OffSite: Libraries, Universities, Museums, Oh My!

Maybe you are ready to move out of your comfort zone and stage an entire event at a non-traditional venue, or perhaps you need a unique spot to host a VIP luncheon during a larger event. Here are some locations that might be close by and just what you are looking for.

A library. Libraries are often beautifully designed, and sometimes have outdoor patios or gardens. They also usually have community rooms, that seat from 50 to 500 people. Call or visit a library and speak with someone on staff. They’ll let you know about hours, rental fees and food restrictions.

Universities. These can be amazing venues! These beautiful spaces are set up for presentation and group instruction, and usually have a variety of lecture halls and classrooms to choose from. Evenings are a great time to book a group, because most classes are scheduled during the day.

Museum. What a dramatic backdrop for an event. If you can schedule your group during a time when the museum is closed, you’ll have the place all to yourselves. Do be sure to tour the venue during the hours that you’re hosting the group, so that you can check for sufficient lighting, request certain doors (bathrooms) remain unlocked, etc. Talk to group reservations to find out what has worked well for groups in the past.

Historic Sites. Civil war battlefields, traditional farmsteads, two forts, an Indian mound, a president’s home, these are just a few options that popped up when I searched online for historic sites in North Carolina. With ample parking and public restrooms these indoor/outdoor sites have quite a bit of potential for group experiences and meetings.

You’ve chosen your unusual venue, now what about food? If the location doesn’t have a food option, find a caterer, or hire a food truck. A food truck is an especially good choice if the location does not allow food to be served inside. If your group is larger than about twenty, you’ll probably want to hire more than one truck, to avoid long lines.

If you’d like more ideas, check out uniquevenues.com. You can fill out a quick form on the front page of their website with dates, group size and region, and they’ll contact you with a list of venue options.

An unusual location might require a bit more work, but the character and charm it adds to an event is worth it. Just be sure to pick a location that has the ability to meet your needs, so that you don’t spend countless hours trying to fit a square peg into a round hole! Happy planning!