Cedar Rapids  Tourism Office

6 Unexpected Reasons to Meet in Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids' unique Midwest approach to hospitality makes it the perfect place to host your next meeting, conference or event.

It’s the little details that make a big difference for meeting planners. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has all the details. The city offers a wealth of venues, attractions and restaurants. But its unique Midwest approach to hospitality makes it the perfect place to host your next meeting, conference or event. From the dedicated Tourism Office staff who will help you customize your event to the friendly welcome your guests will receive at every restaurant and attraction, you’ll quickly see why so many meeting planners return to Cedar Rapids year after year.

Here are six reasons to host your next event in the Cedar Rapids.

1. Amazing Off-Site Venues

Part of the fun of attending an event or conference in a new location is the chance to explore the destination’s attractions and amenities, and your guests will find plenty to see and do in downtown Cedar Rapids. Within walking distance of the convention center is the riverfront McGrath Amphitheatre, as well as a slew of unique restaurants, bars with live local music and sporting events at the U.S. Cellular Center arena. For the culture vultures in your group, The Paramount Theatre and Theatre Cedar Rapids are two of the largest theaters in town hosting Broadway shows, comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and regional theatrical performances. Managed by the same company as the U.S. Cellular Center, Paramount Theatre was built in the 1920s and is an elegant performing arts center downtown.

A short drive away from downtown, Cedar Ridge Winery is a favorite of conferencegoers and locals alike. The family-owned winery and distillery is south of Cedar Rapids in the lovely Iowa countryside. Attendees can sip on 16 award-winning wines or 11 small-batch spirits including Iowa’s first bourbon. There are plenty of other new breweries and wineries around the area as well. If your group is chockablock with foodies, check out The Hotel at Kirkwood Center. Just a few minutes from the Eastern Iowa Airport, you’ll find the country’s only luxury teaching hotel, providing instruction to students from the Kirkwood Community College’s Hospitality Arts program.  Unwind in suites offering floor to ceiling windows and indulge in perfectly prepared cuisine, prepared at The Class Act Restaurant. With over 19,000 square feet of meeting space, a stunning atrium and state of art culinary lab, unique culinary opportunities for your attendees are endless.

As your guests explore downtown’s sites and attractions, they will likely stumble upon museums such as the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library or the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. Both have beautiful and unique spaces for large receptions as well as small corporate meetings, and exploring the exhibits are a nice option for attendee downtime. Attendees may also enjoy the NewBo City Market, a year-round public market in the New Bohemia area, where you can sample food from entrepreneurs and shop from local vendors in a lively atmosphere.

Brucemore Mansion, a Queen Anne-style mansion completed in 1886 sitting on 26 bucolic acres, is another unique venue filled with history. Attendees will find tours, exhibits, music festivals, an outdoor theatre and garden walks to keep them busy pre- or post-event day. Indian Creek Nature Center is another venue to host corporate retreats and meetings. It’s a net-zero energy facility, which offers meeting space and an outdoor amphitheater. Gorgeous trails wind through Iowa woodlands, prairie and wetlands where active attendees can hike, bike, canoe or cross-country ski across its 290 acres. All of these locations are great for off-site meeting venues and guest receptions.

2. Newest Convention Center in Iowa

Cedar Rapids has a variety of meeting spaces to welcome groups of all sizes. Its most popular meeting space is the U.S. Cellular Center complex, which is the newest convention center in Iowa with a revitalized arena hosting 9,600 seats. Its adjacent 267-room DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel was recently renovated. Together, they boast 81,000-sq.-ft. of exhibit space, 12,000-sq.-ft. of ballroom space and 19,000-sq.-ft. of meeting room space.

Aside from overlooking the Cedar River, the convention center offers additional amenities such as large windows that let in an abundance of natural light, while the lounge chairs and tables scattered throughout the halls offer a spot to recharge between events.

You’ll see why it received praise from former conventioneers with its top-of-the-line audiovisual setup. Instead of spotty projectors, you’ll have movie theater-sized screens and space capacity that can expand to accommodate up to 10,000 attendees standing. The arena is so sophisticated guests will feel as if tech giants like Tim Cook or Marc Benioff could walk across the stage any minute to introduce a new product. If you’re looking to plan smaller, more moderate meetings, don’t feel like this isn’t for you—there are plenty of rooms for meetings of various sizes. The Club 5 is a favorite setup and gives the vibe of a smaller venue within the U.S. Cellular Center.

3. Affordability for All

Not every off-site meeting or breakout session has to be expensive—and that’s how we like it in Cedar Rapids. We have affordable prices for big-city amenities—national hotel chains, Broadway entertainment, incredible art and culture and eclectic dining options. Our conference and convention spaces are top notch, plenty of venues to choose from, a walkable downtown and we can work with any budget on out-of-the-box ideas. 

4. Centrally Located in the Midwest

If you look at a map of Cedar Rapids, you’ll see that it’s centrally located in the middle of the country, making it a convenient spot for guests to travel. Eastern Iowa Airport has five airlines with 15 nonstop destinations servicing the second largest city in Iowa, which means your guests will have plenty of airlines to choose from to find affordable flights. For guests that are traveling by car, they’ll be pleased to know the city is in the cross-section of two major interstates—I-380 and I-80. Cedar Rapids is near Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Missouri and Omaha, Nebraska. For many, this means it’s a smooth drive into the area, no matter which direction they’re coming from.

We’ve also got beautiful, wide-open spaces. If you love the great outdoors, Cedar Rapids does not disappoint. Stretch your legs and refocus right on the river. Or burn off those opening night reception calories on one of our many outdoor walking trails or gorgeous parks. All of the Midwest’s splendor is on display.

5. Confidence in a Successful Event

As the meeting world changes, the Cedar Rapids Tourism Office is your resource to plan a safe event and can provide the most current local information to assist your attendees. We understand that planning a meeting can be stressful and overwhelming. Let us help and make it easier for you by doing some of the legwork. We will help you find the right meeting spaces, caterers, hotels and more so you can focus on other tasks. We will listen to what you’re looking for and/or even brainstorm ideas to help make your vision come true within your budget. Picture a smooth meeting where guests will want to come back for more. That dream is a reality in Cedar Rapids.

6. See for Yourself on a Hosted FAM

We would love to host you in Cedar Rapids to experience our vibrant community. Our team hosts FAM trips 365 days a year. Come and meet the hoteliers, chefs and hospitality teams who are ready to treat your attendees to an event they’ll never forget. You’ll visit Cedar Rapids’ most popular—and unique—venues and conference halls. You’ll also get a behind-the-scenes tour of the region’s top attractions, hotels and restaurants. Experience James Beard award nominee Chef Andy Schumacher dishing up culinary creations at Cobble Hill, upscale Czech dishes with locally sourced ingredients featured at Rodina and handcrafted urban tacos being served at Caucho with homemade tortillas made from their fresh ground masa.

Our group’s goal is to make your job as easy as possible—blame it on our Midwestern roots. As dedicated as we are to serving meeting planners, we also want to ensure your guests have a great time. Whether you want to host a preconference event or an after-hours teambuilding activity, we are here to help in Cedar Rapids. Contact us to visit in person and view our Virtual FAM in the meantime!

Cedar Rapids Tourism: Best of Cedar Rapids

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