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There can be something exciting about attending your first business conference.
But if you're in a line of work that regularly requires you to attend them, conferences can get old quickly. The same bad coffee. The same awkward icebreaker games. The group work and endless networking.
One way you can spice up your next business conference trip is to turn it into a family vacation. Here are some of the most popular cities for conferences, along with a few tips on what to see, how to fly there and how to score discounts using travel rewards credit cards.
5 great vacation cities that frequently host professional conferences
1. San Antonio
In addition to its conference popularity, San Antonio offers plenty of distractions for the family. There's the famous River Walk, the Alamo, many live music venues and the gigantic Brackenridge Park.
Flights: San Antonio International Airport is served by Alaska, American, Delta, Southwest and United, among other airlines.
Hotels: Members of hotel loyalty programs are sure to find a place to book an awards night in San Antonio. There's the Hyatt Regency San Antonio, the Wyndham San Antonio Riverwalk, a few Holiday Inns, an Omni, and many more.
Credit card: The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card comes with a sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel. The card's point system is straightforward, which will allow you to concentrate on your family trip and not worry about jumping through hoops to earn points. Cardholders get 2 miles for every $1 spent on all purchases, plus 5 miles for every $1 spent on rental cars and hotels booked through Capital One Travel.
Chicago has lots of activities for families: Explore Millennium Park, Navy Pier or visit one of the many museums. Afterward, try the famous pizza or hot dogs.
Flights: Chicago is home to one of the busiest airports in the nation — O'Hare International Airport. You will not have a problem finding a flight, so make sure you're selecting one that gets you and your family a discount.
Hotels: Just like the airline options, you'll have your pick. It all depends on what you value when looking for hotels. However, if you don't mind splurging, try the Four Seasons for its kid-friendly activities and accommodations.
Credit card: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a solid all-around travel rewards card. The sign-up bonus alone might be enough to sway you: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Fort Lauderdale has business conferences galore. When you're done with your conference, check out the beach, the Everglades or the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens.
Flights: You have two options when flying to Fort Lauderdale: Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport or Miami International, which is about 45 minutes away. The former is smaller, meaning there might be fewer direct flights from your departure city; the latter is sizable, so your options are almost unlimited.
Hotels: Fort Lauderdale has plenty of hotels, highlighted by the Marriott North, ranked as one of the top family hotels on TripAdvisor.
Credit card: If you'd prefer to fly directly to Fort Lauderdale, book with Southwest Airlines and score discounts using the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. This card's points power is amplified when used on Southwest, earning you 3 points for every $1 spent. You can also earn 2x points on partner hotels and cars, local transit and commuting (including rideshares), internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming, plus 1 point per dollar on everything else.
4. Las Vegas
Las Vegas is home to an endless stream of conferences. There are countless family-friendly shows, such as Mystere by Cirque du Soleil, which features high-flying acrobats paired with gags and silly antics that kids will love. Or, escape the city and drive about four hours to see the Grand Canyon.
Flights: Many airlines fly into Harry Reid International Airport.
Hotels: For a family-centric option, try the Hilton Grand Vacations on the Strip. Expedia ranked it as one of the 10 best hotels for families staying in Vegas.
Credit card: If you're a fan of Hilton hotels, make things easy on yourself and get the Hilton Honors American Express Card. This card has an annual fee of $0, paired with an enticing welcome offer: Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply. Cardholders earn 7 Hilton Honors points for every $1 spent on Hilton purchases, 5 points for every $1 spent on select U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations and 3 points for every $1 spent on everything else. Terms apply.
Atlanta has loads of family fun to enjoy once your business trip is over. There's Centennial Olympic Park, which is home to the largest interactive fountain in the world. Or you could check out some museums, like the Children’s Museum of Atlanta or the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.
Flights: If you have a conference in Atlanta, you're flying into Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. It's a huge travel hub with plenty of airline options.
Hotels: Atlanta is home to many hotel chains, but try the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel for its central location and highly rated indoor pool.
Credit card: Use the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card to score automatic Silver status at Marriott hotels (Sheraton included). You'll also get 15 elite night credits each calendar year and one free night award credit per year.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Shake up business travel by taking some ‘bleisure’ time NerdWallet’s top travel credit cards 6 ways to maximize the benefits of business travel