Illinois is a destination for meetings of all sizes. “Illinois is the ideal destination to hold meetings and conventions for a variety of reasons,” stated Jan Kemmerling, Acting Director of Illinois Office of Tourism. “O’Hare International Airport is the premiere connection hub in the US making Illinois meetings accessible to the world and centrally located for both fly and drive attendees. Illinois offers affordable meeting venues with multiple price points by having convention centers located in our first, second, and third tier cities such as Chicago, Rosemont, Tinley Park, Schaumburg, Springfield, and Quad Cities, Collinsville, Peoria, among others. Because of the breadth of available meeting venues throughout our state, Illinois is uniquely prepared to assist both international and domestic conferences.”Meeting planners can utilize a free resource in the 40 CVBs throughout Illinois by utilizing the Illinois Office of Tourism’s meeting and convention marketing group, found at MeetInIllinois.com. They are easy to work with, full of knowledge, and are up to date on the latest and greatest at their destinations. In addition, CVBs can offer planners special savings to maximize value and save time by identifying the best possible venues and rates.
Downtown Chicago is a dynamic event destination
A vast array of award-winning restaurants, miles of outdoor enjoyment, and world-renowned attractions make hosting a meeting or event in Chicago one full of opportunity. Dazzle attendees with views from one of the tallest buildings in the world, meet among ancient artifacts, and dine on Chicago fare. Chicago puts a dynamic and thriving business community within steps of your meetings.
Museums - World-renowned museums offer event space or free opportunities for attendees downtime. Chicago’s museums are packed with fascinating, immersive exhibits on every topic you can imagine — and the fun doesn’t have to stop when the sun goes down. Create the perfect, private, after-hours event in a unique location which won’t soon be forgotten.
Theatre - Don’t pass up the theaters dotted across downtown Chicago presenting everything from comedy to broadway. Eat, drink, and be entertained. With so much to choose from, you’ll find something perfect for your group to enjoy.
Riverwalk - The Chicago Riverwalk is an ideal place to host mid-sized private gatherings. Multiple venues along the downtown waterfront park offer great views and delicious eats.
Navy Pier - Chicago’s lakefront playground with more than 50 acres of parks, shops, restaurants, entertainment, and attractions. Multiple venues offer meeting and event space, including Festival Hall with 170,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space, and thousands of hotel rooms are nearby making it a convenient location for attendees.
Field Museum, Chicago - Meet among plants of the world, precious gems, mummies, and Sue the T. Rex, oh my! Whether you plan a board meeting for 10 or a soirée for 700, create an unforgettable experience.
Wrigley Field, Chicago - Gather on Game Days for an Extra Special Meeting Expierience.
Navy Pier, Chicago - Explore 50 acres along Lake Michigan with mulitple meeting and event locations.
Photo by Kyle Flubacker Photography
Adding local flavor to your meetings and events adds a one-of-a-kind element attendees won’t get anywhere else. While offering local food trucks and locally sourced menus are a few ways to bring in this element, look to the local CVB of your event to find out if there is a local delicacy which can’t be missed.
The Horseshoe Sandwich is a plate-filling Midwest delight from Springfield, IL. This dish features two thick-cut slices of toasted bread, a hearty layer of meat, and a mini mountain of crispy French Fries on top, drizzled in cheese sauce. Yes, take a minute to salivate on that.
This sandwich has become so popular you can now find versions of it across the state of Illinois. But, how did it start? The agreed upon story says it began at the Leland Hotel in Springfield when a 17-year-old dishwasher invented the sandwich in 1928, though the chef at the time was Joe Schweska who incorporated his wife’s Welsh Rarebit cheese sauce recipe. The original meat was ham, but every kind of meat has found its way to the plate as time has passed.
Creating a build-you-own Horseshoe Sandwich buffet could be perfect for your next event in Illinois. Talk to your catering team about bringing this local fare to your guests, and don’t forget to tell them the story of how it began. A great story combined with great food will make everyone smile.
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