In September, I was reminded again how many smaller cities across America offer so many reasons to visit. Many of you take your groups to New York for theater each year, and I’d guess that you also sell trips regularly to major tourism cities like Nashville, Tennessee, or New Orleans. But are you taking groups to Grand Rapids, Michigan, or Green Bay, Wisconsin?
In September, I attended conferences our companies produced in both cities. I am constantly telling friends they need to get beyond the big cities and discover what’s happening with other towns across the country. I find myself telling them that cities in the South are not slow and that cities in the North are not impersonal. Stereotypes die slow deaths, I guess.
At our Going On Faith Conference in Grand Rapids, I discovered one of the most dynamic cities in the Midwest. Its downtown is vibrant and filled with great restaurants, and its riverfront is as well developed as any I’ve visited. I spent an afternoon with runners and walkers along that riverfront and watched as a dozen or more fly fishermen cast for salmon in the Grand River right downtown. Our group spent an evening at the world-class Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, and I wondered how I had never been to Grand Rapids before.
At our Small Market Meetings Conference in Green Bay, I discovered another midsize city that also has a vibrant riverfront, along its Fox River. As a lifelong Packers fan, I fully expected to have a great time in Green Bay, but I was still captivated by its immaculate downtown streets, its world-class breweries and its “Go Pack Go” enthusiasm for life in general. How had I not been there before?
Here’s hoping that you and your groups are also discovering many of America’s great cities that don’t sell Broadway or Bourbon Street.
Email me anytime with your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.