Why the West Is Best for Events

West U.S. Tucson Arizona Boise Idaho Spokane Washington Portland Oregon San Jose California West Coast

Get the most bang for your budget in these five Western U.S. cities.

San Jose, Calif. Consider this city San Francisco’s equally fun, smaller and less expensive little sister. Located in the middle of Silicon Valley, it’s no surprise the city touts impressive Wi-Fi, but the best part is it’s complimentary. Thanks to the city’s “Wickedly Fast Free Wi-Fi” program, attendees can stay connected from Mineta San Jose International Airport to downtown to the convention center. With more than 130 daily flights, the airport is easily accessible through budget-friendly carriers like JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines. And if you want to take a peek at the City by the Bay, it’s a quick hour’s drive away.


Boise, Idaho While you may not have given Boise much thought in the past (it was rated as one of the best under-the-radar destinations of 2015 by Huffington Post), it’s a charming city with budget perks. Boise came in fourth on Forbes’ list of best places to save money in 2015, and it took top honors on WalletHub’s list of best-run cities in America in 2016, meaning it scored highest on financial stability and budgeting efficiency. There’s all that, plus the fact that Boise Centre recently wrapped a major expansion project that added 36,000 square feet of space.

Tucson, Ariz. One of America’s sunniest cities (350 days of sunshine per year) is also one of its most budget-friendly. Tucson (shown above) has an average hotel room rate of $103, one of the lowest on SmartAsset’s list of best cities for conferences in 2015, and the average three-course meal costs $19, nearly $10 less than the average in nearby Phoenix. The convenience of Tucson International Airport, with nonstop flights to 18 major U.S. cities, allows attendees to avoid the nearly two-hour drive from Phoenix. To explore the city’s five major hubs (The University of Arizona, Fourth Avenue, Main Gate Square, downtown and the Mercado District), a one-way trip on the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar will set attendees back only $1.50. 

Spokane, Wash. While Spokane sits on the opposite side of Washington state from Seattle, the two are a little competitive when it comes to meetings—but Spokane takes top honors when it comes to the price tag. According to a study by Runzheimer, an average room night in Spokane will cost about $50 less than an average room night in Seattle, and a day’s worth of meals will be about $10 less than the same in Seattle. And with a convention center that recently underwent a $55 million expansion, Spokane is worth checking out. Its international airport, only 10 minutes from downtown, is serviced by six airlines and ranks seventh on SmartAsset’s list of most efficient U.S. airports of 2015.

Portland, Ore.

Portland’s got a lot going for it—hundreds of food carts, the world’s largest bookstore and a ton of natural beauty—yet it’s also surprisingly affordable. The main reason: no sales tax. Attendees can enjoy tax-free shopping, and there’s no food and beverage tax, so meeting profs can allot budgetary resources elsewhere. According to SmartAsset, about 7 percent of the city’s businesses are restaurants or entertainment establishments, which is the eighth-highest concentration of major U.S. cities—meaning wallet-friendly options abound. Another plus is the city’s walkability factor for ease of transportation.

New Heights It’s never been easier to make your westward expansion, with new airline routes being added on the reg.

> JetBlue is beefing up its airlift options out West. Look for new routes to San Jose, California, in January 2017, as well as increased flights on three popular routes: Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and San Francisco.

> Delta is adding new West Coast-bound flights later this year and into 2017. Nonstop service from Boston to San Francisco rolls out in early November, and daily nonstop service from Boston to Seattle will begin June 8, 2017. Two new daily nonstop flights between Boston and San Francisco will also be added June 8.

> Alaska Airlines is growing its presence in California after its merger with Virgin America, announced in April, set to take effect by Jan. 1, 2017. Hubs will be located in Seattle; San Francisco; Los Angeles; Anchorage, Alaska; and Portland, Oregon.