There are numerous conference cities for small businesses to consider when planning a conference. By selecting a conference friendly city, your attendees are assured to have a wide variety of entertainment, food and hotel choices. Conference cities depend on visitors for their livelihoods and tend to be more welcoming than cities unprepared for conference events.
Top 5 US Conference Cities
There are a number of go-to guides for identifying the best US conference cities. Surveying industry professionals, hoteliers, chambers of commerce and conference centers all play into choosing which cities make the cut. For the purposes of this list, we’ve chosen what we feel are the best 5 cities for conferences. This doesn’t mean there aren’t other cities that are excellent venues, but these are a good place to start if you’re still choosing a location.
#1 Orlando, Florida
Orlando is considered by many industry professionals as the ideal venue for holding conferences.
Visit Orlando states, “While Orlando is known as the vacation capital of the world, we are also among the top meeting destinations.”
Some of the reasons Orlando is a viable choice include:
- Boasts “more top 100 meeting hotels than any other city.”
- Family theme parks, such as Disney World, Universal Studios, Legoland and Sea World.
- Endless types of restaurants
- Night entertainment
- Largest number of hotel rooms in a city (Las Vegas is #1).
- Orlando’s international airport ensures your attendees have easy access to conferences.
Visit Orlando offers an interactive calendar that provides information on park events, sporting events, festivals, concerts, consumer trade shows and more. You can easily see what else will be happening while your conference is underway so you can include it when marketing your conference.
If you decide to hold your conference in Orlando, your attendees will have lodging, entertainment and food choices that are sure to fit any budget.
#2 Washington, DC
Washington, DC is a conference city that gives attendees the unique opportunity to visit historical landmarks and monuments as well as various types of tours. The nation’s capital is served by two airports, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) and Dulles International Airport (DIA).
Perhaps the most outstanding conference venue is the Walter E Washington Convention Center. It can easily accommodate any conference size with its whopping 2.3 million square foot facility. There are many other unique conference venues to be found in the city.
DC offers conference attendees a wide range of every ethnic food imaginable with a generous number of eclectic restaurants. Cultural and entertainment venues are as outstanding as would be expected in a nation’s capital city. A few well-known highlights include:
- White House tours
- Smithsonian Institution Museums (many to choose from)
- International Spy Museum
- Entertainment Cruises on the Potomac
- Ford’s Theater
- Shopping at CityCenterDC
An excellent resource for your conference planning is the Washington Destination website.
#3 Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is serviced by McCarran International Airport. McCarran is said to be one of the top 12 “busiest airports”. As you can imagine, Las Vegas offers an endless choice of venues for all types and sizes of conferences. There’s no shortage of outstanding food choices; Vegas brags that it has “…more celebrity chef restaurants per square mile than any other city.”
A few of the many reasons Las Vegas is an excellent conference city choice include:
- 3 of the 10 largest US convention centers can be found in Las Vegas
- Over 10.8 million square feet of convention space serves more than 5.1 million attendees
- Plenty of hotel room with over 140,000
- Top entertainment shows
- Numerous outdoor venues
- Golf courses
There are several visitor centers to provide additional information on all your conference needs to make planning easier.
#4 Miami, Florida
If you’re looking for a tropical setting, look no further than Miami. This venue has it all – sun, sand, surf, seafood, vibrant culture and exciting nightlife. The city is serviced by the Miami International Airport.
Miami is currently enjoying a growth spurt with more hotels being built to accommodate even more sun- and fun-seekers. Conference venues and hotels offer a wide variety of styles and prices that mean attendees can find whatever their budget dictates.
The Miami Beach Convention Center is undergoing a $515 million expansion and overall facelift. The 1.4 million sq ft LEED certified venue with a new grand ballroom, rooftop junior ballroom, more meeting rooms and a renovated exhibit space.
Other conference venues include
- Miami Marlins Ballpark
- Miami Metro Zoo
- New World Center
- Jackie Gleason Theater
Entertainment options include:
- Art centers and museums
- Broadway show series and concerts
- Third largest barrier reef
- International gourmet cuisines
- Sporting events
- Two national parks
- World’s largest concentration of designer boutique
#5 Chicago, Illinois
The Windy City might be just the venue you’ve been looking for. With over 300,000 businesses located in Chicago, it’s not surprising that Chicago is a premier destination for overnight business travelers.
There are two airports that easily service city conferences – O’Hare International and Midway International.
The city’s many accommodation options make it a very affordable venue choice. Transportation is easy with a renowned large taxi fleet, buses and the Chicago Transit Authority’s rapid transit “L” system.
McCormick Place is considered to be “North America’s premier convention facility” and can accommodate any size or type of conference. Take advantage of their online Meeting Planner’s Guide and other online event information tools
Unique Venues offers a listing of many different types of venues for your conference. Some choices include:
- Gallery cafes
If you’re attracted to North Shore along Lake Michigan then you may prefer this scenic venue. Chicago’s North Shore offers meeting facilities with helpful conference planning and meeting spaces.
Choosing a Conference City
There are many things to consider when browsing conference cities. Be sure the event venue you select is affordable and your attendees have easy access to nearby attractions.