- The New York metro area had the highest overall score in its population bracket, boosted by its impressive 56,000+ team-building venues.
- Los Angeles and Dallas rounded out the top three best large metros ideal for company retreats by providing a plethora of quality accommodation options and ideal team-building establishments.
- Omaha scored highest among mid-sized metro areas, thanks to its high number of historical points of interest. It was closely followed by Bridgeport and Albuquerque.
- A dream destination for outdoor enthusiasts, Asheville led the smaller metro areas due to its impressive number of team-building and accommodation options.
A perfect balance between working hard and playing hard, team-building events are often the highlight of the year for many employees, especially remote workers. Generally, these opportunities represent the best occasion to get together with remote colleagues in a less-formal environment and spend a few days strengthening the bonds between coworkers, as well as reinforcing the company culture.
Of course, as with anything in life, location plays a big part in solving the team-building equation. With this in mind, we set out to determine the absolute best U.S. metros that double as ideal destinations for corporate events and retreats. Specifically, we ranked areas based on a comprehensive set of metrics, ranging from the number of accommodation and team-building establishments — such as sports venues, amusement parks, spas, restaurants, bars, etc. — to the coworking spaces available, number of airports that serve the area and more.
Furthermore, to ensure that our ranking was accurate and relevant, we divided the more than 250 metros analyzed into three different brackets based on their population and compared them accordingly: large metros with populations of more than 1 million; mid-sized metros with 500,000 to 1 million residents; and smaller metros with populations of less than 500,000.
New York Leads Among Large Metros, but LA & Dallas Also Score High Across Several Team-Building Metrics
New York, NY – Total Points: 81.2
Perhaps unsurprising for an area with so much to offer, New York was the ultimate leader among large metros when it came to exciting team-building opportunities. Namely, New York scored first for team-building establishments (a whopping 56,000+), providing a wide range of exciting activities — from attending shows to going to amusement parks, spas, restaurants, bars and more. For instance, Madison Square Garden is a regular hotspot for sports fans and concertgoers and offers great opportunities for a fun team outing. Alternatively, groups can also make a day out of visiting the Central Park Zoo or skating at Wollman Rink during the winter season.
At the same time, there are also plenty of off-site locations around NYC that can host and entertain corporate gatherings, like the Rockaway Hotel&Spa, which is known for having NYC’s only legal surfing beach. Apart from visiting the Big Apple, those who need a space for a team meeting, presentation or simply a collaborative workspace while there will be happy to know that 514 coworking spaces are available in this bustling metro area, which puts it at the very front in this category.
Los Angeles, CA – Total Points: 62.8
Following New York at a distance of almost 20 points, the LA metro came in first in the airport category. In fact, 15 serve the area, which makes it easy for inbound travelers to get around. Los Angeles also scored the second position in team-building establishments as almost 34,000 are available across the metro area. Here, teams of all sizes can choose from creative activities or culinary experiences, painting or dance classes, a trivia night, yachting or other outdoor experiences. As an example, a Murder Mystery Dinner that includes a show from a professional acting group is quite popular among tourists, as are LA’s different food tours or Hollywood’s cocktail tours, which are bound to please any and every taste.
Alternatively, a team outing at one of Los Angeles’ 23 most popular music festivals, such as the iconic BeachLife Festival or the Interstellar experience, is always a good idea. What’s more, there’s no shortage of quality accommodations as LA has more than 1,700 hotels and other types of accommodations to host tourists. Plus, LA’s position in our ranking was also boosted by the high number of coworking spaces available in the area — more than 300 — which was the second-highest number among the locations analyzed in this population bracket.
Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, TX – Total Points: 53.4
Representing the Lone Star state, the Dallas metro area was the third-best place for corporate retreats. More precisely, this area has the most to offer in terms of stadiums and indoor arenas, with 23 of them available for the public. To that end, Dallas’ AT&T Stadium is one of the most famous in the country and regularly hosts popular events, from Cowboys games and Concacaf Gold Cup finals to concerts featuring world-renowned artists, such as Beyonce and Metallica.
Additionally, almost 1,300 accommodations are at the disposal of travelers in the Dallas metro, which placed it third in this category. Likewise, more than 17,000 team-building establishments are available here. For instance, the DFW Adventure Park is highly popular among both locals and visitors. It provides a wide range of outdoor activities, from paintball to ziplining and airsoft — all of which are perfect for corporate teams of different sizes. The Dallas metro also claimed the second-highest number of airports serving the area (14), thereby enhancing accessibility and transit.
Chicago, IL – Total Points: 46.7
Widely known for its vast range of sports events and activities, it comes as no surprise that the Chicago metro area logged the third position in terms of team-building establishments with more than 22,000 of them, while also scoring high in the stadiums and indoor arenas category. Apart from attending sporting events, teams can also go on a local food tour: maybe try out that famous Chicago-style deep-dish pizza or take a river cruise to enjoy the area’s stunning architecture and waterfront views and learn more about the city’s history.
Houston, TX – Total Points: 45
Down in Houston, team-building activities are also plentiful: the metro area came in third in regard to stadiums and arenas. Namely, many tourists in this area choose to visit the famous NASA Johnson Space Center, which can also be a great activity for a team-building outing, especially for those interested in learning more about space exploration and technology. Or, for sports fans, seeing the reigning World Series Champions, the Houston Astros, is an ideal option, as well. The Houston metro area also stood out due to its vast offering of hotels and other accommodation establishments with the fourth-highest number on our list at more than 1,200.
Omaha, Bridgeport & Albuquerque Are Highest-Scoring Mid-Sized Metros, with High Numbers of Team-Building Establishments
Omaha, NE – Total Points: 64.5
Mid-sized metro areas are the ideal middle ground for those who want to enjoy big-city amenities in a more serene environment, and Omaha is the ultimate proof of that: the city took the top spot when it came to organizing successful team-building events. Notably, exploring historical points of interest is a great activity to squeeze in between workshops and events in Omaha, given that the metro has 322 such locations open to the public. In particular, the Old Market, St. Cecilia’s Cathedral and several museums are top points of interest in Omaha. And, if your team is finance- or investing-focused, Berkshire Hathaway hosts its annual shareholder meeting here, where more than 30,000 attendees from all around the country — and even the world — gather to hear Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger speak.
The metro also claimed the second position in terms of establishments that are perfectly designed to host company gatherings and events with almost 2,300 available across the metro area. It also came second in the airports category with a total of four that serve the area.
Bridgeport, CT – Total Points: 61.7
Snatching the second position among mid-sized metros, Bridgeport scored the highest number of team-building establishments in this population bracket (almost 2,700). Accordingly, the city offers diverse and exciting activities for groups, from escape rooms at the highly rated Escapology Escape Rooms Trumbull to outdoor activities at The Adventure Park at the Discovery Museum or even axe-throwing at Blue Ox. Bridgeport also has three stadiums and indoor arenas to host large gatherings, which was the third-highest number among the 55 mid-sized metros analyzed. Meanwhile, the Total Mortgage Arena is well-known for hosting basketball games, as well as for being the home of the Bridgeport Islanders of the American Hockey League.
Not to be outdone, this area is also ideal for company retreats due to its solid stock of coworking spaces. More precisely, 28 such flex workspaces are available in the area for those who need a professional environment to conduct their work in the area. That score placed the metro first in this category in a tie with North Carolina’s Durham and Chapel Hill.
Albuquerque, NM – Total Points: 57.8
This metro’s five stadiums and indoor arenas certainly boosted its ranking, as Albuquerque came in first in this category among all of the mid-sized metros on the list. Plus, the city’s main indoor arena, The Pit, is the home venue of the University of New Mexico Lobos basketball teams. As such, it regularly hosts both major sports events and concerts for up to 15,000 attendees.
Additionally, the metro recorded more than 180 accommodation establishments, which was the fourth-highest in the ranking (Portland, ME led for this metric with almost 300 such venues.) And, with more than 1,700 establishments that can host team-building events, Albuquerque makes it easy for companies to choose activities that will delight every employee, whether that’s The Amazing Chase — an interactive race based on a popular TV series; a scavenger hunt across the city; or a random act of kindness activity (a race that rewards teams that can perform the most good deeds before the time runs out). It’s worth noting that Albuquerque is also a great year-round option for a team-building due to its great weather, even during winter months.
Charleston, SC – Total Points: 57.5
With 204 accommodation options equipped to host tourists of all kinds, this charming, historic port city is outdone in this category only by Portland, ME, and another South Carolina representative, Myrtle Beach. Companies that choose Charleston as their team-building destination can take part in one of the four music festivals that take place here, which is the highest number in this bracket, like the iconic Charleston Music Festival or the Riverfront Revival. And, with Charleston being well-known and loved for its vibrant jazz scene, teams are sure to delight in soulful music and that famous Southern hospitality.
Des Moines, IA – Total Points: 53.2
With one of the highest historical points of interest in this ranking, 313, Des Moines has plenty to offer in terms of interesting and fun activities. For instance, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is a public favorite, along with several scavenger hunts or even charity events. Those with a knack for history and politics can visit the Iowa State Capitol, which showcases impressive artwork, artifacts, woodcarving, and decorative wall painting and stenciling, on top of stunning views. Des Moines also checks the second-lowest regional price parity, outdone in this category only by Wichita, KS, which makes it easy for companies to organize a gathering in this area without breaking the bank.
Big Perks in Smaller Metros: Asheville & Savannah Lead in the Small Population Bracket as Best Places for Company Retreats
Asheville, NC – Total Points: 58.1
As a nature lover’s dream, Asheville is the perfect place for outdoor adventures — from exploring trails, peaks, or ancient rivers to hiking, ziplining or river rafting. And, proving that big events can happen in small places, Asheville earned the highest overall score among smaller-sized metros at 58. Here, an impressive 1,263 team-building establishments are up for grabs, which gave Asheville the third position in this metric (after Salisbury, MD, and Santa Rosa, CA. At the same time, the 213 accommodation facilities available in Asheville placed it in the second spot in this category and boosted the metro’s overall position in our ranking.
Savannah, GA – Total Points: 57.3
With beautiful coastal landscapes, impressive architecture perfect for sightseeing, and a rich history under its belt — not to mention haunted B&Bs and amazing jazz clubs — Georgia’s oldest city is a coveted place for company retreats. Here, 218 hotels and other accommodations are available, which was the highest number among metro areas with populations of less than 500,000 residents. It’s worth noting here that the number of team-building establishments was also relatively high in Savannah at more than 1,000. Plus, well-timed tourists can also enjoy one of the many music festivals that occur here, with the main one being the Savannah Music Festival — an internationally acclaimed, cross-genre music event with a focus on community and education.
Salisbury, MD-DE – 56.8
With the highest number of team-building establishments in this ranking (more than 1,300), Salisbury has plenty to offer to companies that want to organize a successful event in the area — both indoors and outdoors. So, whether you’re deciding between a day at the Salisbury Zoological Park (one of the best small zoos in the U.S.) or choose to swim or boat at Salisbury Beach, this area has got everything covered. The metro also came in second in terms of historical points of interest — 210 are available here, including public favorites like the Salisbury Cathedral and the Pemberton Historical Park. Plus, nearly 200 accommodation facilities are also available here, making it easy for companies to find one that perfectly matches their vision.
Reno, NV – Total Points: 55.5
The Biggest Little City in the world is (literally) all about fun and games, so it's safe to say that no team-building here will ever fall short of exciting activities. With plenty of team-building establishments across its metro area (almost 1,200), Reno provides so much more than gaming opportunities. Here, the natural beauty and scenic views make the ideal backdrop for outdoor activities, year-round. For example, rafting is a popular option, as well as scavenger hunts.
Mobile, AL – Total Points: 54.3
When it comes to team-building activities, Mobile is a great place to be, especially during Mardi Gras, as the city proper is known for having the oldest organized Carnival or Mardi Gras celebrations in the U.S. The metro area boasts over 140 historic points of interest, which is one of the highest numbers in this bracket, in which Davenport, IA, leads with almost 330. Apart from delighting in Southern comfort food and the area's rich history, visitors in Mobile can also make a fun day out of visiting GulfQuest, the National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico, or touring the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park.
For the purpose of this study, we analyzed U.S. metros depending on their population size, across three different ranges: large metros, with a population of over 1 million; mid-sized metros, with 500,000-1 million residents; and smaller metros, with fewer than 500,000 residents.
The metros analyzed were ranked based on their total scores, with higher scores indicating better overall metros for team-building and corporate events.
Scores and rankings indicate a metro’s performance as compared to other metros within the same population bracket and are not comparable across brackets.
Metrics were selected based on their potential influence on team-building events and corporate retreats. Metrics were then assigned a weight based on their importance in determining the overall attractiveness of a metro. The base categories, underlying metrics and their weights in the final score were as follows:
- Number of team-building establishments – 20% of the total index – Source: S. Census Bureau County Business Patterns
- Number of accommodation establishments – 15% of the total index – Source: S. Census Bureau County Business Patterns
- Number of stadiums and indoor arenas – 15% of the total index – Source: Wikipedia (multiple sources)
- Number of historical points of interest – 15% of the total index – Source: National Park Service National Register of Historic Places
- Number of airports serving the area – 10% of the total index – Source: S. Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration
- Coworking space availability – 10% of the total index – Source: CoworkingCafe.com
- Regional price parity (indirectly proportional) – 10% of the total index – Source: S. Bureau of Economic Analysis
- Number of music festivals – 5% of the total index – Source: Music Festival Wizard
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