Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Issue: May/June 2010
So Many Sun-Drenched Cities, So Little Time
By: Victoria Head
California is a year-round travel destination, with weather that will please everyone from snowbirds to sun worshippers. The Southern California region is the economic hub of the state as it is home to Hollywood and the motion picture industry, world renowned nightlife, entertainment and cultural events, the Rose Bowl, Queen Mary and miles of famous beaches. With California being the Nation's most populous state, it offers a diverse culture along with an abundance of cultural events and historic neighborhoods perfect for sightseeing and shopping, as well as eateries specific to various nations worldwide.

Pasadena is probably best known as the host of the annual Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl football game. Also known as “The Crown of the Valley,” Pasadena offers numerous cultural amenities, fine restaurants, top retailers and an array of sightseeing opportunities, including the city’s lively cultural scene and elaborate historical buildings. Within the 1.5-mile downtown core, you’ll find quaint clothing shops, cobblestone court-yards, sidewalk bistros, and nightlife within three alluring shopping and entertainment districts: Old Pasadena, The Playhouse District and South Lake Avenue.

Old Pasadena is a bustling urban center with streets and alleyways that reflect the traditions of early California; the Pasadena Playhouse District is an eclectic mix of art, theatre, literature and retail with numerous restaurants. At its center is the Pasadena Playhouse, the official State Theatre of California; South Lake Avenue is a mixture of an active business community and thriving retail center. Many locals frequent this tree-lined avenue featuring an array of well-known eateries.

Pasadena’s Convention Center recently completed a $150 million expansion which nearly doubles its original space, providing a total of 108,000 square feet of flexible meeting and exhibit space. The 25,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom can be divided into 10 meeting rooms or, can be combined with the adjacent exhibit hall creating a flexible event space of up to 80,000 square feet. Travelers can choose from over 2,500 guestrooms within luxury hotels, motels and inns, 1,200 of which are within walking distance of the Convention Center. The Bob Hope Burbank Airport is just 16 miles from Pasadena with non-stop flights to west coast cities, mid-continent hubs and New York.

Courtyard by Marriott Los Angeles Pasadena/Old Town 314
The Langham, Huntington Hotel & Spa, Pasadena 380
The Hilton Pasadena 296
The Westin Pasadena 350
West Way Inn 61
total exhibit space 108,000 sq. ft.
largest hall 80,000 sq. ft.
meeting rooms 10
Pasadena – (626) 795-9311


Long Beach, rich in diversity, is one of the busiest seaport s in the world, as well as a world-class seaside resort destination, with numerous shopping districts and attractions. There is the Queen's Market Place, an open mall designed to look like an English Village; Downtown’s Pine Avenue, home of Long Beach's nightlife; the Aquarium of the Pacific, a world-renowned research facility and tourist destination; the mid-April Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach; as well as the R.M.S. Queen Mary, a former ocean liner that has been transformed into a grand hotel.

The Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center facilities include the Long Beach Arena and Exhibition Halls, the Terrace and Center Theaters, Ballroom and Meeting Rooms. The three Exhibition Halls have close to 224,000 sq. ft. of space that can be utilized for conventions, trade-shows, consumer shows and special events. The Terrace Theater is a full production theater that seats 3,051; the Center Theater seats a more intimate 825. Within a walking distance of three blocks from the Convention Center, in the heart of the business district is the recently renovated Hilton Long Beach Executive Meeting Center. The property is ideal for both business and pleasure, featuring 393 guestrooms and over 30,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. In close proximity to the Hilton Long Beach is the Long Beach Airport, one of the most heavily trafficked general aviation airports in the world.

Marriott Long Beach 309
Holiday Inn Long Beach Airport 222
Renaissance Long Beach Hotel 360
Holiday Inn Long Beach-Downtown 134
Hyatt Regency Long Beach 528
total exhibit space 400,000 sq. ft.
largest hall 91,000 sq. ft.
meeting rooms 34
Long Beach Area CVB – (800) 452-7829
Long Beach Black Chamber of Commerce
(562) 432-8866


San Diego is California's second largest city, but is much closer to the popular laid-back image of West Coast life than most major cities in the state. It has miles of oceanfront, dessert terrain consisting of canyons and valleys, hills and cliffs and is bordered by Mexico at its southern end. The ocean attracts leisure and non-leisure business travelers equally; the downtown core is very conveniently laid out and easy to get around in. The San Diego International Airport is located just two miles from the downtown area. There are regular Metropolitan Transit Service buses and express buses serving the airport, as well as a trolley bus which goes all the way to the Mexican border. The Amtrak’s costal train service finally ends in San Diego, having begun its run in Vancouver, BC. Once in the city, many rent bicycles since San Diego's climate makes this an enjoyable way to tour the area.

The San Diego Convention Center is located on the harbor, downtown, and is the premier meeting and conference facility for the region. It is currently planning a $753 million expansion which will provide an additional 200,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, a third ballroom, 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting rooms, and a new 500-room hotel directly behind the convention center, giving the center a total of 815,000 square feet of exhibition space; it is said to be opening sometime in 2015.
Hilton San Diego Bayfront 1,190
The US Grant, San Diego 270
The Grand Del Mar 249
Homewood Suites San Diego Del Mar 127
The Dana on Mission Bay - Sea World 271
total exhibit space 615,701 sq. ft.
largest hall 92,040 sq. ft.
meeting rooms 60
San Diego CVB – (619) 236-1212
Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce
(619) 749-9699


Greater Los Angeles, one of the world’s most popular travel destinations, is the second most visited city in the U.S. for international travelers, and among the top five most visited cities by residents of the U.S. From Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills to the art galleries of Santa Monica, visitors can easily spend a vast amount of vacation days experiencing all there is to see and do in this Southern Californian region. The city also boast world-class meeting facilities and accommodations. Area airports include Los Angeles International Airport, Ontario, Burbank and Orange County.


For many, the city of Palm Springs is a desert oasis in the Southern California region. The city boasts 255 hotels and resorts, 16,200 guest rooms, over 115 golf courses, 600 tennis courts, 620 restaurants and an average of 350 days of sunshine per year. Vacationers flock to Palm Sprints to enjoy the recreation of Mount San Jacinto State Park with its hiking trails and campgrounds; the Aerial Tramway; and Palm Springs Desert Museum, the Palm Springs Air Museum and the Ruddy's 1930s General Store Museum.
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