14 Unique Event Venues in Washington DC

Brian Pesin on 12/8/15 9:11 PM

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In addition to being home to one of Event Farm’s largest offices, our nation’s capital, Washington DC, houses some very interesting and unique event venues. These restaurants, hotels, private rooms and more suit a wide range of events of all shapes and sizes, from intimate dinners to corporate meetings to conferences to weddings and beyond.

We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite venues on our home turf. Some are and have been city staples for quite some time, while others are either new or have been improved in the recent years. While this list is by no means exhaustive – there are a ton of great event venues in the District – you can read on to get a glimpse into 14 of our favorite unique event venues in Washington DC, being sure to keep in mind these 10 things that event planners should consider when choosing the perfect event venue.

For more tips about hosting successful events, check out our eBook, 50 Tips for Hosting Badass Events.

  1. POV at the W Hotel

POV has been a DC staple for quite some time now due to its location downtown, just a few steps away from many of our nation’s capital’s most iconic landmarks. The swanky hotel’s iconic 11th floor rooftop lounge looks out onto the nation’s most important monuments and spectacular landmarks, including the Washington Monument and the White House. We particularly love coming here in the summer, when the establishment takes down its window coverings for an open air experience and views that truly can’t be matched, but wouldn’t say no to an after-work cocktail here in November or December either.

 If you’re looking to host an event here, keep in mind that POV offers semi-private space for parties from 15-50 people. If you’re looking for a larger event that will accommodate 51-150, you can contact the venue directly for a custom event proposal. Be warned, though: with a posh and prestigious venue and name often comes a similarly elevated price tag, so make sure that your event budget can handle the expense before signing a contract.

  1. Long View Gallery

long-view-gallery-washington-dc.jpgThis small art gallery opened in DC’s Shaw neighborhood in 2006, and focused mainly on local artists. Since then, the space has grown massively in size, from 1,000 to 9,000 square feet, and in addition to its focus on art, has expanded and operates as a premiere event space as well. With a flexible floor plan and adjustable lighting, Long View has all of the smart technology to elevate your next event to an art form.

Long View Gallery is a great fit for many kinds of events ranging between 25-500 guests. Whether you’re looking for an artistic venue for your next corporate dinner or cocktail party, or are looking for a beautiful backdrop for upcoming nuptials, we’d recommend considering Long View Gallery for your future events and experiences.

  1. Carnegie Library

Dedicated in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt and Andrew Carnegie, the Carnegie Library plays a major role in the history of DC’s Mount Vernon Square neighborhood, and continues to serve an active role in the District today. The venue reopened in 2012 as a special events space, and plays host to a variety of events and functions including galas, weddings, receptions, press events, holiday parties, and of course, Event Farm’s own New Media Party, which takes place annually during the White House Press Correspondents weekend in April.

With 75,000 total square feet of events space, including a 150-seat theater, a grand exterior plaza and nine ornate rooms, including the L’Enfant Map Room, featuring an illuminated floor map of Washington, DC, the Carnegie Library is one of the city’s most unique and iconic venues. Best of all, due to its affiliation with the city and EventsDC, you may be able to secure this venue for a lower cost than you would a comparable venue within the District limits.

  1. The Hay-Adams

This luxury hotel is one of the finest in DC, where, it proclaims, "nothing gets overlooked but the White House," as the property directly overlooks the President's abode thanks to its top-tier location on Lafayette Square. In addition to its go-to status as one of the top vacation retreats the city has to offer, the Hay-Adams has a number of private events spaces to fit a variety of sizes and budgets. The hotel boasts four meeting spaces, ranging from 578 to 2,200 square feet and accommodating between 30 and 175 people, depending upon the room configuration.

In addition to its ornate conference rooms, the Hay-Adams’ most impressive space is the Top of the Hay, a 3,200 square foot rooftop bar that overlooks the White House and the rest of DC’s cityscape. You can get in touch with their events team here to explore the hotel’s offerings further to see if this classic venue will be a good fit for your plans.

  1. Kogod Courtyard at the Portrait Gallery

The Kogod Courtyard is a signature element of the renovated Donald Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, and was named one of the seven architectural wonders by Condé Nast Traveler. The stunning space features an elegant curved roof made from a patterned grid of glass and steel above shallow pools in the courtyard itself. In addition to offering casual dining during the American Art Museum’s normal operating hours, the welcoming downtown space also serves as host to museum performances, lectures and special events.

This magnificent event space is also one of the largest in DC, and can accommodate 850 guests for a seated dinner or up to 1,200 for a reception. You can obtain more information about hosting a private function at this locale by getting in touch with the Smithsonian Institute.

  1. Dock5 at Union Market

DC’s historic Union Market, a year-round indoor food marketing featuring more than 40 local artisans around the corner from transportation hub Union Station, now has its own private events venue as well. Dock5, as it’s called, boasts over 12,000 square feet of events space, 22-foot ceilings, exposed concrete floors and glass garage doors to exude the urban sophistication that makes up the space and defines the larger Union Market entity.

With its proximity to the Metro and free parking options available, Dock5 could be the perfect fit for your next event for about 1,500 people, whether it’s a concert, large corporate function or other experience that’s sure to impress. 

  1. Mansion on O Street

This unique all-in-one event venue not only features an intimate luxury hotel, but also boasts an eclectic museum, meetings and event spaces, and a hands-on collection of guitars with which guests can interact and strike up a tune. The Victorian mansion hotel contains over 100 rooms and more than 70 secret doors, a quirky feature that’s sure to please those with a sense of adventure or mystery.

Frequently home to a variety of events, including Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, weddings, executive retreats and more, the Mansion on O Street and its staff are ready to put together a plan that’ll suit your next event to an O… we mean, to a T.

  1. Newseum

We’re about to make a bold statement: this is one of our (if not our absolute) favorite museums in the entire District. The Newseum bills itself as an engaging and interactive museum that allows visitors to explore the news stories of yesterday and today through a variety of lenses, including print, photo, video and more. With permanent exhibits including the fall of the Berlin Wall, and temporary exhibits highlighting everything from the prime years of the Kennedy family to the hit movie Anchorman, there’s something for everybody to enjoy at the Newseum.

The Newseum also has a number of rental spaces available for private events, including the Knight Conference Center, their largest space, which can accommodate up to 300 guests with an additional 200 on the terrace. If your event and its budget are large enough, you might consider renting the entire building with access to all of its exhibits. They’ve also partnered with Wolfgang Puck, whose famed restaurant The Source resides next door, for all of your catering needs in order to make your live event here a big hit.

  1. Hotel Palomar

On a personal note, we’ve long been drawn to Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants due to their emphasis on customer service, pet-friendly nature and forward-thinking fitness mentality, but the Palomar Hotel located just off of Dupont Circle makes for a great event venue as well. The boutique property redesigned its seven meetings and event spaces, including hallways and entryways, this spring, giving them a fresh and updated feel. 

Whether you’re looking to hold smaller meetings, or larger receptions for 200-300 guests, the Palomar is likely to have a well-designed and located space to suit your needs. And, if at any point you need a little snack or a beverage to recharge, you can pop down to their signature restaurant, Urbana, where you’re sure to find whatever it is that you’re craving.

  1. Dumbarton House

Dumbarton House offers a charming and elegant setting for private events, from corporate luncheons to tea parties to weddings and more. The museum’s first floor acts as a reception hall, allowing guests to mix and mingle while viewing the period rooms, before moving into either the mail 40-by-26-foot Belle Vue ballroom and banquet space or the paved courtyard, which can also accommodate a tent to shield guests from any unexpected weather elements.

If you’re interested in hosting a private event at Dumbarton House, you can get in touch with the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. Note, however, that you’ll likely be subject to certain rules and restrictions that you may not find at other event venues due to the historical nature of the house.

  1. 9:30 Club

9:30 Club is one of DC’s most famous concert spaces, and frequently features top-name rock, punk, hip-hop and country acts in the heart of the city. When your favorite musical acts aren’t on stage, however, 9:30 Club has been known to host private events within its famed walls. There isn’t a lot of information about their special events offerings on their website, so in order to learn more you’ll need to shoot them an email or pick up the old horn and give them a call.

  1. John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

The Kennedy Center is where DC goes to experience the finest musical productions. On any given night, you’ll find world-renowned performances, ranging from Kendrick Lamar’s recent stint with the National Symphony Orchestra, to national tours of acclaimed shows like the Book of Mormon, to touring symphonies and opera performances. However, this iconic venue is also a great location for your next distinctive special event.

The Kennedy Center has hosted balls, receipts, dinners, award ceremonies and more within its walls, and has a number of rooms and facilities available for rent. The catch: your group will either need to purchase tickets to a Kennedy Center performance, which sounds like a big added bonus rather a than detractor to us, or make a tax-deductible donation to the Kennedy Center’s Corporate Fund or Annual Fund.

  1. Penthouse Club

The chic Penthouse Pool Club, part of the upscale VIDA Fitness brand, now has two locations in the District: the original, on U Street, and the newer location at the Navy Yards. Both of these members-only locations also serve as private event venues, especially on weeknights, throughout the spring and summer, the only two seasons in which the Clubs are open.

With sweeping views of the city and solid food and beverage offerings, in addition to the ability to bring in external food and beverage sponsors, the Penthouse Pool Club is a great outdoor venue for you to consider when it comes time to schedule your next company event, birthday party, cocktail reception or charity soirée.

  1. First Congregational United Church of Christ

This very welcoming and accepting church is located just a few steps from Metro Center in Downtown DC, and makes it their mission to accept everybody in their space without regard to age, ability, racial, cultural or faith background, sexual orientation and gender identity.

 The church’s new building features bright and modern architecture, enhanced technological advancements and capabilities, and several rooms including a lobby, main sanctuary, balcony, living room and more in order to host private events and their guests. With a wide variety of sizes and capacities, including a 4,850 square feet sanctuary capable of seating up to 325 guests, and with the venue’s commitment to making their private events spaces affordable and accessible to all, it’s definitely worth checking out this church as a possible locale for your upcoming experience.

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