MAY 1–2, 2014
($1,210; New York City)
How-tos and kick-ass motivational speeches for creative types with big, bold ideas.
Past presenters: Improv Everywhere founder Charlie Todd, TaskRabbit founder Leah Busque, and Jawbone CEO Hosain Rahman.
MAY 7–9, 2014
($399; Omaha, Nebraska)
Dubbed "Silicon Prairie," draws the hippest crowd in the Midwest.
Past presenters: Square cofounder Jim McKelvey, Thrillist founder Ben Lerer, and Fuck Cancer founder Yael Cohen.
APRIL 29–MAY 1, 2014
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
($1,575, all inclusive; Greenville, South Carolina)
All of TED's engaging, blue-sky talks—but with a meal plan.
Past presenters: Verizon Wireless Chief Marketing Officer Tami Erwin and Samasource founder Leila Janah.
JULY 13–16, 2014
(Price TBD; Las Vegas)
Newly launched, intimate sister conference of Austin's sprawling SXSW.
Past presenters: Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, former AOL CEO Steve Case, and FEED cofounder Lauren Bush Lauren.
February 25 — March 1, 2013, Long Beach, CA
WHAT IT IS:Annual confab of innovators, game changers, and sages who, in a series of 18-minute talks, share "ideas worth spreading." For this year's theme — young, undiscovered geniuses — TED conducted a worldwide talent search. Jealous yet?
WHY GO: Because you subscribe to magazines like GOOD and Harper's, eschew cable, and are toying with the idea of ditching your day job for a career in microlending.
COST: Not cheap — $7,500 to attend lectures at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, and be warned that it's notoriously tough to get into. Only 1,350 applicants are approved each year. (Hopefuls must answer six lofty questions and cite two personal references.) At the entry-level TEDActive, held simultaneously in Palm Springs, pay just $2,500 and watch the panels via live simulcast. Here again, you must be selected, but the bar is a bit lower. The trade-off: You don't get to hobnob with the big fish.
WHO YOU'LL MEET: From big thinkers like Malcolm Gladwell to comics like Reggie Watts. Sheryl Sandberg, Isabel Allende, Oliver Sacks, and Melinda Gates are among past presenters.
ACTION PLAN: Ponder topics like "how bacteria talk"; wish you were onstage instead.
LODGE HERE: TED has special rates at the Hyatt Regency, The Renaissance, The Westin, and Hyatt the Pike. Stay elsewhere and risk missing out on a late- night lobby cocktail with Jamie Oliver.
HUNGRY GIRL: The convention center's in a foodie hub, with 100 restaurants nearby. Some picks: Asha for modern Moroccan or La Traviata for continental glam.
DRESS CODE: The focus is content, not couture, so keep it classic with a Jason Wu sheath dress. Stand out in a sea of cerebral "thought leaders" with a pair of killer pumps.
MUST-HAVE GEAR: IPhone or iPad uploaded with Words With Friends to play during cellular migration lecture.
HOOKUP PROSPECTS: Strong, especially amid the heady aphrodisiacal whirl of theoretical robotics and an endless open bar.
PRO TIP: Each year, 20 qualifying TED Fellows attend for free. All you have to do is be a young "world changer" who has shown "unusual accom- plishment" and "exceptional courage." Preferably you reside in a developing nation. Barring that, write a best seller featuring the phrase "how the brain works."
SXSW Interactive: March 8 — 12, 2013Film: March 8 — 16Music: March 12 — 17Austin, TX
WHAT IT IS:Originally hatched in 1987 as a launchpad for bands, seven years later the buzzy gabfest-slash-showcase has added film and multimedia. Last year's big news: a surprise appearance by Kanye West and a keynote by Bruce Springsteen.
WHY GO: You're a burgeoning brand with 48,000 Twitter followers and a popular Tumblr. Where do you go from here?
COST: Last year, late registration for the nine-day, all-access "platinum badge" cost $1,395. (C'mon, you spent more than that to get to Burning Man.) Early-bird hipsters pay a fraction of that.
WHO YOU'LL MEET: Overfunded creators of geo-targeted social apps and the next YouTube sensation. (Who wants to meet the dude who auto-tuned Mr. Rogers?!)
ACTION PLAN: Interactive: Log several miles daily as you race between panels at the sprawling Austin Convention Center. Film: Wish you were at Sundance, where the real action is. Music: Hit 64 live shows in hopes of finding the next Alabama Shakes.
LODGE HERE: The SXSW site has a handy hotel-booking tool that opens for business this month. Your goal is to book the closest room possible. Try the Four Seasons, Courtyard by Marriott, or Hilton Austin. Don't bother renting a car — you'll want to be car-free for the nightly BBQ-and-beer binges.
HUNGRY GIRL: Franklin BBQ because it's the best, Hopdoddy Burger Bar for the killer condiments, Contigo for a foodie twist on Texas-ranch chow.
MUST-HAVE GEAR: Pedometer.
DRESS CODE: Mix-and-match Isabel Marant, Topshop, and back-of-the-closet "vintage."
HOOKUP PROSPECTS: High, especially for straight gals. Men far outnumber the ladies here — great news if you like geeks, gamers, and self-styled artistes.
PRO TIP: Wear comfy shoes. Any brand — cool is a malleable term here.
BLOGHER ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Summer 2013 (location and dates TBD)
WHAT IT IS:The largest gathering of female bloggers, aimed partly at helping brands reach more eyeballs.
WHY GO: Kick-start your hipster mama blog by hunt-ing down backers, advertisers, and old hands who'll give you perspective on what a full-time blogging career is really like. (Hint: Volunteering pays better.)
COST: $298 for bloggers, $798 for companies, though single-day passes are available.
WHO YOU'LL MEET: That mommy blogger from Indiana who commented on your breast-feeding post, marketing reps from Procter & Gamble. This scene is more about reach than A-list names, so the stars of the BlogHer conferences are folks like The Budget Fashionista and Cheap Sally.
ACTION PLAN: Attend panel discussions about social media (how to make money), technology (how to make money), and writing (how to make money).
LODGE HERE: Last year the conference blocked rooms at the nearby Hilton and Sheraton.
HUNGRY GIRL: Depends on where the gathering is held, of course, but it's a safe bet that the nearest non-Starbucks espresso joint will be the unofficial hot spot for fueling all those clever tweets.
DRESS CODE: Anything goes in this unpretentious, eclectic crowd, from quirky maxi dresses by Alice + Olivia to sophisticated grown-up-wear by Carolina Herrera. (But you can't go wrong with Anthropologie.)
MUST-HAVE GEAR: A Smythson notebook (nobody really takes notes on an iPhone), business cards printed with your URL and Twitter handle (you're invisible without them), and your Longchamp to haul home all that drugstore swag (razors, toothbrushes, K-Cups).
HOOKUP PROSPECTS: Dim. One of the largest topic categories among BlogHer sites is "family."
PRO TIP: Don't try to blog for money.
December 5 — 8, 2013, MIAMI BEACH, FL
WHAT IT IS:The biggest contemporary art fair in the nation. Last year, more than 55,000 people turned up for the citywide orgy of art, performances, and parties. While there are Basel-timed happenings everywhere in Miami, the official Art Basel refers to only the fair in the Miami Beach Convention Center, featuring some 260 galleries from near and far.
WHY GO: You're a mid-level sales rep by day and avant-garde collagist by night looking for a deep-pocketed patron to save you from Etsy obscurity.
COST: Art Basel sponsors free public art, screenings, and lectures around Miami, but there is a roughly $40 general admission cost to enter the convention.
WHO YOU'LL MEET: Alt-celebs like Tilda Swinton, Sofia Coppola, and Adrien Brody, plus the occasional mega-A-listers like Diddy and Brad Pitt. Also on hand: big-shot collectors, celeb artists, gallery owners, socialites, Kim Kardashian look-alikes. (Last year there was even a contest.)
ACTION PLAN: Furrow brow. Overuse words like contrived, gesture, and manifesto. Wonder why a disemboweled Barbie is selling for $2.7 million. Drink abundantly (top-shelf, natch).
LODGE HERE: There's no hotel-room shortage in Miami Beach — except during these four days. Book early. Scenesters decamp at South Beach's Delano, SLS Hotel South Beach, The James, or the W. Art students: Find hotels for less than $300 a night at turontravel.com, the official agency for the event and bearer of special rates.
HUNGRY GIRL: Joe's for stone crab; Puerto Sagua because when in Miami, you have to eat Latin; and Pubbelly because where else can you find an Asian-themed gastropub?
DRESS CODE: Art-house fun-wear like Ann Demeulemeester, Haider Ackermann, or Kimberly Ovitz. A severe haircut helps, too.
MUST-HAVE GEAR: Flash drives uploaded with your portfolio — in case you run into Mary Boone.
HOOKUP PROSPECTS: High, but be warned that artists make famously bad boyfriends (see messieurs Picasso, Klimt, Rivera). Consider a hedge funder instead.
PRO TIP: You might not think of a parking garage as a chic hangout, but 1111 Lincoln Road is a carport unlike any other. Designed in 2008 by architects Herzog & de Meuron, this glass-and-steel parking "boutique" integrates driving, eating, and shopping into one ridiculously stylish structure. Blow your credit limit at Alchemist and Coltorti, then mojitofy at the rooftop Juvia restaurant as you wonder, How is this place not in Dubai?