Maryland was given the nickname “America in Miniature” because it’s blessed with diverse terrain and locales, from Chesapeake Bay to a portion of the Appalachian Trail and from small charming towns to major metro areas.
America in Miniature also fits when considering Maryland’s grand array of off-site event venues that represent many of the country’s notable pastimes, including baseball, theater and fine dining.
Throughout the state, groups with various interests will find a home away from the host hotel for memorable receptions, banquets and more.
Following are eight great ideas.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore
Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the official home of MLB’s Baltimore Orioles, is an entertaining setting for groups of 25 to 600 people.
Off-season and non-game day space is available for groups, as well as pre-game party spaces, according to Greg Bader, Orioles vice president of communications and marketing.
“All parties take place 90 minutes prior to the start of the game,” he said. “Following the party, fans take their seats within the seating bowl to enjoy the excitement of Orioles baseball.”
Game tickets must accompany every party ticket and seating can be selected in any area of the ballpark, based on availability.
“There is a wide variety of gathering spaces at Oriole Park, including spots for an intimate gathering, a large group outing or even a full banquet,” Bader added. “Both indoor and outdoor spaces are available.”
Among them is the Left Field All-Inclusive Picnic Perch, an outdoor option for groups of 15 or more that includes access to the exclusive Club Level and unlimited hotdogs, nachos, garden salad, peanuts, popcorn, ice cream and soda.
“Situated just beyond the center field fence and overlooking Oriole Park’s unique bullpen is our most popular pre-game party area, the Bullpen Picnic Grove,” Bader said. “This outdoor park setting is perfect for enjoying some casual ballpark fun. It is ideal for groups of 25 to 600, and for groups greater than 200 allows for custom menu options.”
Additionally, any number of group activities, including a guided tour, can be arranged prior to game time.
Hippodrome Theatre at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center, Baltimore
The historic Hippodrome Theatre, which originally opened in 1914, is the centerpiece of the Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment District in downtown Baltimore.
This full-scale performing arts venue features unique spaces to accommodate 20 to 500 people for receptions and various special events.
The Hippodrome, which seats 2,248 people, also offers group ticket sales for some performances.
Rye Street Tavern, Baltimore
Rye Street Tavern, a restaurant adjacent to Sagamore Spirit Distillery in Baltimore’s Port Covington neighborhood, pays homage to the corner taverns of Baltimore’s industrial era.
According to Shannon Toback, the restaurant’s private events manager, taverns were popular in this city of neighborhoods and acted as gathering spots where locals and visitors would hang out for a drink, share stories and enjoy good food.
Today, good food is on the menu at Rye Street Tavern, where groups could expect fresh dishes, as chefs Andrew Carmellini and Brian Plante rely on their relationships with local farmers and fishmongers to source seasonal ingredients.
The bi-level space offers indoor and outdoor dining with views of the Patapsco River, a bar area with a stage for live entertainment and four private dining spaces for group gatherings.
“We can accommodate seated, family-style meals or standing receptions,” Toback said. “Clients could also arrange a visit to Sagamore Spirit Distillery to coincide with an event. While Sagamore Spirit operates separately, we work together often to accommodate events that include a distillery tour.”
William Paca House and Garden, Annapolis
William Paca, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, began building his home and two-acre garden in 1763. Today, the William Paca House and Garden (WPHG) is a charming site in the heart of Historic Annapolis that accommodates cocktail receptions, sit-down meals and theater-style presentations.
“Gather on the covered brick terrace overlooking the 18th century-style garden,” said Carrie Kiewitt, senior vice president, membership, communications and engagement for WPHG. “With drink in hand, wander around and discover the design of the garden.”
The two tent-covered terraces accommodate 150 and 100 people for standing receptions, and there is also an indoor conference/boardroom that’s available for day and evening meetings. According to Kiewitt, the garden-level conference room makes it easy for attendees to take a short walk in the garden during breaks.
“We also offer several tour options and we can arrange for fun teambuilding events, including scavenger hunts and espionage and spy happy hours where guests have to work together to solve colonial ciphers just as Washington’s spies did during the American Revolution,” Kiewitt said.
Great Frogs Winery, Annapolis
The owners of Great Frogs Winery chose the name because they want visitors to realize they don’t have to be wine experts to enjoy great wine and a good time at the winery.
Situated within a 15-minute drive from the heart of downtown Annapolis, Great Frogs, according to Andrea O’Shea, partner and winemaker, provides a fun and rustic atmosphere for groups of up to 100 people.
Wine tastings, group tours and special events are accommodated here in spaces such as the new the Tadpole Tasting Room, which accommodates 60 people standing and 40 seated.
Tusculum Farm, Laytonsville
Tusculum Farm, built in 1747, is located in Montgomery County on over 500 acres and is a true working farm.
“The farm is one of the few venues in the area that allow you to have the whole property to yourself if you book a private event,” said Trish Schechtman, the farm’s resident manager.
Tusculum Farm accommodates all sorts of events, including board retreats, teambuilding events, mini conferences and screenings in the on-site theater.
“Our renovated Haybarn is a perfect location for a group of 20 to 50 people,” Schechtman said. “It’s a beautiful lodge feel with heat/ac and most importantly, for those colder days, a real wood-burning stone fireplace.”
She added the Main House has several rooms that are used as breakout spaces, and there is beautiful lawn space for outdoor events.
“We are happy to include a full farm tour with Farmer Joel as part of your meeting’s agenda,” Schechtman added. “We can also provide a mindful walk with our yoga instructor or a hayride.”
Rocky Gap Casino Resort, Flintstone
Rocky Gap Casino Resort is a unique property because it’s situated in Rocky Gap State Park, which is nestled in the mountains of Allegany County in Western Maryland with beautiful views of Lake Habeeb and the Evitts Mountains.
The resort hosts overnight groups as well as off-site events that include everything from galas to golf outings on the resort’s signature Jack Nicklaus-designed 18-hole course.
Among the resort’s indoor spaces are four meetings rooms, an executive boardroom and one private dining room for up to 24 people.
For outdoor enthusiasts, according to Wanda Holtschneider, director of marketing and hotel operations for the resort, there is the Allegheny Event Center, a 5,000-square-foot space with 21-foot-high ceilings for up to 400 people, and Lakeside Terrace, which accommodates up to 200 people and offers picturesque lake/mountain views, Adirondack chairs, fire pits, plush seating clusters and a full-service bar offering beer on tap and frozen drinks.
Holtschneider added groups could easily add various outdoor activities to an event, including a round of golf, various water sports and activities available in the surrounding area, such as paint ball, horse riding and Western Maryland Scenic Railroad train rides.
Waterman’s Seafood Co., Ocean City
The recently renovated Waterman’s Seafood Co., is a great option for groups seeking an off-site venue for a meal function in Ocean City.
The restaurant has a lively sports bar with HD TVs that’s perfect for informal gatherings, as well as a 1,200-square-foot private event room that accommodates up to 100 people.
Planners could count on an on-site special events coordinator to help facilitate group events at Waterman’s Seafood Co., which offers competitive pricing for varying budgets.
Customized menus, including everything from calamari and fried clams to blackened stuffed scallops and lobster, are also available.
MARYLAND CVB CONTACT INFORMATION
Allegany County Tourism
Conference and Visitors Bureau of Montgomery County
Ocean City CVB
Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County
Click over to Page 2 for a list of new and renovated properties in Maryland.
MARYLAND NEW AND RENOVATED PROPERTY UPDATES
The 385-room Crowne Plaza Baltimore Downtown Inner Harbor opened in July 2018 after a multimillion-dollar renovation. The property features nine meeting rooms, more than 20,000 square feet of meeting space and a Plaza Workspace that is a flexible meeting/work solution with various areas that allow for solo or collaborative work.
Hotel Revival opened in May 2018 in the heart of Baltimore’s historic Mount Vernon neighborhood with 107 guest rooms and more than 4,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
The 129-room Sagamore Pendry Baltimore opened in March 2017 with an array of function spaces, including the historic 4,565-square-foot Sagamore Ballroom.
A 310-room hotel at Live! Casino in Hanover, Md., opened in May 2018. The final phase of Live! Casino & Hotel occurred in June 2018 with the debut of the Grand Event Center, which features more than 20,000 square feet of event space that includes a large ballroom and a 1,500-seat concert venue.
The 121-room Hilton Garden Inn Annapolis Downtown, which includes nearly 1,700 square feet of meeting space, opened in May 2018 following renovations to guest rooms and common areas.
Within the last year, Rocky Gap Casino Resort has remodeled approximately 100 hotel rooms and renovated the backyard area of the property to include additional seating and fire pits by the lake and a newly remodeled terrace bar, which is open seasonally.
The 177-room Canopy by Hilton opened in March 2018 with 8,700 square feet of meeting space, including a 4,200-square-foot rooftop terrace.
Bethesda Marriott Suites, which has more than 8,600 square feet of event space, will complete a multimillion-dollar renovation this fall, including guest room, lobby and meeting/event space enhancements.
Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, which has nearly 50,000 square feet of meeting space, is undergoing a renovation this year including reimagined guest rooms and suites.
The 390-room Hyatt Regency Bethesda recently completed a $37 million transformation that includes new guest rooms, remodeled meeting space and The Rooftop Downtown Bethesda, a new 2,400-square-foot enclosed event space.
The recently redesigned 399-room Bethesda Marriott has nearly 19,000 square feet of meeting/event space.