Welcome to the Austin event planning city guide. Maybe it's the historical distinction or political prominence. Perhaps it's the thriving cultural scene or "anything goes" atmosphere. It could even be the intoxicating rhythms emanating from more than 250 Austin event venues to see live music. Maybe even the alluring number of Austin meeting hotels. Whatever the reason meeting planners choose Austin as their next event locale may be, it's never surprising that more than 20 million people visit this gorgeous Texas City every year.
Though fairly convenient to fellow Texans (being fewer than 200 miles away from Dallas, San Antonio and Houston), Austin is equally accessible to all travelers. Voted Best Domestic Airport in the United States by the Airports Council International, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport serves over 40 non-stop and 82 direct destinations. Once inside the city, transportation has never been easier or more affordable, whether guests opt for the $0.50 direct airport bus or one of the public buses making 3,000 stops around the city.
Austin's meeting facilities are equally amenable to guests. The dynamic Austin Convention Center headlines the city's meeting options with 900,000 square feet of space. Boasting five contiguous, column-free exhibit halls and two ballrooms - including the largest in the state - the convention center is also conveniently located across the street from 800-room Hilton Austin; and two blocks away from the new 1,012-room JW Marriott Austin. To top it off, the center is home to state-of-the-art technology that includes a communication infrastructure capable of moving voice and video data at one billion bits per second.
Nearby, both the Palmer Events Center and Travis County Exposition Center round out Austin's large-scale meeting facilities. The two levels at Palmer provide 95,000 square feet of space. Its five meeting rooms are an ideal spot for up to 76 guests to convene while overlooking the city skyline and surrounding park. Just 15 minutes from downtown, the Travis County Exposition Center features a range of varied spaces. Its 20,000-square-foot Banquet Hall is one of the largest meeting rooms in the city, while the 10,000-square-foot Skyline Club boasts panoramic views of downtown.
Though such spaces predictably draw hundreds of events and meetings each year, smaller, unique Austin event venues certainly do not disappoint. The Austin Museum of Art's downtown location offers elegant spaces where guests can enjoy private access to exhibitions and floor-to-ceiling windows that afford striking views of the city. With 12,500 square feet of exhibit space, the Austin Children's Museum's whimsical space serves as a lively backdrop for cocktail receptions. Or, add a touch of culture and class to seminars by hosting them at one of the George Washington Carver Museum's three conference rooms.
Looking to take advantage of Austin's 300 days of sunshine? Let tranquil Town Lake, the Texas State Capitol and Zilker Park be the backdrop for your event by charting a private cruise for up to 80 people with Lone Star Riverboat Cruises. Back on land, the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum's outdoor terrace and glass-enclosed conservatory are tranquil settings for receptions and black-tie affairs.
Austin's major industries include high-tech manufacturing, software and information services. In addition to being the state capital, the city serves as headquarters for such corporations as 3M, Hoovers, Inc., National Instruments Corp. and Whole Foods Markets, Inc. Higher learning also holds a strong presence in the city, as Austin is home to the University of Texas at Austin, St. Edward's University, Concordia University and Austin Community College.