As the nation’s second largest state, the adage “everything is bigger in Texas” rings true. The Lone Star State’s geography is among the most varied in the country, featuring seven distinct regions with landscapes ranging from ocean to mountain to forest to desert. Variety also defines the state’s cultural, entertainment, dining, and attraction offerings. Texas is a flavorful blend of large cities such as Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, and small towns like Fredericksburg and Allen. Visitors can savor Latin influence in Laredo and El Paso and enjoy Texas-size hospitality in Gulf Coast and Panhandle Plains communities. For music lovers, the festival city of Austin is heaven, offering more than 250 music venues representing genres from country to rock to jazz.
Located along Interstate 20 between Midland and Abilene, Big Spring draws its name from a watering hole that served herds of buffalo and wild mustangs, was a contentious spot between the Comanche and Shawnee, and became an important landmark to pioneers and early cattlemen. A few years ago, Visit Big Spring participated in a renovation of the historic spring, adding educational signage, walkways, an interpretive center, and a performance stage and plaza with space to seat 1,000 people.
The city’s main event space is at the historic 65-room Hotel Settles, a 1930s-era Art Deco hotel that was fully renovated in 2012. The hotel has 15,000 square feet of event space including a ballroom that seats 300.
Other event spaces in the city include the Dora Roberts Community Center with three event spaces and the 90,000-square-foot Dorothy Garrett Coliseum at Howard College with a 4,000-seat arena and meeting and exhibit space.
Hampton Inn & Suites, La Quinta Inn & Suites, and TownePlace Suites all offer small meeting rooms.
Hangar 25 Air Museum, housed in a restored World War II-era hangar, tells the story of Webb Air Force Base and the Big Spring Army Air Force Bombardier School that operated there from 1952 to 1977.
West of San Antonio near the border with Mexico, Del Rio is home to Laughlin Air Force Base, the 57,000-acre Amistad National Recreation Area, Lake Amistad, and Devils River State Natural Area, which has been designated an International Dark Sky Sanctuary. According to the Del Rio Chamber of Commerce, the city offers approximately 600 guest rooms in a variety of hotels and inns in town and on the lake.
The Del Rio Civic Center has classroom, theater, and banquet spaces to accommodate up to 1,305 people. Ramada by Wyndham Del Rio has 6,000 square feet of event space in eight meeting rooms to accommodate up to 300 guests. Hampton Inn & Suites, Holiday Inn Express, and La Quinta Inn & Suites all have small meeting rooms.
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Located in far western Texas, El Paso offers planners unique experiences in many ways, says Brooke Underwood, executive director of Visit El Paso. “No other city in the state can compare to El Paso’s rich abundance of historical and cultural attractions, sporting events, eco-tourism scene, and delectable culinary selections,” Underwood says. “Our location also gives visitors a wide range of activities to do and see: a day trip to Ciudad Juárez; a drive to national and state parks nearby; mountains, trails, and off-road adventures to explore; historic missions to visit; and countless other ideas.”
For planners seeking unique excursions, teambuilding, or recreation, Underwood suggests hiking and exploring Franklin Mountains State Park, a 27,000-acre park with more than 100 miles of multiuse trails. “The park is less than a half hour drive away from downtown El Paso and offers thrilling views of the city, New Mexico, and Ciudad Juárez,” she notes. “The park also offers guided tours with opportunities to learn about the geography and prospecting mines of the area.”
In recent years, El Paso has experienced unprecedented growth, Underwood says. “With more than $500 million in downtown developments, you’ll be stunned when you see what’s new, including our downtown streetcar system that features re-manufactured original streetcars that ran on El Paso streets from the 1950s through 1970s.”
In early 2022, the 133,000-square-foot El Paso Convention Center completed more than $3 million in renovations including upgrades to the 80,000-square-foot ballroom and more than 14,000 square feet of meeting rooms. The center is across the street from the Hotel Paso Del Norte, a Marriott Autograph Collection property, which has 350 guest rooms and 33,000 square feet of function space.
Other hotels with event space include Hotel Indigo with 119 guest rooms and 1,625 square feet of meeting space, The Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park with 130 guest rooms, and the boutique hotel Stanton House with 42 guest rooms. El Paso offers more than 10,000 guest rooms.
In the oil-rich Permian Basin, Midland has more than 250,000 square feet of meeting and event space, unique attractions, and fun evening and teambuilding activities, according to Visit Midland.
The city offers several unique offsite venues. The Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center has a main theater that seats 1,800 and a multipurpose space that can accommodate up to 250 banquet guests. The Petroleum Museum has a 200-seat auditorium, meeting rooms, and atrium event space for as many as 150 people. The entire museum can be rented after hours and can accommodate 350 event guests.
Downtown’s Barbara & George H.W. Bush Convention Center has multiple event spaces including an exhibit hall, ballroom, and meeting rooms. The center is adjacent to an urban park with a lawn and pavilion and across the street from the 262-room DoubleTree by Hilton Midland Plaza, with 8,884 square feet of function space, five meeting rooms, and a theater-style capacity of 450 guests.
The Midland County Horseshoe Arena, Pavilion and Amphitheater has a 52,000-square-foot pavilion, 7,000 square feet of exhibit and event space, a 4,300-seat amphitheater, 4,000 square feet of meeting rooms, a 17,750-square-foot event terrace, and a backstage venue that can accommodate 200 people.
Newer hotels in Midland include a 111-room Home2 Suites, 113-room Candlewood Suites, and 89-room Avid Hotel.
When people think of Odessa, packed football stadiums, oil derricks, and pumpjacks come to mind, says Ashley Flores, marketing and communications specialist with Discover Odessa. “While we are famously known for Friday Night Lights and the oil and gas industry, Odessa has much more to offer planners and visitors alike,” Flores says. “We are the manufacturing center of the Permian Basin and also home to a continuously growing number of public art projects, murals, and a revitalized downtown area.”
Part of the downtown revitalization was the 2021 reopening of the historic 756-seat Ector Theatre following a complete renovation and retrofit. The mid-century modern theater originally opened in 1951.
The Odessa Marriott and Convention Center is the city’s largest venue, with 215 guest rooms and 40,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space. Other major hotels with meeting space are MCM Grandé Hotel and FunDome with 245 guest rooms and 19,905 square feet of meeting space and MCM Eleganté Hotel with 191 guest rooms and 8,000 square feet of function space. There are approximately 4,600 lodging rooms in the city.
The West Texas deserts and mountains are a huge draw for visitors, Flores says. “We have breathtaking golden sunrises and crimson sunsets, amazing landscapes, Old West nostalgia, and more than a few Texas originals that have to be seen to be believed,” she says.
Local must-sees include the 50,000-year-old Odessa Meteor Crater and the University of Texas Permian Basin’s Stonehenge replica.
Foodies will appreciate two local favorites. “Curb Side Bistro was featured on Beat Bobby Flay, and you’ll love their mini-sliders and loaded fries,” Flores says. “And if you want the barbecue at Brantley Creek Barbecue, get there early because locals know they sell out early.
Bay Area Houston
Between Houston and Galveston, Bay Area Houston combines four cities: Clear Lake Shores, League City, Nassau Bay, and Seabrook. The region includes attractions such as the Kemah Boardwalk and Space Center Houston, the official visitor center of Houston’s NASA Johnson Space Center. The 240-room South Shore Harbour Resort & Conference Center in League City contains 30,000 square feet of event space, while the 242-room Hilton Houston NASA Clear Lake features 14,000 square feet of event space and 11 meeting rooms.
Beaumont lies east of Houston not far from the Louisiana border. Ford Park Exhibit Hall contains 48,000 square feet of exhibit space, 11,000 square feet of pre-function space, eight meeting rooms, and the 8,500-seat Ford Arena. The venue also has a 2,488-square-foot VIP lounge and a 1,107-square-foot party patio. The 252-room Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites Beaumont Plaza boasts 34,000 square feet of event space, including 22,000 square feet of meeting space, 17 meeting rooms, and meeting and banquet space for up to 1,500 guests. The 278-room MCM Eleganté Hotel & Conference Center has 20,000 square feet of meeting space, 16 meeting rooms, and meeting and banquet space for 1,200 people.
Just 25 miles from South Padre Island, Brownsville has 2,200 guest rooms and numerous amenities for events and meetings. The Brownsville Events Center has 17,000 square feet of meeting space and a dividable main ballroom that accommodates from 125 to 1,200 people. Brownsville offers planners many other venue options in the Mitte Cultural District, at the Gladys Porter Zoo, and at local museums.
Corpus Christi/Padre Island
Corpus Christi’s 400,000-square-foot American Bank Center features a 76,500-square-foot main exhibit hall, a 25,000-square-foot
banquet hall, and the 20,000-square-foot
Henry Garrett Ballroom. Other components include a 10,500-seat arena and the 2,526-seat
The Solomon P. Ortiz International Center has 24,000 square feet of meeting space, nine meeting rooms, and a 50,000-square-foot outdoor landscaped plaza. Another significant venue is the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds, which contain a 43,492-square-foot pavilion, 11,400-square-foot ballroom, and a smaller 4,450-square-foot ballroom. The 475-room Omni Corpus Christi Bayfront comes with more than 24,000 square feet of meeting space and seven meeting rooms.
Corpus Christi’s bayfront and downtown offer an array of attractions, including museums, live music venues, a waterpark, Concrete Street Amphitheater, and Whataburger Field where the Hooks Minor League Baseball team plays. Across Corpus Christi Bay, enjoy the surf and natural surroundings on Mustang Island and Padre Island National Seashore.
Several hotels and resorts are located along Galveston Island’s Seawall Boulevard on the Gulf of Mexico. The 32-acre San Luis Resort includes 700 hotel guest rooms, 200,000 square feet of total meeting space, and ten restaurants. The resort includes The San Luis Hotel, Spa & Conference Center with 250-rooms and 40,000 square feet of recently updated conference center space, including a 6,000-square-foot grand ballroom. The Hilton Galveston Island Resort offers 66,796 square feet of event space that includes 10 meeting rooms, a 43,200-square-foot exhibit hall, and a 15,600-square-foot grand ballroom. Holiday Inn Resort Galveston-On the Beach includes the 1,920-square-foot Paradise Ballroom.
Galveston Island Convention Center at The San Luis Resort is a two-level structure with 43,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 15,000-square foot grand ballroom, and 12,000 square feet of flexible meeting space.
Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa & Convention Center has 103,000 square feet of event space, including an expo hall with 60,000 square feet for up to 7,000 guests. The Frances Anne Moody Ballroom features 15,180 square feet of space and holds 2,000 guests for receptions, while The Colonel paddle-wheeler boat cruise can seat up to 440 guests in two dining rooms. Moody Gardens also offers the Aquarium Pyramid, MG 3D Theater, and Palm Beach waterpark.
A pair of Galveston icons are being refreshed and readied for future island gatherings. “The AAA Four Diamond Grand Galvez Hotel—built in 1911 and the only historic beachfront hotel on the Texas Gulf Coast—will finish a stunning multimillion-dollar renovation this spring,” says Bryan Kunz, director of group sales for Visit Galveston. “The 133-room Tremont House, recently flagged as a Tribute Portfolio Hotel by Marriott, is also nearing completion of a significant remodel.”
The Galvez has 224 rooms and offers more than 25,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor event space. The 4,550-square-foot Music Hall can accommodate 500 guests for a reception, while the Terrace Ballroom, at 2,501 square feet, holds 250 guests theater-style. Tremont House will offer nearly 16,000 square feet of flexible space in eight event and meeting spaces and can accommodate eight to 800 attendees.
With 92,000 guest rooms and state-of-the-art meeting venues, Houston is the top choice for many event planners. NRG Park boasts 1.4 million square feet of exhibit and meeting space and includes NRG Arena and NRG Stadium.
The George R. Brown Convention Center has 1.2 million square feet of usable space and recently achieved LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Besides its functional and structural sustainability achievements, the convention center provides 90 local shelters, soup kitchens, and charities with surplus food from conventions. Some donated items are repurposed or redistributed as materials for art and construction projects. The center connects to two hotels, the 1,200-room Hilton Americas-Houston and the 1,000-room Marriott Marquis Houston. A total of 8,500 guest rooms are within a mile of the facility.
Notable new hotel developments in Houston include the 267-room Blossom Hotel Houston Medical Center, which offers 9,000 square feet of event space and accommodates 250 seated guests, along with a Hilton Garden Inn and Home2 Suites. The 223-room Laura Hotel Autograph Collection features 5,274 square feet of event space and holds up to 250 guests in its largest event space.
The 15-story, 120-room Moxy Houston Downtown in the renovated State National Bank Building is set to join the crop of downtown hotels. Also new, the 170-room Thompson Hotel Houston debuts this year as part of The Allen, a mixed-use development between downtown Houston and the prestigious River Oaks area.
Among many other Houston developments, POST Houston opened in late 2021. The mixed-use development has a sizeable international market food hall, one of the country’s largest rooftop parks, and a 5,000-person live music venue called 713 Music Hall.
Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport is undergoing a $1.3 billion facelift, including new gates, open-concept restaurants, retail, and sustainability initiatives. The project is scheduled for completion in 2024.
The Rockport-Fulton area has new additions to its event space. Last year, Rockport Center for the Arts re-established operations in a new 14,000-square-foot visual arts and education building after a hurricane damaged its original location. The two-story building offers four galleries and five classrooms. Adjacent to the arts center is the new 8,000-square-foot Rockport Conference Center. The facility can host events for 400 and includes a 4,400-square-foot ballroom and culinary arts kitchen, with a 16,000-square-foot sculpture garden serving as a visually inspiring transition space between the two buildings.
The reconstructed Fulton Convention Center is a 10,113 square-foot event facility overlooking Aransas Bay that can accommodate 550 guests.
South Padre Island
The resort town of South Padre Island
offers groups and fun-seekers miles of pristine beaches, calm waters, and more than 5,000 guest accommodations. The South Padre Island Convention Center—located near 1,200 accommodations—has 45,856 square feet of meeting space.
Historic Victoria has 83,641 square feet of meeting and event space and approximately 2,000 guest accommodations. Venues include the Emerging Technology Complex at Victoria College, offering 13,000 square feet of meeting space and 20 meeting rooms. The Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts has a 476-seat auditorium, spacious lobby, rehearsal hall, and a boardroom available for events.
The 118-room Hilton Garden Inn Victoria has 7,004 square feet of event space and can accommodate 673 guests in its largest event room.
When it comes to meetings and conventions, the state capital of Austin is a city planners and visitors agree on, says Steve Genovesi, executive vice president of Visit Austin. “Our state-of-the-art infrastructure, innovative meeting spaces, and world-class hotels are nestled in the heart of the city,” Genovesi says. “Within a few walkable blocks, you’ll also find Lady Bird Lake hike and bike trail, legendary live music venues, and some of the best barbecue and tacos in the country. With James Beard Award-winning eateries and the best dives, you will discover tons of great places to eat in Austin.”
Austin is a welcoming community, Genovesi notes. “For the ninth year in a row, we have received a score of 100 from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, and a nationwide assessment of LGBTQ equality based on non-discrimination and inclusivity, among other factors, has given Austin a 100-point rating.”
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport recently secured $400 million in funding for expansion and improvements, Genovesi says. “In 2021, passenger traffic reached new heights, with more than 13.5 million travelers,” he says. “That demand continued through 2022, leading multiple airlines to increase their service. International service increased as well last year, with non-stop flights from Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Jamaica, Vancouver, and more.”
According to Visit Austin, there are more than 46,000 guest rooms citywide, with 13,000 downtown. Several have opened within the past year. The Loren has 108 guest rooms, a rooftop restaurant, and an event space with a panoramic view of both the city and Lady Bird Lake. Two new Hyatt properties, Thompson Austin and tommie Austin, both opened in January 2022. Thompson Austin has 212 guest rooms, a 6,700-square-foot wellness center, and more than 10,000 square feet of interior and exterior private event space. At tommie Austin, there are 193 guest rooms and instead of a traditional lobby, there’s an all-day counter serving specialty coffee drinks, craft beer, and natural wines. The Otis Hotel Austin, a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel features 191 guestrooms and more than 7,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. It is a dual-branded location with the AC Hotel Austin-University in the same building (156 guest rooms).
Most downtown hotels are within a few blocks of the Austin Convention Center that has 247,052 square feet of contiguous, column-free exhibit space, two ballrooms, 54 meeting rooms, and a theater capacity of 20,333. Two hotels connect directly to the center and offer additional meeting and event space: Hilton Austin has 801 guest rooms and 95,000 square feet of function space with 41 meeting rooms, and Fairmont Austin has 1,048 rooms and 138,815 square feet of meeting and event space. Austin Marriott Downtown is adjacent to the center and has 613 guest rooms and 61,000 square feet of function space with 28 meeting rooms. Two blocks from the convention center, JW Marriott Austin has 1,012 rooms and 120,000 square feet of meeting space.
Additional area hotels with major event space include Omni Barton Creek with 493 guest rooms and 76,192 square feet of event space, the 492-room Renaissance with 21 meeting rooms in 65,000 square feet of function space, and Hyatt Regency with 448 guest rooms and 45,000 square feet of function space. Westin Austin at The Domain, part of a 1.3-million-square-foot retail, dining, and entertainment district, offers 341 guest rooms and 17,000 square feet of meeting space with a reception capacity of 700.
Located on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin, the AT&T Hotel and Conference Center has 297 guest rooms, 53 meeting rooms, and a theater-seating capacity of 1,500 people. Another notable event facility is the Palmer Events Center with 131,000 total square feet of function space and a theater-seating capacity of 5,172 guests.
Approximately 20 minutes from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa is a AAA Four Diamond resort on 405 acres of Texas Hill Country with 491 guest rooms and 300,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event spaces. The resort offers experiential meetings, group events, teambuilding, and adventures including kayaking and float trips, cooking classes, hiking, and horseback riding.
About an hour northwest of Austin, Horseshoe Bay Resort is a 7,000-acre resort on Lake LBJ with more than 80,000 square feet of indoor event spaces, including a 12,000-square-foot ballroom that can seat 1,100 people. Unique outdoor event spaces include a lakeside lawn, patio, and beach spaces. Lodging includes 249 recently renovated guest rooms, one- to three-bedroom villas, condos, and private vacation homes.
Construction is underway on a new multipurpose event center that will include a banquet hall and seven meeting rooms plus an outdoor stage, pavilion, and festival grounds, according to the City of Brownwood.
Event venues in the city include Teddy’s Brewhaus, Brownwood’s first craft brewery, which can seat up to 482 people indoors with additional outside space; the Texas 4-H Center with a variety of event spaces including an auditorium that can seat 300 people, a dining hall, and two meeting rooms; the Depot Civic & Cultural Center with a ballroom that seats up to 175 for theater-style presentations plus three smaller event rooms; and Brown County Fairgrounds with an arena and exhibit building. Brownwood Coliseum on the campus of Howard Payne University has 4,000 seats and a 12,587-square-foot main arena floor.
The 1,400-acre Hideout Golf Club & Resort offers a variety of lodging options, including cabins, ranch houses, and lodge rooms, plus indoor and lakefront outdoor event spaces. Lake Brownwood Christian Retreat provides corporate retreat facilities with an assembly hall that can accommodate up to 225 people.
With a great variety of venues, unique experiences, authentic German heritage and food, and a location that’s just an hour from airports in either Austin or San Antonio, Fredericksburg is a great place for planners, says Konnie Patke, director of group sales for the Fredericksburg CVB.
“Texas Wine Country’s more than 50 wineries and tasting rooms plus outdoor adventures like yoga on Enchanted Rock and awarding-winning shopping at the more than 150 boutiques and art galleries give attendees plenty of options for activities,” Patke says.
Fredericksburg’s walkable downtown will soon be home to the city’s first full-service hotel, the Albert Hotel, set to open early this year. Built into four historic downtown buildings, the hotel will have 110 guest rooms, three restaurants, a spa, and 3,600 square feet of meeting and event space indoors with additional outdoor deck and lawn spaces.
Downtown venues include Fredericksburg Brewing with indoor event seating for 175 guests plus a spacious outdoor Biergarten, and the National Museum of the Pacific War with a variety of indoor and outdoor meeting and event spaces for up to 220 guests inside or 400 guests outside.
The city currently has approximately 1,200 guest rooms in a variety of hotels and inns, including the unique Hangar Hotel. Built to look like a World War II airplane hangar and featuring airplane memorabilia, the property offers 50 guest rooms and 20,000 square feet of function space. In addition, Inn on Barons Creek offers 90 guest rooms and 4,000 square feet of event space, Fredericksburg Inn and Suites has 103 rooms and 3,700 square feet of function space, and Hampton Inn & Suites features 54 guest rooms and 2,400 square feet of meeting space.
Georgetown offers a unique experience to meeting planners and tourists alike, says Rachel White, tourism and group sales coordinator for the Georgetown CVB. “Beyond its central and drivable location to most major Texas cities, including Dallas, Houston, and Austin, we are also just a 30-minute drive from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport,” White says.
The city’s center has been dubbed “the most beautiful town square in Texas.” But Georgetown offers more than just a picturesque square, White says.
“Beyond our downtown beauty, we also have a wide variety of activities both indoor and outdoor for adults and children to take part in,” she notes. “Inner Space Cavern is a unique excursion and gives folks the opportunity to explore preserved natural cave systems.”
Other options include bowling, mini-golf, and Sweet Eats Fruit Farm, which offers field trips and group activities for all ages.
Georgetown has 920 hotel rooms and a new 96-room Fairfield Inn under construction, according to the CVB. The largest event space is the 222-room Sheraton Austin Georgetown Hotel & Conference Center with 12 breakout rooms in 26,672 total square feet of meeting space to accommodate up to 1,500 guests for theater-style presentations. The AAA Four Diamond hotel is located five minutes from downtown in a walkable area with shops
Other event spaces in the city include a Hampton Inn & Suites with space to host up to 50 guests; Wish Well House, a historic
home that was Georgetown’s original hotel and today can accommodate up to 260 event guests; Kindred Oaks Event Center with space to seat up to 300 banquet guests; and Georgetown Country Club with a 100-person event capacity.
Planners should be aware the area is more crowded the last full weekend in April when the annual Red Poppy Festival takes place downtown featuring live music, entertainment, food, and arts and crafts vendors.
KerrvilleTexasCVB.com; @ExploreKerrvilleTX; @KerrvilleTX
In Kerrville, planners can expect customized, tailored attention to their needs with a multitude of free amenities and services to help locate event locations or connect with local providers, touts the Kerrville CVB.
Two larger venues that offer meeting and event space are Inn of the Hills Hotel & Conference Center, with 165 guest rooms and 22,000 square feet of event space including a 15,000-square-foot ballroom and conference center; and Y.O. Ranch Hotel & Conference Center, which has 191 guest rooms and suites, an 8,035-square-foot ballroom, and 2,578 square feet of additional meeting and convention space.
Unique offsite venues include Kerrville Hills Winery with small indoor and outdoor event spaces; the 800-seat Cailloux Theater; and the Museum of Western Art, with a 7,000-square-foot pavilion, board room, library, and galleries to seat up to 350 guests.
Located between San Antonio and Austin, the town of New Braunfels, founded in 1845, offers locally owned shops and restaurants, a thriving arts scene, festivals, unique museums and historic walking tours, wineries and breweries, and two picturesque rivers for recreation and teambuilding activities.
“Keeping this gem to oneself is tempting, but we recommend bringing the family to any meeting in New Braunfels,’ says Donna Meurin, director of group sales and services for the Greater New Braunfels CVB. “While one parent is in meetings, the other and the kids can enjoy two crystal-clear rivers, the perennial ‘world’s best waterpark,’ fabulous shopping and dining, and more. After the meeting, the entire family can grab dinner and head out for dessert, live music, caving, or a wildlife safari.”
Planners looking to make it local will find four local breweries and four commercial sausage makers in this German-founded city. “These businesses produce dried sausage that recipients love and are shelf stable,” Meurin says. “Combine the sausage with locally sourced and/or made mustard and pickles to create the perfect New Braunfels swag.”
The New Braunfels Convention Center has 50,000 square feet of usable space and can host banquets for up to 820 people and seat up to 1,216 theater style.
A Texas landmark, the 1878 Gruene Hall is the oldest continually operating dance hall in Texas. Part of the Gruene Historic District, it can accommodate groups of 75 to 500 people. The 15-acre Gruene Estate has lodging for up to 12 people and event facilities to host up to 200. The Chandelier of Gruene includes a 12,000-square-foot climate-controlled venue with 3,200 square feet of covered patios.
The John Newcombe Tennis Ranch and Conference Center offers a variety of lodging options, including traditional guest rooms, condos, casitas, and cottages. The property has meeting space for 200 attendees and offers customized teambuilding programs.
Hotels with meeting space include the 121-room Courtyard by Marriott River Village that can seat up to 250 for banquets, Hilton Garden Inn with meeting space for up to 150 guests, and the historic Faust Hotel with 58 guest rooms and a meeting capacity of 100.
Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort is a 70-acre attraction with hotel rooms, condos, and vacation homes, plus indoor and outdoor event space for up to 200 people.
What began as a small frontier settlement in the mid-1800s has become one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities and an in-demand destination for tourism and events, says Nancy Yawn, director of the Round Rock CVB.
“Along with our memorable name—so called because of a round rock that identified a safe, low-water river crossing—Round Rock offers small town hospitality with big city accommodations all just minutes from Austin,” Yawn says.
For a unique local taste, planners can add the famous “orange donuts” from Round Rock Donuts to their event menu. “The bakery has been rolling out these tasty donuts since 1926, and people from across the nation come to try them, including a massive two-pound donut that can feed the whole family,” Yawn says.
Round Rock is home to the Round Rock Express, the Triple-A baseball affiliate of the Texas Rangers. The Minor League Baseball team plays at the state-of-the-art Dell Diamond ballpark—consistently named one of the top parks in the nation—and suitable for concerts and other events. United Heritage Center is a 5,400-square-foot event space along the ballpark’s first base line with three suites that can combine to seat up to 320 banquet guests or 500 theater style.
The largest event space in the city is at Kalahari Resorts & Conventions, a family-friendly African-themed water park and resort with 975 guest rooms, a spa, 20 dining options, and a 200,000-square-foot convention center. The resort also offers multiple outdoor venues plus a variety of teambuilding experiences.
The city has more than 4,000 area guest rooms, including a newly opened Embassy Suites, adjacent to Round Rock Premium Outlets, with 180 guest rooms and more than 17,000 square feet of function space with a ballroom that can seat 600 guests.
Other event spaces in the city include the 291-room Marriott North with nearly 15,000 square feet of function space, Holiday Inn Austin North-Round Rock that can host up to 200 for dinners, and Williamson Conference Center with 10 event rooms in 15,000 total square feet of function space. Meeting and conference spaces for as many as 100 guests also are available on the campus of Texas State University Round Rock.
Conveniently located on Interstate 35 between San Antonio and Austin, San Marcos is a great place to stay and play after an event, says Denise Pardo, destination services manager for the San Marcos CVB. “The crystal-clear San Marcos River, the largest shopping outlet in the country, and our colorful and lively downtown are just a few things that come to mind,” Pardo says. “San Marcos is also a quirky place, so it makes sense that we add a touch of whimsy to events held here. As the ‘Mermaid Capital of Texas’—and yes, that’s a thing—we can help you bring in local mermaids for photo ops with your attendees.”
Pardo suggests some unique excursions in San Marcos. “Treat your group to a day of history at the Commemorative Air Force Central Texas Wing for historic military warbirds housed in a 1943 vintage hangar,” she says. “Or take a glass-bottom boat tour at The Meadows Center on Spring Lake where you will see hundreds of bubbling springs that make up the San Marcos River that remains at 72 degrees year-round.”
There are approximately 2,420 guest rooms in the city. The main event space is the Embassy Suites by Hilton San Marcos Hotel Conference Center (which encompasses the more than 70,000-square-foot City of San Marcos Conference Center). The property includes 283 suites and 19 meeting rooms with an event capacity of 3,000 guests. Other hotels with event space include Holiday Inn San Marcos-Convention CTR Area with 108 guest rooms and 4,150 square feet of indoor meeting space, plus 1,500 square feet of outdoor event space; and Hilton Garden Inn with 107 guest rooms and 3,000 square feet of event space for up to 200 guests.
Texas State University has a variety of event spaces including an 8,000-seat arena, classrooms and labs, and event rooms at the University Center.
On the western edge of Hill Country, Sonora offers visitors historic attractions, including the 1893 Courthouse and the Old Ice House Ranch Museum that features an exhibit on a famous shootout, as well as numerous outdoor attractions.
The 37-acre Eaton Hill Nature Center & Preserve is billed as a living classroom covering the fauna of Texas Hill Country and the Chihuahuan Desert, which is said to be the most diverse desert in the Western Hemisphere.
X Bar Ranch Nature Retreat has nine private cabins, vacation homes, and a 2,000-square-foot lodge for meetings and events. The entire ranch is also available as a buy-out for group retreats or company teambuilding. The 13,000-acre JL Bar Ranch, Resort & Spa, which has its own private airfield, offers 32 luxury lodging choices in cabins or suites and event facilities designed for corporate events and retreats.
Abilene honors its frontier heritage while embracing the future, says Robert Lopez, vice president of the Abilene CVB. “Abilene’s deep-rooted sense of community and rich Texas tradition make for legendary event experiences that create lifelong memories,” Lopez says. “Our storied past gives rise to a flourishing Downtown Cultural District with historic charm, urban parks, and a public art scene featuring an unrivaled collection of storybook sculptures,” Lopez says.
Indeed, the state designated Abilene the official Storybook Capital of Texas. The town boasts the largest collection of public sculptures depicting characters from children’s literature, is home to the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, and hosts the annual Children’s Art & Literacy Festival. All that makes the town an attractive place for event attendees to bring their families.
And planners will appreciate the city’s budget-friendly environment, central location, and revitalized downtown.
Set to open in early 2023, a new DoubleTree by Hilton Convention Hotel will have 200 guest rooms, a 12,000-square-foot ballroom, and additional meeting and event spaces. The hotel is adjacent to the Abilene Convention Center that offers a 2,121-seat auditorium, 20,000-square-foot exhibit hall, and 14,000-square-foot conference center, plus additional pre-function and outdoor event space.
The Taylor County Expo Center recently completed a $55 million renovation and expansion including a new 45,000-square-foot covered arena. The center is adjacent to the Abilene Zoo and the state-of-the-art Dodge Jones Youth Sports Center, which opened in 2020.
Hotels with meeting space include MCM Eleganté Suites with 175 guest rooms and 12,000 square feet of meeting and reception space, Courtyard Marriott Mall South with 100 guest rooms and a small meeting room, and Hilton Garden Inn with 127 guest rooms and space to seat up to 150 people for dinners.
Amarillo offers the space, accessibility, and affordability planners need to suit any group event. The city is served by Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport and is located in the center of the Texas Panhandle along historic Route 66.
Exploring that iconic highway is just one of many excursions suggested by the Amarillo CVB. Other after-meetings options or for creative teambuilding include hiking in Palo Duro Canyon State Park, taking an improv comedy class at Amarillo Little Theatre, or trying glassblowing at Blind Bird Designs. Planners might even want to incorporate quick-draw shooting with the Cowboy Fast Draw Association.
The Amarillo Civic Center Complex has more than 410,000 square feet of versatile space for conventions, meetings, trade shows, and special events. The complex venues include a 4,800-seat coliseum, a 2,300-seat auditorium, an exhibit hall, ballrooms, and meeting rooms. The complex is adjacent to the Embassy Suites Downtown with 226 guest rooms and 18,000 square feet of event space, including a 10,000-square-foot ballroom.
The recently opened dual-branded Four Points by Sheraton and Fairfield Inn & Suites have about 4,000 square feet of shared event space. Also new is The Barfield, a reimagined historic downtown office building, with 112 guest rooms and 2,500 square feet of event space. Other hotels with function space include the 83-room Comfort Suites Western Plaza with 6,400 square feet of meeting space, the 138-room Ashmore Inn & Suites with 3,400 square feet of meeting space, and a 163-room Drury Inn & Suites and 90-room Hilton Garden Inn, which each offer 3,200 square feet of function space.
A unique location is Sharpened Iron Studios, a Hollywood-level TV and film studio that offers tours, production facilities, and meeting and event rooms. Starlight Ranch Event Center also has its own flair; the entertainment destination offers live music, family activities, craft beer, and mini-golf and is home to the Big Texan, a Route 66 steak house landmark for more than 60 years.
Visitors to Lubbock are welcomed to a growing, thriving city with family-friendly attractions and amenities, offering all the resources of a large city with the charm of a small town. “Because of this, local entrepreneurs have found major success in the local business community as the citizens of Lubbock are quick to support and eager for something new to experience,” says Amy Zientek, director of sales for Visit Lubbock. “Lubbock’s downtown revitalization has been a unique project for the city. Since the official downtown revitalization efforts began in 2016, over $60 million of private investment has been made into the area. This has taken form in restaurants, breweries, wineries, local retail, hotels, and major attractions, like The Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences or the Cultural District that houses the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts.”
The Buddy Holly Hall has a 2,200-seat main theater and 425-seat studio theater, 12 meeting rooms, and other reception spaces. The facility can accommodate up to 747 people for a reception and 352 for a banquet.
Other larger event spaces include Lubbock Memorial Civic Center with a 40,000-square-foot exhibit hall and 1,397-seat theater, 4ore! Golf with private bar indoor seating for 100 and patio space for 175; Charles Adams Gallery with 2,500 square feet of gallery space and an outdoor terrace; and CenterPointe Event Center with three meeting rooms and a classroom capacity of 530. A unique facility is the American Windmill Museum with indoor meeting space for up to 40 guests and a covered patio space that can accommodate 300 guests.
Larger hotels with event space include Overton Hotel & Conference Center with 303 guest rooms and 20,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including an 11,250-square-foot column-free ballroom, and MCM Eleganté Hotel & Suites with 293 guest rooms and 15,000 square feet of event space, including a 7,000-square-foot conference center.
Other hotels with event space include Cotton Court Hotel with 165 guest rooms and 4,024 square feet of function space to accommodate as many as 200 reception guests, the 140-room DoubleTree by Hilton with four meeting rooms, and Ashmore Inn & Suites with 124 guest rooms and three meeting rooms to host up to 125 people for theater-style presentations.
San Angelo is a perfect location for small- to mid-size meetings and events, with a wide variety of venues and services. Officially designated by the state as the Visual Arts Capital of Texas and a Music Friendly Community, San Angelo allows planners to create unique events by highlighting and incorporating the city’s local art and music. Art-centric venues include Chicken Farm Art Center, the Pop Art Museum, downtown’s Paintbrush Alley, and the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts featuring a rooftop sculpture terrace and an all-purpose meeting room that can accommodate 300 people.
Larger event and meeting facilities in the city include the McNease Convention Center that can seat up to 1,200 for theater-style presentations or up to 700 for dinners; Foster Communications Coliseum with permanent arena seating for 5,000 and an additional 2,000 portable seats, along with a 20,000-square-foot arena; and the 20,000-square-foot First Financial Pavilion that can accommodate 1,320 event attendees. The CJ Davidson Conference Center on the campus of Angelo State University is a full conference facility with more than 110,000 square feet of meeting and event spaces.
Two venues with local historic flair are Fort Concho National Historic Landmark, a frontier fort and museum with a variety of spaces for special events for up to 600 guests, and the Cactus Hotel, a West Texas landmark and one of the original Conrad Hilton Hotels from the 1920s. The Cactus is now an event venue with five meeting and event spaces and a ballroom that seats 350 people.
Hotels with event space include the 94-room Courtyard by Marriott with 4,452 square feet of event space and the La Quinta Inn by Wyndham and Conference Center with 171 guest rooms and 6,300 square feet of event space for up to 300 guests.
Home to Sheppard Air Force Base and more than 104,000 residents, Wichita Falls offers planners a downtown full of opportunities for evening exploration, says Durleen VanWinkle, senior sales manager for Discover Wichita Falls.
“On the first Thursday of every month, April through October, the After Hours Art Walk features local art and music,” VanWinkle says. “Everyone can enjoy musical acts ranging from ‘red dirt’ to indie to symphonic music set up throughout the square, while the downtown community unites with shopping, services, more entertainment, and refreshments. Local artists set up booths and businesses open their doors for after-hours shopping.”
Planners looking to incorporate local flavor might consider the Morath Orchard Farm to Table Dinner Tour. “The Morath family serves up comfort food with an evening that begins with a tour of the family farm, followed by a dinner served in family-style seating in the orchard featuring fresh produce and more grown on the farm,” VanWinkle notes.
Wichita Falls is welcoming two new hotel properties over the next several months: a 112-suite Residence Inn that will have a small meeting room and a full-service Delta by Marriott Hotel and Convention Center with 200 guest rooms and event space that includes a 14,725-square-foot banquet hall. The new Delta will be on the grounds of the city’s Multi-Purpose Events Center in downtown that includes a 6,500-seat coliseum, 58,000-square-foot exhibit hall, indoor arena with seating for 1,200, and a five-and-a-half-acre festival park.
Other hotels with event space include Courtyard by Marriott with 93 guest rooms and 2,080 square feet of meeting space, Homewood Suites by Hilton with 73 guest rooms and two small meeting rooms, and Holiday Inn Express & Suites with 80 guest rooms and 4,848 square feet of function space adjacent to Wellington Banquet & Conference Center.
Event venues include The Warehouse 150 with 10,000 square feet of event space; French Country Farms, a 6,000-square-foot custom built event barn; Half Pint Taproom with 4,000 square feet of meeting space; and the 6,000-square-foot Venue 79.
“Parking downtown and citywide is free,” VanWinkle points out. “Planners love that we have the amenities they need without the traffic and hassles of larger cities.”
Less than an hour north of Houston, Conroe has a bustling downtown with breweries, theaters, restaurants, and plenty of shopping. Lake Conroe, covering 22,000 acres, is ideal for adventures on the water, ranging from fishing to kayaking.
The 320-room Margaritaville Lake Resort has 72,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, including meeting rooms, an amphitheater with tiered seating for 85, and two executive boardrooms. The resort has five restaurants, a three-acre waterpark, and a premier golf course.
In May, the new 250-room Hyatt Regency Conroe & Convention Center is scheduled to open. The property will offer 41,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, including a 15,000-square-foot grand ballroom, 8,000 square feet of breakout and boardroom space, and pre-function space.
For other venue options, there’s the recently updated historic Crighton Theatre. Renovated areas include the lobby, while new design configurations helped create additional space.
Nestled in the woods of East Texas, Nacogdoches is a historic college town with 900 guest accommodations and ideal venues for small and mid-size events.
“There’s much to do and see in Nacogdoches; we have beautiful azaleas in the spring and spectacular foliage in the fall,” says Sherry Morgan, executive director of Visit Nacogdoches. “We are also proud of our history and have several great museums, historic buildings, and original century-old brick streets in parts of the city. But we also have many amenities you would find in larger destinations, such as a brewery, distillery, wineries, great restaurants, and vibrant live music. It’s the perfect setting for memorable events.”
The new Nacogdoches County Exposition and Civic Center features two large event rooms: a 15,000-square-foot space for groups of 600 to 1,000 and a 4,200-square-foot area for gatherings of up to 300. In addition, the new center offers a 78,000-square-foot recreation arena.
The 109-room Nacogdoches Fredonia Hotel & Convention Center features more than 25,000 square feet of event and meeting space and can accommodate gatherings of 2,500 people.
After meetings, group wellness activities include yoga, barre, and Pilates at Whole Again Counseling + Wellness.
The Woodlands is just north of Houston on Interstate 45. The Woodlands Resort offers 80,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space, including a 13,420-square-foot Grand Ballroom with a capacity of 1,240 seated theater-style. The resort’s south wing contains the Learning Center and more than 30 flexible meeting room options for gatherings of all types. The wing’s largest space, the 4,752 Palmetto Ballroom, can hold 200 seated classroom-style or 340 theater-style, while smaller meeting and breakout rooms are available for more intimate gatherings. The picturesque 7,800-square-foot Sunset Terrace is ideal for outdoor cocktail parties and social gatherings for as many as 250 guests.
The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center in the Town Center area boasts more than 70,000 square feet of newly remodeled event space. Components include 27 event rooms—the largest accommodates 4,900 people—and 14 breakout rooms.
Another popular full-service hotel, the 302-room Westin at The Woodlands, has 28,492 square feet of event space, including the Rooftop Terrace and the 5,720-square-foot Edgewater Ballroom.
Known as the “Rose Capital of America,” Tyler will be home to the new W.T. Brookshire Conference Center. Slated to open this spring, the conference center will have 23,089 square feet of meeting space and 79,458 square feet of additional outdoor event space, including a picturesque front lawn and tree grove. A 15,558-square-foot porch will connect the new venue to the Tyler Rose Museum building. Other features include a built-in stage, an acoustically designed performance area, and state-of-the-art audiovisual capabilities.
Prairies and Lakes
Allen is an up-and-coming destination for meeting planning in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. Located just north of Dallas, Allen is less than an hour from both Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field Airport.
Marriott Dallas Allen Hotel & Convention Center is the area’s premier events venue-hotel combination. With 300 guest rooms, the hotel adjoins Watters Creek Convention Center for a combined 81,113 square feet of total event space, 23 event rooms, and 19 breakout rooms.
The City of Allen Parks and Recreation Administration offers several rental facilities, including pavilions, athletic fields, indoor and outdoor pools, an ice rink, and two recreation centers. The Allen Senior Rec Center has a 6,000-square-foot multipurpose room with seating for 250 people. The Pavilion at The Courses at Watters Creek boasts a full-service professional catering staff and a golf-course backdrop.
Credit Union of Texas Event Center has a seating capacity of more than 7,000 with the ability to transform to a 2,700-seat quarter-house setup. The arena offers 17,000 square feet of uninterrupted floor space and a 50-foot ceiling and can host banquets for 900 people. The event center also has two meeting rooms, outdoor event space, a concourse with 10,000 square feet of exhibit space, and the 2,000-square-foot Premium Level Lounge with a full-service bar and catering options.
The 149,000-square-foot Stephen G. Terrell Recreation Center—a $54 million project—is expected to open this summer.
Just ten miles from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and 30 minutes from Dallas Love Field Airport, the Arlington Convention Center offers a 48,600-square-foot column-free exhibit area, a 30,000-square-foot Grand Hall, and 8,500 square feet of meeting room space.
Soon, a $550 million addition to Arlington’s Entertainment District will bring a new convention center and hotel, according to the Arlington CVB. The convention center is expected to open this year with 150,000 square feet of indoor meeting space and 66,000 square feet of outdoor space, including an event lawn. The new 888-room Loews Arlington Hotel has a planned opening of early 2024.
An existing 300-room Live! by Loews hotel offers 35,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space and will be connected to the new hotel and convention center by a skybridge for a combined 1,188 guest rooms and 251,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space.
In addition, Arlington offers Esports Stadium Arlington and AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas offers big spaces for meetings and events. The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas has an impressive one million square feet of exhibit space, three ballrooms, 88 meeting rooms, a 1,750-seat theater, and a 9,816-seat arena. Plans are in the works to replace the convention center with an even larger one: a new 2.5-million-square-foot facility. Construction on the $2 billion center begins in 2024, with completion expected
“This news is a game changer for Dallas and will put our city on the map as the preeminent large-city convention and meeting destination in the nation,” says Craig Davis, president and CEO of Visit Dallas.
Connecting to the existing convention center via skybridge is the 1,001-room Omni Dallas offering an additional 110,000 square feet of event space, including 47 meeting rooms, and can accommodate up to 3,340 guests in its largest event area.
Another top hotel, the Hyatt Regency, links to Dallas’ Reunion Tower and historic Union Station. Components include 1,120 guest rooms and 160,000 square feet of meeting space, including 60 meeting rooms. The Big D’s biggest hotel, the Sheraton Dallas, boasts 1,841 recently updated guest rooms and 220,423 square feet of meeting space, including 60 meeting rooms. The 514-room Renaissance Dallas recently renovated its 51,753 square feet of event space, including 34 meeting rooms. Additionally, the 1,606-room Hilton Anatole offers 600,000 square feet of meeting space, including nine ballrooms and 79 meeting rooms.
With 35,000 guest rooms, Dallas is a hot hotel market, leading the nation in hotel construction projects with more than 20,000 hotel rooms in development, according an October 2022 Lodging Econometrics report. Planned properties include the new 15-story, 283-room JW Marriott featuring a 25,000-square-foot grand ballroom, spa, restaurant, and a rooftop pool deck and bar. The InterContinental Dallas Uptown in Cityplace Tower is in the works offering sweeping views and a planned 21,000 square feet of event space. The Harwood Hotel, a new 20-story luxury property in Uptown’s Harwood District, plans to make its mark on the Dallas skyline as a “sculptural” white building with cantilevered upper floors and a rooftop swimming pool and garden.
Dallas has a walkable downtown and 20 vibrant entertainment districts offering live music, shopping hotspots, cultural institutions, and dining options. A new entertainment experience is being planned to connect the convention center with neighboring districts like the Cedars and the future Rail District, creating a walkable experience that includes restaurants, retail, entertainment, and lodging.
The Fort Worth Convention Center offers 253,000 square feet of total exhibit space, nearly 60,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, and a 28,160-square-foot ballroom ideal for any event.
Downtown hotel upgrades include the Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth Hotel, Embassy Suites Fort Worth, and the Hilton Fort Worth. The Omni Fort Worth Hotel and Sheraton Fort Worth Downtown Hotel also have begun significant renovations.
New hotels include downtown’s 104-room Avid Hotel less than a mile from the Fort Worth Convention Center. Nearby, the 189-room Le Méridien is scheduled to open this year in a historic building and will feature restaurants, a rooftop bar, 3,000 square feet of meeting space, and a sixth-floor pool deck.
In the Cultural District, two new hotels
are scheduled to open this year: The four-story, 120-room Bowie House featuring signature restaurants, a library, bar, spa, and fitness center; and the 200-room Crescent, with a rooftop lounge and an 8,000-square-foot ballroom.
“No visit to Texas is complete without a stop at the legendary Stockyards National Historic District,” says Amy Brown, senior vice president of convention sales and services for Visit Fort Worth. “It’s open year-round and features twice-daily cattle drives. While there, visitors can also enjoy the newly renovated Mule Alley, the 180,000-square-foot redeveloped historic Horse and Mule Barns offering an incredible collection of restaurants, entertainment venues, and shops.”
Visit Frisco. com; @visitfriscotx
With more than 4,465 hotel rooms and 277,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, Frisco, about 30 miles north of Dallas, offers meeting planners a variety of options.
The highly anticipated opening of PGA Frisco is scheduled for this spring. The 660-acre campus will include two 18-hole world-class golf courses, a 10-hole short course, and a 30-acre practice facility. The 500-room Omni PGA Frisco Resort will offer 127,000-square-feet of meeting and event space, a unique golf-themed retail experience, and a 40,000-square-foot clubhouse. The campus serves as the headquarters for PGA of America.
Also scheduled to open this year is the 193-room Hall Park Hotel, says Christina Decker, director of sales for Visit Frisco. “It will include 13,749 square feet of special event space, including a 3,000-square-foot ballroom alongside an outdoor pool, manicured gardens, a chef-driven restaurant, a bar, and an expansive patio,” Decker says. “It will be another great reason for planners to choose Frisco for their next event.”
Existing hotels include the 330-room Embassy Suites by Hilton Dallas Frisco Hotel & Convention Center, which is attached to the Frisco Conference Center for a combined total of 90,000 square feet of meeting and event space. The property’s most extensive area, at 41,760 square feet, can hold 4,000 guests for a reception.
The 302-room Westin Stonebriar Golf Resort & Spa boasts 30,644 square feet of meeting and event space and 19 meeting rooms. The resort’s most prominent event area, the 6,240-square-foot Legacy Ballroom, holds 640 people theater-style. The resort recently completed a $30 million revitalization; upgrades include a new onsite golf pro shop, state-of-the-art fitness studio, a Topgolf Swing Suite, a coffee bar and cocktail lounge, and a Southern dining destination named Herd & Hearth.
The Omni Frisco Hotel has 24,000 square feet of meeting space, 16 meeting rooms, and 301 guest rooms and accommodates up to 1,440 seated guests in its largest area, a 13,000-square-foot ballroom. The 303-room Hyatt Regency Frisco features 27,500 square feet of event space and 21 meeting spaces; the hotel’s board rooms can accommodate 10 to 15 people, while the 12,330-square-foot Regency Ballroom, the largest area, can fit 1,110 guests for receptions and 1,190 seated theater-style.
HEB (Hurst, Euless, and Bedford)
Known as HEB, the communities of Hurst, Euless, and Bedford lie between Dallas and Fort Worth in the Mid-Cities region. The area offers easy access to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport by road or Trinity Railway Express.
The 50,000-square-foot Hurst Conference Center has a ballroom that can host up to 1,200 for a reception, meeting space to accommodate up to 240 attendees, and additional outdoor space. A 140-room Hilton Garden Inn is connected to the center. Other hotels with event space include Holiday Inn DFW Airport Area West, with 243 guest rooms and seven event rooms with a meeting capacity of up to 270 guests, and Aloft Dallas Euless, with 132 guest rooms and 4,000 square feet of meeting space.
Irving is part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas offers nearly 100,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space. Situated on 40 acres in the heart of Irving’s Las Colinas Urban Center, the convention center is one phase of a mixed-use entertainment district that includes the 350-room Westin Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas and the Toyota Music Factory, a $173 million entertainment complex anchored by an 8,000-seat indoor-outdoor amphitheater.
McKinney offers 1,688 total guest rooms. Topping the list of accommodations and venues here is the Sheraton Hotel & Conference Center, which has 187 guest rooms and 23,761 square feet of meeting and breakout space. The venue’s largest event space, the 7,665-square-foot Throckmorton Ballroom, accommodates 780 people for receptions or 824 in theater-style seating.
McKinney’s historic courthouse, now the centerpiece of the vibrant Downtown McKinney Cultural District and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, houses the McKinney Performing Arts Center. Built in 1875, expanded in 1927, and restored and renovated as a performing arts and multiuse facility in 2005, the architectural gem features original maple floors and natural light. It is ideal for classes, workshops, corporate meetings, lectures, and business expositions. The Gallery, featuring limestone walls and a vault door from 1927, makes a versatile and unique setting for up to 33 people seated classroom-style or 65 reception guests. The venue’s iconic courtroom-turned-theater features a 40-by-16-foot stage, two dressing rooms with backstage access, and seating for 435, including a balcony. The facility has state-of-the-art audiovisual capabilities.
Area updates include the recent renovation of the guest rooms and lobby at the boutique Grand Hotel. McKinney’s Tupps Brewery, a favorite venue and after-hours entertainment spot, is relocating to an expanded space in a 120-year-old grain mill. The move will provide a bigger production brewery and larger event space, including an outdoor beer garden and stage.
Mesquite, Denton, and Waco
The three mid-size towns of Mesquite, Denton, and Waco surround Dallas. The Mesquite Convention Center & Exhibit Hall features 50,000 square feet of event space and can hold up to 3,500 people in its exhibit hall. Several nearby hotels, including the 160-room Hampton Inn & Suites Dallas-Mesquite, are adjacent to the convention center. Another top event venue is the Mesquite Arena, which has 58 meeting rooms and floor space to fit 1,600 people.
Denton, or “Lil D,” has 38 meeting and event venues, including a 70,000-square-foot convention center and a 318-room Embassy Suites.
The Waco Convention Center offers 110,000 square feet of event space and 26 meeting rooms and can accommodate 2,600 people.
The newly renovated Plano Event Center features more than 86,400 square feet of flexible function space to accommodate 5,000 people. Other features include a stage and dressing rooms, a 21,600-square-foot column-free exhibit hall, and 16 breakout rooms. The convention center is about to embark on a $1.85 million courtyard renovation, which includes expanding spaces for outdoor events.
“Meeting planners today are always searching for unique settings for breakout sessions, receptions, and other special events,” says Mark W. Thompson, executive director of Visit Plano. “The renovated courtyard will provide those amenities in a manner never offered before at the Plano Event Center and give a competitive edge over other comparable facilities.”
The 299-room Hilton Dallas/Plano Granite Park features 30,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and 19 meeting rooms. Select areas come with folding glass walls to bridge indoor and outdoor events. The hotel’s 14,400-square-foot Prairie Ballroom holds 1,300 guests in a theater-style arrangement. The property is adjacent to the Boardwalk at Granite Park, a vibrant restaurant park with a water feature and live music stage.
The 417-room Dallas/Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center completed a $3.6 million renovation in 2020 and boasts 31,515 square feet of meeting space and 20 event rooms. The hotel’s largest event space is 13,900 square feet and accommodates 1,600 guests seated theater-style or 1,190 reception guests. The hotel is a short walk to upscale shopping, fine dining, and entertainment at The Shops at Legacy, and the hotel offers a complimentary shuttle for locations within a three-mile radius.
The Renaissance Dallas at Plano Legacy West has 303 guest rooms and 34,869 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space that can accommodate seminars for 10 or receptions for 1,200. The hotel features 17 event rooms; the largest is 14,900 square feet and holds a capacity of 1,584 guests seated theater style. The Renaissance is adjacent to the outdoor luxury shopping and dining district known as Legacy West.
South Texas Plains
Situated on the Rio Grande, Laredo offers 4,000 guest rooms and numerous event venues, including the Sames Auto Arena, with 27,000 square feet of column-free floor space for up to 9,622 seated guests.
Texas A&M International University’s Student Center Ballroom accommodates 500 guests for banquets and 800 seated theater-style. The university’s Western Hemispheric Trade Center features a 116-seat auditorium, two meeting rooms, a recital hall, and a theater for up to 400 people.
Laredo College’s Fine Arts Center Auditorium can accommodate 752 people. The Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course & Clubhouse has a 9,000-square-foot clubhouse and ballroom for 230 guests. In Laredo’s historic downtown, the 206-room La Posada Hotel offers 13,663 square feet of event space and 14 meeting rooms.
The Laredo Water Museum contains 30 interactive exhibits about the ecology of the Rio Grande. The unique museum has a spacious amphitheater available for meetings and events. The Laredo Center for the Arts offers the Mezzanine Ballroom featuring a 7,000- square-foot main floor that can host 250 guests for banquets. Uni-Trade Stadium ballpark includes stadium seating for 6,000 and a club-level ballroom for 459 people.
In the Rio Grande Valley, the McAllen Convention Center has 174,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 60,000-square-foot column-free exhibit hall, a 10,412-square-foot grand ballroom, two boardrooms, and meeting rooms totaling more than 25,000 square feet. The 18.5-acre convention center area, known as The District, also includes the 1,800-seat McAllen Performing Arts Center featuring a rooftop terrace and a 2,300-square-foot multipurpose event space. Near both the convention center and the performing arts center are Oval Park, a 2.4-acre park shaded with native trees and pergolas, and the impressive Veterans War Memorial of Texas.
About 500 guest rooms are within walking distance of the convention center, including the 150-room Embassy Suites by Hilton McAllen Convention Center, which has 10,440 square feet of event space and can accommodate banquets of up to 800 people. The 121-room Cambria Hotel McAllen Convention Center features 2,370 square feet of meeting space, including five meeting rooms, and can host up to 200 guests.
Other lodgings nearby include the 99-room Home2 Suites by Hilton McAllen and the 119-room La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham McAllen Convention Center; both properties have event space for small gatherings.
With 47,000 guest rooms, San Antonio is a meeting and convention powerhouse offering a dynamic landscape to attract and entertain, with the infrastructure to host any size or style of event.
“San Antonio has one of the easiest, most walkable convention center districts in the country,” says Mario Bass, chief sales officer for Visit San Antonio. “That has a lot to do with the River Walk; it connects the convention center to hotels, restaurants, museums, attractions, and outdoor areas and provides more options for outdoor events.”
The Henry B. González Convention Center has 514,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space and 86,500 square feet of column-free multipurpose space. The facility’s 54,000-square-foot Stars at Night Ballroom is one of the largest in the Lone Star State. A feast for the eyes, the room sparkles with the help of a ceiling accented by 1,642 programmable LED lights. The immense ballroom fits 5,662 seated theater-style and 5,474 guests for receptions; the versatile meeting area divides into three distinct spaces with front-of-house and back-of-house access.
Nearby, San Antonio’s iconic park, Hemisfair, features a Great Lawn for outdoor performances and gatherings, public art, a splash pad, and climbing structures. Site of the 1968 World’s Fair, the park is undergoing a three-phase renovation that “will dramatically enhance downtown San Antonio meeting amenities and the downtown experience overall,” Bass says.
Recent additions to the area include the 195-room Canopy by Hilton; the 277-room Estancia del Norte San Antonio, Tapestry Collection by Hilton featuring 11,000 square feet of meeting and event space; and the 162-room Thompson San Antonio Hotel with more than 21,000 square feet of event space.
Opened last year, the AC Hotel San Antonio Riverwalk and Element by Westin San Antonio Riverwalk share a 20-story building and offer a combined 3,441 square feet of event space. This spring, following the complete renovation of an existing downtown hotel, the Otis Hotel San Antonio is expected to open. Summer should see the opening of the new 112-room Artista San Antonio Hotel on the River Walk.
A $50 million overhaul is transforming a 21-story former Wyndham Hotel into a 390-room InterContinental Hotel. Scheduled to open in late 2023, the hotel will have 40,000 square feet of meeting space, nearly 3,000 square feet of dining and restaurant space, and luxury rooftop amenities. In late 2024, Kimpton plans to debut its first San Antonio property near the artsy La Villita and Southtown neighborhoods in downtown; the property will offer an outdoor entertainment area and 10,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space.
Other offerings in this historic city include the 1,003-room Grand Hyatt, which contains 115,000 square feet of meeting space and can accommodate 3,158 people in its 30,906-square-foot Texas Ballroom. The 1,000-room San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter features 70,136 square feet of flexible meeting space, while the 500-room Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa offers 100,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor space. With 1,002 guest rooms and 267,823 square feet of meeting space, JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa has 40 event rooms and can hold up to 6,300 guests in its most prominent area, which is 40,500 square feet. The 226-room Hilton San Antonio Hill Country offers 12,643 square feet of event space, including13 meeting rooms.
Planners of smaller corporate meetings and incentive trips can look into San Antonio’s boutique offerings, including the 277-room St. Anthony Hotel featuring 23,772 square feet of meeting space and the 338-room Hotel Contessa with 10,000 square feet of event space.
San Antonio’s Tech Port Center + Arena recently opened and is considered one of the nation’s most innovative and technologically advanced sports and entertainment arenas. The $70 million facility includes more than 130,000 square feet of space and offers planners multiple private event areas. And no trip to San Antonio is complete without a visit to the famed Alamo. n