When it comes to events, the Valley of the Sun is at its best once the sun goes down. Whether under a star-filled desert sky or inside a pulsating downtown club, groups meeting in Phoenix, Scottsdale or Sedona will find an array of event venues that work their optimum magic after dark.

Many of these venues offer extensive outdoor space, giving groups the chance to experience the desert sunsets at any time of year, according to Alleson Dunaway, destination services manager for Experience Scottsdale.

“Groups can enjoy being outdoors in the evening even during mid-summer because we have cooling misting systems that can drop temperatures by 10 degrees,” she said.

Party Places

What may come as a surprise is the amount of new nightlife options cropping up in places such as Phoenix’s Warehouse District and Scottsdale’s Entertainment District. Located just steps from meeting facilities and hotels, these high-energy spaces are enabling planners to put an exciting new spin on after-hours options.

“A lot of people don’t realize all the restaurants and clubs we have downtown—there’s a whole hip new element for Scottsdale that groups really enjoy,” Dunaway said.

Scottsdale’s Entertainment District, a U-shaped area close to such downtown properties as the W Scottsdale, Aloft, Hotel Valley Ho and Saguaro Scottsdale, is ideally situated for dine-arounds and block parties, according to Dunaway.

“We can close off the street and groups can go between the different venues and enjoy an open space in the street as well,” she said. “It’s also great for dine-arounds.”

Hi-Fi Kitchen & Cocktails is among the district’s most group-friendly venues, a self-described “music-centric, retro haunt” with design elements such as vintage speakers, records, black and white televisions and a 45-foot digital graffiti wall projecting 3-D images. Available for full or partial buyouts, the indoor/outdoor venue accommodates up to 300 guests and offers customized catering options focusing on American comfort food and a selection of liquor-infused milkshakes.

Two other nearby venues are Bottled Blonde, a pizzeria and beer garden that hosts private groups of up to 560, and Maya Day & Nightclub, a nightclub with an adjoining outdoor pool deck.

“Maya brings a Vegas-style element to Scottsdale, with its pool and high-end DJs, while Bottled Blonde is a very fun, casual atmosphere with a great patio, lounge furniture and games,” Dunaway said.

Not far from Scottsdale’s Entertainment District, the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa is a prime spot for evening events with a sophisticated twist, especially at The Scotch Library. The venue, which features a collection of over 175 single-malts and other prime whiskeys, offers tasting events where guests can sample some of the world’s rarest spirits.

Within walking distance of Phoenix’s Civic Plaza convention center, the burgeoning downtown Warehouse District continues to expand with new dining and event spaces for groups, said Douglas MacKenzie, director of media relations for Visit Phoenix.  

“There are always new restaurants and bars opening up there, including Camp Social, where groups can play games and enjoy things like s’mores and drinks served in thermos bottles,” he said. “Another new place is Bitter & Twisted, located where the Prohibition Office was back in the 1920s. It’s won an award for being one of the 10 best new cocktail bars in America.”

A longtime group-friendly downtown nightspot is Alice Cooper’stown, a restaurant adorned with sports and music memorabilia from the rock icon’s personal collection that can host groups of up to 600. Equipped for live music and DJs, the venue offers spaces such as a large outdoor courtyard and a private dining area on the mezzanine with prime viewing for performances.

Transformed from an urban warehouse, The Croft Downtown is a versatile 10,000-square-foot event venue with wood-trellised ceilings and an adjoining landscaped patio that can host anything from small conferences to gala dinners and receptions. Another former warehouse is The Duce, a bar and restaurant available for private events that includes such quirky elements as a soda fountain from a 1915 Chicago drugstore, a boxing ring and areas for twirling hula hoops or playing ping pong, shuffleboard and foosball.