Best Central US Cities for Pharmacy Conferences

Every pharmacist could use a few more continuing education credits, so why not consider a few employer-approved days away?

Every pharmacist could use a few more continuing education credits, so why not consider a few employer-approved days away?

It’s a good idea to attend a conference in a city that makes for a great vacation spot. Let’s take a look at some of the best options in the Central United States in 2016.

Highlight: New Orleans

The Big Easy can’t be beat. From listening to local music in the French Quarter’s Jackson Square, to enjoying the night scene while sipping on hurricanes, the Mardi Gras spirit keeps the city alive all year long. For those who are more interested in spirits of the nonalcoholic, otherworldly variety, New Orleans doesn’t disappoint.

Enjoy graveyard tours and haunted walks throughout some of the city’s most iconic locales. My daughter and I opted for a hands-on cooking class to learn about creole cuisine.

This year, the National Community Pharmacists Association’s annual conference will have you strutting down Bourbon Street from October 15-19, 2016.

If the Saints come marching in, make sure to catch them at the Superdome as they face the NFL’s best teams. If you want to spend some time on the bayou instead, airboat adventures will bring you up close and personal to some of Louisiana’s most notable swamp monsters.

With a French soul, this city knows how to let the good times roll. Jazz brunch is a must, and it’s nearly impossible to pass up the deliciously fried, sugar-coated beignets at Cafe Du Monde.

Pay tribute to the greatest generation at the National WWII Museum. Then, take a streetcar to the Garden District and enjoy a walking tour while marveling at the expansive, plantation-style homes.

First Runner Up: Chicago

If the windy city is calling, Cardinal Health’s Retail Business Conference from July 20-23, 2016, is your chance to go. The planned keynote speaker is Michael J. Fox, and the opening celebration will feature the Blues Brothers.

An extended conference stay in Chicago means lots of opportunities to explore the country’s third-largest city. Check out the big reflective blob in the middle of Chicago’s Millennium Park that’s lovingly known as “The Bean,” or enjoy the sights along the shores of Lake Michigan.

Looking to take in a little art? Recreate the famous scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off by stopping at the Art Institute of Chicago. If you’re a fan of architecture, make sure to visit the nation’s formerly tallest building and chase down some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s best work, or his suburban Chicago home.

For sports enthusiasts, head straight to Wrigley Field for America’s favorite pastime. Even though it’s the off season, it’s an iconic stadium for any baseball fan.

We can’t forget about the food. Portillo’s should be at the top of your list because the Italian beef sandwich or Chicago-style hotdog will give even the pickiest meat lover a good understanding of why Chicago was once dubbed the “Hog Butcher for the World.” No meal there is complete without a cake shake to wash it all down.

If you have pizza on your brain, no problem. Chicago is known for pizza so deep that you’ll see first-hand why they call it a pizza pie. I’ve got 2 favorites: Lou Malnati’s and Giordano’s. Because this debate will likely rage on for ages, just eat as much pizza as you can and decide for yourself.

Second Runner Up: Dallas

Everything’s bigger in Texas, so any visit to Dallas is sure to pack a punch. This year’s American Society of Consultant Pharmacists annual meeting from November 4-6, 2016, is the perfect opportunity to get relief from the colder months in the Texas sun.

No trip to Dallas would be complete without a healthy serving of the finest steaks, barbeque, and Tex-Mex cuisine. My personal favorite Tex-Mex spot is Meso Maya. My daughter’s favorite is the avocado margarita, a refreshingly smooth treat to enjoy with your authentic Tex-Mex meal. As for the best steak in town, be prepared for some big prices that go right along with the big, delicious steaks at Pappas Brothers.

Dallas also has its share of history. Dealey Plaza will transport you back to 1963 as you relive one of the most tragic days in American history at the JFK museum. The interactive exhibit walks you through the factual events, conspiracy theories, and unsolved questions that surround Kennedy’s untimely death.

For a view of the entire Dallas metroplex, take the elevator to the top of the Reunion Tower. There, you’ll have the chance to enjoy a beverage with a rotating view. Thanks to the flat layout of Dallas, you may even catch a far off glimpse of the AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.