Vibrant cities with proximity to mountains deliver the best of both worlds for gatherings. Mountain Meetings selected three growing communities that have built reputations as attractive meetings destinations, feature impressive convention centers in the heart of downtown districts, offer distinct venues and neighborhoods, and boast amazing outdoor recreation and culinary delights. In no particular order, here we go!

Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City attracts groups from all over the world. Some come for the rich history, friendliness and vibrant culture. Others relish the plethora of ski areas nearby and the 2002 Winter Olympic legacy. Added bonuses are a convenient transit system and a growing food and beverage scene, all under the watch of the legendary Wasatch Mountains that tower overthe city and soar to 11,000 feet. 

Salt Lake City: 192,670
Salt Lake County: 1,121,352

Elevation: 4,327 feet

Historical Tidbit:  On July 24, 1847, Brigham Young and a group of Mormon pioneers pulling handcarts and driving wagons with oxen and horses entered the Great Salt Lake Valley. It was the conclusion of one of the greatest Western journeys and led to the founding of Salt Lake—Utah’s capital city. 

Transportation: Salt Lake City International Airport, with daily nonstop flights from 92 cities, is 10 minutes from downtown and currently undergoing a $3.6 billion rebuild scheduled to be done in 2020. TRAX light rail connects the airport to downtown and ski bus stops to all four resorts and the  fare-free TRAX line runs through the convention district.

Venues: Calvin L. Rampton  Salt Palace Convention Center,  Mountain America Exposition Center,  Vivint Smart Home Arena, Maverick Center, Natural History Museum of Utah, Salt Lake County Center for the Arts, Gallivan Center

Hotels: 7,000-plus hotel rooms in the convention district, 19,500-plus in Salt Lake metro area

Activity Ideas: Salt Lake Bicycle Tours for biking, hiking and walking excursions; Wasatch Crest Mountain Bike Trail; Salt Lake Mobile Brewery Tour; culture galore with loads of concerts and numerous museums.

Restaurants: The convention district alone features 200-plus restaurants, cafes, brewpubs, and bars, while the greater Salt Lake area features nearly 2,000 restaurants and bars.

Attractions: Historic Temple Square, Natural History Museum of Utah, This Is The Place Heritage Park, Hogle Zoo, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Clark Planetarium

Key Events: Days of ’47 Parade & Rodeo, Utah Arts Festival, Utah Pride Festival, Red Butte Garden Outdoor Concert Festival, Twilight Concert Series, Native American Celebration in the Park 

Cool Neighborhoods: Central City, Sugar House, 9th & 9th, Avenues/Capitol Hill, University/Foothill, Granary District

Nearby Mountain Fun: Alta Ski Area, Brighton Resort, Snowbird and Solitude Mountain are approximately 35 minutes away; more than 60 national and state parks only a few hours away

Get Connected: Visit Salt Lake

Denver, Colorado 

The Mile High City is 340 miles from the exact center of the continental United States and is 5,280 feet in elevation, as commemorated on the steps of Colorado State Capitol. Within a mile radius of downtown there are three major sports stadiums, the nation’s second-largest performing arts center, three colleges, several art and history museums, and a mint that produces 10 billion coins a year. The common thread that runs throughout Denver—besides a keen love for the outdoors—is beer,  with more than 100 breweries in the area. More beer is brewed here than any other American city!

Denver City/County: 705,651 
Denver Metro: 3,154,134

Elevation: 5,280 feet

Historical Tidbit: In 1858, there was not a single person living in the Denver metro area. Thirty years later, Colorado was a state with a population of almost 200,000. It was a Gold Rush that caused this boom, and in a 30-year period Denver saw some of the wildest events in the wild, Wild West. 

Transportation: Denver International Airport  has nonstop service to 200 destinations worldwide and nearly 1,600 daily flights. RTD’s A Line commuter rail connects the airport to downtown in 37 minutes, and RTD  light rail and buses serve much of the city. During ski season, Amtrak Winter Park Express connects Denver to Winter Park. B-Cycle, the nation’s first bike-sharing program, has 80-plus stations. 

Venues: Colorado Convention Center, Denver Performing Arts Complex, Coors Field, Broncos Stadium at Mile High, McNichols Civic Center Building,  Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre, University of Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Stanley Marketplace, Milk Market, Ironworks, Mile High Station

Hotels: 11,000-plus hotel rooms within walking distance of the convention center and 47,000 in the metro area 

Activity Ideas: Punch Bowl Social, Denver Pavilions,  90 golf courses open year-round, 850 miles of bike trails, City on the Side tours in Russian sidecars, Taste of Denver food and beverage tours, Denver Graffiti Tour, food halls and culinary marketplaces, shopping in Cherry Creek

Restaurants: 2,000-plus restaurants, including 300 within walking distance of the Colorado Convention Center

Attractions: 16th Street Mall, Denver Union Station, Denver Zoo,  Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Art Museum, Clyfford Still Museum, Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, U.S. Mint, History Colorado Center, Downtown Aquarium, Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park

A Few Key Events: Great American Beer Festival, National Western Stock Show & Rodeo, Denver March Powwow, Denver Chalk Festival, Cherry Creek Arts Festival, Cinco de Mayo Festival, Denver Food + Wine Festival, A Taste of Colorado, Mile High Holidays

Cool Neighborhoods: Uptown, LoDo, RiNo, Larimer Square, Golden Triangle Creative District, Highlands, Cherry Creek, Art District on Santa Fe, Tennyson Street Cultural District

Nearby Mountain Fun: The City and County of Denver owns Winter Park Resort, plus Copper Mountain, Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail and Beaver Creek ski resorts aren’t far away; Rocky Mountain National Park; Central City and Black Hawk for gambling; Clear Creek Canyon for rafting. 

Get Connected: VISIT DENVER

Boise, Idaho

Boise landed the No. 1 spot on Forbes’ 2018 list of America’s fastest-growing cities. It’s a signal that groups also will plug into Idaho’s largest community with a location midway between Salt Lake City, Utah and Portland, Oregon. There are some surprises, like an  eclectic food and drink scene to fuel up after a day playing in the outdoors or attending productive meetings and  one of the largest Basque populations per capita in the United States. The city’s convention center, Boise Centre, recently expanded, and the local ski hill that has been delivering fun since 1942 has plans to add a canopy tour, ropes course and amphitheater. Nearly 30 Idaho wineries are located within a 45-minute drive from downtown Boise.

Boise: 220,000
Metro Area: 600,000 

Elevation: 2,730 feet

History Tidbit: Boise reportedly got its name from French-Canadian fur trappers who were weary from traversing the dry high desert plains, rejoiced upon seeing the tree-lined Boise River and shouted “Les bois, les bois!” the French word for “forest.” The community of Boise was established in 1864 and was a service center for gold and silver miners in the nearby mountains and foothills, and proclaimed the capital of the Idaho Territory. 

Transportation: Located 3 miles from downtown, Boise Airport is served by six airlines that offer direct flights to 20 major U.S. markets with connecting flights to cities worldwide. Most hotels offer complimentary airport shuttles. Boise Green Bike has checkpoints throughout the city with rentable bicycles ready for use, and  two e-scooter companies have distributed approximately 500 rental scooters throughout downtown.

Venues: Boise Centre Convention Center,  Boise State University,  Grove Plaza, Jack’s Urban Meeting Place, Boise Depot, Owyhee Rooftop, Discovery Center of Idaho, Idaho Shakespeare Festival Amphitheater & Reserve 

Hotels: More than 1,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of convention center, 6,000 in metro area

Activity Ideas: Ridge to Rivers trail system with 190 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding; history, craft beer and scenic locations with Boise Bicycle Tours;  Quinn’s Pond and Esther Simplot Park for stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, fitness classes, events and covered picnic areas

Restaurants: 100-plus restaurants and bars located near the convention center and 20 different breweries in the metro area

Attractions: Freak Alley Gallery (block of street art), Basque Museum and Culture Center, Basque Market, Zoo Boise, Idaho Botanical Garden, World Center for Birds of Prey, Boise River Greenbelt Trail

A Few Key Events: Boise Music Festival, Alive After Five, St. Ignatius Basque Festival, Jaialdi, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Western Idaho Fair, Hoptober Freshtival

Cool Neighborhoods: Basque Block,  Hyde Park Historic District, Linen District

Nearby Mountain Fun: Only 16 miles to Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area for alpine and Nordic  skiing, snowboarding, tubing, hiking, biking, disc golf, alpine coaster and live music series

Get Connected: Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau

There are two new properties for groups to get excited about in Montana and Utah. The Wren in Missoula, slated to open late this summer, is located in a 1960s-era building being transformed into a locally inspired boutique hotel. The larger Hyatt Regency Salt Lake City is a new-build that will bring 700 additional guest rooms to the city starting this fall.

The Wren


As travel comes returns in many parts of the world, Forbes Travel Guide unveiled its 2022 Star Award winners on April 26, 2022. The United States debuted 10 hotels, three restaurants and seven spas on the Five-Star list. In U.S. Mountain West towns with peaks, 12 hotels, one restaurant, and six spas landed a Five-Star nod. 


Lately, I’ve run across two companies offering Bear Camps, and they both definitely piqued my interest. Living in the mountains of Colorado, I’ve had bears cross my back patio early in the morning and at dusk and enter my garage to snack on treats in the freezer late at night when the door didn’t get shut (think homemade ice cream and chocolate truffles).