Welcome to Cvent's Raleigh meeting planning guide - a Raleigh city guide for meeting planners. Raleigh's mild, temperate climate and hospitality, combined with an ambitious, $3-billion transformation of its downtown area, has secured its position as a prime destination for business, technology and tourism as well as a favorite meeting location any time of the year.
Excitement abounds in Raleigh as the face of its downtown changes with multiple public art projects, the expansion of the North Carolina Museum of Art and the building of several new structures that include the new Contemporary Art Museum (opened April 2011) and City Plaza, an outdoor gathering place that is just outside the hotel lobbies of downtown. The 5,500-seat Raleigh Amphitheater, completed in June of 2010, puts a large, open-air festival site right within downtown Raleigh’s convention campus.
One of the crowning achievements of Raleigh's renaissance is the LEED-certified Raleigh Convention Center, a catalyst for development in the area. The convention center, which opened in September 2008, is conveniently located in the heart of downtown, placing convention guests within a few blocks of more than 1,000 hotel rooms, including the new 400-room Raleigh Marriott City Center located next door that joins the adjacent 353-room Sheraton Raleigh Hotel. (Other luxurious hotels in the area bring the city's accommodations total to nearly 14,000 rooms.) The 500,000-square-foot facility features 150,000 square feet of exhibit space, 20 meeting rooms totaling more than 32,000 square feet, and a stately 32,000-square-foot grand ballroom with an adjacent reception area. Every space, large and small, is equipped with the latest communications and production technology.
The Cree Shimmer Wall is a 9,284-square-foot piece of art adorning the side of the Raleigh Convention Center. The piece looks high-tech, but it's not: This spectacular piece is made up of 79,464 light and dark aluminum squares that change shape and disappear as the squares flap in the wind. The wall depicts an image of an oak tree and has become a symbol for Raleigh, the City of Oaks. It is backlit at night by 56 light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, fixtures that can be programmed to flash and display more than a million different colors.
Raleigh offers several outstanding attractions that are also open to hosting meetings and events. The North Carolina Museum of Art is one such facility and its newest feature is the West Building, a 127,000-square-foot building with day-lit galleries and exquisite outdoor sculpture gardens. Up to 1,500 guests can enjoy an event at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, including event space within its exhibits such as the Coastal Carolina and Mountains to the Sea exhibits. In April 2012, the Nature Research Center (NRC) at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences debuted an 80,000-square-foot wing that brings research scientists and their work into the public eye. The centerpiece of the NRC is the SECU Daily Planet, an immersive, three-story multimedia space that links virtual to real nature and is the site of live programming on breaking science news. Inside the NRC is the William G. Ross, Jr. Environmental Conference Center, which can accommodate up to 225 people.
To celebrate Raleigh's rich past and enjoy its inviting outdoors, the Mordecai Historic Park, where guests can find the birthplace of Andrew Johnson and the oldest residence in Raleigh on its original foundation, offers several sites available for private events. For dinners and cocktail receptions, Caffe Luna offers elegant rooms for private dining complete with hardwood floors and graceful archways, as well as a candlelit terrace.
With the opening of the Lonnie Poole Golf Course at North Carolina State University in spring of 2009, downtown area meeting attendees have a new option for after-session breaks. The 6,915-yard, par 71 course is an Arnold Palmer Signature Course and brings Greater Raleigh’s public and semi-private golf course tally to 18.
The capital city of North Carolina, Raleigh is situated on the gently rolling hills of North Carolina's Piedmont area. Named for English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, the city was founded in 1792 after the state legislature chose the site for the capital. In addition to performing the big business of state government, Raleigh quickly emerged as a pioneer in education with the establishment of the all-female St. Mary's College in 1842. Today Raleigh is home to research powerhouse North Carolina State University and six private colleges and universities. On the business side, the city serves as the location of Triangle Research Park, one of the country's largest research parks and a major center for high-tech and biotechnology research and textile development.
Due to the success of Triangle Research Park, coupled with its rising reputation as a site for higher education, Raleigh has become one of the fastest growing cities in the country and is the 2nd most populous city in North Carolina. Over 370,000 people call the city home and over 1.5 million reside in the greater metropolitan area. Known as the "City of Oaks" for its numerous oak trees, Raleigh's tree-lined streets, superior cultural offerings, historic homes and buildings such as the Sir Walter Raleigh Hotel hearken back to the city's simple, rural beginnings.
Raleigh has more than 20 top-ranked cultural institutions that are free of charge to the public. Stroll through Greek and Roman sculptures and paintings by Claude Monet and Sandro Botticelli at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Explore the re-created interior of a 1920s North Carolina drugstore and see Richard Petty's stock car at the North Carolina Museum of History. Bask in the city's pleasant weather by stopping at one of its over 150 public parks, award-winning gardens, lakes and golf courses, from the pomegranate trees and grape arbor at the Joel Lane House Gardens to the Japanese Garden at the J.C. Raulston Arboretum. When the sun goes down, savor a delicious meal, whether at one of Carolina's trademark barbecue establishments or one of the city's emerging Italian, Mediterranean or Jamaican eateries. End the night with a stop at the trendy Warehouse District, where cavernous brick buildings now house residential lofts, art galleries, restaurants and nightlife such as White Collar Crime.
New downtown additions have created a number of entertainment options for visitors during both the day and night. The new Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, a major triumph of the city's revitalization efforts, draws enthusiastic crowds with high-caliber entertainment in four performance halls.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Located in North Carolina's Piedmont area, Raleigh enjoys a subtropical climate with mild, pleasant temperatures in the spring, fall and winter. Summers are hot and humid with frequent highs in the upper 80s and low 90s. Winter temperatures range from the low to mid-30s to the low 50s; however, occasional warmer winter days are not uncommon.
With an average annual rainfall of 44.7 inches, Raleigh's rainiest months are July and August. Winter brings an average of 4.6 inches of snow, in addition to freezing rain, sleet and an occasional major ice storm. The best time to visit Raleigh is late spring or early winter, when temperatures are still mild and precipitation is low.
Raleigh Convention Center
Raleigh's ambitious downtown renaissance reached a milestone in 2008 with the opening of the much-anticipated Raleigh Convention Center. Located at the intersection of Fayetteville Street and East South Street across from the regionally acclaimed Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, the center's ideal downtown location provides maximum convenience and appeal to meeting planners.
Striking both inside and out, the 500,000-square-foot convention center welcomes guests with a grand lobby lined by floor-to-ceiling windows. From the 4,100-square-foot mezzanine level, visitors can easily access all points of the center, including the 150,000-square-foot exhibit hall with room for 790 booths or 15,000 people theater-style. The center also features 20 flexible meeting rooms, ranging in size from 701 square feet to 5,538 square feet, and a 32,000-square-foot grand ballroom adjacent to a reception area from which guests enjoy panoramic views of the city.
The Silver LEED-certified convention center has implemented a number of green initiatives. Among its efforts are exit signs using highly efficient LED lamps; low flow toilets and faucets; recycling procedures for all glass, metal, plastic and corrugated cardboard; and the donation of leftover banquet food to local food banks. Even the building itself is eco-friendly, as 100 percent of the center's steel is recycled product and over 89 percent of the construction services were contracted from within North Carolina.
From the exhibit hall to the smallest meeting room, the convention center features cutting edge technology, including state-of-the-art lighting and sound, high-speed Internet access, wireless Internet throughout the building, and remote satellite capabilities. The convention center's in-house catering staff is managed by Centerplate, a leading caterer in major cities such as New York, Miami and Washington, DC. An attached garage has 900 parking spaces, and more than 4,000 parking spaces can be found within a two-block radius.
Adjacent to the convention center, the new 4 Star, 400-room Raleigh Marriott City Center offers 15,000 square feet of banquet and meeting space and a 200-space parking garage. Additional overnight accommodations can be found less than a block away at the 355-room Sheraton Hotel.
Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)
Approximate taxi fare: $42 USD
Located 14 miles from downtown, the Raleigh-Durham International Airport combines southern hospitality and high-tech amenities to create a positive experience for travelers. Served by 10 major airlines and 19 regional carriers, Raleigh-Durham International provides nearly 450 daily flights to more than 40 top destinations, including international service to London and Toronto. Terminal 2, formerly Terminal C, at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, is open after a $570-million expansion.
Outside, a massive, abstract sculpture of steel airplane wings and a swirling elliptical band of blue light provides a dramatic welcome to the metro area. The sculpture celebrates the state's rich aviation heritage and the 100th anniversary of powered flight by the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, NC. Artwork throughout the airport reflects the theme "Mind-made, Hand-made" and showcases the talents and craftsmanship of local artists, including North Carolina's Native American Indians.
Travelers are free to explore the Shops of RDU Landing, which feature casual restaurants, pubs, coffee shops, local retailers and national chains such as Brooks Brothers. Airport parking facilities include nearly 10,000 spaces in the Daily Lot and over 1,000 spaces in the Hourly Lot. Both lots charge $1 per hour with a maximum $10 charge for the Daily Lot.
Airline carriers serving the Raleigh-Durham International Airport
Raleigh's Amtrak station is the second busiest in the southeast, servicing three trains: the Silver Star, Carolinian and Piedmont. The Silver Star runs on the Silver Service/Palmetto lines, which include stops between New York City, Georgia and Florida. The Carolinian travels daily between New York and Charlotte, with stops in Richmond, Washington D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia, while the Piedmont runs daily between Raleigh and Charlotte.
Capital Area Transit, a division of the Triangle Transit Authority, provides service throughout the city of Raleigh.
Capital Area Transit operates 37 bus routes, 26 of which are fixed routes serving downtown. Hours and schedules vary based on route. Fare is $1 for adults and $0.50 for seniors and people with disabilities. Day, weekly, 10-ride, 11-ride and 31-day passes are available.
The city of Raleigh operates two trolley services using replicas of streetcars that traveled Raleigh's streets until 1932. The Showtime Trolley runsThursday through Saturday every 15 to 20 minutes from 5:30 to 11:30 PM. Fare is free.
The Historic Raleigh Trolley Tour operates Saturday, March to December, from 11 AM to 3 PM. This narrated tour lasts one hour and departs from Mordecai Historic Park on the hour. Tickets are $6 for children ages 7-17 and $8 for adults. Tickets for children ages 6 and under are free.
The Triangle Area Authority provides shuttle service between Raleigh and the airport. One-way fare is $2 for adults. A Regional Day Pass, good for travel on all public transportation systems in the Triangle area, is $4.
Eight major airport rental car companies, including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National and Thrifty, are centrally located at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, a short shuttle bus ride from the terminals. Shuttles run every 15 minutes and stop at the curb near the baggage claim area of each terminal. Thrifty Rental Car's facility is located off airport premises and offers shuttle service for customers.
RDU Airport Taxi provides service to and from the airport. The typical taxi fare for the 14-mile trip to downtown Raleigh averages $29.80. The fare is based on a $2.50 initial fee, $4.45 for the first mile, $1.95 for each additional mile, and $0 .65 for each additional one-third of a mile. There is a $0.50 charge for each piece of luggage over three pieces per person and an additional $1 gas fuel surcharge per trip.
Photo Credit : Raleigh CVB
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