The Best Places To Dine, Sleep And Shop Around Major Conference Centers

Turn your next business trip into a mini-vacation

By Journy Admin

3 August 2018

If a stranger were to glance in your calendar, they might think you were a jet-setter. But you'd rather be exercising your frequent flier card for international escapades, not the litany of beige-colored conference centers you're currently jetting off to. We've come up with mini-itineraries full of the best places to dine, sleep and shop on your next business trip.

Washington DC
San Francisco
New York City

Washington DC - Walter E Washington Convention Center

The Walter E. Washington Convention Center is DC's largest center and hosts conferences ranging from the Travel & Adventure Show to the Cannabis Business Executive Conference for B2B companies serving the Marijuana industry. While the area has traditionally been dominated by businessmen, a new wave of local restaurants and shops have been opening up to cater to office workers once they leave their 9-to-5.

Margherita pizza with peperoni from All Purpose in DC. | Zagat.

If You Have A Free Evening

Once your conference lets out, head to All Purpose for a pizzas topped with fresh seasonal ingredients and more-ish appetizers inspired by Italian street food classics, like crunchy spinach-studded arancini and chewy farinata, a chickpea pancake from Genoa. From there head to Washington DC's first ever mezcal bar, Espita Mezcaleria. You can try the smoky spirit in cocktails like a mayahuel, a margarita made with mezcal, or opt sample a bunch of different mezcals in a well-curated flight.

The main hall in the National Portrait Gallery in DC. | Angela B. Pan.

If You Have A Free Afternoon

Skip the long slog down to the tourist-thronged National Mall and head to the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. In addition to a stand out collection of portraits of the greats of American history, they also make an effort to expand their depiction of amazing citizens with special exhibits. If you caught the shopping bug, head over to Logan Circle to wander through the astonishing array of knick knacks at local vintage store Miss Pixie's. You can also hunt for fashion bargains at hip consignment store, Current Boutique. While you're in the area, book yourself dinner at Le Diplomate, DC's much loved French restaurant.

Entrance to The Eldon Luxury Suites. | Booking.

Where To Stay In Washington DC

The Eldon Luxury Suites offers a well-equipped spot to rest your head just by the conference center. Rooms even come with their personal kitchens, so if you just need to crash post-conference, you can do that too.

San Francisco - Bespoke Coworking Spaces

Bespoke Coworking in San Francisco.| Bespoke.

If you're in the digital space at all, you're likely to head out to San Francisco for a conference at some point. And while the city has plenty of things to fill your free time with, climbing those famous hills isn't exactly the best post-panel relaxation break. Bespoke is a coworking space in San Francisco's Westfield Center and hosts some of the most exciting conferences in the emerging tech space, including the Global Mobile Games Conference.

Kin Khao. | And A Thousand Words.

If You Have An Evening

Start your evening at Gibson, a recently opened cocktail bar that's quickly become popular for their savory twists on classic drinks (think nori infused gin and an emphasis on citrus oils). Afterwards walk over to Kin Khao. The restaurant serves Bangkok-style Thai food with a Bay Area accent and was started by respected food blogger Pim Techamuanvivit. You’ll be hard pressed to order something lack luster, but the curries stewed in house fresh each day are particularly noteworthy.

San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art. | BDC Network.

If You Have An Afternoon

Take some time to hit up the nearby museums. Just steps away from the conference center you'll find San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art (unmissable), Museum of the African Diaspora and Contemporary Jewish Museum. Afterwards, take a walk over to San Francisco's famed Chinatown. If you stop by when they're open (their hours are notoriously fickle), swing by Golden Gate Bakery for their much loved egg tarts. Otherwise, stop by Good Mong Kok Bakery for dim sum style treats to go or head to the Capital Restaurant. Despite the chaotic environment, it serves some of Chinatown's best food (the chicken wings and fried egg tofu are must orders).

Room at The Mosser. | Kind Traveler.

Where To Stay In San Francisco

The Mosser is an independent art-focused hotel just steps away from San Francisco's Westfield Center and nearby conference venues. In addition to clean, modern rooms (some with bay windows) the attached restaurant, The Keystone, is also excellent.

Chicago - Hyatt Regency Chicago

Hyatt Regency in Chicago.| Hipmunk.

The area around Millennium Park hosts a variety of conferences year round. Whether you're interested in learning about the future of social media from industry leaders or hospitaity, plenty of industries hold their must-attend events in this area.

Outside Rick Bayless's Frontera Grill. | Eater.

If You Have An Evening

Lucky for you, you'll be a short walk from Rick Bayless's Frontera Grill. While we'd recommend reserving a table in advance, most of the seating is kept free for walk ins, though do expect to wait if you do. Finish up your evening with a cocktail at recently opened Leviathan, which lean heavy on Scottish inspiration.

Chicago architecture boat tour. | Chicago Architecture Foundation.

If You Have An Afternoon

Make use of your proximity to the water (and tourist central) to take an architecture tour of Chicago by boat. The Chicago Architecture Foundation partners with First Lady Cruises to run informational tours of the city's famous architecture. Tours leave every hour on the weekends and every other hour during weekdays. Afterwards, head to Revival Food Hall, the most recent bid to renovate the city's lunch scene (it's only open during the week). If it's the weekend, get your fix of Chicago's famous hot dogs at the admittedly touristy (but delicious) Portillo's near Magnificent Mile.

Virgin Hotels in Chicago. | CN Traveler.

Where To Stay In Chicago

Stay at Virgin's new hotel, which is the first location of the company's planned expansion into hotels in the US. It's just as cool as you expect. Think casual chic rooms kitted out with candy apple red Smeg refrigerators and hotel dining options that don’t suck.

Atlanta - Georgia World Congress Center

Atlanta's Georgia World Congress Center. | NCS4.

With over 3.9 million square feet, the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta is practically a city onto itself. It hosts a range of events and exhibitions throughout the year ranging from beauty convention and bridal shows to sports games and the Atlanta auto show.

Dinner at Molly B's in Mercedes Benz stadium.| Atlanta Magazine.

If You Have An Evening

Downtown Atlanta isn't really the epicenter of city's culinary scene, but lucky for you southern-style chophouse Molly B's is now serving up modern American classics from inside Mercedes Benz stadium. If you don't mind a bit of a trip from the convention center, head to Staplehouse, which has garnered much critical praise when it opened in 2015. Their menu changes with the seasons to highlight the freshest produce, and their wine list sorts bottles according to the drinking experience (because we all know it's easier to decide if you want a sweet red or something more full bodied).

Atlanta's Center for Civil and Human Rights. | Arch Daily.

If You Have An Afternoon

Start your day with a sobering dose of history at Atlanta's Center for Civil and Human Rights, where you can experience what it was like to dine at a lunch counter in the 1960s with an immersive exhibit (they also have an impressive collection of Martin Luther King Jr.'s papers). Head to Atlanta's beloved local coffee chain Octane for a well-crafted brew (they also serve cocktails if you feel inspired to stick around until the evening).

Glenn Hotel in Atlanta, GA.| Free Hotel Coupon.

Where To Stay In Atlanta

The area around the conference center is dominated by chain hotels, but the Glenn Hotel, managed by Marriott offers a nice compromise between big budget and boutique. In addition to your regular hotel restaurants, they also have a bar on the roof, which is fun for a post-arrival drink.

Miami - Miami Beach Convention Center

Miami Beach Convention Center. | Four Points Miami Beach.

This is the once we've been waiting for. It's easy to have a fantastic vacation/business trip when attending talks at Miami Beach Convention Center because it's only steps from the beach. You've got plenty to do in the evening or in the afternoon—if you can bear not to spend every free moment at the beach, that is. They also host an impressive range of events including Art Basel Miami and LE Miami.

Byblos in Miami Beach. | Fly Blade.

If You Have A Free Evening

Start as soon at the final hands are shook and rush to Sweet Liberty Drink & Supply Co. for the best happy hour deal in South Beach. In addition to classics like the Aperol Spritz and whiskey highballs, you'll also find creative cocktail like the fruity "Que Piña," which combines gin, Chartreuse and pineapple. Afterwards, head to Byblos where you'll feast on fresh Mediterranean cooking in a dining room that Eater dubs one of the most stylish in town.

1111 Lincoln Road. | Alec Bastian.

If You Have A Free Day

Discover the quasi-kitsch, art deco architecture that Miami Beach is famous for with a DIY walking tour. You'll want to hit up the Delano Hotel (be sure to peek inside at the lobby); Herzog & de Meuron's 1111 Lincoln Road (yes it's a parking lot, and yes it's amazing); and the Helen Mar (bonus points if you score a view of the fabled penthouse). Rest your legs with a respite on the white sand beaches (be sure to bring a towel and sunscreen). When you feel revived, head over to the palm-lined Española Way, a pedestrian-only street that features European-style buildings and restaurants with seating that spill out onto the street. And since no trip to Miami Beach is complete without a little nightlife, be sure to save some time for the dance floor.

Rooftop pool. | The Gale Hotel.

Where To Stay In Miami

The art deco Gale South Beach offers a grown up version of the beachy cool vibes you look forward to your Miami Beach break. Unlike other hotels, it doesn't go overboard on the retro touches, preferring a muted monochrome palate than makes unwinding post-conference all the easier.

New York City - Piers 93/94

Pier 94 in Midtown Manhattan. | Party Slate.

While locals might urge you to head to their favorite out-of-the-way noodle shop in the east village, business travelers know that traversing NYC post-conference is a sure fire route to excess stress. But just because you won't be by the hippest spots doesn't mean you can have an authentic and memorable New York experience.

Spicy ramen from Totto Ramen. | What Shi Eats.

If You Have A Free Evening

Make your way over to Totto Ramen, a bustling ramen noodle counter which serves steaming bowls of springy noodles. Favorites include the fish-forward spicy nibo paitan and comforting chicken paitan. If you booked ahead, head over to The Office for a nightcap cocktail at one of New York's most buzzed about new bars.

Runners along the Westside Highway. | Sarah Ackerman on Flickr.

If You Have A Free Afternoon

Stretch your legs with a Citibike ride along the Westside Highway's dedicated bike path. Afterwards stop to refuel yourself with a meal from some of NYC's best food vendors at Gotham West Market. From there, take a walk back uptown along tenth avenue to take in this yet-to-be developed neighborhood in the hey day before Hudson Yards opens

Kimpton ink48 hotel. | ink48.

Where To Stay In Midtown Manhattan

While most of the hotels in the area tend to be post-Gentleman bar hangouts or uninspiring big box chains, there is a bright spot with Kimpton's ink48. Not only are the bright rooms refreshingly on trend, there's also a nice hotel bar for a post-conference pick me up.

Boston - Cambridge

View over Cambridge, MA. | Holiday Inn Express.

As a thought hub, Boston's Cambridge area hosts plenty of conferences at MIT and Harvard for industry leaders.

The famed burger from Craigie. | Boston Magazine.

If You Have A Free Evening

Head to Craigie for simple dishes done right and a burger that many deem one of Boston's iconic bites. You'll need to get there early and sit at the bar to score yours, but it's worth it for the grass-fed beef patty topped with Shelburne Farm cheddar, homemade ketchup and a slurry of chopped up lettuce and onion seared in burger juice. For dessert, walk around the corner to Toscanini's, which has been scooping up ice cream since 1918. While you can't really miss with any of their flavors, some of their most noteworthy are earl grey, burnt caramel and the so-called B3 with brown sugar, brown butter and brownies.

MIT campus. | Huffington Post.

If You Have An Afternoon

Take this as your opportunity to explore MIT. While the campus isn't quite as bucolic as nearby Harvard, the central dome building is certainly impressive and the museums top notch. The MIT Museum features a permanent collection that looks at everything from architecture and design to the world's most comprehensive holdings on holograms. Afterwards, walk over to Longfellows Coffee, which serves creamy espresso drinks made from Barrington beans from a counter in Lamplighter Brew Co. They also have an assortment of sandwiches and breakfast pastries, including a breakfast egg sandwich Eater proclaimed one of Boston's best.

The Kendall Hotel in Cambridge, MA. | Booking.

Where To Stay By MIT In Boston

Housed in one of the area's only remaining 19th-century buildings, The Kendall Hotel is a lovely escape from network. The interior strikes a nice medium between modern and old-school with an emphasis on New England Americana, just as you'd expect from this historic city. There's also an attached restaurant for post-conference bites.

Dallas - Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center

Dallas Convention Center.

Dallas's largest convention center has been in the news recently for their decision to house individuals displaced after Hurricane Harvey in Houston. The large conference hall devotes its floor space to everything from marathons to small business expos, meaning you'll probably swing by here through business at some point during your career.

City Hall Bistro. Image via Eater.

If You Have An Evening

If you're staying at The Adolphus, you won't even need to leave your hotel to dine at one of the city's most buzzed about new restaurants. City Hall Bistro offers a menu of light bistro fare in a bright white-tiled space with midcentury modern accents. Afterwards, swing by Midnight Rambler, which bills itself as a craft cocktail saloon. The bar serves up a variety of clever cocktails, but leans heavily on reimagined classics, like an Old Fashioned made with rum.

Pioneer Plaza. | Jimie Keepler.

If You Have An Afternoon

Ramble around the greens at Pioneer Plaza, where you can also look at bronze sculpture of native Texan plants and animals. From there head over to the Dallas Museum of Art, where you can spend the afternoon wandering through their collection, which extends from ancient times to modern day. Be sure to save time for wandering the Dallas Farmer's Market, a 26,000 square foot food hall open seven days a week and featuring everything from speciality cheese stops to anchor restaurants.

The lobby at The Adolphus Hotel in Dallas. | The Adolphus Hotel.

Where To Stay In Dallas

Book yourself a room at The Adolphus Hotel, which oozes vintage glamour. The rooms tend to be on the more modern side, but you also get a pool for working out pre or post conference.