It’s a dilemma event planners have been facing since the advent of destination meetings: how to schedule a conference or workshop in a city that offers enough activities that people will want to visit, yet still keep them focused on the event they came to attend in the first place. With the distractingly large amount of enticing activities and natural beauty Spokane offers, it’s unlikely that question will be answered any time soon. 

Spokane’s location in the middle of the Northwest’s Inland Empire (counties east of the Cascades plus northern Idaho) places it in the very center of a vibrant area filled with alluring scenery, outdoor activities and plenty of meeting space. Here are four reasons why Spokane may be the perfect place for your next gathering:

» The Spokane Convention Center is located downtown along the south bank of the Spokane River. It offers more than 500,000 square feet of space for meetings, workshops, conferences or weddings. Best of all? It’s 100 percent wind-powered!

» Downtown Spokane has 3,300 guest rooms, with a total of 7,700 rooms throughout Spokane County.

» Spokane boasts an extremely walkable downtown. Within 8 blocks of the convention center are more than 80 restaurants and dozens of shops ranging from small boutiques to big-name retailers. A few steps farther is the 100-acre Riverfront Park (created for the 1974 World’s Fair expo), offering a carousel, an IMAX theater, a SkyRide over Spokane Falls, an ice skating rink during the winter months and the Spokane River Centennial Trail. Spokane is also surrounded by lakes, mountains and rivers, offering dozens of leisure options. “My favorite thing is to take advantage of the abundance of outdoor activities Spokane offers,” says Robert Enriquez, vice president of sales and marketing with Visit Spokane. “I love exploring the area with my wife and kids.” 

» More than 15 wineries—part of the city’s larger Cork District—are within walking distance of Spokane’s downtown core. You can also explore some of the 41 breweries along the last-reaching Inland Northwest Ale Trail. Those who get a stamp from at least 12 participating breweries receive a free 32-ounce mini growler. 

In the early 1990s, Washington communities and activists had a vision of maintaining green wilderness and creating space where people could embrace the outdoors near urban cities like Seattle. “We’re all better and healthier when we’re connected to nature,” says Caroline Villanova, community and partnerships manager at Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust.

 

Washington’s Vancouver Waterfront development project will be getting a big boost this summer with the opening of two long-awaited hotels. The 138-room Hotel Indigo is scheduled to open in late June or early July while the 150-room AC Hotel by Marriott is looking to make its debut on June 15 at the Port of Vancouver’s adjacent Terminal 1. A 10-story condominium building, Residences at Kirkland Tower, is planning an October opening and will be attached to Hotel Indigo.

 

Sheraton Dallas Hotel has introduced a new outdoor event space under its new event programming, Dare to Outdoors. The hotel’s catering team has partnered with Pacific Plaza Park, a 3.7-acre green space in Downtown Dallas. The park features a 31,950 square-foot lawn space and permanent seating, as well as night-sky friendly lights for star-watchers. Three food truck power outlets are available and standard outlets are located throughout the park.