14 Unique Venues You Haven’t Thought Of (And How to Find Your Own)
Everyone loves a good party, especially when that party is full of unexpected surprises. Whether you plan weddings, host business events, take on the logistical challenges of conferences and trade shows or just want to throw a really good party, keep your invite list guessing by hosting your event in an unusual, yet perfectly-designed, space.
What makes a unique venue?
When it comes to thinking outside of the traditional party hall, there are a few criteria you should keep in mind for your new venue: functionality, accessibility and wow factor. The unique venues you choose should blow your guests’ minds with stunning views, impressive transformations and endless selfie-opportunities.
Still, no matter how great and perfect the place is, if it is difficult to find or get to or doesn’t properly serve the basic needs of your event, you might as well plan yourself a pity-party also to commemorate the big flop.
Unfortunately, no matter how gorgeous the place, you simply can’t expect people to drive for hours to show up to your product launch dinner. You might be able to work around some obstacles, but ideally, your event space must meet the basic requirements of your event. The rest is then up to your magical party planning superpowers.
Finding unique venues for your event
Depending on how bold you and your client are, venue options are practically endless. With the right eye and the right amount of work, just about any space can be transformed into a beautiful, unforgettable event.
Still, after having dozens of events under your belt, it’s normal to sometimes lose a little inspiration or feel like your creative well is dry.
So, to get those creative planner juices flowing, here are some of our favorite unique venues you might want to check out for your next event:
Throw a fairytale-worthy gala or wedding by opening the gates to a castle. All that’ll be missing is a magical pumpkin carriage and a pair of loose-fitting glass slippers.
Farms and barns
Barns and farms are dominating the wedding space, but a “table-to-farm” dinner could be the perfect setting for the new product launch from your eco-conscious and locally sourced client.
From national parks to urban gardens, green spaces parties come with their unique challenges. However, those obstacles are often made up for by the almost limitless options.
Museums are classy, thoughtful, informative and just about everyone loves them. Host your next black-tie event at a local museum and let your guests get lost in history.
Indoor recreational sports
Don’t throw another boring business gathering again (ever). Look for easy and entertaining spots, like TopGolf, urban axe throwing, arcade pubs and Fowling.
Guests will go wild for up-close encounters with exotic animals. Plus, your business will help to fund the sanctuary’s mission.
If you want to nail that “under the sea” birthday theme, why not explore the depths of the ocean at your local aquarium.
Botanical gardens or butterfly houses
Throw a tea party fit for royalty by sectioning off a local botanical garden for a private soiree.
Get carried away on the dramatics and take advantage of the built-in stage and seating for your next meeting or conference.
They don’t build them like they used to, which is why well-preserved historical buildings always make for a beautiful backdrop to your party.
Think “offshore” for your next fundraiser or wedding and sail your guests on a beautiful and well-stocked yacht.
Get all the space you need for your next tradeshow or convention by taking over your home team's stadium.
University buildings and grounds
Many universities are rich in history and have the architecture to prove it. Choose this beautiful backdrop for your next wedding or work meeting.
Airbnb unique stays
Want an intimate wedding in the woods? A big anniversary party at a mansion? Check out some of the wild homes on Airbnb and see if the owners might be into renting out party space.
Making sure your unique venue is the right fit
You’ve found a jaw-dropping location that is oozing of inspiration for your next big soiree. But, before you call your clients with big promises or break out the checkbook, you’ll want to do a walkthrough and make sure the space meets the functional needs of your event.
No matter how great the place is, if you blow a fuse on your wedding DJ, can’t obtain a liquor license for the launch of your newest brew, or suffer through poor Wi-Fi signals at your next working conference, your event will easily go from “wow” to “what the…”
To avoid any pitfalls, here are questions you should include with your typical tour questions to make sure your new unique venue covers it all:
Have you hosted parties before? If your venue is inexperienced, you’ll need to take over the reins and ensure that backup plans are in place should something go wrong.
Will my space be private or blocked off from crashers? Booking public spaces bears the question, “will people crash?” Ask what measures they’ll take to keep things intimate and secure.
Is there on-site catering? Fees for catering? If using an outside caterer, consider where they will have space to prep and how they’ll bring the food to guests still hot and fresh. No kitchen? Bring in food trucks, grills or other fun and funky food options.
Do you offer any other services? Ask if they have chairs, tables, plates or other items included or available for rent. You should also see if they’ll have people on staff to help with set-up and clean-up.
How many people can the space hold? Without tables and chairs, it can be hard to pinpoint a room’s limit, especially if it isn’t a traditionally-shaped space.
What is the electrical capacity? Make a note of outlets and add them to your floor plan. You should also inquire about the quality of the electricity and how many plugs it can take. If it’s an older building, you might need to bring in a generator for backup.
Does it meet my tech needs? Make sure there are places to put up screens and projectors. Inquire about Wi-Fi speed and if you could increase it or add onto it for the length of your event.
Do I need to acquire permits for alcoholic beverages? Some places may already have licenses in place to provide liquor at your party. If not, though, you may have to secure one on your own.
Do I need insurance? If the venue isn’t accustomed to throwing parties, they probably don’t have the correct liability insurance. You may have to foot the bill to make sure the property, your guests and your business stay protected if something goes wrong.
Where are the bathrooms? You’ll need to make sure the bathrooms can handle the volume of your guest list and that they are close by and easy to find.
Are there any specific rules, regulations or restrictions I should know about? Sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness, but other times it’s good to know upfront if any of your plans are going to clash with venue rules (especially in delicate places like a butterfly house).
You should also take some time to think through your party logistics and jot down any other concerns, questions or uncertainties before your tour.
How to find unique venues in your town
Every city is different, which means that venue options and party styles can differ. To scope out new and interesting places on your side of town, get a little more intimate with your turf and explore some new hidden gems. You might be surprised to find an absolutely gorgeous (and completely under-used) lobby that could easily be transformed into an elegant ball, or a fun new game that would be perfect for a casual corporate outing.
You might even want to make a list of some of your current favorite places and think of them in a party context. Love spending your Sunday mornings at the art museum? Guests of your next corporate conference might enjoy it, too.
It’s possible that none of your unique venues will fit into your current party plans, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be the ultimate match for a future client. Keep a digital binder of all of the dreamy unique venues that you find and gather details so you're pumped and prepared to pitch new clients with your ideas.
That’s a wrap…
Hopefully, by now, your creative mind is spinning, and you’re ready to start planning your most wow-worthy party yet. So, start brewing your second (or third?) cup of coffee and get busy brainstorming location ideas. Remember that the most unusual places can make the biggest impacts, but functionality and accessibility mean everything.