5 budget-friendlier alternatives to the most booked U.S. destinations

by | Apr 18, 2024 | For Organizers

Whether you’re planning a bachelorette party, corporate offsite, or family reunion, you probably have the “perfect” city in mind. Many cities develop reputations for being ideal for certain events—and those reputations are well-deserved.

However, your “perfect” city is probably somebody else’s perfect city too. And the popularity of many of these top-tier markets can sometimes have negative consequences such as:

  • Higher Room Rates
  • Limited Availability

So, before you invest time sending endless proposals to hotels only to find out that your perfect city is out of budget or unavailable during your event dates (a good reason why you should use GroupSync instead!) – check out our list of similar but smaller cities to consider for your event.

We’ve taken 5 of the most popular destinations booked on GroupSync in 2023, and found cities in 2nd and 3rd tier markets that offer a similar experience.

Spoiler alert: our recommended cities could save you $50-$160+* per room/night, and they’re more likely to have availability during your event dates.

Here are our top 5 similar but smaller cities to consider for your next group event:

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Alexandria, VA vs. Washington, DC

Estimated Savings: $92.12 per room/night

Book: Alexandria, VA

In 2023, Washington, DC, was the #1 booked city in GroupSync—and it’s easy to understand why. The US Capitol is a vibrant city full of history, architecture, and culture.

Just five miles away, however, lies the much more budget-friendly Alexandria, VA. Alexandria has proximity to the same amenities as the US Capitol—without the expense and city traffic. Founded in 1749, Alexandria offers a rich history to explore while still accommodating every palate with hundreds of restaurants.

  • Ideal for: Weddings, family reunions, school groups.
  • Unique Attractions: Enjoy a “ghost tour” from Alexandria Colonial Tours!
  • Transportation: The city is served by Reagan National Airport and offers five Metrorail stations, Amtrak, and a free trolley service along King Street. In addition, the city offers a water taxi service aboard the Cherry Blossom, an authentic sternwheeler that can also be booked for weddings.
  • Convention Center: The Cooperative Plaza Conference Center can accommodate up to 750 people.

Where to start:
Visit Alexandria


Park City, Utah

Milwaukee, WI vs. Chicago, IL

Estimated Savings: $59.02 per room/night

Book: Milwaukee, WI

If you’re looking for a charming Midwest venue, look no further than Milwaukee, WI. Similar to nearby Chicago, Milwaukee offers many amenities and attractions that can make it just as appealing as the Windy City.

The Milwaukee RiverWalk offers endless entertainment options for groups of all sorts. Dine al fresco at dozens of patios, restaurants and bars. Take a selfie with the Bronze Fonz, a statue honoring Arthur Fonzarelli, aka, “Fonzie” from the popular 1950’s based sitcom “Happy Days”. Or enjoy a show at the Peck Pavilion outdoor theater and event venue. From boat cruises to brews, this 3.7 mile waterfront district has something for everyone.

Speaking of brews, make sure to check out the Pabst Mansion. The former family home of Captain Frederick and Maria Pabst of the Pabst Brewing Company, is now an award-wining museum and event venue. Ideal for small gatherings, receptions and micro weddings, this unique space combines history, art and elegance for an unforgettable event.

  • Ideal for: Family reunions, weddings, company meetings and offsites.
  • Unique Attractions: Even if you aren’t a motorcycle buff, take the time to check out the only Harley-Davidson Museum in the world and celebrate this iconic American brand.
  • Transportation: Milwaukee is served by Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport, and there are ample ground transportation options, including rideshare services, public transit, and even electric scooters!
  • Convention Center: Milwaukee’s newly remodeled Baird Center will offer 1.3 million square feet of meeting space.

Where to start:
Visit Milwaukee

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Louisville, KY vs. Nashville, TN

Estimated Savings: $55.00 per room/night

Book: Louisville, KY

If you’re planning a bachelor or bachelorette party, Louisville, KY, offers many of the advantages of Nashville, TN, at a much more budget-friendly rate. Known as Bourbon City, Louisville is the official starting point of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and features more than ten distilleries, giving it ample entertainment options that won’t make you miss Nashville’s Broadway.

But Louisville features much more than just its signature spirit. Home to such slices of Americana as the Louisville Slugger baseball bat, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, the city is also home to multiple Fortune 500 companies and boxing legend Muhammad Ali!

  • Ideal for: Bachelor/bachelorette parties, corporate offsites, weddings, family reunions.
  • Unique Attractions: For a one-of-a-kind adventure, check out the Louisville Mega Cavern—a 100-acre theme park located entirely underground in a former limestone quarry!
  • Transportation: The city is served by Muhammad Ali International Airport,
    and there are multiple shuttles and public transportation options within the city. In addition, there are several electric scooter companies around the downtown and surrounding areas for local travel.
  • Convention Center: The Kentucky International Convention Center can host events up to 4,000 people, making it ideal for large conferences or company meetings.

Where to start:
Go to Louisville

Palisades Tahoe, California

Atlantic City, NJ vs. Las Vegas, NV

Estimated Savings: $70.35 per room/night

Book: Atlantic City, NJ

If it’s nightlife you’re looking for with your next group event, consider Atlantic City, NJ for that Vegas experience without the expense. With year-round shows, multiple casinos, and even an amusement park at Steel Pier, Atlantic City shares many features of its larger cousin out west.

With multiple conference and meeting centers, Atlantic City is an ideal destination for corporate events and sales meetings.

If golf is your game, break up the meetings at one of over 25 courses around the city. For those attendees who prefer salt air and sand, there’s the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk and several miles of free access to the Jersey Shore.

  • Ideal for: Corporate offsites and meetings, bachelor/bachelorette parties, class reunions.
  • Unique Attractions: If you’re feeling energetic, climb the 228 steps of the Absecon Lighthouse, the third tallest lighthouse in the United States!
  • Transportation: Atlantic City is served by Atlantic City International Airport. On the ground, the city offers Jitneys—minibuses that run 24/7 to most locations in the city at fares of just $2.50 per person.
  • Convention Center: The Atlantic City Convention Center features almost one million square feet of space.

Where to start:
Visit Atlantic City

Quebec, Canada

Austin, TX vs. San Diego, CA

Estimated Savings: $162.86 per room/night

Book: Austin, TX

For sun and good vibes, it’s hard to beat Austin, TX—especially considering that you can save over $160 per night on average over San Diego, CA!

Known as the Live Music Capital of the World®, Austin features entertainment in every corner—from the airport terminal to clubs to outdoor festivals and indoor concert halls. The walkable downtown area makes popping in and out of unique venues easy, and music lovers can enjoy some of the best acts in the world as they take in great food and drink.

If it’s water, sand, and sun you want, rent kayaks, canoes, or paddleboards for yourself or the whole group through Rowing Dock on Lady Bird Lake. And for more outdoor adventure, get outside the city for plenty of hiking, biking, camping, swimming, and even climbing in Texas Hill Country.

  • Ideal for: Weddings, company offsites, family reunions.
  • Unique Attractions: For those who enjoy the music of nature, there’s ample opportunity to view hundreds of different species of birds throughout the Austin area. The Zilker Botanical Garden offers great bird-watching opportunities and it can even be rented out for a wide variety of indoor and outdoor events.
  • Transportation: Austin is served by three airports; the primary airport is Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The city has multiple ground transportation options, including public buses and rail lines, rideshare options, and shuttles.
  • Convention Center: The Austin Convention Center offers 881,400 square feet of meeting space, making it ideal for a large corporate meeting.

Where to start:
Visit Austin

Could a 2nd or 3rd tier city be your 1st choice?

Even if your event dates and budget are not flexible, many 2nd and 3rd tier cities can offer a top-notch experience when the top-tier market is out of reach.

Of course, there are many factors to consider when choosing the destination for your next group event:

  • Value
  • Availability
  • Unique experiences
  • Location

With so many great smaller cities around the country, you can plan your next group event with confidence—and save money in the process!

Find and book the perfect hotel for your group event with GroupSync – get your free account today!


*Based on average room rates booked on GroupSync in 2023, all room rates subject to change.