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Iowa Meeting Guide: Council Bluffs is both citified and countryside

Courtesy Council Bluffs CVB

Council Bluffs Convention and Visitors Bureau frequently receives calls from meeting planners who want to hold an event either in the middle of the action or far from distractions. Those disparate requests led to the CVB’s “Country Fresh” and “City Sizzle” programs.

The Country Fresh option, Loess Hills Lodge at Hitchcock Nature Center in Honey Creek, is ideal for strategy sessions or team building, said Kathy Fiscus, the CVB’s special projects director.

Loess Hills is a region along the Missouri River floodplain, named for the deposits of  yellowish loam that punctuate a rugged landscape. “It’s a unique landform; it’s like a world away,” Fiscus said. “You’d never imagine you’re just 15 minutes from downtown Council Bluffs.”

Trails run through the woodlands, oak savannas and prairie remnants. Geocaching is  popular.

The lodge was renovated in 2007 and has two rooms for meetings of 70 or fewer. Between meetings, guests can climb the observation tower for a breather and a breathtaking view.

Because the lodge is so close to town,  attendees can stay in downtown’s casino hotels.

For those who want to be in the thick of things, the City Sizzler highlights the Mid-America Center. Situated off interstates 29 and 80, the convention center is within walking distance of casinos, shopping and Bass Pro Outdoor World .

The Mid-America Center is a multi-venue complex, with 24,000 square feet of meeting space, more than 24,000 square feet of exhibit space and an 8,000-seat arena.

For a social hour, Fiscus recommends an outdoor event on the 20,000-square-foot Kaneko Sculpture Plaza just outside the center. The space is peppered with 16 ceramic heads, three bronze heads, planted islands and seat walls.

“It’s very urban and very modern — very different from a rural experience,” Fiscus said.
Of course, groups that seek a bit of Country Fresh and a bit of City Sizzler can do both.