Situated in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley, Harlingen is about 30 miles from the Gulf Coast and home to nearly 65,000 people. Known as the crossroads of the valley, the city grew as an industrial, shipping and distribution center, thanks to its location at the intersection of US Highways 77 and 83. Its economy has grown and changed over the decades, but its strategic location continues to make meeting venues in Harlingen a popular choice for groups.
Harlingen is fewer than 4.5 hours away from Texas cities Corpus Christi and San Antonio by car and just a quick one-hour drive from South Padre Island. The city is also home to South Texas' largest airport, Valley International, which serves more than two million people on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
There are 15 hotel venues in Harlingen; these have a range of price points and many offer convenient all-in-one venues for accommodations and meeting space. The recently renovated 108-room Courtyard Harlingen has three meeting rooms and nearly 950 square feet of total meeting space, while the Best Western Casa Villa Suites has conference and banquet facilities for up to 80 people and a 12-seat boardroom. America's Best Value Inn & Suites-Raymondville/Harlingen, Hampton Inn & Suites Harlingen and Country Inn & Suites by Carlson Harlingen also have conference space and meeting-friendly amenities such as free Wi-Fi and business centers.
Several unique event venues in Harlingen may take an ordinary seminar or corporate event to a new level. Valley Race Park, home to greyhound racing and year-round simulcasting of horse and dog racing, is a winning bet for events large and small. The park has an 80,000-square-foot grandstand to accommodate any function, as well as a director's suite, restaurant and Top of the Park event facility that comes with a 15-foot-by-15-foot dance floor. In addition, its 15-acre parking lot can host trade shows and concerts–or hold 2,500 vehicles. Just 20 minutes away in Brownsville, the 31-acre Gladys Porter Zoo is home to 377 species of animals from four key regions. Guests will go wild for any of the five areas available for rent at the zoo, which also has a 5,000-square-foot enclosed facility for up to 350 seated guests for social events.
Harlingen's year-round warm temperatures, scenic setting and abundance of recreational activities make it a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts. Groups can join in the fun at a number of outdoor venues throughout the city. Hit the links at the Harlingen Country Club's 18-hole course, one of seven in the area, or book a private event at its recently remodeled clubhouse. Plan a group outing to one of the two national wildlife refuges surrounding Harlingen, Santa Ana Refuge and Laguna Atascosa Refuge. Here, either by foot trail or aboard a guided tram, groups can spot hundreds of species of birds, coyotes, bobcats and even ocelots and learn about the region's unique ecological crossroads of subtropical forest, gulf coast, great plains and Chihuahuan desert.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons user: ElmoPancakes