Austin’s unconventional approach makes it the perfect destination for conventions and other corporate meetings. 

Searching for a quirkily charming and utterly unique destination for your next meeting or event? Look no further than Austin. The Lone Star State’s capital is known for its forward-thinking approach to music, dining, the arts and for getting down to business. Not one to rest on its laurels, Austin has some new places to meet and stay for conventions and meetings, and some tried-and-true things to see and do between sessions.

What’s new in hotels?

Austin’s lineup of accommodations includes everything from boutique and historic to sprawling and resort-style. “Austin continues to be a rising new location of choice for many meetings and events. There are so many new, exciting hotels and unique off-site entertainment venues opening and now available—all within the city’s highly friendly and walkable central location,” says Steve Genovesi, executive vice president of Visit Austin.

Accommodations: Newly Opened

Marriott Austin

Opened early in 2021, Austin Marriott Downtown puts you just a three-minute walk to Austin Convention Center. Featuring 613 rooms, the hotel offers the on-site restaurant, Corinne; rooftop, tiki bar–inspired Zanzibar lounge and pool; and nearly 60,000 square feet of meeting and event space. 

Kalahari Resorts and Conventions Round Rock

Fall 2020 brought the opening of the 1.5 million-square-foot Kalahari Resorts and Conventions Round Rock, located approximately 30 minutes outside of Austin. Boasting the largest indoor waterpark in the country (30 indoor waterslides and 20 pools and whirlpools), it also features 975 guest rooms, 3 acres of outdoor pools, a spa, multiple dining options and Tom Foolery’s Adventure Park with attractions such as thrill rides, ziplines, rock climbing and bowling. Of course, it’s not all fun and games at the resort; guests can get down to business in the 200,000-square-foot conference center. The property also includes a quaint and rustic event barn for more intimate gatherings. 

Accommodations: Coming This Year

Thompson/tommie Austin

Opening January 2022, luxury and lifestyle intersect at this dual-brand, 32-story Hyatt-brand property. The more sophisticated Thompson features 211 guest rooms and suites, while the urban-flavored tommie Austin has 193 king-size rooms. 

In addition to a few select private residences (17 in all), the refined Thompson includes 10,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor event space. On the other hand, tommie Austin has a more youthful vibe with contactless check-in and a main-level wine bar and coffee shop in lieu of a lobby. Also on-site are a variety of dining options: The Grey Market, The Diner Bar and fourth-floor Wax Myrtle’s Club + Pool with game room and private dining.

The Loren  

Scheduled to open in the summer, The Loren will feature 108 rooms and panoramic views of the Austin skyline and Lady Bird Lake. A rooftop restaurant is accessible via a glass elevator and plans to offer locally sourced cuisine and indoor, outdoor and private dining spaces. Additional amenities include an event space that accommodates up to 200 guests.

What’s New in Venues?

New spaces to meet and celebrate continue to grow in the capital city as well. 

Moody Amphitheater

Waterloo Greenway is a 1.5-mile park system under construction that will ultimately connect 35 acres of green space from 15th Street in downtown Austin to Lady Bird Lake. The system is scheduled to be fully completed in 2026, and current milestones include the completion of Symphony Square and the 11-acre Waterloo Park and its Moody Amphitheater. Outdoor event rentals will be available soon at Moody Amphitheater, the park’s centerpiece. With its Great Lawn, the amphitheater accommodates 5,000 attendees for concerts and educational, cultural and performing arts events.

Austin FC Q2 Stadium 

Opened in June 2021, Austin FC Q2 Stadium is a multipurpose venue strategically designed to host a variety of community and spectator events, including Major League Soccer, U.S. Women’s National Team and U.S. Men’s National Team matches. The venue also can host concerts, festivals, community activities, cultural events and private functions, such as corporate meetings. The stadium’s maximum capacity is 20,500. One of the unique features is an amphitheater located right outside the stadium doors that can hold 3,000 guests. 

Moody Arena Center

Opening in the spring, Moody Arena Center is a 15,000-plus-seat venue that will host some of the biggest names in the music industry (this year’s headliners include John Mayer, Justin Bieber and George Strait), along with the University of Texas women’s and men’s basketball games and other types of events, including private gatherings. The 530,000-square-foot venue is located on the campus of University of Texas Austin.

Flight Log 

Getting to Austin is becoming even easier. According to Visit Austin, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport continues to set records for new nonstop flights coming into the market and is the second-fastest growing, midsized airport in the country. This March, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines is adding nine new nonstop flights, and the airport’s 2040 Master Plan forecasts that the airport will reach 31 million passengers and need 64 gates by 2037. 

The Weird and Wonderful 

Post-meeting participants can unwind solo or with a group in an outing that is uniquely Austin. Austin is all about individualism—after all, its slogan “Keep Austin Weird” is more of a call to action than a motto. So, it shouldn’t be any surprise that there is plenty of one-of-a-kind things to do while in the city, whether your guests are on their own or out en masse.

The Weird 

» Shop for uncommon goods. 

Described as “your eccentric uncle’s attic on steroids,” Uncommon Objects opened in the early 1990s as an antique collaborative. Today, you’ll find 20-plus antique purveyors all under the same roof, selling everything from the bizarre (a large goose-shaped sign) to the vintage (antique jewelry). 

» Watch public art come to life. 

Austin is home to lively street art and colorful murals—some of which “come to life” thanks to an augmented reality app courtesy of Visit Austin. Don’t-miss spots include “Let’s Band Together” by Frederico Archuleta at Whisler’s on East Sixth Street, “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay” by Sade Lawson near Lamar Boulevard, and the mural at Seaholm Power Plant on West Cesar Chavez Street designed by Rex Hamilton. 

» Partake in the peculiar. 

Austin’s Museum of the Weird is located on East Sixth Street in the Historic East Sixth Entertainment District, also home to lively restaurants and bars. One of the city’s oddest attractions, this museum showcases wax figures, shrunken heads and other curiosities. 

The Wild

» Go bat crazy. 

At sunset, Austin’s Congress Avenue Bridge comes alive with North America’s largest urban bat population. The Mexican free-tailed bats are an unusual tourist attraction. Residents and visitors alike start lining up early, hopeful for a front-row seat as the hundreds (sometimes thousands) of winged and nocturnal animals exit their manmade bat cave and take flight. 

» Get some fresh air at Lady Bird Lake. 

Encompassing 468 acres, Lady Bird Lake is a hub of activity on any one of Austin’s many sunny days. Hike and bike the trails or take a paddle board or kayak class on the water. There are even cruises to explore the reservoir at your leisure. 

 The Civilized 

 » Take a detour from meetings with a group tour. 

Austin Detours offers a variety of themed tours that your group can enjoy, including a wine, brew and spirits sampler, brewery crawl, history tour, and street art and street food tour. The tours are led by musicians, comedians and actors, adding personality to the experience for guests. The company can even set up team-building activities for your group or community service challenges that give convention delegates the opportunity do good while in town. 

» Visit Texas Hill Country. 

Texas Hill Country—from Austin to Fredericksburg—has more than 50 wineries. And numerous tour companies—such as Discover Texas Wine Tours, Texas Wine Tours, and Livin’ It Wine Tours—can customize a full or half day of wine tastings for your group. Along the way, you can take in the beauty of the country scenery. 

» Explore Austin’s history and culture. 

As the state’s capital, Austin is home to a number of museums that tell the story of the city and the state. Bob Bullock Texas History Museum offers three floors of interactive exhibits that tell the varied stories of the state’s past. Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library explores the legacy of the larger-than-life, 36th president of the United States who signed into law the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. And Blanton Museum of Art, founded in 1963, houses the largest public collection of art in central Texas with approximately 19,000 objects. Modern and contemporary American and Latin American art, Italian Renaissance and Baroque paintings, and prints and drawings are on display here.

The Hill Country escape boasts event space and scenic lodging near the Pedernales River.

Just an hour from both Austin and San Antonio in the Texas Hill Country, Walden Retreats offers guests a luxury camping experience at Longbranch Ranch. Booking stays for spring 2023, the 96-acre property is situated in the Hill Country along the cliffs of the Pedernales River.

 

Looking for inspiration for how to celebrate a landmark anniversary? Take some tips from the producers of San Antonio’s Día de los Muertos at Hemisfair (also known as Muertos Fest). Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2022, the two-day festival partnered with ABC affiliate KSAT 12 for a two-hour special that aired to a national broadcast audience on Oct. 30. According to National Geographic magazine, the special introduced one of the best fall festivals in the United States to more than 100 cities across the country.

 

Have a wickedly good time at one of these haunted sites.

Although not officially declared a state until 1845, Texas was populated long before the 19th century. Its storied past has given rise to local legends and ghost sightings—so many, in fact, that Texas is consistently ranked among the most haunted states in the country. And why wouldn’t it be? After all, our oversized state has plenty of room for ghosts to roam and “stretch their legs.” Luckily for event planners, there are also a lot of places around Texas to scare up a good time for groups.