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Out of This World Meeting Ideas

January 16, 2020

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Tap into Pasadena’s history as home of great minds, high tech and big ideas

Today’s travelers seek authentic experiences and have a desire to immerse themselves in local culture. That trend naturally spills over into the meetings world. Conference and tradeshow attendees delight in sightseeing opportunities and getting a taste of a destination as part of the official program. Here in Pasadena, planners and DMCs can bring Pasadena’s past and present to life through a variety of lenses. The city has a long history of innovation and a deep-rooted entrepreneurial spirit. This pioneering sensibility is embraced by the region’s plethora of rocket scientists and engineers—great minds affiliated with space exploration, groundbreaking discoveries and game-changing inventions that originated right here in Pasadena.

The delightfully “geek chic” side of Pasadena can be brought to life through unique venues, local experts and immersive experiences. Here are five creative ways planners can have some fun with the city’s history of groundbreaking scientific achievements.

See the Stars
For an after-hours adventure in astronomy, offer an optional excursion to the Mt. Wilson Observatory, perched more than 5,700 feet above Pasadena. Private docent-led tours and nighttime stargazing experiences can be booked for groups of up to 60. Participants will be wowed by what they see through the finderscope of the two impressively powerful telescopes looking far, far out into the cosmos.

Embrace Higher Learning
The 124-acre California Institute of Technology campus is home to one of the world’s foremost institutions of science and engineering, also known as Caltech. Host an event at The Athenaeum, Caltech’s private social club that dates back to the 1930s. Want another way your attendees can experience this revered academic institution? An architectural tour. Caltech Architectural Tour Services offers 1.5-mile walking tours uncovering how the beautiful campus was deliberately planned to be a microcosm of architectural styles, from Mediterranean to Brutalism.

Blast Into Outer Space
Part of Caltech, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) leads the robotic exploration of the solar system for the United States. Fascinating, informative guided tours can be arranged for groups of 20 or more. A typical tour starts off with “Journey to the Planets and Beyond,” a multimedia presentation that provides an overview of the Laboratory’s activities and accomplishments in planetary exploration and Earth science. Other tour highlights include the Space Flight Operations Facility and the Spacecraft Assembly Facility. An important logistical note for planners: JPL requires that all U.S. citizens (18+) present official, government issued photo identification (driver’s license or passport) before being allowed entry. All non-U.S. Citizens 18 years of age or older must present a passport or resident visa (green card) before being allowed entry.

The Big Bang Theory
Theme a cocktail reception or scavenger hunt around the quirky hit comedy, “The Big Bang Theory.” The enduringly successful TV show ran for 12 seasons and was centered around a pair of fictional physicists working at Caltech and JPL. Pasadena references were frequently peppered into the script and sets. The community’s affection for the show was so strong that the City of Pasadena designated February 25th “Big Bang Theory Day” in 2016. They also dedicated a street to the show in Old Pasadena. “Big Bang Theory Alley” runs parallel to Raymond Avenue and Arroyo Parkway between Holly Street and Green Street.

Feature Bill Nye the Science Guy
A compelling keynote speaker has the power to make a big impression on attendees. Consider booking Bill Nye the Science Guy—scientist, engineer, comedian, author and inventor. Nye, an engaging, multiple Emmy-award winner, is on a mission to “help foster a scientifically literate society, to help people everywhere understand and appreciate the science that makes our world work.” That includes empowering the world’s citizens to advance space science and exploration. He currently serves as CEO of The Planetary Society, the world’s largest space-interest group headquartered in Pasadena and co-founded by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman.

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