Updated: May 2019
By definition, business travel is focused on getting work done. But just because you’re traveling for business doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself, too.
At the end of a long day of business, you can find time for sightseeing or a unique and interesting meal in a new city. Or, at the end of a long week in a new place, you can tack on extra days for an excursion that allows you to do what you want to do.
Some cities are better than others for bleisure, though. In honor of Travel Week, which starts May 5, here’s a look at 16 of the best cities for mixing a little bit of fun with work — 8 domestic cities and 8 international destinations.
The Best Cities in the U.S. for Business Travel
Here’s a look at 8 of the best cities in the U.S. for business travel. Read on to learn the business reasons you might visit these destinations, as well as the fun things you can do in each after the workday is through:
Chicago is the center of commerce for the American Midwest. Known as the “Second City,” Chicago is home to many financial services, engineering, publishing and food processing companies. There are plentiful reasons to visit Chicago for work, and there are lots of leisure opportunities once you arrive — including the Art Institute of Chicago, Wrigley Field, Willis Tower and much more. It’s also a fairly easy place to access. Chicago’s location in the middle of the country makes it a short flight from either coast, and it’s served by two major airports — meaning lots of in and out flight options. Yes, as a business traveler you likely have horror stories about either O’Hare or Midway. But simply having so many flight options makes getting to and from the Second City that much easier.
The Dallas-Fort Worth area is one of the most important business centers in the United States. The area itself is home to Exxon, AT&T, Dr. Pepper-Snapple, Kimberly-Clark, Fluor and many other corporations. Its two major airports make getting in and out easy, and its location in the center of the country means short flights and little time needed to adjust to the time zone. Dallas is also home to a number of concert venues, a wealth of golf courses and a variety of delightful dining options. In Dallas, tour Southfork Ranch made famous on the eponymous television show, enjoy a corndog at the State Fair, or visit Uptown where you can ride trolleys from one watering hole to another. In Fort Worth, visit the world-famous Stockyards, spend an evening in Sundance Square, or run the Trinity Trails.
Denver is one of the most gorgeous destinations in the United States for business travel. It’s not uncommon for companies in the advanced manufacturing, energy and natural resources, infrastructure engineering and bioscience industries to need to visit Denver. Colorado’s mountains mean that visitors can ski in winter and hike in summer. But there is much to do in the city, too, including concerts, sporting events, local breweries and much more. Denver’s airport is relatively new (opened in 1995), so it offers a modern experience. It’s also a hub for United, which means lots of flight options is that’s your carrier of choice.
This may be the most surprising entry on this list, but Detroit is quickly outgrowing its reputation for urban decline. The Motor City today remains the world capital for automotive manufacturing, while many start-ups are taking advantage of the city’s affordability to stay lean while growing revenue. Detroit is also home to a new multi-million dollar entertainment district, a franchise in each of the four major professionals sports leagues, museums that highlight art and history, as well as cultural diversity that few cities can match. Detroit is also known for on-time flights and affordable hotels, which makes it a low-cost and stress-free place for business travel.
New York, New York:
We didn’t include New York City on our initial list of best cities for business travel, but it definitely deserves mention on this expanded list. Many companies in the financial services, media, communications and technology industries need to visit the Big Apple for business, and there’s no shortage of things to do in off hours once here. Visit the Empire State Building, tour the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, catch a show on Broadway or simply stroll around Central Park. We all know that some of New York City’s airport options are less than optimal (like LaGuardia, for example), but having multiple airports to choose from is always a perk.
The City of Brotherly Love is the 5th largest in the United States. It’s common for business travel to take professionals to Philadelphia, where they will find the American city most steeped in history. After a long day at work, you can transport yourself back in time by visiting Independence Hall or the Liberty Bell. You may also relax by seeing the NBA’s Sixers or NHL’s Flyers play at the Wells Fargo Center, or MLB’s Phillies play at Citizens Bank Park. Philadelphia’s airport is now a significant American Airlines hub, and the city is accessible by train along the East Coast, too.
Arizona’s capital city is home to 5 companies on the Fortune 500, and its Sky Harbor Airport makes it easy to get direct flights, no matter where you’re coming from in the United States. But what makes Phoenix such a delightful business destination is this: the average temperature is 75 degrees. When you’re suffering through a cold winter or rainy spring, business travel to Phoenix gives you an immediate reprieve. Enjoy plentiful hiking options year round, and take in baseball’s best during spring training if you visit in February or March.
San Francisco, California:
California’s Bay Area is a common business travel destination, what with a host of start-ups and Silicon Valley just a short drive from San Francisco. And it’s no secret that San Francisco and the Bay Area are spectacular places to visit, too, home to beautiful views, cool weather, great food, and, of course, access to California’s wine country. Visit San Francisco for business, and stay to enjoy everything else the city and region have to offer.
The Best Cities Internationally for Business Travel
It’s not hard to get excited about traveling internationally. You get a chance to experience different cultures and languages, and you also get a chance to see and do things that aren’t available at home. Here’s a look at 8 of the best cities for international business travel, including reasons why you might visit for business as well as fun things you can do with your downtime
Cancun isn’t the most common business travel destination, but it certainly is one of the best. And, if you work in the hospitality industry, Cancun may be a place that you end up visiting regularly. When you’re not hard at work in Cancun, you can find time to scuba dive, parasail or sit on the beach. You can also step back in time by visiting the Mayan ruins at Chichén Itzá.
Cape Town, South Africa:
Strategically located, Cape Town has a long history as a center of commerce, one that dates back to the 1500s when the Dutch East India Company used it as an important supply center. Today, Cape Town is home to companies focusing on logistics, finance and business services. It also serves as a wonderful place to launch an African adventure before or after you do your business. Go surfing, swim with sharks, or embark on a true safari while visiting Cape Town.
The World Bank calls Denmark the “easiest” place to do business in all of Europe, which is quite the honor when you think of the many attractive places to do business on the continent. Copenhagen is Denmark’s center of business innovation with a strong spirit of hard work that comes from its thriving labor market. Away from the office, you can enjoy the miles upon miles of biking routes in this cycle-friendly city, as well as the canals by which you can take a water-bound tour of the city.
London, United Kingdom:
London is the top business travel destination in Europe, serving as home to many companies in the financial services, professional services, media and technology industries. Staying right in the city, business travelers can visit Buckingham Palace, Westminster, the Tower of London and Winston Churchill’s War Rooms after hours. Just a short trip outside of town, business travelers can also visit Stonehenge and other popular sites.
Mexico City, Mexico:
Mexico City is a historic destination — some buildings date back to the 16th century. It is readily accessible from the United States, too, and yet many Americans aren’t aware of all there is to see, do and experience in Mexico’s capital. Mexico City is home to financial services companies, manufacturing centers and pharmaceutical firms, too. Come for business, and stay for the culture, the art, the history and the food.
Tokyo is the center of commerce in East Asia, and there is no shortage of reasons to visit for business. But what many don’t realize about Tokyo is just how incredible of a destination it is for leisure. Tokyo is home to more Michelin star restaurants than any other city in the world — a total of 217. It is also a place where it’s easy to find world-class spas for business travelers to escape from the stresses of the workday. Tokyo is also the owner of one of the world’s most efficient and affordable public transit systems, making it easy to get around and explore.
Toronto is Canada’s most important center of commerce. Business travelers may find themselves in Toronto for important meetings, conferences or other business occasions and events. Once in Toronto, visitors can kill time by visiting CN Tower, walking the Mink Mile or catching NBA and MLB sporting events.
This beautiful city just north of Seattle across the Canadian border is home to a bustling television and movie production scene that now rivals what you’ll find in Los Angeles or New York. Vancouver is also one of the most “livable” cities in the world, as rated by The Economist. Enjoy a beautiful downtown, quality professional sports teams, as well as access to outdoor adventure at Whistler Mountain.
Get Travel Support, No Matter Where You Go
Yes, more and more business travelers are finding ways to have fun while spending time in their work destinations. There’s even a term for it — “bleisure,” which is simply the blend of business and leisure while traveling. But, no matter where you go for business and no matter what you do there, you deserve to enjoy a comfortable, efficient, streamlined travel experience.
At JTB Business Travel, we serve as a comprehensive corporate travel agency that helps travelers enjoy that comfortable, efficient, streamlined experience while also helping companies save money. Behind everything we do is a common sense approach to business travel.
Contact us today about our common sense approach to business travel.