It's just 18 miles to Philadelphia, but King of Prussia isn’t standing in any shadows. This bustling place is bursting with growth. Of course, shoppers know King of Prussia as the home of the mall, which just so happens to be the largest retail mall in America (Minnesota’s Mall of America says it’s the biggest and square footagewise it may be, but King of Prussia has more stores and restaurants). “King of Prussia is unique because we have so many amenities here,” says Marc Kaminetsky, director of sports, tourism and convention sales for Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board. We have 1,600 restaurants and 77 hotels, yet there is a Historic National Park with miles of trails right around the corner,” he adds.
King of Prussia certainly draws value-minded guests seeking a less expensive alternative to Philadelphia. “Our rates are typically 30 percent lower than Philly’s and we have free parking,” says Kaminetsky. But, it’s rapidly becoming a destination unto itself thanks to the ease of arrival (Interstate 476, Highway 22 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike are all right here), and the growing food and culture scene. It doesn’t hurt that many companies are headquartered here too, drawing a steady stream of people here to do business.
Where to Stay
Valley Forge Casino Resort is the region’s largest hotel with 483 guest rooms. It just so happens to be the former convention center, boasting 100,000 square feet of meeting space that’s ideal for expos, conferences and events like concerts. “The casino is separate from the meeting space so you don’t necessarily feel like you’re part of it, but it’s here if your attendees want to visit after events,” says Kaminetsky. The Resort’s Revolution Chop House features typical steakhouse fare, but offers both a semiprivate space and a fully private space with glass doors for those who want to really get away from it all. Speaking of getting away, warmer months herald the opening of Valley Beach, the Resort’s sundeck and pool area. “If you want that feeling but don’t want to sit in traffic heading to the shore, this is a great spot,” adds Kaminetsky. Attached, yet offering a separate ambience, the Radisson Hotel Valley Forge features 326 guest rooms and 30,000 additional square feet of meeting space. From boardrooms to ballrooms to breakout rooms, this hotel’s meeting space is plentiful.
Crowne Plaza Philadelphia - King of Prussia and Liberty Conference Center is undergoing a renovation to its 225 guest rooms and public spaces that will bring this value-focused hotel a fresh new look. Expected to be finished by September 2019, the renovations will introduce the new work/life room with a focus on a millennial mind-set blurring the lines between work and leisure time. “We have a prime location across from the mall and with our 24,000 square feet of meeting space with an amphitheater for 132 and four breakout rooms, we really cater to weeklong programs,” says James Wiley, director of sales and marketing.
Need to impress a crowd? Book the Sheraton Valley Forge. The sleek lobby is the first sign that this hotel means business. “We cater to the corporate crowd,” says Kiara Greenidge, director of sales. Greenidge herself is a big fan of this sleek hotel. “People used to ask me, ‘Why are you not in the city?’, but why would I leave?” The Sheraton’s meeting space is contained on one floor meaning that attendees don’t need to have a hotel experience. “Come right off the parking lot and you’ll be here, where everything is contained,” explains Greenidge. The hotel boasts a total of 25,000 square feet of space, but its crowning glory is certainly the Grand and Centennial ballrooms, which can be combined for a 10,000-square-foot space.
Where to Eat
If you took a main street and gussied it up with the hottest restaurants from around the country, you’d have the hip new King of Prussia Town Center. “Town Center is a great place to do a dine-around,” says Kaminetsky. “Drop off your attendees and let them pick what they want.” They’ll get to choose from casual spots like B.GOOD Burger, Choolaah Indian BBQ or Duck Donuts. Those who want to linger a little bit longer can choose from Midici, a Neapolitan pizza spot, Honeygrow, with a healthy focus, Paladar for Latin-inspired cuisine, Davio’s for Italian and more. Founding Farmer is a good bet. Owned by a group of farmers from the Midwest, it’s a brand-new chain that started in Washington, D.C. and expanded to King of Prussia just recently. Think upscale comfort food and you have the right idea. Decorated with art created by locals, the look is industrial meets farmhouse chic. “The sunroom is a great spot for a takeover. It seats 120 people and everyone loves it,” adds Kaminetsky.
What to Do
You’ve had your meeting. Now what? Aside from the mall, which offers a variety of programs for groups, check out iFly, an indoor skydiving experience. Corporate buyouts are common and despite the thrill factor, it’s not as terrifying as it sounds. “The great part about iFly is that everyone can be a part of it since you can sit around in a circle and watch as your clients and colleagues are in the circular tunnel,” says Kaminetsky who has donned a flight suit to try it himself. “It’s really a lot of fun,” he says.
No visit to this region is complete without a visit to Valley Forge National Historical Park. Trolleys take visitors on a 90-minute guided tour of the park, sharing tidbits of history about the park’s significant role in the Revolutionary War. Larger groups may want to rent a motorcoach with a guide, since the trolleys handle only about 32 people (motorcoaches accommodate 47), but for a truly memorable experience, hire a private guide or George Washington himself who will never break character as he shares the historical experience with visitors.