Not as exciting as the Game Developer Conference or E3 but...a heck of a lot closer and more affordable. And still pretty exciting in its own right.
Videogame Expo: http://vgxpo.com in Philadelphia October 9-11
I went last year with 3 students - here's a link to a post from there and some photos I took . Going again this year with some students to check out the classic arcade games and retro videogame section and the career seminars. They may take part in some tournaments too, and hopefully, meet some other game development students. At least one group will be videotaping tings at the expo for a project; if they like how it turns out, I"ll include a link to their project in a future post.
Last year there was a little bit of anime and a room with a giant multiplayer DDR set up - multiplayer as in 30 or 40 people at a time. It was a hoot.