The quaint Pennsylvanian city of Harrisburg may not be the first destination that comes to mind when considering meeting locales on the East Coast. However, with a convenient setting, first-class event facilities and a revitalized downtown – all at an affordable price tag – it certainly should be. Welcoming about 6.5 million visitors each year, the city is within a three-hour drive of Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York City and Washington, DC. For air travelers, the expansive Harrisburg International Airport, remodeled and expanded in 2004, provides non-stop service to over 100 locations throughout the United States and Canada.
Once inside the city, meeting planners are met with a wealth of spacious and flexible event spaces. The Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center boasts an impressive 1.1 million square feet of exhibit space, including a new banquet hall serving 1,200 people. From the grand 172,000-square-foot Expo Hall to the 4,773-square-foot VIP lounge, the complex can accommodate any type or size of event.
Meanwhile, the state-of-the-art GIANT Center can host up to 12,500 guests in a variety of seating accommodations. As home to the Hershey Bears hockey team and first-class amenities such as in-house catering and luxury suites, the center is an exciting spot to host events big and small.
The city is certainly not short on unique meeting spaces, either. Rare automobiles and a soaring ceiling at the Antique Auto Museum in Hershey create a stimulating setting for cocktails and appetizers. Offer up to 150 guests a scenic respite from the city by hosting a dinner at the secluded Centennial Barn at the Fort Hunter Mansion & Park. Or, sweeten any event session by gathering attendees at the Hershey's Chocolate World in Hersheypark.
From theaters to museums, the plethora of Harrisburg event venues are kept fresh and inviting, just like its downtown. Over the past two decades, the city has made significant revival efforts to transform the area into a popular business and nightlife destination. New hotels such as the 15-story Hilton Harrisburg and retail areas such as Strawberry Square meet with recently-opened restaurants, classy nightclubs and popular bars in the renovated downtown area. Though such improvements are elevating the city to rival other East Coast metropolitans, its low cost remains unchanged. In fact, Harrisburg has been named one of the Top Ten Most Affordable U.S. meeting locations by GetThere.
Harrisburg has a thriving technology industry as well as a growing health service industry. A number of large national firms are located in or near the city, including Tyco Electronics Corporation, IBM, Hershey Foods, Harsco Corporation and Rite Aid.