Things seem to just naturally come in threes in Washington’s Tri-Cities. First and foremost? Location, location, location.
Centrally located near both the Idaho and Oregon borders, this triple threat off ers meeting planners plenty of options for work and play as well as an easy commute from virtually anywhere in the Northwest.
Kennewick, Pasco and Richland, along with West Richland, comprise the Tri-Cities, which also happens to be located at the confluence of three rivers. The rivers provide not just recreational opportunities, but also a scenic backdrop with spectacular sunsets.
The region features 46 hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfasts for a total of 4,191 guest rooms, according to Karisa Saywers, director of marketing for Visit Tri-Cities. “With two large convention centers—the 88,000-squarefoot TRAC Center and the 75,000-squarefoot Three Rivers Convention Center—along with multiple hotels that can cater to midsize groups, the Tri-Cities can accommodate everything from small meetings to conventions of up to 5,000,” notes Saywers.
And while the region is big enough to host large gatherings, it’s not so jaded that your attendees won’t feel special. “Groups planning a meeting will experience the region’s famous Tri-Cities hospitality,” Saywers promises.
The TRAC Center in Pasco was originally built around the needs of the equine community. It still features horse stalls, an indoor arena and an exposition hall suitable for livestock shows, as well as banquets and trade shows.
Over in Kennewick, the Three Rivers Convention Center is the newest meeting facility in central and eastern Washington. Built in 2004, Three Rivers recently completed a $300,000 sound and lighting renovation, says Heather Breymeyer, director of sales for the convention center.
Three Rivers also offers in-house food and beverage service, Breymeyer says. “We’re a true one-stop shop. You have one event manager, one point of contact and one bill,” she says. “We’ve really streamlined the process.”
And since 2015, Three Rivers has a hotel attached to the convention center: the 113- room Springhill Suites, which seamlessly connects to Three Rivers via an enclosed lobby. “That was really a game-changer for us,” Breymeyer says. With another hotel just across the street—the 120-room Hilton Inn and Suites—out-of-town guests are within walking distance.
Outside of meetings, guests might want to wander to one of the area’s more than 200 wineries for tours and tastings. Tulip Lane is known for its three winery/restaurants: Barnard Griffin Winery, J. Bookwalter Winery and Tagaris Winery. Each offers event space appropriate for everything from a reception to a board retreat, Saywers says. “Wineries on Red Mountain feature beautiful spaces with views of the vineyards.”
For a more adventurous activity, guests can paddleboard on the Snake, Columbia or Yakima rivers. “Just about anybody can get the hang of it within an hour or so,” says Northwest Paddleboarding co-owner Krista Patterson. “If all else fails, you can just sit or lay down on it.”
Patterson, her daughter and Northwest Paddleboarding co-owner Cathy Hobson, and their crew can advise your guests on the best launch point for their skill levels should they choose to venture out on their own. But they also offer guided tours and lessons. “It’s a great team-building exercise,” Patterson says. “Have fun, get together and be outside.”
One of the most unusual tours the Richland company offers is a moonlight paddle. Participants go out as the sun is setting, using LED-lighted paddles. “By the time the class is over, it’s pitch black,” she says. Not only do you get the peacefulness of a nighttime paddle, but you also get to experience the sunset on the water.
“Tri-Cities has the best sunsets in possibly the world,” says Patterson. “I’ve seen a lot of sunset pictures from around the world that people think are amazing. But you just can’t beat ours.”
For those who want to stay on dry land, the region boasts several top-notch golf courses. Or head to an area escape room. The escape rooms exercise collaboration and communication skills, Saywers says, as groups work together to solve a series of puzzles to escape the space.
If getting the creative juices flowing is a bigger draw, consider bringing guests to the db Fused Glass Studio at Barnard Griffin Winery, Saywers suggests. “The studio offers classes to create a variety of fused glass items, such as a drape vase or coral bowl,” she says. “After class, teams can walk across the patio to enjoy a glass of wine and delicious food at the winery’s inhouse restaurant, The Kitchen.”
Wine, water and whimsy: Clearly, the TriCities is a triple threat when it comes to hosting destination events.