The next Southern city on the rise? Charlotte, North Carolina. Not only does it have nearly a dozen hotel projects in the works, which will bring more than 1,700 new rooms to the city, but as home of the sixth-busiest airport in the world, Charlotte is top of mind for travelers. About 60 percent of the U.S. population lives within a two-hour flight of Charlotte, and the airport—which recently got an upgraded roadway system, a new hourly parking deck and a rental car facility, and has future plans for a lobby expansion and international terminal—is only 7 miles from the convention center.
On top of the curve, Charlotte’s green space is growing too, with the 4-acre First Ward Park slated to open in early 2016 and a 26-mile Cross Charlotte Trail addition planned for the beloved Little Sugar Creek Greenway. Eco-minded planners can bring attendees to the 5-acre Romare Bearden Park, which opened in Uptown near the new BB&T Ballpark (home of Minor League Baseball’s Charlotte Knights) in 2013, to take in a local festival or participate in free outdoor fitness classes.