and promotion of your event.
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