Searching for something apart from the usual venues and sites for an upcoming event? Sometimes a traditional meeting room simply won’t do.
For those looking for something out-of-the-ordinary, there are some really cool venues throughout the region that are available for hosting events and meetings.
Spooky Nook Sports
Spooky Nook Sports offers an amazing sports complex in Pennsylvania that can accommodate a wide range of athletic events and team building functions. But what’s really interesting about this venue is its ability to transform into a spectacular function space for hosting a wide range of special events.
"Hosting your meeting or event at a unique venue can help set you apart,” explains Mackenzie Bender, PR and communications manager for Spooky Nook Sports. “Putting your group in a space that feels new and interesting can create an excitement among your guests from the moment they walk in the door."
Upon entering Spooky Nook, which is the largest sports complex in North America, guests immediately can sense this will be an experience unlike any other, Bender asserts. “With over 700,000-square feet of space, our size alone is enough to set us apart. When you add in our in-house catering team and on-site hotel, it takes our venue to the next level."
The team at Spooky Nook works very closely with customers and planners to ensure that each event will be a success, she explains. “Doing our own catering and housing allows us to be a ‘one-stop-shop’ for a planner looking to hold an event with us."
"Food and beverage can be crucial when carrying out a successful event,” Bender asserts. “Our team works diligently to make the menu for each event as unique as the event itself. Whether it’s roasting an entire pig for a pulled pork bar or a made-to-order pasta station, guests will love the creative options."
The Nook, as it is known, offers a variety of team building packages and on-site entertainment options, too. From its rock wall to its arcade to a full-service bar and restaurant, this facility is jam packed with one-of-a-kind experiences available to groups. The sky is the limit when it comes to putting together unforgettable functions at this extremely cool venue.
The Perelman Quadrangle at the University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is full of rich history. From the words of Ben Franklin eloquently displayed along the campus pathways to stunning architecture to a tangible campus energy, expansive college greens and so much more - Perelman Quadrangle is an oasis in the City of Brotherly Love, proclaims Britny Molloy, event sales coordinator for The Perelman Quadrangle.
"It’s all about the experience,” she says. “Show your clients, attendees or members something they’ve never seen before; inspire them!"
The staff at Perelman Quadrangle takes great pride in working with planners to go above and beyond in making sure their expectations are surpassed, Molloy adds. “With one-on-one assistance and dedicated building managers, our staff is always ready to help."
Food and beverage is a critical component that often serves as the centerpiece for events. With the help of Bon Appetit Catering at Penn, Perelman Quadrangle can create different serving stations so clients have options and a unique experience right at their fingertips. Options range from sushi to mashed potatoes to fajitas to hummus, accounting for a wide range of tastes and appetites.
When it comes to making an impression among guests, there are a wide range of event options available at the University of Pennsylvania. For example, there is ice skating at Penn’s ice rink, tennis courts available for rental, the opportunity to bring in a live band, magician, or interactive game show.
“We work with a variety of vendors that can bring your event to life," exclaims Molloy.
Elmwood Park Zoo
According to Chelsea Nejbauer, marketing associate for the Elmwood Park Zoo, “When you book your next event at Elmwood Park Zoo, not only do you treat your guests to a highly interactive experience at one of the most unique venues in the Greater Philadelphia area, but you also support a very important non-profit organization.”
Its facilities are ideal for fundraisers, corporate events, milestone birthdays, family gatherings, and more. Elmwood Park Zoo offers opportunities to create a unique and lasting experience for guests by adding on animal feedings, zoo tours, animal encounters and more.
"Our unique zoo location features many key event spaces that allow you to experience our animals up close,” explains Nejbauer. “Host your event in our state-of-the-art Trail of the Jaguar exhibit, where your guests can enjoy being surrounded by jaguars, an ocelot, and other animals from the American southwest.”
“Choose to exchange your vows at our bald eagle lookout deck; share a toast outside our rustic red barn; sing happy birthday underneath the bison exhibit archway; or celebrate in any of the zoo’s scenic outdoor ceremony locations,” she continues. “Our unique event facilities are perfect for any special event."
Nejbauer adds that Elmwood Park Zoo ensures planners have all the necessary tools and information for their event to run smoothly. “We can provide extra assistance, catering, setup and breakdown, clean up, in-house table and chains, linen tablecloths and more."
All of the zoo’s packages are customizable and can incorporate unique add-ons for employees, team members, and guests. Enhancements can be added to packages, such as giraffe or bison feedings, animal shows, animal meet-and-greets, and carousel rides.
"Enhance any package by adding on a team building experience at our on-site zipline adventure park, Treetop Adventures,” advises Nejbauer. “Treetop features challenge games and zip lines that span up to 50-feet above the ground in the trees of the zoo - not to mention it’s Pennsylvania's only location where you can zipline over live animal exhibits!"
With regard to those planners who want to incorporate a meal function into their event, Nejbauer says, "We want guests to truly appreciate the food and beverages provided during their gathering. Food and beverage play an important role in each zoo event, and all offerings can be tailored to fit your needs.”
For larger functions, the zoo offers a grand buffet or grand plated meal. Selections include: handcrafted passed hors d’oeuvres, a domestic and imported cheese board, bruschetta bar and savory entrée sections. A full premium bar and special cocktails also are available.
Hard Rock Café
New York, NY
Located in the center of New York City and the heart of Times Square, Hard Rock Cafe New York features an intriguing combination of tantalizing food and drink amid an awe-inspiring collection of music memorabilia.
Times Square, of course, also is home to the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, Broadway Theater, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, Ripley’s Believe It or Not!® Times Square, along with other famous attractions.
As one of the city's largest entertainment destinations, Hard Rock Cafe New York features a 708-seat restaurant and a recently opened 1,800-square foot Rock Shop® that offers authentic Hard Rock merchandise. The cafe also boasts a unique outdoor space above the building's historic marquee where guests can host private parties amid the lights and excitement of Times Square.
Meanwhile, music memorabilia from legends like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Billy Joel, and Elvis Presley grace the café’s walls along with more contemporary items, such as stage costumes worn by Madonna and Gwen Stefani. The Times Square cafe also features rock 'n' roll memorabilia from artists with New York ties, such as John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, The Ramones, and Bruce Springsteen.
The property’s full-service event facility can accommodate up to 1,000 people for a wide variety of events.
Center City District Parks
"One of the best reasons to choose a unique event venue is to create a memorable event for the attendees, and one where not only will the guests have a lot of fun, but the planner will, too,” advises Sarah K. Anello, venue sales specialist, Center City District (CCD) Parks.
“Unique venues are inspiring and are a great addition to a planner’s portfolio,” she continues. “They can push the planner’s creativity to amazing heights. Spaces like the Rothman Institute Cabin and Ice Rink evoke emotion. They transport the guest to the joy of childhood. Tapping into these emotions improves engagement and makes the event truly memorable."
The Rothman Institute Cabin, which can accommodate up to 200 guests, boasts handmade wooden tables and custom designed light fixtures made out of antique sleds. The glass walls of the cabin look out onto the fire pit to the north and, to the south, the Rothman Institute Ice Rink.
“Walk another 20-feet and you will be in the Winter Garden designed by the CCD’s own landscape architects,” explains Anello, “where you can mingle under the stars or sip hot chocolate in the special seating areas.”
From mid-November through January 1, 2019, guests can enjoy the “Deck the Hall” light show projected onto Philadelphia’s City Hall, as well as the Made in Philadelphia Market. “All of these unique and different amenities cannot be found in one place other than Dilworth Park in the winter," asserts Anello.
"We have seen all kinds of creative events and can share ideas and recommend vendors we have worked with in the past,” she notes. “We have arranged for figure skaters to come and both perform for as well as skate with guests. This is especially awe-inducing when the event incorporates the whole family.”
Events here have included everything from ice carvers to skating Santas to Disney on Ice to carolers, zombie skaters, Mummers, glow themes, fire and ice themes to Silent Discos on Ice.
“Our exclusive caterer, Brûlée Catering, will work with our clients to come up with exciting menus that include everything from raw bars to s’mores stations and, of course, ‘adult’ hot chocolate stations are a huge hit," says Anello.
Main Event Entertainment
Regional Locations: Newark, DE; Columbia, MD; and Pittsburgh, PA
"Choosing a unique event space guarantees that your guests or attendees will walk away with a memorable experience and keep that venue top of mind when booking future events - or when friends and family ask for recommendations about where to host their next gathering,” explains Corey Will, director of marketing, Main Event Entertainment.
Main Event offers multiple activities with departmental challenges, gravity ropes, a zip line, and others. Will notes that groups can enjoy more than just “one” thing to do, because “Main Event offers FUN for everyone."
Each Main Event center features state-of-the-art bowling, multi-level laser tag, billiards and a games gallery featuring more than 100 of the latest interactive video games.
And whether a group is looking for a chef-inspired casual dining experience with shareables like wings, loaded nachos, oven-baked artisan pizza and more in a full-service American-fare grill, or handcrafted cocktails in a high energy sports bar surrounded by big screen TVs, Main Event is a fun place to hang out, watch the big game, or challenge friends or colleagues to a game or two.
"We believe the food is just as important as the fun,” explains Will. “Main Event is dedicated to providing an enhanced dining experience for its guests with a chef-driven menu featuring gourmet burgers, shareable appetizers, signature pizzas and seasonal cocktails. For every event, we give our guests the option to select which menu items would work best for their group and occasion."
"Main Event is able to customize the event to meet your needs,” he continues. “Whether it's a full-on annual corporate holiday event, team building… a celebratory bash or a casual bowling party, we've got plenty of options to make sure everyone has an incredible, fun experience. The variety of activities and chef-inspired catering helps ensure that every celebration is a memorable one - not to mention our full-bar service at every location."
Main Event is designed to host one-of-a-kind events for any occasion. For team building, they provide each group with a professional facilitator to guide guests through the experience, and present awards at the end.
For these group outings, Main Event can accommodate anywhere from 10 to 1,500 guests, whether it’s a youth group outing or a corporate team building event, Main Event’s on-site team members serve as an extension of the planner’s staff.
"Choosing a venue that is ‘cool’ or unique tends to make it a better experience for the attendees,” observes Brian Shields, director of sales for Peddler’s Village. “Individuals are excited to be part of the event and can take in all that Peddler’s Village has to offer. Strolling the 42 beautiful acres, shopping in the 60-plus stores, or drinking and eating in the various bars and restaurants."
Peddler’s Village boasts natural light in all its event and function space. It also offers groups the opportunity to get down to business during the day while still being able to go outside and walk the grounds later in the day; or they can engage in team building, or simply relax in their hotel rooms.
"Peddler’s Village offers a day meeting package per person, per day that includes function space, audio-visual, breakfast, morning and afternoon break, lunch, audio-visual, service charge and tax. Also, incorporate team building into your meeting or event with Murder Mysteries, Cake Wars, beer, wine or spirits tastings, as well as games," says Shields.
"Many of our corporate groups will have a business meeting in the morning and team building activities in the afternoon,” he continues. “Murder Mysteries can include lunch or dinner, and it is fun for the participants to get involved with the production."
Of course, food is always important when it comes to creating a unique experience for a group function. But it’s important to remember that attendees have widely varied tastes. Toward that end, the more options available, the better the guest experience.
“Peddler’s Village has many options when it comes to dining,” notes Shields. “We have four restaurants on-site: Harts Tavern; Buttonwood Grill; The Cock’ n Bull; and Earl’s New American. The latter two have private event space on their second floors. Also, in the Village we have Free Will (beer tasting, beer flights), Chaddsford Winery, Hewn Spirits, Moku Bowls (Acai), Surf and Turf, and Frescafe."
A to Z Party Rental
"One distinct advantage to choosing a unique space is captured by the timeless statement, ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression’,” observes Melani Kodikian, CERP, principal of A to Z Party Rental, which is headquartered in Montgomeryville, PA. “Having a ‘WOW’ factor that is conveyed by the venue space itself is great groundwork for a successful event. From there, you can then layer up all the of the details… seating and table settings that reflect your event style, professional lighting and sound that really make the event shine.”
“When guests are in a creative space,” she continues, “it sparks their own interest and creativity, and your event is more likely to be a success. Connections are made, problems are solved, new ideas are born."
Kodikian notes that she believes the best place to start when planning any event is with the client’s creative vision. And while A to Z Party Rental has great inventory, which includes items from rustic to traditional to industrial, their strongest asset is their ability to listen carefully to each customer and help them make their event the best it can be, she explains.
"Every event is unique because every client is unique,” Kodikian continues. “Our job is to help them achieve their own unique vision. Typically, it’s not one specific item that makes an event unique, it’s how you put the pieces together to create a look and feel that’s different from all the rest.”
Choosing a venue that offers something different allows the planner to set the stage for their attendees to have an event that is exciting, memorable and highly anticipated.
Guests will rave about what an amazing experience they had, and how they can’t wait for the next outing if it’s anywhere nearly as cool as the one they had just enjoyed.