Albany, Georgia at a Glance
Location: Southwest Georgia
Access: Approximately 30 minutes off Interstate 75; Southwest Georgia Regional Airport
Major Meeting Spaces: Hilton Garden Inn and Conference Center, Merry Acres Inn and Event Center, Albany Civic Center
Hotel Rooms: 233 rooms in convention district
Off-Site Venues: Creekside Education Center at Chehaw Park and Zoo, Flint RiverQuarium, Pretoria Fields Brewery, Thronateeska Heritage Center and Discovery Science Center
Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau
As comfortable and cozy as a song from its most celebrated native son, Albany perches prettily on the banks of the Flint River in southwest Georgia. Its waterside locale means there are plenty of outdoor activities available to visitors and residents alike, but just as impressive is Albany’s array of cultural institutions. Probably best known as the birthplace of musical legend Ray Charles, this delightful burg of 73,000 proudly offers meeting attendees more to do than many cities twice its size. And it all comes presented with the kind of genuine friendliness that the South does best.
“We have all of the attractions and amenities that you would find in a big city,” said Rashelle Minix, executive director of the Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We’re just a little slower paced. But we do have an aquarium, we have a zoo, we have a science discovery center, we have a symphony that has a full season, so we have just about everything. And we roll out the red carpet of Southern hospitality so that everyone leaves here wanting to come back.”
That hospitality includes helping meeting planners execute a “progressive reception” that includes a stop at the Albany Welcome Center, home to the CVB’s office. After a charcuterie and wine reception there, the evening typically continues with dinner at Flint RiverQuarium, and dessert and coffee at the Thronateeska Heritage Center and the Wetherbee Planetarium and Science Museum.
“We try really hard to make meeting groups happy,” said Minix. “We pull out all the stops.”
Albany Civic Center
Boasting an arena that seats more than 10,000, the Albany Civic Center is a great venue for larger conventions, but that’s not the only type of meeting it’s well equipped to host.
“With 6,000 square feet of unique meeting space, the Albany Civic Center has the perfect place to make your moment shine,” said Josh Small, general manager of the Flint River Entertainment Complex. “It’s a perfect fit for any organization’s next off-site strategic-planning meeting, team-building retreat, training seminar and more.”
The Civic Center offers four meeting rooms that can be combined to hold 256 banquet style, 192 classroom style and 800 for a reception. On-site catering is available, along with audiovisual amenities that include a sound system, a projector and a screen.
Major Meeting Hotels
The city’s major meeting hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn Albany, is conveniently located steps from the Albany Civic Center and across the street from Ray Charles Plaza, home to an impressive, full-size sculpture of the soul music giant. The property offers 122 guest rooms and 13,000 square feet of exhibit space. There is room to seat up to 500 banquet style, or 600 for a reception, and on-site catering is available.
For planners that would like to set up outside downtown, the charming Merry Acres Inn and Event Center is tucked away about three miles from the welcome center. Mercedes Sprinter vans are available to shuttle guests to and from the hotel and the center of the city, and there is on-site catering available for banquets of up to 250 and receptions for as many as 450. Merry Acres features 110 guest rooms, seven meeting rooms and 5,000 square feet of exhibit space.
While Albany is blessed with a wide range of unusual venues, there is none quite like Chehaw Park and Zoo.
“The zoo is home to over 234 specimens representing over 73 different species and offers the perfect activity for guests to break away from the corporate grind,” said Morgan Burnette, the institution’s director. “They can enjoy natural, outdoor exhibits, including cheetahs, black rhinos, meerkats, black bears and alligators.”
The Creekside Center, the zoo’s 5,000-square-foot meeting venue, can be split in half or can seat a total of 200 theater, banquet and classroom style, or it can host 350 reception style. On-site catering and audiovisual amenities are available.
Group members who would like to stretch their limbs in the off-hours will find plenty of ways to do so just steps from their meeting. Getting out on the bucolic Flint River is a must, with local outfitters Up the Creek and Kayak Attack both renting kayaks and canoes. If pedaling sounds more attractive than paddling, the welcome center rents bikes for attendees to take on the city’s paved path. Afterward, independent brewery Pretoria Fields awaits, with a fine selection of beers and hard seltzers. Meeting rooms are also available on-site.