Corvettes, Caves, and Conventions: Bowling Green, Kentucky
Situated in Southern Kentucky’s Cave Country and only an hour north of Nashville, Bowling Green, Kentucky is an interesting off-the-beaten-path option for your next small or mid-sized meeting or corporate retreat.
Bowling Green’s Sloan Convention Center offers 60,000 square feet of meeting and pre-function space. Its 19,500 sq. ft. grand ballroom, which can be divided into four sections, has a reception capacity of 1,500 attendees. There are also six breakout rooms ranging from 350 to 2,600 sq. ft.
The convention center has indoor access to the adjacent Holiday Inn University Plaza, which is Bowling Green’s largest hotel. The six-story atrium property features 218 guest rooms and recently completed a $7.5 million dollar renovation.
For groups needing additional guest rooms, The Hilton Garden Inn, with 133 rooms, and the Courtyard by Marriott with 93 rooms are directly across the street.
Bowling Green is the birthplace of Duncan Hines. In my head, Hines invented packaged brownie mix. Not the case: he was in fact a pioneer of restaurant ratings – like an early Zagat.
As a traveling salesman in the days before interstate highways and chain restaurants, Hines found himself dining at a number of restaurants. Some were better than others. He decided to write up and collate his reviews to share, and eventually wound up with a national newspaper food column.
Today, Bowling Green has a vibrant culinary scene with restaurants providing Southern home cooking, fine dining, and the now ubiquitous (but welcome) trend of a local brewery. Beer not your thing? The Corsair Distillery is part of the official Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® and specializes in handcrafted batches of spirits and whiskey using classic pot stills.
The city offers a wealth of unique and interesting experiences for special events and activities. A network of over 400 miles of underground caves – the longest known cave system in the world – sprawls out underneath Bowling Green.
Mammoth Cave National Park offers hiking, biking, camping and water trails. At Lost River Cave, guests can cruise along an underground river on a boat tour. The newly installed Flying Squirrel zip line presents another fun teambuilding option.
“Meetings groups can come here and experience a place so uniquely Southern, with delicious food and down-home charm, while exploring Kentucky’s great outdoors,” said Janet Henderson, sales director of Bowling Green Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
She continued, “Hike in Mammoth Cave National Park, cruise through an underground river at Lost River Cave, take a sunrise hot air balloon ride – activities like these are experiences that will strengthen bonds between group members and create lasting memories.”
Want to learn more about Duncan Hines? He, among other historical figures, is featured in the Kentucky Museum, located on the Western Kentucky University campus.
And of course, there are the Corvettes. Bowling Green is the only place in the world where these luxury cars are made. Henderson described a few of the opportunities for groups to enjoy this history interactively.
“The National Corvette Museum’s Motorsports Park offers a variety of team building opportunities to get you behind the wheel of Camaros, Corvettes, and go-karts. Or, take part in Corvettes and Corporate America, a new program that offers corporate training through curriculum, effective communication exercises, team building activities, and leading change. The program is built around an all-inclusive racing experience.”
In 2014, a sinkhole made national news when it “ate” eight of the museum’s Corvettes. While the sinkhole itself is gone, a special commemorative exhibit remains.
One oft-overlooked amenity for meetings in locations that require transportation is parking. To help keep costs — and annoyance levels — down, Bowling Green offers free parking at every meeting site and throughout the downtown district.
For more information on holding meetings in Bowling Green, go HERE.