What you should know
Dallas is called “Big D” for a reason — it’s a Top 10 convention city — but also has intimate venues, including an extensive collection of boutique hotels well-suited to smaller meetings and events. People tend to think of this area as just being Dallas and Fort Worth, but planners who have investigated know that many of the metro area’s most posh resorts, larger meeting facilities/attractions and major sports venues are in the surrounding towns. (See the individual destination guides online for specifics.) Because many of these communities flow together, several convention and visitors bureaus work together to promote North Texas as a whole. For more information, contact Dallas, Fort Worth & Beyond. For planning assistance contact Travel Texas.
Where to meet
White Space Dallas, an off-site venue for meetings, events and team-building, features floor-to-ceiling white boards and six flexible meeting spaces (325 to 1,910 square feet). Catering, creative content and all-inclusive pricing are available. The Belo Mansion & Pavilion, which dates to the late 19th century and overlooks the Dallas Arts District, has indoor and outdoor banquet space, pre-function space and reception space. Its Belo Hall and Atrium are 3,500 square feet; the Pavilion ballroom is 7,000 square feet. Complete catering, banquet/meeting services, audiovisual arrangements, valet parking, event design, décor, florals and entertainment packages are available. Venues at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden include the lakefront Alex Camp House, the 21,000-sq. ft. DeGolyer Estate and the 5,000-sq. ft. Rosine Hall. The Dallas Contemporary has 6,000 square feet of gallery space for meetings, receptions and banquets; groups can use outside caterers/service providers and supply their own alcohol. The Nasher Sculpture Center has meeting rooms and an outdoor sculpture garden with works by Picasso, Calder and Rodin. The Old Red Museum of Dallas County History & Culture, in a restored 1892 courthouse building, is walking distance to Dealey Plaza, the West End Historic District and the convention center. Meeting and event space is available in turrets, a great hall and the historic courtroom. Gilley’s Dallas, a 65,000-sq. ft. honky-tonk, has five event areas that hold up to 6,000 people.
Where to stay
The Warwick Melrose Hotel, a Dallas landmark since 1924, is a AAA Four-Diamond award-winner with 184 guest rooms, plush beds, and multi-plug adapters on work desks and bathroom makeup tables. A Presidential Suite and 21 luxury suites are available. Meeting space includes an elegant ballroom (capacity: 230 reception; 200 banquet), a boardroom, three breakout rooms and the Bridewell Suite, which holds up to 70 people. On-site dining includes the after-work bar The Library and the AAA Four-Diamond rated Landmark Restaurant, considered one of the city’s best. The 170-room Stoneleigh Hotel and Spa has tribute suites honoring Elvis Presley, Judy Garland, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee; 6,000 square feet of meeting space; a full-service 5,200-sq. ft. spa; and the signature restaurant T/X. The restored AAA Four-Diamond Adolphus Hotel, dating to 1912, has 422 guest rooms. Crystal chandeliers and other distinctive architectural touches in its 5,300-sq. ft. ballroom, restaurants and other event spaces evoke the grandeur of the Gilded Age. The Hyatt Regency Dallas, next to the Dallas Convention Center and Union Station, has held the AAA Four-Diamond rating for more consecutive years than any other downtown convention hotel. Amenities include 1,120 guest rooms; 55,000 square feet of exhibit space; 25,000 square feet of pre-function space; and 60 meeting rooms, including a 30,000-sq. ft. ballroom, a 19,400-sq. ft. ballroom, a 3,190-sq. ft. ballroom and breakout rooms with panoramic views of downtown Dallas. The Embassy Suites Hotel Dallas has daily 10:30 a.m. feedings of its in-house “royals,” swans Queen and Barron.
Where to meet and stay: Downtown
The 291-room Crowne Plaza Dallas Downtown is a short walk from the convention center and six miles from Love Field Airport (DAL), with 30,000 square feet of meeting space. The 354-room Crown Plaza Market Center is less than three miles from Love Field and the Dallas Market Center, with easy access to major highways, corporate destinations, the World Trade Center, Dallas Convention Center and other attractions. All Crowne Plazas promise a two-hour “response guarantee” for space and date availability inquiries. A designated meeting director can assist with advance planning, last-minute changes and help planners stay within budget with a daily debriefing. Crowne also gives discounts and bonuses through its loyalty program, Priority Club Meeting Rewards.
Where to meet and stay: Near DFW airport
Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) is close to Grapevine’s major attractions, shopping and dining outlets, and central to both downtown Dallas and Fort Worth. The 298-room Grand Hyatt DFW is part of International Terminal D, so attendees can disembark from a flight and get to business. Amenities include ballrooms of 6,600 and 3,000 square feet, 20 conference suites, 45 meeting rooms, a spa, a 24-hour rooftop fitness center and on-site dining. If more space and rooms are needed, the Hyatt Regency DFW, next to Terminal C, has 811 guest rooms and 92,000 square feet of event space, including an executive conference level. Meeting space includes a 21,000-sq. ft. ballroom, an 18,000-sq. ft. ballroom, 70 meeting rooms and 12 boardrooms.
Where to meet: Amid history
Fair Park, two miles east of downtown, has the largest collection of 1930s art deco exposition-style architecture in the United States. It covers 277 acres of landscaped grounds and is home to the annual State Fair. Indoor and outdoor venues include exhibit halls, a band shell, a theater, gallery space and sports arenas. Fair Park is home to museums and attractions that can be used as special-event facilities, including the Smithsonian-affiliated Women’s Museum, the African American Museum, the Museum of Nature & Science, the Texas Music Center, Texas Discovery Gardens and Dallas World Aquarium. Before being transformed into a 143-room hotel in 1979, Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek was home to a cotton mogul, and the host estate of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt (1936) and playwright Tennessee Williams (1940s). Today, it’s the only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond hotel in Texas. Amenities include more than 13,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor event space and off-site catering.
Where to go high-tech
The AT&T Plaza in Victory Park is an outdoor events venue surrounded by LED screens on five-story glass buildings. Planners can use the screens to brand events, show videos, make presentations, advertise sponsors or create a 360-degree environment of light and sound. The 342-room Hyatt Regency North Dallas, eight miles from downtown by the Richardson technology corridor, offers 15,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 7,800-sq. ft. ballroom, a 2,700-sq. ft. ballroom and 4,000 square feet of pre-function space. The hotel is next to a DART light rail and commuter station, which connects to major shopping/dining districts, the convention center and local attractions.
Where to eat
Maggiano’s NorthPark, Dallas, serves authentic Italian cuisine family-style in a corporate-friendly, wood-paneled atmosphere. Choose from one of six banquet rooms. Maggiano’s, in NorthPark Center Mall off I-75 and Northwest Highway, can accommodate groups up to 200. The Hard Rock Café Dallas has a living museum of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia and two function spaces for music-themed meetings and events: The main café holds 300 buffet-style; an outdoor patio holds 60 reception-style. Fearing’s at the Ritz-Carlton Dallas features a glitzy bar and seven dining areas, including a chef’s table, a glass dining pavilion, a wine cellar and garden event space. Boi Na Braza Churrascaria, an award-winning Brazilian steakhouse in Grapevine, has private and semi-private banquet facilities and meeting space. Nobu serves upscale Japanese cuisine and sushi, and has private indoor and outdoor dining areas. III Forks in North Dallas has one of the largest wine cellars in the state and serves Texas/French cuisine; several private dining areas, including a courtyard and a piano bar, are available. Stephen Pyles’ eponymous restaurant has two private dining rooms and group cooking classes. The chef’s cookbooks and handmade tamales are available for takeaways or gift baskets. The Deep Ellum and West End districts have a number of restaurants and nightclubs that planners can use for progressive dinners or events.
Where to find caterers
Gil’s Elegant Catering, which dates to 1984, remains the first, and only European-style caterer in Dallas. It offers various cuisine and service styles along with imported linens, sterling silver, French crystal and china. A la Carte Catering & Cakes’ owner, executive chef and pastry chef/cake designer each have more than 20 years’ experience; the company specializes in corporate banquets, buffets and social events for up to 2,000 people. Tejano Brothers Southwest Cuisine “Black Tie” Catering delivers sophisticated versions of traditional regional dishes; wine dinners and cooking classes are available.
Where to team-build
Serving U guides attendees through coordinating and preparing meals for the North Texas Food Bank. The Dallas CVB can help planners organize a treasure hunt in shopping districts or a scavenger hunt through landmarks. Texas Motor Speedway has several driving schools. Dave & Buster’s has private meeting rooms, an arcade and billiards area for team-building activities; its Murder Mystery Players are available off-site. DFW Elite Auto Rental rents classic and exotic autos by the day and has a one-day, five-car tour of Texas roadways that can be used as an incentive or team-building program. Circle R Ranch in Flower Mound has team-building programs, a roadhouse venue, a 5,000-sq. ft. conference center, an enclosed 28,000-sq. ft. pavilion and outdoor event space for up to 8,000.
What you should know
The Fort Worth Convention Center is within walking distance of Sundance Square, a 14-block downtown entertainment, dining and shopping district. Venues there include the Norris Conference Center, which has meeting, exhibit and banquet space. To experience what Fort Worth was built on, attend the daily cattle drive in the Stockyards. For a sense of where the city is headed, walk through the Cultural District and look at the continued evolution of downtown.
- 203,000-sq. ft. exhibit hall in Dallas Convention Center
- 182, 266-sq. ft. exhibit hall in Fort Worth Convention Center
- 7,500+ restaurants
- 200+ golf courses
- 11,000 guest rooms in greater Fort Worth
- Best values July-August
Where to meet
Billy Bob’s Texas is a honky-tonk with team-building, concert, meeting and banquet facilities for groups of up to 5,000. Groups here can end a meeting day at a rodeo, hearing a concert and learning how to line-dance or ride bulls. After dark, the Fort Worth Zoo becomes an 1890s Texas town for private group functions. Banquet and reception space is available at the Japanese Garden Pavilion and at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, which also has indoor classroom, meeting and auditorium space. Fort Worth is home to the Sid Richardson Museum of Western Art, National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame, National Cowboys of Color Museum & Hall of Fame, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and the quirky Vintage Flying Museum, Monnig Meteorite Gallery and Texas Civil War Museum. All have function and/or meeting space.
Where to play
Charter one-way or round-trip journeys aboard the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, traveling the historic Cotton Belt Route between Grapevine and the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District. Entertainment options include interactive “train robberies,” saloon girls, piano players and a built-in bar. The Fort Worth Water Gardens, adjoining the convention center, is an urban park with a meditation pool, an aerating pool with multiple fountains and an active pool with 38-ft. cascades surrounded by more than 500 species of plants and trees. The Hip Pocket Theater offers dinner, drinks, live music and original theater.
Where to team-build
The Four Day Weekend Comedy Theater holds corporate training workshops and customized improv comedy shows off-site or from its home theater in Sundance Square. The Texas Motor Speedway has driving schools as well as special-event facilities, tours and a hall of fame. Team Craft helps attendees make short films inspired by meeting themes. Sessions end with a festival-style screening.