With two major metro areas, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., easy to reach from much of the state, Maryland is an ideal spot for meeting planners looking for a suburban meeting in an area with great airlift, affordable prices, easy city access and its own personality.
As the home of Fort Detrick, Frederick and the rest of Frederick County have well-developed day-use meeting offerings because of regular overflow from the military and other government associations.
“We are really great for small meetings because we have a lot of unique venues that are great for retreat locations,” said Becky Bickerton, director of sales and marketing for Visit Frederick. Many groups meeting in Frederick County take advantage of unusual rural venues while lodging at their preferred hotel chain. Hampton Inn has two large properties, and Holiday Inn and Hilton Garden Inn also have sizable offerings.
Thorpewood is a 155-acre wooded retreat center with a lodge with space for up to 150. The Fox Haven Farm and Learning Center has one main meeting room, plus a slate of team-building options from cooking classes to foraging nature walks. The National Museum of Civil War Medicine, the only museum of its kind, has meeting space as well as options for group tours of the main museum, the Pry House Field Hospital Museum and the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum.
Midway between Baltimore and Washington, Howard County offers easy access for those looking to get into the city, but its diverse communities make it easy to fill an itinerary without leaving the county.
“To get from one end of the county to the other is a maximum of 25 minutes,” said Sarah Kurtanich, digital marketing manager for Howard County Tourism and Promotion. “We’re not a big county. We just have a lot packed in. We’ve got the high-end hotels and comfortable bed-and-breakfasts, and a pretty lively festival culture.”
Howard County specializes in ways for groups to get outdoors, whether in a state of spa-induced relaxation or through more active pursuits. Columbia’s Haven on the Lake, a new addition to the area, offers group classes and spa services in a sanctuary-style retreat space, and the 172-room Turf Valley Resort offers 40,000 square feet of meeting space along with ropes courses, a zip line and an on-site spa. The interactive, LEED Platinum Robinson Nature Center and Planetarium, also in Columbia, offers meeting space rentals as well as group tours and hands-on team-building activities. To invigorate groups with a faster-paced experience, try the Autobahn Indoor Speedway’s European-style go-karts between sessions in its on-site meeting space.