Aurora is harnessing its rich heritage and diversity—melding it with the new to create a sweet blend for meetings and events.
Colorado’s third largest city, Aurora, has come into its own as a meetings and events destination. New conference hotels and venues have sprung up, the arts and cultural scene has blossomed, and food and beverage options have multiplied. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
“Aurora has experienced tremendous growth and evolution over the past five years,” says Justin Clark, vice president of sales and services for Visit Aurora. “The Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center opened in December 2018 and has really elevated our standing in the meetings and events community and created the opportunity to bring larger groups seeking a different experience to Aurora.”
“Groups coming to Aurora can enjoy a variety of unique experiences at independent microbreweries with unique character,” Clark adds, “including the aerospace-inspired brews at Launch Pad Brewery or the Latin-inspired creations at Cheluna Brewing Company; James Beard-recognized farm-to-table dining at Annette; unique shopping at Stanley Marketplace’s 50-plus independent businesses; and the Colorado sun and adventure in one of our many open and natural areas.”
Plan a Memorable Event
LaToya Williams, a global account manager for HelmsBriscoe, was seeking a Colorado destination to host a four-day teambuilding meeting for a nonprofit association when she participated in a site visit to Boulder, Aurora, and Denver. She fell in love with Aurora.
“There is nothing like in-person, live experiences and authentic hospitality,” Williams says. “The Visit Aurora team answered all of my questions, shared locations that my group would enjoy, and offered suggestions that fit instead of me trying to guess if a certain location was appropriate.”
The 60-person group met in April, basing out of Hyatt Regency Aurora-Denver Conference Center and visiting Stanley Marketplace and Dry Dock Brewing’s North Dock location. “Stanley Marketplace is unique, and the vibe is true Aurora with local stores and restaurants, even a unique meeting space,” Williams says. “My client specifically requested local attractions, and this was the perfect fit.”
For groups that want to go big, Arapahoe County Fairgrounds & Events Center might be the answer as the host of everything from trade shows and receptions to sporting events, conferences, festivals, livestock shows, and more. Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center is the complete package as the largest resort and convention center in Colorado with 1,501 guest rooms, more than 517,000 square feet of designated meeting space, eight dining options, a high-end spa, and impressive aquatics.
Get a Taste of Local
On the beverage scene, Aurora has its fair share of craft breweries to choose from, including two newer ones with unique twists. Jade Mountain Brewing Company brews both beer and tea (including hard tea) and has a taproom with an urban Asian teahouse vibe, while Six Capital Brewery specializes in classic beer styles and mouthwatering barbecue made in a scratch kitchen that focuses on local ingredients. Haykin Family Cider’s easygoing tasting room is also a great place to order flights and indulge in hard cider made from Colorado apples.
The population is even more diverse than the wide variety of beers made in Aurora. The broad range of ethnicities results in a culinary masterpiece of restaurants sprinkled around the city, with the On Havana Street district offering a handy concentration for groups.
And don’t miss getting a taste of the culture at Aurora Fox Arts Center, Vintage Theatre, The People’s Building, and Aurora History Museum all located in the Aurora Cultural Arts District, along with a fantastic array of colorful murals created during the annual Colfax Canvas festival.
Tap Into What’s New
In August 2021, FieldhouseUSA and Airhouse Adventure Park launched in Town Center at Aurora. Fieldhouse USA offers a variety of sporting activities and teambuilding and has space available to host corporate events. Located within FieldhouseUSA, Airhouse Adventure Park is 30,000 square feet of pure amusement.
A new 106-room luxury hotel, Benson Hotel and Faculty Club, is slated for completion in 2023 at Fitzsimons Innovation Community in Aurora. Plans for the property include a ballroom, multiple meeting rooms, and event space in addition to a rose garden with outdoor seating, lawn for tented events, and a full-service bar and restaurant.
Factory Five Five, an arts collective started by Sky Barker Maa during the heart of COVID-19, is all about fashion, film, and photography studios, classes, and events. Groups can work with Maa to tap into collective happenings and book venues like Factory Fashion in Stanley Marketplace or Black Box Theatre or Velvet Underground Coffee Shop and Bar at Factory Five Five’s location on 25th Avenue.
Clark confirms, “Aurora is a great destination that is just now being discovered.”
Williams adds, “When so many are looking at first-tier locations that are not available or crowded, taking a look a little further for a unique twist to your event can be a game changer.”
Distinct Gathering Spaces
The Hangar at Stanley, with more than 18,000 square feet of wide-open indoor and outdoor space, is just one of the many options available for groups at Stanley Marketplace. Also choose from private and semiprivate event spaces including the Plaza, West Patio, Community Area, a 5-acre outdoor field, or two new options: Sky Bar, a cocktail bar and lounge that highlights the golden age of air travel, and Factory Fashion, a large open space with lounge and table seating, a bar, and options for a stage. Or consider booking a teambuilding and dining experience with the chefs at Create Cooking School. stanleymarketplace.com
The vibe is totally different at Southlands, an outdoor lifestyle mall that functions like a modern main street for Aurora. Tap into the Wine Experience Café & World Cellar, dine-in AMC multiplex cinema, event space at the town square, and tastings and tours at Bent Barley Brewing Company. shopsouthlands.com
In the Aurora Cultural Arts District, The People’s Building has more than 3,000 square feet of flexible space, concert setups, and stadium seating. thepeoplesbuilding.com
Pelican Bay at Cherry Creek has perhaps the prettiest setting due to its location alongside water at Cherry Creek State Park. Pelican Bay features a Lake House for events, nautical-themed pub, and marina, where boats, Jet Skis, canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards can be rented seasonally. pbcherrycreek.com
Aurora By the Numbers
250+ independently owned and operated ethnic eateries
160.63 square miles
103 miles of trails
75 hotels represented by Visit Aurora
54th largest city in the United States
9 championship golf courses
3rd busiest airport in the nation (DEN)