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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Sandy and Scenic: Coastal Meeting Destinations

When it comes to finding a scenic backdrop for meetings, there are few settings more relaxing than a sandy shoreline with the sound of crashing waves in the distance. There are so many incredible beach destinations to choose from; here are five prime locations to keep on your radar.


Newport Beach, California

Nicknamed the Hamptons of Hollywood, Newport Beach has long served as a popular getaway for Hollywood celebrities, causing the area to develop into an upscale, boutique community. It is conveniently located halfway between San Diego and Los Angeles, with easy access from three major airports.

“Newport really reinforces the positive imagery that people see in movies of southern California,” said Amanda Kliem, director of sales at Visit Newport Beach. “Gorgeous weather, sunshine, palm trees, active locals — you name it.”

The Newport Beach Marriott Hotel and Spa offers 31,999 square feet of meeting space, and there are numerous smaller venues available as well. For a taste of old Hollywood charm, groups can host an event aboard the Wild Goose, once the personal yacht of legendary Western film star John Wayne. This “floating museum” has been lovingly restored to its original condition, and visitors can even see the poker table where members of the Rat Pack, like Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra, used to play.

Groups can also organize toes-in-the-sand parties, from more formal affairs to old-fashioned clambakes. The historic Crystal Cove State Park is a popular location for luaus and lobster fests, where attendees can dine and enjoy recreational activities like whale-watching, mountain biking and riding Jet Skis.

“Taking advantage of our seaside location is something that groups love to do,” said Kliem.

In town, foodies may want to explore Newport Beach’s burgeoning celebrity chef scene; popular options include Nobu Sushi from renowned Japanese chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, Red O. Bayless from Mexican cuisine aficionado Rick Bayless and Pizzeria Mozza from world-famous chef Mario Batali.

Corpus Christi, Texas

Protected by the Padre and Mustang islands off the Gulf of Mexico, Corpus Christi is one of Texas’ premier meeting destinations. Planners will find everything they need for a successful event at the American Bank Center complex, which includes a 76,500-square-foot convention center, a 10,500-seat arena and a 2,526-seat auditorium. The convention center provides easy access to more than 11,000 hotel rooms in the area as well as the Corpus Christi International Airport.

In the heart of downtown, visitors can spend hours exploring the Sports, Entertainment and Arts District, known as the S.E.A. District for short. The SegCity Segway Tour is a fun, interactive way to experience the local highlights. Art and history buffs may appreciate a visit to the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History, or the Art Museum of Texas, and theatergoers can catch a live performance at the Harbor Playhouse or the Concrete Street Amphitheater.

There are endless recreational activities along Corpus Christi’s exquisite beaches, such as parasailing, dolphin cruises, kiteboarding lessons and floating yoga. On North Beach, the Texas State Aquarium features an aquatic nursery with touch tanks and a shark exhibit. Nearby, the USS Lexington, a World War II aircraft carrier nicknamed the Blue Ghost, permanently resides in Corpus Christi Bay. Groups can board and tour the vessel, which houses a naval aviation museum.

The Padre Island National Seashore is one of the region’s natural treasures, home to hundreds of migratory birds as well as endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles. Groups can take a birding tour or a ranger-led hike through the dunes and grasslands of the 130,000-acre island, where they may catch a glimpse of wildlife such as ghost crabs, kangaroo rats and baby sea turtles.