When it comes to choosing destinations for meetings, big cities outfitted with large convention centers, busy airports and an abundance of hotel rooms are often top contenders. But, throughout the United States, several mid-size destinations are proving that they have what it takes to be great meeting destinations, too, with amenities that go beyond the ballrooms and include unique meeting spaces, world-class golf courses, walkable downtowns and more.
From sunny Tucson, Arizona, to scenic Manchester, Vermont, here’s our first installment of mid-size markets great for meetings in 2024.
As Arizona’s second largest city, Tucson is a place meeting attendees will be excited to visit. For starters, the city gets 350 days of sunshine and visitors find plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors in between meeting sessions, from hitting the links to exploring the 91,000 acres in the cacti-studded Saguaro National Park.
After working up an appetite, there’s no shortage of great spots to grab a great meal. The city earned a UNESCO World City of Gastronomy designation and Tucson also claims to have “The Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food.”
Getting to Tucson is a breeze, too. Roughly 60 flights a day from 17 major U.S. airports land at Tucson International Airport. It’s no wonder CVENT recognized Tucson in its top 50 cities for meetings.
Where to meet: From the desert to the Santa Catalina mountains, the landscapes at Omni Tucson National Resort are inspiring. In addition to 30,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting room space, meeting guests can play a round at the Catalina Course that’s hosted the PGA Tour or the desert-style Sonoran Course.
The Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort and Spa was originally constructed as a hacienda-style home in 1912. Today, the 80-acre resort is a desert oasis with 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, including a rooftop terrace with panoramic views.
Des Moines, Iowa
Over the past two decades, Des Moines has grown into a vibrant destination and is positioning itself to be a meeting powerhouse in the Midwest. Iowa’s capital city has 1,000 locally owned restaurants, plus world-class attractions, gardens, museums, and farms that can all make for fun group outings. The walkable city features a four-mile climate-controlled skywalk.
For organizations with east and west coast attendees, Des Moines offers a meet-in-the-middle option, with 160 daily flights at its airport and a central location that’s within a 5-hour drive for a quarter of the country.
Where to meet: The historic Iowa Loan & Trust Company Building (circa 1913) has been transformed into a beautiful hotel named the 137-room Surety Hotel, which is named after bonds. The hotel’s 8,300 square feet of event space has what every meeting-goer wants: Large windows to let the light in. Modern amenities are juxtaposed with brick walls, and an on-site restaurant.
Greensboro, North Carolina
Greensboro is known for its rich arts and culture scene, crave-worthy restaurants (there’s 500 of them) and Southern hospitality. North Carolina’s third largest city is home to the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, as well as art museums and galleries.
For those coming for meetings, the arts can be experienced at Grandover Resort & Spa, which has its own fine art gallery showcasing original artwork, pottery, photography, sculptures and more from 30 North Carolina artists.
Where to meet: Also helping position Greensboro as a top meeting destination is Grandover Resort & Spa, which has a first-class conference center and 45,000 square feet of meeting space. After a morning of meetings, guests can play a round of golf on the 18-hole East Course or the 9-hole West Course. Meetings and events guests love the extensive banquet menus from Chef Patrick O’Dawe, who treats groups like VIPs and believes that food is a language that can bring people together.
Trade busy cities and traffic jams for a scenic retreat in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Manchester has everything you want in a quintessential New England destination, from famous fall foliage to cute antique shops and world-class golf courses.
The destination is within driving distance of major East Coast cities like Boston and New York City. At The Equinox Golf Resort and Spa, groups can explore Manchester’s great outdoors through a number of arranged experiences, like hikes, fly fishing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.
Where to meet: The premier meeting destination in Vermont is at The Equinox Golf Resort and Spa, which is tucked in the Green Mountain National Forest and has played host to American Revolutionaries and U.S. presidents. In addition to 18,500 square feet of meeting space, the 199-room resort has an 18-hole championship golf course, heated indoor swimming pool and a few tennis courts.
Editor’s Note: While the major metros may already be on your radar for meetings, there’s several smaller markets bidding for your attention in 2024. These destinations have luxury hotels with great meeting spaces, plus some additional surprises in store. In this new series, ALHI is exploring mid-size cities that are perfect for hosting meetings and events.