Courtesy Visit Bucks County
Planners bored with the same places for offsite events should consider Pennsylvania, where rich culture, diverse landscape and long history combine to create some unusual offsite venues.
Times gone by – with a twist
It takes a village to create a charming event at Peddler’s Village in Bucks County, where guest rooms and meeting spaces are scattered about 42 acres. The village is a medley of shops, services and six restaurants, the creation of Earl Jamison, who, in the 1960s, repurposed many of the 19th-century buildings, including chicken coops and a barn. He turned what was once agricultural into upscale in this tony county. The village can handle meetings and receptions for up to 250.
At the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitors Center near Hershey and Harrisburg, meeting attendees can visit with Gen. Robert E. Lee and President Abraham Lincoln in several meeting spaces, including the 1,473-square-foot Ford Motor Company Fund Education Center. The Center for Harmony, located in Mercer in Butler County, is a late-1800s Odds Fellow Hall that now houses a cluster of complementary businesses, including a coffee house and a wine shop.
Original elements, including a stage, were saved in the building’s former opera house, now a 3,100-square-foot conference and event space.
With a climate tempered by the moderating influences of Lake Erie and the Atlantic Ocean, Pennsylvania has more than 100 wineries and 11 wine trails. Many cater to special events.
In Bucks County, for instance, the New Hope Winery has a ballroom for up to 175 people. Nearby, the aptly named Sand Castle Winery, a castle-like estate complete with turrets, counts an art gallery with Delaware River views among its rental options. There’s also a tasting room with space for up to 120 and a tented garden pavilion.
In York County, Moon Dancer Winery’s charming name matches its setting. With views of the Susquehanna River, the property’s French country chateau is a pleasing backdrop for a tented event for up to 300. Local chefs will match Moondancer’s wines to the menu.
Museums match mood
Time management would be a logical topic at the National Watch and Clock Museum in Lancaster County, which has a collection of more than 12,000 clocks, pocket watches and wristwatches.
“A lot of people play up the theme at their event,” said Abby Krouse, who books events at the facility.
Among the museum’s meeting spaces are the 3,700-square foot rotunda and lobby and the 30-seat boardroom.
For a fine-arts approach, the works of N.C., Andrew and Jamie Wyeth can provide ambiance at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford. Seated dinners for up to 80 people are served in the museum restaurant, which overlooks Brandywine Creek. Lobbies and a courtyard can handle up to 600 people for cocktail receptions and standing buffets.
In Bucks County, the Pearl S. Buck House, the 68-acre estate of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, accommodates up to 350 guests in a garden tent. Many planners include a tour of the 1825 stone farmhouse.
In Allentown, the 43,000-square-foot America on Wheels Museum, founded in 2008 on the Lehigh River, is the repository for more than 70 vehicles. The new Hubcap Cafe is a 1950s-themed room that can seat up to 100. Guests can step up to a restored 1953 soda fountain for an ice cream sundae before getting down to business.