Wisconsin is famous for beer, football, cranberries and cheese, but its four-season enticements also include more than 1,300 sparkling event spaces. Milwaukee (pictured) offers a fun waterfront, plus new and freshly renovated hotels in a reinvented, reinvigorated downtown.
• The 244-room Blue Harbor Resort Spa & Conference Center in Sheboygan has debuted a $1.5 million renovation and expansion of its Reflections Spa. The property has 16,800 square feet of meeting space.
• The 250-suite Osthoff Resort now sports 38,000 square feet of newly renovated and expanded function space, including a new 10,000-square-foot ballroom that can host banquets for up to 800 people.
The 355-room Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Lake Geneva, with 62,000 square feet of event space, has a new Adventure Center for hiking, mountain biking, slacklining, volleyball and disc golf.
WAY TO GO
In the heart of Milwaukee's downtown, with eye-catching public art throughout, the two-mile-long RiverWalk winds along the Milwaukee River with access to some of the city's better restaurants, brewpubs, shops and nightlife.
• Wisconsin is getting its first Kimpton Hotel. The 158-room, nine-story property has broken ground in Milwaukee's historic Third Ward district. Amenities include a restaurant, a fitness center, complimentary bike rentals, a rooftop bar and lounge, and 7,000 square feet of function space. Completion is scheduled for 2016.
• Slated for a spring 2016 opening is the new SpringHill Suites Milwaukee Downtown. Across from the Wisconsin Center within the 97-year-old and fully renovated Commerce Building, the 150-room property is linked to the city's skywalk system and is two blocks from the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
• Construction on the $128.1 million Milwaukee Streetcar is set to begin this spring, with full operation expected in 2018. The first phase, extending for 2.5 miles, will connect some of the city's most popular neighborhoods and attractions, and will run directly past the Wisconsin Center.
• Social ride-share services Uber and Lyft both operate in Milwaukee. Planners and attendees alike can enjoy their first Uber ride free -- up to $20 -- by using the code VISITMKE.
• Beer made Milwaukee famous, but fine cuisine is making its mark in the city as well. Three metro restaurants made the prestigious 2015 James Beard Award semifinals, including Ardent, Sanford and Braise.
Meeting Hotels: Wisconsin's capital offers more than 16,000 guest rooms. Properties include the 729-room Hilton Milwaukee City Center, 481-room Hyatt Regency Milwaukee, 381-room Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, 307-room Pfister Hotel, 243-room Doubletree by Hilton Milwaukee Downtown, 221-room InterContinental Milwaukee, 205-room Milwaukee Marriott Downtown, 169-room Courtyard by Marriott Milwaukee Downtown, 159-room Park East Hotel Downtown Lakeshore and 138-room Hampton Inn & Suites Milwaukee Downtown.
To find and compare hotels, and send RFPs, visit mcvenues.com.
The Sunburst Winter Sports Park
near Milwaukee in Kewaskum is the world's largest tubing park, offering 45 quarter-mile lanes that slip, slide and make patrons squeal for more than 100 feet. The team-building environs also offer function space for up to 85 people. For smaller gatherings, bring the group's favorite drinks and fun food into The Yurt, the Chalet Patio, the café called Freschi's or the Tubing Barn.
Convention Centers: Exposition Center at Wisconsin State Fair Park; exhibit space, 200,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, four; (414) 266-7300
Wisconsin Center; exhibit space, 188,695 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 18; (414) 908-6000
UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena; exhibit space, 41,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, two; (414) 908-6000
Milwaukee Theater; exhibit space, 31,897 square feet; number of meeting rooms, five; (414) 908-6000
Airport Transit: General Mitchell International Airport, about eight miles south of downtown Milwaukee. Transfer cost to downtown, $25 by taxi, $15 by Go Riteway Airport Shuttle
Taxes: Room tax, 9.5%; sales tax, 5.5%; total tax on hotel rooms, 15%
Group Venues: Following a six-year, $34 million renovation and expansion, the 341,000-square-foot Milwaukee Art Museum reopened this past November with a completely transformed visitor experience that includes 40 galleries of art, some of which hasn't been viewed for decades, and a new entrance fronting Lake Michigan. The venue accommodates up to 500 for a seated dinner or 1,400 for a standing reception. (414) 224-3287
Worth exploring is the new rooftop event space at the 481-room Hyatt Regency Milwaukee. Opened this past November, the ballroom offers panoramic views of the city and anchors a propertywide total of 33,000 square feet of meeting space. (414) 276-1234
The Discovery World Science & Technology Center at Pier Wisconsin is a hands-on and interactive facility that can accommodate up to 2,000 people for special events. The 120,000-square-foot center offers scenic lakefront and indoor function space, award-winning catering, in-house event planning and support, team-building experiences and 360-degree views of downtown Milwaukee. (414) 765-8632
The Harley-Davidson Motor Co. was founded in Milwaukee more than 110 years ago, and the world's only Harley-Davidson Museum is a 15-minute walk south of the Wisconsin Center. The museum's expansive waterfront campus and on-site event catering comfortably host gatherings for up to 1,500 guests. (414) 287-2778
Contact: Visit Milwaukee, (414) 273-7222
Meet in Wisconsin, (877) 967-9674