Despite a burgeoning craft beer scene, ample waterfront access and an abundance of meeting spaces, Shauna Stewart still points to Olympia’s people as the region’s greatest asset. “We are a community of passionate, engaged individuals all eager to make a difference,” says Stewart, executive director of the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor & Convention Bureau (OLTVCB). 

In addition to the Washington State Capitol, Olympia is home to three educational institutions, creating what Stewart calls a “thinking class.” “This fosters innovation and passion in all things. You see this in the region’s craft products (beer, spirits and coffee), with the farmers’ commitment to nurturing their land to feed the community and in the one-of-a-kind shops offering up unique treasures,” she explains.

It’s no wonder meeting planners find the greater Olympia region enticing. The area’s amenities include plenty of meeting options, such as the recently renovated Hotel RL by Red Lion, with a 7,500-square-foot ballroom and sweeping views of the iconic Capitol Lake. In addition, Great Wolf Lodge is just a 20-minute drive south on Interstate 5 in Grand Mound and offers more than 30,000 square feet of meeting space. 

Born and raised in Olympia, Stewart first worked for OLTVCB in marketing and membership development after graduating from college in 2006. She then moved to Tacoma and later Portland, Oregon, before returning to Olympia in October 2015 to lead the organization as its executive director. “[It’s] a decade-long dream come true,” she says.

Stewart especially appreciates spending time with her family exploring nature. “Olympia’s waterfront, Nisqually Wildlife Refuge and Tumwater Falls Park all offer a sense of peace and relaxation that I crave as a working mom with a busy toddler,” she says. “As a Pacific Northwest native, I live for those moments in the outdoors.” 

Here are three more reasons meeting planners should consider the Olympia area:

1. In 2014, the Thurston County Board of Commissioners designated a scenic route through the county’s rural and agricultural region. Named the Thurston Bountiful Byway, it includes more than 90 suggested agricultural, ecological and cultural stops, including creameries, nurseries, wineries, sculpture gardens and historic sites.

2. You can tip a glass to the Olympia area’s thriving craft beer and wine scene with a visit to wineries along the South Sound Wine Trail or a tour of Olympia’s own Fish Tale Brew Pub.

3. Olympia is located right along Interstate 5 at the gateway to the Olympic Peninsula, putting visitors less than two hours from a range of recreational activities—from mountain hikes to beachcombing.

Your meetings and events aren't confined to one place, so why should your bar be? Take your tap to go with a mobile bar at your next shindig.
Hitch & Sip
Hitch & Sip first opened its restored 1970s trailer in May 2018 and has been serving corporate happy hours, trade shows, client appreciation events and more ever since. The cash bar can be set up indoors or outdoors and is entirely customizable.


“Cannabis can have a presence in the dinner entrées and the desserts at an event. One of our panel experts from the event, Chef Sunflower [aka Enid Parham], plans the meals with ‘microdoses’ of cannabis so there is not too much consumed at one time,” says Connie Seibt, event manager and vice president of programs and education, ILEA Detroit. “It should be planned ahead for the type of cannabis to infuse in the foods, i.e. providing a relaxing mood versus high energy.


Congratulations to the finalists for Michigan Meetings + Events Best of 2020 readers’ choice awards. We look forward to celebrating with each of you at the awards celebration on Thursday, May 28, at the Gem Theatre in Detroit.

*Connect with us on social media before, during and after the awards with the hashtag #MIBestof

Best A.V Provider

AVL Creative
KLA Laboratories

Best Brewery/Distillery/Winery

Atwater Brewery
Bell’s Brewery
Founders Brewing Co.