What you should know:

Valdosta is halfway between Atlanta and Orlando on I-75, which makes it a convenient drive-in destination for groups from Alabama, Georgia and Florida, especially if they're minding their budgets. Traditional convention facilities are available in the 47,000-sq. ft. James H. Rainwater Conference Center. Valdosta is a particularly attractive destination for sports events; the city has many facilities and is known as Winnersville because of its legendary Valdosta High School Wildcats football team.

What will surprise you:

The James H. Rainwater Conference Center's full-service in-house catering team is led by a four-star celebrity chef who has worked for Paul Newman, Louis Gossett Jr. and Angela Bassett. In addition to a vibrant arts and culture scene, there are four historic districts. All attractions and off-site venues are within 10 to 15 minutes of the center. National Geographic Adventure named Valdosta one of its best adventure towns. Groups meeting here are close to quail hunting plantations and rivers to kayak or fish as well as state parks and the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

The 411:
  • 11,000-sq. ft. exhibit hall in James H. Rainwater Conference Center
  • 3,490 hotel rooms
  • Best values from August to April

For assistance, planners should contact Visit Valdosta.

Want a one-stop venue?

The James H. Rainwater Conference Center has 28,000 square feet of indoor exhibit, meeting, banquet and reception space, including two boardrooms and a covered outdoor patio that overlooks a cypress pond. Its 11,000-sq. ft. exhibit hall seats up to 650 people for banquets and accommodates up to 62 booths; an additional 58 booths can be accommodated in the pre-function and hallway areas. Parking and Wi-Fi Internet access are complimentary. Two hotels adjoin the center: the eco-friendly 132-room Wingate by Wyndham and the 184-room Hampton Inn & Suites Valdosta/Conference Center.

Want to break out of the boardroom?

Wild Adventures is one of the top 50 family-owned theme parks in the U.S. It offers several all-you-can-eat catering packages for group events of up to 10,000 attendees. Special add-ons give planners the option to have groups feed giraffes or lorikeets. Experienced animal trainers can introduce guests to other exotic animals. Downtown has more than 50 historic sites, including the 1898 Crescent House and Gardens, which has a circular veranda with 13 columns representing the original American colonies, and the neoclassical Converse-Dalton-Ferrell House. Reach for the stars with a reception held at the Valdosta State University Planetarium.

Want to surround your group with culture?

The 17,000-sq. ft. Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts has five galleries for seminars or receptions, a sculpture garden, a commercial kitchen, and art, yoga and cooking classes planners can use for team-building or spousal programs. First Fridays bring art lovers, vendors, guest artists and musical acts to the historic downtown area, and are an interesting backdrop for progressive events or dinners. Every third Friday is Art After Dark — galleries stay open late and food vendors representing a range of culinary options, from barbecue to fine dining, take to the streets.

Want evening entertainment?

Broadway touring shows perform at the Mathis Auditorium. The Theatre Guild of Valdosta presents shows for adults and children at the historic ’Dosta Playhouse. Valdosta State University also contributes to the cultural life of the city with its Valdosta Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, Steel Drum Band, Chamber Singers and Peach State Summer Theatre. Planners can create a pub crawl through the historic Remerton Mill Village, now home to specialty shops, bars and restaurants.

Want group activities?

Golf outings at Kinderlou Forest or Stone Creek Golf Course can include meals functions. Groups can explore the wetlands of the Grand Bay Wildlife Management Area by boat or canoe; the area also is open to fishing and hunting expeditions. Hunting and related recreational activities are available at locations such as Olympia Bend Plantation and the Indianola Shooting Preserve. Other activities include golfing, walking the azalea trail (March through May citywide), and visiting Wild Adventures or Splash Island amusement parks.

Want group dining?

306 North can put together wine-and-cheese tastings for groups of up to 60 people, and serves upscale Southern food and sushi in its main dining room. It is part of a full-service event production company that also has a catering division, Covington’s Dining & Catering, and an event rentals company, Covington’s Party Rentals. Two Friends Café & Market has a private dining room for intimate breakfast, lunch or dinner meetings. The Crescent House is available for high teas and seats up to 150 people.