Set on the north bank of the Rio Grande River at the point where the U.S. meets Mexico, the Texas city of Laredo is a vibrant blend of history and culture known for its interesting shopping and festivals like the Jalapeno Festival and Border Beer Fest. It's also a college town, so visitors will find many Laredo event venues fueled with a youthful spirit.
Located within the city limits, Laredo International Airport is served by American Airlines, US Airways, and United, with daily service to Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, and weekly service to Las Vegas, and seasonal service to Orlando.
Chief among convention venues, Laredo Energy Arena is a 178,000-square-foot, multi-purpose facility that hosts everything from conventions and tradeshows to sporting and civic events. The arena is capable of seating 9,622 theater-style along with a stage; or it offers 27,000 square feet of floor space for a tradeshow. Six meeting rooms average 620 square feet each, four of which can be converted into two large rooms of approximately 1,260 square feet each.
Planners can also choose a variety of options on 300-acre Texas A&M International University campus, The university's student center houses a ballroom that can seat 450 for a banquet or 800 for a meeting; a 186-seat theater, and four meeting rooms able to seat from 20 to 40 each. Also on campus is the Western Hemisphere Trade Center, with two auditoriums that can hold 115 and 45 respectively and a conference room that can hold 25 people.
Hotel venues in Laredo feature two distinctive downtown options: La Posada Hotel, located in a meticulously restored hacienda from the 1700s, offers 206 guest rooms and 15,000 square feet of meeting space. And the 207-room, 15-story Rio Grande Plaza, which has a meeting room that can seat 100, sits right on the river and is known for its spectacular elevated pool overlooking the river. There are also hotels with meeting space near Mall Del Norte, such as the Hampton Inn, Fairfield Inn & Suites, and Residence Inn by Marriott; and near the airport, including Holiday Inn Express, La Quinta Inn & Suites, and Staybridge Suites.
Three popular choices for special event venues in Laredo's historic town center are the Laredo Center for the Arts, which has two large art galleries with arched windows and cathedral ceilings as well as the Mezzanine Hall, which can host a reception for about 200 people; Pasillo de San Agustin, which has rustic Colonial architecture and a beautiful courtyard; and Casa Ortiz, built around 1829 and a Texas Historical Landmark, which is known for its garden and amazing view of Mexico and the Rio Grande River.
Not surprisingly, visitors can get the best authentic Mexican food in Laredo; for unforgettable Mexican fare, locals recommend Paulita's, Taquitos Ravi, and El Mason, and La Mexicana, said to have the best flautas in town and the best mole in Texas. But the city also offers a good selection of alternative cuisines, from classic American fare to sushi. Kika's is a fun family restaurant, while Rolando's is all about Nueva Latino cuisine.
Vestiges of the early days of Laredo, founded in 1755, are woven into the city, with a number of historic districts and sites on the National Register of Historic Places. But visitors also enjoy golf at the Max A, Mandel Municipal Golf Course (The Max), a Robert Trent Jones II designed course ranked among the top 50 municipal golf courses in the country, and shopping at 125-store Mall Del Norte, as well as quirky gems like Smoking Dog, with its fine handmade cigars and products.