The Newspaper for Smaller Cities, Facilities and Planners.
Issue link: http://digital.smallmarketmeetings.com/i/730815
www.smallmarketmeetings.com 28 Illinois Meeting Guide By Rachel Carter Courtesy Chicago's North Shore CVB The Bahá'í House of Worship overlooks the Lake Michigan shore in Wilmette. B ig cities' subu r bs often get a bad rap as sleepy towns and bedroom c o m m u n i t i e s . But the suburbs of Chicago and the many cities that circle the Illinois side of St. Louis offer plan- ners easy access and free park- ing, lower hotel rates and less- expensive meet- ing venues, all while delivering big-city ameni- ties and first- class services. J o l i e t , I l l i n o i s Joliet, Illinois Forty miles southwest of Chicago is Joliet, Illinois' fourth-largest city. With wineries and breweries, res- taurants and boutiques, a riverfront casino and more, the city of 150,000 offers groups "plenty to do," said Daniel Jacobsen, sales manager for the Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau. Joliet sits at the junction of interstates 80, 55 and 355, but its most famous highway is Route 66. The CVB pro- vides a step-on guide for a Route 66 driving tour that highlights many iconic stops along the Mother Road, including the 1926 Rialto Square Theatre and the Jacob Henry Mansion Estate, both of which are available for events and tours. The Route 66 Visitors Center at the Joliet Area Historical Museum is a modern, glass-enclosed area that can seat up to 60 people at round tables or accom- modate 125 for receptions. It opens to a fountain gar- den. Planners can use the museum's rooftop terrace for 150-person seated meal or a 350-person cocktail hour. The Clarion Hotel and Convention Center has 14,150 square feet of event space, including a ballroom, and Harrah's Joliet, next to the Des Plaines River downtown, has more than 6,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. Thirteen miles north of Joliet, the Bolingbrook Golf Club is the area's largest venue and can accommodate 800-person events. The Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites Bolingbrook has 4,000 square feet of meeting space and recently refreshed its 145 guest rooms. www.heritagecorridorcvb.com A u r o r a , I l l i n o i s Aurora, Illinois Aurora, Illinois, is the last stop on the BNSF Metra line out of Chicago, but its remote location doesn't take away from its urban appeal. With 200,000 residents, Aurora is the state's second-largest city and has "a lot of great his- tory and a lot of new development," said Pete Garlock, director of sales for the Aurora Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Metra line terminates at Two Brothers Roundhouse, one of Aurora's most unusual event venues. The lime- stone facility was built in 1856 to service, store and turn around locomotives. Today, it houses Two Brothers Artisan Brewing and its restaurant. The historic circular building surrounds a courtyard with a central gazebo and houses a variety of event spaces for groups of 25 to 600 people. Next door, the 98-room Holiday Inn Express and Suites can accommodate conferences for 50 people. Both sit across the street from RiverEdge Park, a 30-acre park and 8,500-person concert venue on the Fox River, where groups can use the stage, gather on the rooftop deck or spread out across the park. The Paramount Theatre is another popular down- town venue. Inside, the theater can seat about 1,850, and the Grand Gallery is an ornate lobby and mezzanine that's ideal for 450-person events. At the North Island Center across the street, groups of 350 can reserve the Meyer Ballroom, which can also be divided into three smaller rooms, and the Copley Theatre, which seats 173 people. www.enjoyaurora.com Consider These Sites in Suburban Illinois