Updated: Sep 17, 2019
“What's the perfect place to host our upcoming event?” That’s usually one of the first things event planners ask themselves when looking ahead to the coming year. When it’s time to start thinking about the location of next year’s conference, there’s a lot that needs to be taken into consideration.
Each city offers something unique and location can greatly affect event attendance. That’s why we’ve researched the top ten U.S. cities to host a conference or annual event in 2020.
1. Orlando, FL
Background: With one of the largest convention centers in the country and the second-largest concentration of hotels of any city, it’s no surprise why Orlando ranks first on our list. As one of the busiest cities for conferences and conventions, Orlando is home to more than 450 hotels and resorts, 5,000 restaurants, and attractions for all types of professionals.
Their largest convention center, the Orange County Convention Center, has more than 90,000 sq. ft. of assembly areas as well as 84 meeting rooms, a 200-person lecture hall, and 2,634-seat theatre. Between their lodging, venues, and convention centers, Orlando has just about everything an event planner could want in a host city.
Hotels: On International Drive, there are more than 10 miles worth of hotels, resorts, and rental homes. The average price per room is $124.00.
Airports: Located a few miles from Orlando’s central business district is Orlando International Airport, making it a relatively affordable airport for business professionals to fly into.
Things to do: If you thought Orlando was only about conferences and convention centers, you thought wrong. More than 60 million people visit the city every year. Some of the city’s top attractions include its various beaches, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and Sea World.
2. Washington, D.C.
Background: Between Washington D.C.’s historical appeal and unique event spaces, it’s easy to see why event planners are drawn to the nation’s capital. Though home to some of the country’s most widely-known monuments, buildings, and architecture, the city offers more than just sightseeing.
The Walter E. Washington Convention Center is a 2.3 million sq. ft. convention center that has 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and more than 70 meeting rooms, with the largest being 413,000 sq. ft. Located just 6 miles from the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, this space is ideal for large conferences and events.
For more intimate gatherings, event planners will be happy to know there are also a wide variety of unique event venues and facilities, including more than 150 chancelleries, diplomatic residences, and embassies, most of which can be rented for corporate and private events.
Hotels: Washington D.C. has more than 120 hotels to choose from. The average price per room is $216.00.
Things to do: From American history to cultural immersion opportunities, there’s a lot to see. Some of the area’s top sights include the White House, the National Mall (home to the Washington Monument and Lincoln, MLK, FDR, WWII, and Vietnam vet memorials), the United States Capitol, the National Museum of Natural History, and the Smithsonian Institute.
3. Las Vegas, NV
Background: Not only is Las Vegas one of the United State’s top meeting cities, but it’s also become a top destination for event planners from around the world. With three of the ten largest convention centers in the U.S., there’s an abundance of opportunities for conference and meeting venues, one of the many reasons the city brings in more than 5 million conference-goers every year.
With more than 140,000 hotel rooms and the conveniently located McCarran International Airport, event attendees are always close to their event venues, iconic attractions, entertainment, nightlife, restaurants, shopping, and more.
Hotels: Las Vegas is home to 172 hotels. The average room rate per night is $102.00.
Airports: McCarran International Airport, located right next to the Strip, offers direct flights to more than 130 U.S. cities and is said to be one of the busiest airports in the world, with more than 900 flights arriving and departing every day.
Things to do: Event attendees can enjoy all types of entertainment and attractions, including the always-popular Vegas Strip, Paris Las Vegas, Caesars Palace, the Blue Man Group, Circus Circus, Shark Reef, gondola rides, and various casinos and resorts.
4. Miami, FL
Background: In addition to year-round warm weather and beautiful beaches, Miami offers a number of attractions, unique event venues, and memorable meeting rooms.
Perhaps most popular among event planners is Miami Beach Convention Center, which recently underwent a $615 million renovation. The facility is 1.4 million sq. ft., with a 60,000 sq. ft. ballroom, a 20,000 ft glass-ceiling rooftop ballroom, and upgraded technology. In addition to other state-of-the-art event venues to choose from, Miami is also well known for its booming hotel industry and diverse people and neighborhoods.
Hotels: Miami has more than 120 hotels, with the average price being $155 per night.
Airports: Miami International Airport is the tenth biggest airport in America and has a lineup of over 100 air carriers.
Things to do: Between Miami’s outdoor activities and art scene, the city offers a lot of options for visiting professionals including things like Everglades National Park, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Jungle Island, Bal Harbour, and Coconut Grove.
5. Chicago, IL
Background: With five convention centers—one of which is considered North America's premier convention center— and two airports—one of which was voted best airport in North America for nine years straight—Chicago is rightfully so a popular place to hold conferences and meetings. Also considered one of the most environmental-friendly cities in the U.S., it’s easy to go green in The Windy City.
Home to McCormick Place, guests are sure to be impressed by the 2.6 million sq. ft. of exhibit halls, 173 meeting halls, four ballrooms, and two theatres.
Hotels: Chicago has more than 170 hotels, with an average price of $186.00 per night.
Airports: O’Hare International Airport offers nonstop flights from 59 international and 150 domestic cities. Midway International is another major commercial airport located on the Southwest side of Chicago.
Things to do: Located in the heart of the Midwest, Chicago offers a balance of indoor and outdoor attractions, including things like the Willis Tower Skydeck, Navy Pier, Millennium Park, Shedd Aquarium, Lincoln Park Zoo, the Chicago Riverwalk, and more.
6. San Diego, CA
Background: Between San Diego’s 70 miles of beaches, event venues for all event sizes, 120 meeting hotels, and diverse neighborhoods, it’s clear why this California city is a popular place to host conferences.
Traveling in and out of the city is relatively easy thanks to the San Diego International Airport, which is located just a few miles from downtown. With three convention centers, more than 200 special event venues, and some of the areas top attractions, San Diego is a welcoming city for event planners.
Hotels: San Diego has 210 hotels. The average room rate is $157.00.
Airports: San Diego International Airport serves primarily domestic travelers but has nonstop international flights from Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
Things to do: Visitors can enjoy attractions like whale-watching expeditions, Ocean Beach, Old Town Trolley tour, San Diego Zoo, La Jolla Sea Caves Kayak Tour, and more.
7. Phoenix, AZ
Background: Though known for its sunny skies, Phoenix also has a reputation as one of the country’s most convention-friendly cities. Between modern meeting facilities and more than 450 hotels, this year-round sunny city is an attractive option for event planners.
Located in the heart of downtown Phoenix is the Phoenix Convention Center, a 24-acre, 900,000 sq. ft. venue that has been hosting national conferences and tradeshows since it opened in 1972.
Hotels: Phoenix has 450 hotels, more than any city on this list. The average hotel room rate is $124.00.
Airports: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is located three miles from downtown Phoenix and is one of the largest commercial airports in the United States.
Things to do: This desert city offers a lot to do and see, including the Desert Botanical Garden, Cave Creek Golf Club, Copper Square, Sedona Gateway Tour, Phoenix Zoo, and more.
8. Atlanta, GA
Background: Atlanta has four meeting districts, state-of-the-art venues, top attractions, and hotels at every price point. One of the best parts? Almost 80% of people in the United States can fly to Atlanta in two hours. Between the Downtown, Midtown, Buckhead, and the Airport Area district, meeting planners can find venues and hotels for every type of budget.
Hotels: Atlanta has 92 hotels and the average price per night is $149.00.
Airports: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is located within 20 minutes of all four compact convention districts.
Things to do: Atlanta is home to the College Football Hall of Fame, the National Center for Civil & Human Rights, the World of Coca-Cola, Centennial Olympic Park, Six Flags, and more.
9. Dallas, TX
Background: This vibrant southern city offers flexible event centers, world-class meeting spaces, and affordable hotels. The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center offers more than 1 million sq. ft. of exhibit space, making it one of the biggest in the United States. As the third-largest city in the state, Dallas is a blend of southern charm with a Texas twist.
Hotels: Dallas is home to 155 hotels. The average price is $140.00.
Airports: Dallas Fort Worth International Airport is the primary airport in the area and has domestic service to 173 locations.
Things to do: Top Dallas sights include Dallas World Aquarium, Dealey Plaza, John F. Kennedy Memorial, George W. Bush Presidential Center, Texas Horse Park, and more.
10. New Orleans, LA
Background: New Orleans has hosted some of the world’s top conventions and events, and it’s no surprise why. Known for its vibrant music scene, historical sightseeing, distinct neighborhoods, and cuisine, New Orleans is often considered one of the most unique cities in the United States.
Whether an event planner is looking for large event spaces like the Mercedes Benz Superdome or more intimate gathering spaces like those found in the French Quarter meeting hotels, New Orleans can cater to the needs of all event sizes.
The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center has been widely recognized as one of the top convention centers in the United States.
Hotels: New Orleans has just over 100 hotels. The average nightly room rate is $138.
Airports: Louis Armstrong International Airport is located 11 miles west of downtown New Orleans.
Things to do: As the “most unique” city in the United States, there’s no shortage of things to do. Top attractions include the French Quarter, Bourbon Street, Jackson Square, Frenchmen Street, the National WWII Museum, Pat O'Brien's, Acme Oyster House, swamp tours, haunted tours, and more.
We hope this list of top U.S. cities to host a conference or event in 2019 has helped narrow it down for you and your organization!