Whether you’re in need of a theme for your event or your group has a particular tie to history, the government or the military, setting your destination in a location with strong tones of patriotism, Americana and national history is sure to resonate.
Coming off several years of intense celebrations of the 150th anniversaries of pivotal Civil War events and with the 2013 anniversary of the Gettysburg Address as the center point, Destination Gettysburg is well positioned to receive groups and provide them with updated amenities in celebrated historic settings.
“One of the things that really makes Gettysburg stand apart in the meetings area is our leadership training,” said Carl Whitehill, director of communications for Destination Gettysburg. “We have Fortune 500 companies come in all the time and go out on the field to learn; we look at Gettysburg as a classroom. These top executives learn what decisions were made and how armies were formed. It’s very interesting to hear them say General Lee picked this general to lead this army because he had this kind of personality and compare that to a CEO.”
Groups can also hold their meetings in the middle of the action at the Gettysburg National Park Service Museum and Visitors Center, which has two classrooms and two theaters groups can rent for private events. For an unusual off-site from a more recent point in Gettysburg’s presidential history, groups can rent the home at the Eisenhower National Historic Site for small meetings or outdoor evening receptions.
Though perhaps best known as the home of the Blue Angels, Pensacola has historical credits that run deep, from its rivalry with St. Augustine as to which was the first settlement in what is now the United States to its Civil War battles.
Pensacola’s National Naval Aviation Museum is not typically available for meetings for outside groups. However, a meeting itinerary in Pensacola can easily include an afternoon or full-day visit and team building at Naval Air Station Pensacola, where the team is on-site, watching the Blue Angels practice on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings in season; hopping on flight simulators; touring the museum, which is also available for team-building scavenger hunts; and climbing the 177 steps of the nearly 160-year-old lighthouse, the best vantage point for the airshow.
Groups looking for an unusual historic venue in Pensacola can meet in the many buildings of Historic Pensacola Village, which includes multiple museums, as well as homes dating back to the early 1800s.
“One of the things groups can do is meet in one building and then walk 15 minutes with a guide to the next place for the next session, and then from there you’re only a couple of blocks from the downtown and Palafox Street, which can be closed off for food trucks and entertainment,” said Visit Pensacola convention sales manager Leslie Mathews. The Palafox Street historic district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in July.
For a special excursion or small-group team-building exercises swimming with history, the Florida Public Archaeology Network allows groups to scuba dive among the remains of wrecked Spanish galleons in the gulf or do team-building activities in the lab, assessing and sorting artifacts from research dives.