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South Texas

Plans are going forward on a $1.2 billion project to grow the Austin Convention Center and enhance its surroundings.

Spring is bluebell season in Texas, but they're not the only things blooming in 2020. In Austin, the city is going forward with a plan to grow the convention center and a new Marriott will open nearby this summer. In Galveston, Moody Gardens' Rainforest Pyramid blossoms all year round.

A public vote to block the city's plan to expand the Austin Convention Center did not pass last November, allowing the project to go forward. The city hopes to redesign the facility and its surroundings at a projected price tag of $1.2 billion. To help cover the cost, the city council raised Austin's occupancy tax from 7 to 9 percent this past August, for a total tax on hotel rooms of 17 percent.

The 613-room Austin Marriott Downtown across from the convention center will open in July. The property will have 25 suites; more than 60,000 square feet of meeting space; an outdoor pool, bar and entertainment zone on the rooftop; and a full-service restaurant.

Read about all the latest updates, plus venue details and group-activity ideas, at Northstar Meetings Group's South Texas Destination Guide.