When you think of the South, do Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Greensboro, North Carolina; Tulsa, Oklahoma; or Fayetteville, Arkansas, come to mind?
These less familiar Southern locales are all enjoying a spur of activity as of late, adding to their appeal for meetings and conferences. For example, Baton Rouge just welcomed a sprawling IBM campus and is undergoing a $1.25 billion renovation of its downtown area, complete with 300 new hotel rooms and a burgeoning food scene. Tulsa and Fayetteville both turned heads this year with high rankings on the U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Places to Live” list. Greensboro, meanwhile, has big-city amenities with all of the charm of a college town.
Factor in the Southern culture and the affordable price tags, and these four just may become your next go-to spots for meetings in the South.
A historic location along the famed Route 66, more than 14,500 hotel rooms, and the sprawling BOK Center and Cox Business Center are only a few of the reasons to meet in Tulsa. For weekend pattern meetings, utilize the handy LOOP shuttle service, which offers transportation among popular spots like the BOK Center, Brady Arts District, Deco District and Blue Dome District. In 2017, meeting attendees can embrace outdoor time at A Gathering Place for Tulsa, a massive 100-acre park slated to open next year.
Greensboro’s location between Charlotte and Raleigh makes it a convenient choice for planners seeking a central meeting spot in North Carolina. During downtime, attendees can catch a play at Triad Stage, explore artful oddities inside Elsewhere, a living museum, or, if you’re in town in September, plan an outing to the National Folk Festival. See public art along Elm Street and get outdoors on the Downtown Greenway, a 4-mile path under development. Satisfy foodies in your group with a Taste Greensboro gourmet food tour, which accommodates groups of up to 200.
A natural setting among the Ozark Mountains and a thriving business climate make Fayetteville a perennial list-topper on “best of” lists (like Forbes’ “Best Places for Business and Careers” and The Huffington Post’s “The 12 Cutest Small Towns in America”). More than 300 Fortune 500 companies have an office in Fayetteville, regularly attracting convention groups to the city’s 2,000-plus hotel rooms. When it’s time for teambuilding, take in the fresh air at Botanical Garden of the Ozarks or the nearby Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, set on 120 lush acres.
With an airport 10 minutes away from its walkable downtown and close proximity to New Orleans (80 miles away), this capital city is a top convention choice. When meetings have wrapped up, cheer on the LSU Tigers at an SEC football game, bike along the Mississippi River and eat your weight in Creole cuisine. Experience the city’s music scene with a show at the River City Jazz Masters concert series.
Photo credit: Don Sibley; Timothy Hursley; Maggie Bowles/Visit Baton Rouge