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Milwaukee, WI Event Planning

Key Highlights

Hotels 55
Total Sleeping Rooms 8,281
Committable Sleeping Rooms* 729
Committable Meeting Rooms* 28
Convention Center Space 188,695 Sq. Ft.
Largest Exhibit Space 188,695 Sq. Ft.
Largest Ballroom 37,506 Sq. Ft.
Average Hotel Room Rate USD $119
Average Daily Meal Cost USD $64
Average Weekly Car Rental USD $176
*Maximum for a single hotel

Milwaukee, WI Meeting Planning Overview

Welcome to Cvent's Meeting and Event Planning Guide to Milwaukee, a city guide for meeting professionals. Located just 90 miles north of Chicago on beautiful Lake Michigan, with attractions, amenities, and a culinary scene rivalling its illustrious neighbor to the south, Milwaukee is being heralded as "Chicago Lite" by today's meeting planners.

Only a 10-minute drive from downtown and served by all domestic airlines, Milwaukee's award-winning General Mitchell International Airport not only serves Wisconsin, but is fast becoming the preferred airport for northern Illinois due to its ease and accessibility. A quick Amtrak ride from Chicago and within a day's drive of 1/3 of the U.S. population, Milwaukee is ideally located as a Midwest meetings destination.

Milwaukee also wins high marks for walkability, having 150 restaurants within a half mile of the convention center. Just a stroll down the three-mile long RiverWalk, the bustling Milwaukee Public Market anchors the Historic Third Ward, the city's trendy former warehouse district, featuring some of the best restaurants, pubs, boutiques, galleries and theater complex. Further north along the RiverWalk, Milwaukee's German heritage is celebrated in legendary Mader's restaurant and specialty cheese, sausage, and spice shops.

Milwaukee's compact, budget-friendly convention campus features three unique venues, the compact, three-story Wisconsin Center with its 189,000-square-foot exhibit hall, 37,500-square-foot ballroom and 20 breakout rooms, the historic Milwaukee Theatre and the UWM-Panther Arena. The newly renovated Hilton Milwaukee City Center and Hyatt Regency Milwaukee offer more than 1,200 rooms in the heart of downtown at average daily costs of lodging and meals among the lowest in Milwaukee's competitive set.

Attractions rivaling those in a big city double as great off-site venues in Milwaukee. Delegates thrill to the roar of motorcycles in the world's only Harley-Davidson Museum, where indoor and outdoor spaces accommodate groups of all sizes. Along with events in the breathtaking, vaulted atrium of the lakefront Milwaukee Art Museum and at adjacent Discovery World, meeting space at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino's new 381-room hotel now brings the casino's total to 60,000 square feet And nothing serves up more fun and value-added to summer conventions than nonstop music and ethnic festivals at the 75-acre Henry Maier Festival Park on Lake Michigan in the Third Ward.

Along with a lively theater and performing arts scene, Milwaukee earns national kudos for its numerous James Beard-recognized restaurants and chefs, including the current Midwest Best Chef Justin Aprahamian of Sanford restaurant. James Beard semi-finalist David Swanson, chef/owner of Braise, is founder of Milwaukee's restaurant-supported agriculture movement, supplying restaurants around the city with the freshest, locally sourced ingredients from more than 40 Wisconsin farms at incomparable value.

Add in the natural beauty of the Lake Michigan shoreline, professional sports and entertaining brewery tours for a meetings destination with an unexpected "wow" factor.

About Milwaukee, WI / Additional Info

Have you heard the buzz? From arts to food to affordability, everyone is talking about Milwaukee. But don't take our word for it, check out these national rankings from 2014.

Milwaukee as a "hot" destination? Jetsetter thinks so, adding Milwaukee to its elite list of "Where to go in 2014" along with international destinations like Glasgow and Cape Town, citing the renaissance in the city from the Historic Third Ward to hipster hotels. CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg named the city an "Unusual Vacation Destination" and ranked it as one of "6 Offbeat Destinations to see this Summer." According to Greenberg, " travelers are starting to discover Milwaukee…(Chicago's) less glitzy cousin..," calling out its affordable housing and hotels, booming restaurant scene, cultural offerings and "one of the coolest public markets in the country."

Buzzfeed included Milwaukee on its "14 Underrated Towns You Really Want to Move To" in 2014, calling the city "… gem of the Midwest, offering everything from an eclectic music scene to the House of Harley-Davidson." And the city wins a nod from Time magazine as one of the "15 Most Affordable Cities for Millennials." Milwaukee's value proposition was also touted by Nerdwallet when it ranked the city among the "Top 15 Budget and Waist-Friendly Vacation Spots in the U.S."

Milwaukee also wins kudos for arts, major attractions and summer festivals. USA Today ranked the trendy Historic Third Ward as one of the "10 Best City Art Districts Around the USA," and Time included Milwaukee's 11-day Summerfest, cited by the Guinness Book of World Records as being the largest outdoor music festival in the world, on its international list of "14 Music Festivals to Check out in 2014."

You can bet that a city that boasts James Beard's 2014 Best Chef Midwest – Justin Aprahamian, chef/owner of Sanford – has a thriving culinary scene. Newcomer Ardent was also recognized as a James Beard semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant and named one of Conde Nast's "15 Best New Restaurants," while Braise restaurant made Fodor's list of "Top 10 Rooftop-to-Table" restaurants in the country.

Thrillist recently ranked new restaurant Goodkind as one of the top 21 "Best New 2014 Restaurants," and Milwaukee even landed on Travel & Leisure's list of "America's Strangest Restaurants" for its legendary spy-themed The Safe House.

It's even fun to fly into Milwaukee as General Mitchell International Airport was included on a list of airports with "Best Airport Food in the World" by Conde Nast Traveler in 2014. The airport's Renaissance Book Shop was even cited this year by USA Today as one of the "10 Best Independent Bookstores." And where else can you play ping pong in the waiting area of an airport?

There's more awaiting groups in Milwaukee:

  • 150 state and county parks
  • 15 county golf courses in Milwaukee, numerous private courses; within one hour drive: Whistling Straits and Erin Hills, venues for national/international golf events.
  • 130 miles of bike trails
  • 17 museums in downtown Milwaukee and 25 including the surrounding counties.
  • 25 theaters within city limits, a little over 30 in the Greater Milwaukee area.
  • 150 restaurants in downtown Milwaukee.
  • 30 seasonal festivals, including Summerfest, the world's largest outdoor music festival, and a variety of ethnic festivals. Most are celebrated in the 75-acre permanent lakefront Henry W. Maier Festival Park.
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