Last year I attended my first writers conference, which I LOVED! That could be in large part because it was located in Hawaii, but not entirely. Don't get me wrong, that certainly didn't hurt! But, you don't necessarily have to go to a tropical place to enjoy an excellent conference. There are many great conferences all across the states.
If your looking for an agent I encourage you to attend conferences. All too often it is nearly impossible to get an agent to read your material just by submitting query letters. I easily submitted over thirty queries and only had two agents ask to read any of my material. However, when I went to the conference and pitched to an agent he didn't just ask for the first few pages, he asked for the entire manuscript! I learned that once they meet you and hear you pitch your idea, they are much more likely to ask to read the manuscript.
To use a conference to your best advantage you need to research the agents who are attending and be sure to only approach those who represent your genre. If you take the time to learn about them they appritiate it. Once you've researched, practice your pitch! I found this to be very nerve racking, but with practice I pulled it off quite well. A good rule of thumb is to have your query letter memorized and much (if not all) of your synopsis and use that in your pitch. That way you get across all the highlights and hopefully impress them.
Best of luck everyone!