Going on Faith

JUN-JUL 2016

The Magazine for faith-based travel planners.

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going on faith [ goingonfaith.com ] 27 by LYS A A L L M A N - B A L D W I N DOWNTOWN, REBORN by LYS A A L L M A N - B A L D W I N y E veryone has visited a down- town that looked more like a ghost town. Boarded-up buildings, few people and nothing of interest within walking distance will drive your group away from a downtown with one glance. However, over the past decade, many cities have invested in downtown revital- ization projects that have attracted resi- dents, which in turn brought in local restaurants, hotels and attractions. Now, a new picture is emerging at downtowns across America, including Pittsburgh; Denver; Nashville, Tennessee; Des Moines, Iowa; and Greenville, South Carolina. A stroll through these downtowns awakens your senses with sounds of live music, smells of freshly prepared cuisine and views of inviting public parks. In any of these five downtowns, you can drop off your faith-based group and set them loose for safe and innovative fun. [ D E N V E R ] Decades ago, Denver's downtown shut down at 5 p.m. when workers left the city. Since then, however, the downtown has blossomed with residential areas for workers, making the area bustling with activity all day, night and year. This development has long encouraged visitors to feel comfortable exploring the city's core. "The faith-based market is one of the largest markets I have," said Tim Litherland, director of sports and specialty markets for Visit Denver. "For these groups, safety is key. Denver's large resident base in the downtown area creates a very safe environment." By the end of 2017, the city is slated to have 10,000 hotel rooms ranging from budget to high end. Visitors don't worry about vehicles, since they can walk out of their hotels and hit numerous attractions and restau- rants. The pedestrian-only 16th Street Mall spans a large section of the downtown, with a shuttle available for those who'd rather ride. Groups can also shop at the nearby Larimer Square, a revitalized historic district, or enjoy natural space along the Riverfront Park and its connecting Millennium Bridge. "The downtown continues to change," said Litherland. "We have a lot of activities for families, hotels and hundreds of dining options." TOP DOWNTOWN ATTRACTIONS: The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is the second- largest performing arts center in the country, with 10 stages and a variety of types of shows. Groups also flock to the sprawling Denver Art Museum, which features more than 68,000 diverse works from across the centuries and the globe. GROUP-FRIENDLY DOWNTOWN RESTAURANT: For the group that can't agree on dinner, Avanti F&B offers seven restaurant concepts within one modern-day food hall space. www.denver.org T H E S E C I T I E S O F F E R U R B A N E X C I T E M E N T F O R V I S I T O R S by E L I Z A M Y E R S Courtesy Greater Des Moines CVB The George Washington Carver Bridge carries travelers over the Raccoon River into Des Moines.

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