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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

New York Cities Beyond the City

There’s more than one city to see in New York. Upstate destinations offer their own brands of Empire State energy, with vibrant downtowns and engaging cultures waiting to welcome meeting groups.


Syracuse is undergoing an urban renaissance that has birthed new restaurants and hotels. Historic districts offer variety and fun. Franklin Square’s walking path borders picturesque Onondaga Creek. Clinton Square hosts festivals and concerts. Armory Square, originally settled in 1804, wakes up at night as patrons stream into its taverns and restaurants. Hanover Square’s 1800s buildings convey a European feel with specialty shops, pubs and summer concerts.

Downtown accommodates meetings and conventions in two main facilities. The Oncenter Convention Complex offers more than 200,000 square feet of space, three theaters and more than 600 hotel rooms within a five-minute drive. The EmpireExpo Center, on 345 acres, offers more than 300,000 square feet of meeting space. Opened in July, the newly renovated and restored 261-room Marriott Syracuse Downtown offers 43,000 square feet of high-tech conference space.

“It’s a luxurious hotel, and most who walk into the building are wowed,” said Tracey Burkey, vice president of sales for Visit Syracuse. “The hotel was built in the 1920s, and its famous guests have included Charles Lindbergh, John Lennon, Elvis Presley and several presidents.”


Buffalo has undergone a transformation in recent years, with more than $1 billion in new investment, that has created a slate of new and renovated meeting facilities, hotels and restaurants. Within the city itself, waterfront revitalization has transformed old structures into new venues, such as grain silos revamped into breweries. Canalside, the waterfront’s hub, features dining, Lake Erie cruises, summer concerts, winter ice skating and more. Foodies will appreciate the city’s burgeoning craft beer scene and original Buffalo-style chicken wings. Frank Lloyd Wright structures, Frederick Law Olmsted parks, Broadway shows and Niagara Falls, only 25 minutes from downtown, give meeting attendees plenty of activity options.

The compact convention district includes the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, which features more than 110,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and includes 64,000 square feet of exhibit space. The 486-room Adam’s Mark Buffalo, downtown’s largest hotel, has 72,000 square feet of meeting space. More than 1,000 total rooms lie within walking distance of the convention center, as do restaurants, theater and nightlife.

“The convention center connects via a walkway to the Hyatt Regency Buffalo in downtown’s up-and-coming area,” said Mike Even, vice president of sales and service for the Buffalo Niagara Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Service is key, and we work exceptionally hard to accommodate meeting planners but also the attendees while they’re in Buffalo.”