From the iconic shot of newly minted Navy Midshipmen hurling their hats in the air upon graduation from the United States Naval Academy to relaxing forays into the countryside, Maryland’s state capital region offers a festive atmosphere for Mid-Atlantic meetings.

Anne Arundel County can be split into three areas: Annapolis proper; Greater Annapolis-Baltimore, with big-city style and attractions; and the Annapolis countryside, offering wineries, horseback riding, bike trails and water activities, along with the waterside Inn at Harrington Bay for smaller meetings.

History, too, plays a huge part in the appeal of the region.

“It all started here,” says Frank DiVenti, chief marketing officer for the Annapolis & Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau. “The reason why they built all of those monuments in Washington, D.C., is because of everything that happened here. It still has that feel from 200 years ago.”

There’s lots happening in the present, too, with group options that include world-class seafood—crab cakes anyone?—the Eastport restaurant row, cruises on the Chesapeake Bay, one of the first malls in the U.S. at Anne Arundel Mills, gaming and entertainment action at Maryland Live Casino, a downtown area dotted with Irish bars and bistros, and accessibility that make it the envy of competing destinations.

“The Annapolis-Baltimore region is one of the most-accessible on the East Coast,” DiVenti points out. “We’re within 15 minutes of Baltimore via light rail and about 45 minutes to the nation’s capital.” Attendees can also get around Annapolis via a free trolley.

Other standouts include the many sporting events at the Naval Academy and a full range of summer festivals. Rams Head Entertainment books major performers at several area venues that are meetings-ready.