Readers Choice

10Best Readers' ChoiceChosen by readers of USA TODAY and 10Best

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    #10 - Chicago, Ill.

    America's largest convention center, McCormick Place, can be found conveniently located on Chicago's beautiful lakefront. Traveling to this massive, modern space is a snap with plenty of public transportation options, including CTA buses.  Visitors can also take a scenic route to their event by strolling the pedestrian promenades and sky bridges.  Convention-goers can indulge in an onsite massage at Mi Bon Spa before heading back to one of many nearby hotels.  Chicago's other convention center—Donald E. Stephens—is minutes from O'Hare International, helping make Chicago one of the most travel-friendly convention cities.

    Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago

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    #9 - Minneapolis, Minn.

    Located a few blocks from a sprawling park, downtown shopping and all sorts of entertainment options and attractions, the Minneapolis Convention Center is a big draw throughout the year. It's pretty easy to reach the Center from MSP airport and a substantial number of hotels and restaurants are nearby, adding to its appeal. Minneapolis is also affordable, so the traveler who wants to build a weekend around a special event won't have budget issues.  

    Photo courtesy of Meet Minneapolis

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    #8 - Washington, DC

    Washington D.C. gets near-perfect marks as a convention center, according to our Expert.  The Walter E. Washington Convention Center is up-to-date and more than equipped to handle large-scale exhibitions.  A wealth of hotels, restaurants, entertainment and attractions -including the White House and the National Mall - are all within walking distance.  To top it off, it's incredibly easy and inexpensive to reach D.C. and to get around once you arrive.

    Photo courtesy of Orhan Çam/iStock

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    #7 - New Orleans, La.

    Exciting and beautiful New Orleans sited its convention center right on the Mississippi, near an abundance of hotels and restaurants. Grabbing a bite or scooting back and forth to your room is easy. World-class entertainment (Bourbon Street, Preservation Hall) is only a short cab ride away.  New Orleans International Airport is served by enough airlines to get visitors there with only one plane change from nearly anywhere in the country.   

    Photo courtesy of Jamie Grill/Tetra Images

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    #6 - Denver, Colo.

    Denver's Colorado Convention Center gets the highest of scores for having a state-of-the-art facility capable of handling huge shows and offering convention attendees great amenities.  It also ranks high for having hotels nearby, a critical component for exhibitors and visitors.  Access to a major airport (DEN) and the ease/affordability of getting around means most people don't mind grabbing a cab to reach area attractions. Larimer Square and Colorado State Capitol are just a short walk away from the center itself.

    Photo courtesy of Denise Chambers/Miles

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    #5 - Atlanta, Ga.

    Georgia International Convention Center is just minutes from Hartsfield-Jackson International, making an Atlanta convention super easy and affordable to reach. The city's subway, MARTA, also delivers visitors right to the heart of the city where the Georgia World Congress Center is located.  Accessing the plentiful nearby hotels and restaurants can be done with ease, and visitors will be spoiled for choice when trying to decide where to stay.  With tempting regional cuisine and a boatload of downtown attractions to choose from, any convention trip will be complete.

    Photo courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto/iStock

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    #4 - Salt Lake City, Utah

    Salt Lake City is easy to reach and magnificent Temple Square - the city's prime attraction - is right across the street.   The city is so affordable overall that convention-goers don't mind having to grab a cab to see other attractions or find entertainment options.  Salt Palace Convention Center is adept at handling large-scale shows and has plenty of nearby hotels and restaurants, making quick breaks easy.  Salt Lake shopping is also intriguing, and mountain views are a daily bonus.

    Photo courtesy of Adam Barker

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    #3 - Nashville, Tenn.

    Nashville's brand-spanking-new Music City Center, in the heart of downtown, is loaded for bear when it comes to amenities and extras.  It's also connected to the new Omni hotel and the newly expanded Country Music Hall of Fame. A short stroll away are the honky-tonks of Broadway and unlimited free entertainment. Exciting city development plans have the convention center front and center, so amazingly, it only gets better.  

    Photo courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation

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    #2 - Boston, Mass.

    Easy to reach and even easier to navigate, Boston offers a top-of-the-line convention center to attendees and exhibitors. Capable of handling even the biggest of shows at The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, the city also offers convention-goers good access to hotels, restaurants, fascinating historical sites and things to do after hours. The nearby Freedom Trail includes the Boston Tea Party site, Old North Church and several other landmarks. It's affordable to get around this compact New England hub and honestly, how many convention cities have water taxies?  

    Photo courtesy of Galiptynutz/iStock

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    #1 - Indianapolis, Ind.

    Although Indiana Convention Center isn't near as many attractions or entertainment options as other cities can boast, it gets top marks for being near hotels and restaurants.  And if you're a football fan, it's pretty thrilling to be across the street from Andrew Luck and the Colts come fall.  The city is affordability and easy to get around, making Indy's convention center and its schedule all the more inviting.  

    Photo courtesy of Lavengood Photography

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Indianapolis Favorite Convention City

Boston, Nashville, Salt Lake, Atlanta also tops with voters

After four weeks of voting, convention-goers and exhibitors have put Indianapolis in the top slot in our latest Readers' Choice poll for Best Convention City.  

It was a hot competition, with convention and visitors bureaus across America actively campaigning for recognition for their local convention center.  In the end, affordable and convenient Indianapolis took top honors.  

The Indiana Convention Center is connected to more downtown hotel rooms than any other city in the nation, making it convenient for convention-goers to access meeting space, restaurants, the downtown shopping mall and hotels, without even stepping outside. Indy's convention center and its schedule are all the more inviting when you factor in the city's walkability, affordability and its central location. And if you're a football fan, it's pretty thrilling to be across the street from Andrew Luck and the Colts come fall.

Boston, with its ease of inter-city transportation and abundance of entertainment, lodging and dining options landed in 2nd place. Nashville, with its beautiful brand new facility in the heart of downtown, took 3rd.  

In this tightly fought race, only 284 votes separated 3rd place from 6th.  

Nominees for the contest were chosen by convention expert John C. Rose, who selected 10 candidates from large metros and 10 nominees from smaller "tier two" cities.   

The full list of winners in the 'Best Convention City' contest category for 10Best Readers' Choice are as follows:

  1. Indianapolis, Ind.
  2. Boston, Mass.
  3. Nashville, Tenn.
  4. Salt Lake City, Utah
  5. Atlanta, Ga.
  6. Denver, Colo.
  7. New Orleans, La.
  8. Washington, DC
  9. Minneapolis, Minn.
  10. Chicago, Ill.

Congratulations to all these metro areas on having a winning convention experience.  Readers contemplating attendance of an event in any of these cities will no doubt be pleased with their experience.  

Of course, the other 10 original nominees have some bragging rights of their own, having been chosen by our Expert for inclusion in this contest.  They were:  

  • Anaheim, Calif.
  • Baltimore, Md.
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Miami, Fla.
  • New York City, N.Y.
  • Orlando, Fla.
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • San Diego, Calif.     
  • San Francisco, Calif.  
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The Experts

John C Rose

John Rose is founder and President of JC Rose & Associates, Inc., a full-service exhibit house located in Greenville, SC.  Founded in 1984, the company specializes in custom, portable and modular exhibits as well as trade show services including logistics coordination, storage and exhibit maintenance. JC Rose & Associates also provides custom store fixture design and construction.  Over the last 30 years, John has travelled to major convention cities around the world helping his clients promote their businesses through trade show marketing.  He is a graduate of both Furman and Clemson Universities and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Accounting, and an MBA in Marketing. John has been a member of E2MA (Exhibits and Events Marketing Association) since 1988, IFES (International Federation of Exhibit Services) since 2004, and EDPA (Exhibit Designers and Producers Association) since 1994. He served on the EDPA board of directors from 2001 through 2011, chairing various committees, serving on its Executive Board, and was President of the international organization for 2010.   

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