Revisiting Boise Event Venues

JUMP Center

In September 2022, the EJP Events team found ourselves in Boise, Idaho again, this time to take part in Connect Northwest. This was our second time in Boise for business, we were also there in September 2021. We wrote a blog post about Boise event venues back then, and it still has a lot of good information. Thinking about event locations in Boise, Idaho? Here are some more event venues we discovered!

JUMP Center

“JUMP” stands for “Jack’s Urban Meeting Place”, Jack being J. R. (Jack) Simplot, the founder of Idaho based potato processor Simplot Industries. Originally envisioned as a museum for his tractor collection after he passed away in 2008, JUMP evolved to a hybrid indoor/outdoor event space based around a park with: “an outdoor amphitheater, sweeping terraces, rooftop parks, meeting areas, play areas, and all with unique views of the city and the surrounding mountains.” (Oh yeah, there’s still vintage tractors!) JUMP will rent space for events that “create an environment for inspiring human potential”. This means it’s a perfect spot for non-profit conferences or meetings. A variety of indoor (their Pioneer Room is 3,790 sq. ft.) and outdoor (like their Loft deck) spaces can be rented. Oh yeah, they also have a giant five-foot slide! (Emee really wants to try it.)

The JUMP Slide (from their website)

Old Idaho Penitentiary

Most people do all that they can to stay out of jail. But what if it’s a fortress-like edifice that hasn’t been an active prison in years? The Old Idaho State Penitentiary was an active reformatory for a century, but it has not seen prisoners in almost fifty years. Instead, the grounds are now a museum and can be rented for events large and small. Interior spaces can hold 50-225, while the Main Yard and Grounds can comfortably accommodate up to 1,000 people! A wedding inside a jail will not be forgotten, that’s for sure.

Linen Building (from their website)

Linen Building

Housed in the former American Laundry Building built in 1910, the Linen Building is owned and operated by The Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence (IDVSA). They moved into the Linen Building “with a vision to transform the commercial steam laundry building with a history of harmful, toxic working conditions for girls and women to a space that stands for what is possible when everyone is valued, safe, and can thrive.” The IDVSA has offered the Linen Building’s space at a discounted rate or free for organizations focused on social justice and/or uplifting marginalized communities, and any space rental helps a non-profit organization. The space rental includes the Main Room and Mezzanine (3,900 total sq. ft.), which can hold 328 standing or 190 seated.

Check out our original Boise post for information on places to stay and how to get around.

We hope that this gives you some good ideas on event locations in Boise, Idaho!

Boise skyline, Idaho Capitol Building (dome) in center

Weddings and events in Oregon’s Wine Country

Eola Hills Winery.

There are many types of locations that people gravitate towards when they plan a wedding: places like houses of worship, hotels, banquet halls, and parks. But for some, the idea of having their wedding at a vineyard tops the list. Not only do you have a scenic locale, but you can sample the wines grown and fermented there! And vineyards are great for other events, like corporate retreats or a family reunion. Let’s explore some of the options for weddings and events in Oregon’s Wine Country.

Oregon Wine Country Venues

Domaine Roy and fils. Located in the hills above Dundee, this winery gives impressive views of the Willamette Valley, especially on a clear day when you can see Mount Hood. Domaine Roy can accommodate up to 60 guests for intimate dinners to corporate getaways. Full venue rental includes full access to the Tasting Room, Patio, and Olive Grove. (Please note: Domaine Roy no longer accommodates weddings, but they do handle corporate and other types of events.)

Domaine Roy (from their website)

Eola Hills Winery. Located in the hills just to the west of Salem, this winery’s rambling and scenic vineyard is a great wedding locale. The Legacy Estate Vineyard can host up to 300 folks in its outdoor setting next to a small pond. Want something inside? Their Wine Cellar location, located a few miles to the west in Rickreall, can host a wedding of 200 within its barrel room. Eola Hills allows you to choose your own catering.

Eola Hills Winery. (from their website)

The Allison Inn and Spa. The only full service hotel and spa in Oregon’s Wine Country, The Allison offers a variety of indoor and outdoor venues on its 35 acre estate north of Newberg. Weddings of up to 250 guests can be accommodated here, and the guests can stay on property.

Allison Inn. (from their website)

The Bindery. For a change of pace, here’s a non-winery venue in Wine Country. Located right in downtown McMinnville, The Bindery (no relation to the similarly-named Portland business) is an open industrial style space that used to be home to the community newspaper. The space has capacity for 150 people for a seated event, or 200 for standing. It’s a good spot for a wedding, rehearsal dinner, or corporate event. And since it’s in downtown McMinnville, you can easily walk to all the attractions this charming town offers.

The Bindery (from their website)

Places to Stay

While it is close enough to Portland that one can easily stay in the Rose City, staying in the Wine Country means one can better immerse themselves in the experience. (And if “immersing yourself in the experience” means enjoying wine, staying here means not having to get back to Portland after a day of wine tasting!) There are many hotels in the area, we’ve selected a few of them below.

  • Atticus Hotel. Located in downtown McMinnville, this hotel offers a lovely fleet of Gazelle bikes to borrow.
  • McMenamins Hotel Oregon. Also in downtown McMinnville, check out the rooftop bar for great views.
  • Tributary Hotel. Another downtown McMinnville hotel! This one emphasizes luxury.
  • The Vintages Trailer Resort. Located in Dayton, here you can stay in a vintage Airstream instead of a hotel.
  • Abbey Road Farm. Instead of a trailer, you can stay in a converted farm silo on this working farm located west of Newberg.
Bikes at the Atticus Hotel

Places to eat

There’s a lot of great food in Wine Country. We’ve highlighted a few of our favorites below.

  • ōkta. Located in the Tributary Hotel and helmed by Michelin-Starred Chef Matthew Lightner, ōkta features a hyperlocally sourced, ten- to twelve-course meal, that Portland Monthly describes as “smart, tender, understated…as if Ziggy Stardust returned and put out a poetry album.” Reservations required.
  • Red Hills Kitchen. Located in the Atticus Hotel, Red Hills Kitchen is “a celebration of the local bounty in the Oregon Wine Country.” You can eat in, take it to go, or shop the small market attached to the restaurant. Red Hills Kitchen is also a preferred caterer for The Bindery, located just across the street.
  • Wooden Heart. A food truck parked at Furioso Vineyard (next door to Domaine Roy), they make great pizzas using their brick oven. The truck can also travel to your destination for catering.
Pizza from Wooden Heart, wine from Furioso Vineyard

Transportation to Oregon’s Wine Country

Most people arrive to the wine country via car. Nevertheless, there are other options!

  • Train: Amtrak stops in Salem, which is on the south side of wine country. Both the Cascades service (Vancouver BC-Seattle-Portland-Eugene) and Coast Starlight train (Seattle-Portland-Oakland-Los Angeles) call on Salem’s historic depot.
  • Bus/Transit: Yamhill County Transit serves much of the Wine Country. Connections to Trimet (Portland’s metro area transit) can be made via transfers in Hillsboro, Forest Grove, and Tualatin. Yamhill County Transit also runs a bus from McMinnville to Salem. (Please note: Most of Yamhill County Transit’s service is weekday only.) Salem’s transit provider Cherriots also accesses some destinations on the south and east side of Wine Country.
  • Bike: Riding around Wine Country can be both rewarding and challenging. Rewarding because of the spectacular scenery and all the wine that can be tasted. Challenging due to the numerous, sometimes steep hills and busy, narrow roads. The best all around info for cycling can be found via Visit McMinnville. Ellee Thalheimer’s Cycling Sojourner Oregon guidebook has a great Wine Country bike tour, but as far as I know it’s only available in print.
  • Shuttle: We definitely recommend you to have someone else drive if you plan on doing a lot of wine tasting. There are many options for shuttle service and wine tours. We suggest Lucky Limo and Aspen Limo.

We hope this post helps you find the right venue for weddings and events in Oregon’s Wine Country.

Event venues in the Columbia Gorge, Part 1: West Gorge

The Columbia Gorge Hotel ballroom set with tables of white linen and golden plates and chairs.
The Columbia Gorge Hotel’s Benson Ballroom (from their website)

Hello folks! Today we are going to talk about event venues in the Columbia Gorge. The Columbia River Gorge is a canyon in the Cascade Mountains, running nearly eighty miles in length just east of Portland. It’s an area of unparalleled beauty, filled with epic vistas, tantalizing waterfalls, deep forests, vineyards and orchards, and lots of rock. It’s a playground to the Portland metro area and features numerous unique venues for weddings, meetings, family events, and more.

A view of the Columbia River with the forested cliffs in the foreground and the distance, and with a view of the historic Vista House.
Vista House at Crown Point, as seen from Women’s Forum

The Columbia River Gorge is a big place with lots to do and see, so we’ve divided up our round-up into two parts. This first part covers the western reach, from the end of the Portland metro area (Washougal, WA and Troutdale, OR) in the west to Hood River, OR and Bingen-White Salmon, WA in the east. This part of the Gorge features most of its famous attractions: Vista House/Crown Point, Cape Horn, Beacon Rock, Multnomah Falls. Part Two will feature the eastern reaches of the Gorge, from Hood River/Bingen-White Salmon eastward through The Dalles, OR to Maryhill, WA.

Venue Options

The Main Lodge building - a gray wooden building - at the Cape Horn Estate in Cape Horn, Washington State.
Cape Horn Estate (Main lodge building, or Greenhouse)
A view of a wedding dressing room featuring large mirrors with Hollywood-style makeup lights above, tufted furniture, and a sitting / dining area. At Cape Horn Estate.
Getting-Ready Suite
A view of a wooden building with cafe seating outside and decorated with cafe market lights above a concrete dance floor.
The Pour House at Cape Horn Estate
A view of an expansive lawn with a stone arch to mark a ceremony site, decorated with cafe lights above. Two wedding planners talk to each other in the background. An aisle path leads to the arch.
The grounds of Cape Horn Estate

Cape Horn Estate Right off WA 14, behind Skamania Store and a couple miles west of Beacon Rock, this venue is located in an old Grange hall. The interior of the hall can accommodate 150, the smaller Pour House can hold 70, and the beautifully groomed grounds can hold 300. And the Getting Ready Suite in the hall is something to behold! The best part? This property is owned and catered by the same people behind Hoda’s Lebanese Restaurant in SE Portland. You can have delicious Mediterranean food at your wedding!

Columbia Gorge Hotel (from their website)
Wah Gwin Gwin Falls

Columbia Gorge Hotel Up next on our list of event venues in the Columbia Gorge is this historic Mission style resort. Located just on the west side of Hood River, the hotel was built in 1921 to accommodate travelers on the then new (now Historic) Columbia River Highway. There are three outdoor lawns available for weddings, the largest can accommodate 250. The indoor Benson Ballroom can hold 150. There are 40 guest rooms located at the hotel, and catering, staffing, setup and breakdown that is all handled by their staff. While the building itself is impressive enough, the most impressive feature to me is the waterfall right on the property! Wah Gwin Gwin Falls drops 207 feet (63 m) from the back of the hotel to the Columbia River below. The area is renowned for its waterfalls, but this is the only one I know that’s adjacent to a hotel. If you have a wedding here, you don’t need to travel to another waterfall.

From Will and Erik’s wedding on Thunder Island.

Thunder Island How about a venue where the splendor of the Gorge serves as the backdrop? Just off the shore of Cascade Locks, Oregon, Thunder Island came into being in 1890 with the creation of the Cascade Lock and Canal. This lock/canal combo was built to get around the notorious Cascade Rapids, the last rapids of the Columbia River before the ocean. Bonneville Dam’s pool flooded the rapids, but the island remains. Now the island can be rented out for special events, including weddings. Island rental includes a wedding platform and 200 chairs. And destinations in Cascade Locks, like Thunder Island Brewing, are just a short walk away.

Skamania Lodge wedding planned by EJP Events. Photo credit: ©Evrim Icoz Photography

Skamania Lodge Want a spot where you can have a wedding or event and never need to leave the grounds? Across the river from Cascade Locks, this resort located outside of Stevenson, Washington features a hotel (including luxury treehouses), restaurants, a spa, and an adventure park complete with zip-lines. Weddings can be done in their amphitheater, and receptions can be held either in their Ballroom or the outdoor, covered Riverview Pavilion.

Places to Stay

There are many lodging options in the Gorge. We’ve highlighted a few below:

Transportation to the Columbia Gorge

Most people arrive to the Gorge via car. Nevertheless, there are other options:

  • Train: Amtrak’s Empire Builder stops in Bingen, Washington (across the river from Hood River) twice daily. The eastbound train (from Portland to Spokane, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Chicago) calls on Bingen around 6:21 PM. The westbound train (from Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Spokane to Portland) calls on Bingen around 8:04 AM. (Times are subject to change)
  • Bus: There are multiple options that connect the Portland metro area to the Gorge, all of them have bike racks on the front and/or rear of the bus.
    • Oregon side: The Columbia Gorge Express travels from Gateway Transit Center in Portland to Hood River several times a day, making stops in Troutdale, Multnomah Falls, and Cascade Locks.
    • Washington side: Skamania County Transit travels from Fishers Landing Transit Center in Vancouver to Bingen several times a day (weekdays only), making stops in Washougal, Skamania (store), North Bonneville, Stevenson, and Carson.
  • Bike: Undeniably the Gorge is a great place to ride a bike, at least on the Oregon side. (Washington Route 14 has lots of traffic and often lacks a shoulder.) The Historic Columbia River Highway is the way to go. It’s a scenic route that winds its way from Troutdale, OR to Cascade Locks. You’ll share the western route (Troutdale east to Yeon State Park) with cars, east of there it’s a car-free path! (Note: There is one long staircase you will have to negotiate.) Bike maps for the route can be found here and here. East of Cascade Locks is tough, though, as parts of the old road are gone. Oregon Department of Transportation has been building back much of the disappeared route, including the legendary Mitchell Point Tunnel. However, this will take years to complete. Meanwhile, it is perfectly legal to ride the shoulder of I-84 here, but if you do not want to do this, you can take the Columbia Gorge Express bus (see above) for this segment.

One important note about driving through the Oregon side of the Gorge: Between May 24 and Sept. 5, 2022, a Timed Use Permit will be required for each personal vehicle accessing federal lands adjacent to the Waterfall Corridor between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. just east of the Bridal Veil off-ramp (Exit 28) to Ainsworth State Park (Exit 35). 

Waterfall Corridor permits will be available online for a $2 transaction fee and in person for a limited amount of same-day permits (no fee) at the Gateway to the Gorge Visitor Center in Troutdale and Cascade Locks Historical Museum. If you want to drive, Recreation.gov will release online permits approximately 2 weeks prior to the visit date. For more info, please see the website.

Hope this helps you find event venues in the Columbia Gorge!

Dry January, and alcohol-free options for your event

Image: Illustration of Man in suit holding out hand to refuse an alcoholic drink
From an old Soviet anti-drinking poster.

There has been a “Dry January” trend over the last decade of either cutting out or dialing back alcohol consumption in January. It’s a reaction against the overindulgences of the holiday year and a way to have a fresh start for the new year. As alcohol consumption has increased over the last two years due to pandemic and other stresses, now is a good time to be questioning your alcohol intake.

The concept of a sober, or dry January, started in 2013 in London. It’s part of a broader campaign called “Mindful Drinking”, which aims to rethink our approach to alcohol without quitting it completely. Ruby Warrington, who wrote the book “Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol” said in a recent New York Times article that “interrogating one’s drinking habits often leads people to adopt more mindful drinking strategies.”

There are definite benefits to drinking less. Alcohol is expensive, so cutting down is a great way to save money. Less drinking can lead to better sleep, better overall health, and can help with anxiety and depression.

But if you are used to having a drink or two on most days of the week, it can feel daunting to give up alcohol for a period of time, even if the period is relatively short. Several organizations, like the one who started Dry January, Alcohol Exchange UK, offer apps and coaching emails to support the decision. And it’s best not to approach the challenge as an absolute: take it one day or week at a time. It’s OK if you end up enjoying an alcoholic beverage during the challenge.

And there are ways to make cutting back on drinking easier, like exchanging alcoholic drinks with a non-alcoholic equivalent.

A good place to start is with beer. If your only experience with NA Beer is O’Doul’s, you’ll be relieved to know that now there are more and tastier options out there. Athletic Brewing serves up a selection of craft beer styles like India Pale Ale (IPA.) Clausthaler has been brewing German style NA beers for fifty years.

If spirits are your thing, Zero Proof offers booze-free rum, gin, tequila, and whiskey alternatives. Spiritless has their own alcohol free take on bourbon. For lovers of fermented grapes, Surely has non-alcoholic wine.

Are these options not available to purchase in your area? Since these products either don’t contain alcohol or a negligible amount (under 0.5% alcohol by volume), they don’t suffer the same shipping restrictions that actual alcoholic beverages encounter. You can buy many of these drinks directly from their manufacturer, or find an online store that specializes in booze-free booze, like Sipple.

You can still accessorize your non-alcoholic beverages. Groovy Guy Gifts offers up personalized decanters for your spirits-free spirits, while their “sister” company Bridesmaid’s Gifts offer insulated stemless wine glasses for your alcohol-free pinot!

And alcohol-free options should not just be limited to one month! With the hopes of weddings and more in-person events returning this year (fingers crossed), one should think about options for their non-drinking participants. Emphasizing alcohol without giving options for those who aren’t imbibing can make people feel unwelcome. And being unwelcoming is no way to have an event! So consider some of the “dry” options listed above in addition to the normal alcoholic beverages. Your teetotaling guests will thank you!

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Unique Event Venues in Los Angeles

Los Angeles City Hall

As event planners, we’re always looking for unique and interesting venue options for our clients. Our recent trip to Southern California gave us the opportunity to explore what Los Angeles has in store. L.A. is a humongous city, with just about four million people within its city limits and a further ten million people in the surrounding metro area, so we barely scratched the surface of what is available. Hopefully these four options will give you something to start your search with!

We love train stations! They make great event venues. And LA is is the home of what is considered to be the “Last of the Great Railway Stations” built in the United States! Opened in 1939, Los Angeles Union Station is a mix of Art Deco, Mission Revival, and Streamline Moderne architectural styles. You can rent out the gorgeous Ticket Concourse for an indoor event, or either the South or North Patios for outdoor events. The various event spaces in the station can accommodate anywhere from 100 to 1,000 people. Pricing can range from $6,000 – $20,000 depending on the size and scope of the event. The best part? Union Station is still an active train station and transportation hub, serving over 110,000 passengers a day! Metro Rail, L.A.s local rail-transit system and Metrolink, the region’s commuter rail service serve Union Station. And several Amtrak lines, both California regional (Pacific Surfliner), and long-distance (Coast Starlight, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle, Sunset Limited) call on the depot. And you know we are definitely fans of Amtrak. So your guests can get there without driving!

Los Angeles Union Station

How about an event in a former Catholic cathedral? Built in 1876, The Cathedral of Saint Vibiana served as Los Angeles’s main Roman Catholic Church until the 1994 Northridge Earthquake severely damaged the structure. After a battle with preservationists, the Church built a new cathedral, leaving St. Vibiana to the city. It eventually got sold and transformed into the event space now known as Vibiana. In 2012 Chef Neal Fraser and Amy Knoll Fraser, who own the adjacent Redbird Restaurant, took over operations. They can accommodate corporate gatherings in the 18,000 square foot Main Hall, and/or the 15,000 square feet outdoor courtyard. Food and beverage service is provided in-house. And Vibiana also offers full-service weddings!

Vibiana (from their website)

Getting out of downtown, LA River Studios is located in the growing LA River Arts Corridor. This building was a former toy truck factory built in 1931 that was abandoned for decades until it was restored as a premier event space. LA River Studios has 15,000 feet of flexible space (including outdoor space) and can fit up to 400 people. The space is supported by on-site VOX Productions.

LA River Studios (from their website)

Looking for a spot for a corporate party or even a wedding? Candela La Brea is located in a historic 1920’s building in the Miracle Mile neighborhood. They feature a Mexican restaurant, bar, and a flexible16,000 foot space that could be great for your next event!

Candela La Brea. (from their website)

And finally we’ll end with a grand and historic event venue that is also a place you can stay! When opened in 1923, the Millennium Biltmore Hotel was the largest hotel west of Chicago. This storied hostelry, located downtown across from Pershing Square, had hosted the annual Academy Awards eight times in the early part of the twentieth century. (It is rumored that the design of the “Oscar” statue was sketched on a napkin during the founding ceremony in 1927!) Now the Biltmore has 70,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space and 683 guest rooms. You can have an event in the main Crystal Ballroom (6,300 sq. ft., up to 800 people), the same room where those early Academy Awards were hosted, or in one of the other four ballrooms. The charm of the Golden Age of Cinema can still be found at the Biltmore, yet with modern amenities.

Millennium Biltmore’s Crystal Ballroom (from their website)

We hope this gives you a snapshot of what’s available for events in Los Angeles. If you’re interested in setting up an event in LA, please contact us.

Boise Event Venues

We recently traveled to Boise, Idaho for a couple days of work and fun. The capital of Idaho, Boise is located in a broad dry valley about 40 miles east of the Oregon border. Boise was established as a city in 1863, but spent the next century as a small outpost in a sparsely-settled region. Since the 1960’s Boise has rapidly expanded to become a mid-sized American city of 240,000 with a full selection of amenities and things to do.

Entrance to Boise Centre
Boise Centre’s Main Ballroom (from their website)

Boise Centre. Boise’s convention center is located in the heart of downtown and right next to the Grove Hotel. With 80,000 feet of space, Boise Centre bills itself as a space for “conventions, corporate meetings and trade shows to banquets and video conferencing”.  Their Grand Ballroom is 24,426 square feet and can be divided into three sections, and there are 31 individual meeting rooms. Boise Centre can accommodate groups from 10 to 2,000. Catering is exclusively provided by Front & Centre.

Boise Depot, set up for an outdoor event. (from their website)
Boise Depot’s Great Hall, set up with rounds (from their website)

Boise Depot: Just across the Boise River from downtown, Union Pacific built this grand train station in 1925. It last saw train service in 1997, since then it has been used as an event venue. The station’s Great Hall, where one could once wait for trains like the Pioneer and City of Portland, now can be used to host your next event. This 77 foot by 46 foot, 3,542-square-foot multi-story atrium can hold 300 people in standing configuration or 165 seated. You can also rent the exterior for weddings and informal meetings.

Capital City Event Center is located in the historic Adelmann Building
Interior of Capital City Event Center (from their website)

Capital City Event Center: If you are looking for a smaller, more intimate venue, the Capital City Event Center may be suited for you. Located in the historic Adelmann Building just two blocks from the State Capitol, Capital City has two ballrooms (each with a capacity of 110) that can be rented separately or together. Bonus: Capital City has a full service, classic mahogany and brass bar that can serve up a variety of drinks!

Egyptian Theatre
Interior of Egyptian Theatre (from their website)

Egyptian Theatre. Finally, if you are looking for a historic theater as a venue, the Egyptian Theatre could fit your bill. Originally opened in 1927, the Egyptian is Boise’s remaining classic cinema palace. The ornate theater with state-of-the-art sound can hold 740.

The view of downtown Boise from Camel’s Back Preserve

Staying there: There are a number of centrally located hotels. The Grove Hotel is in the Boise Centre superblock and right next to the convention center. The views from the building (fifth-tallest in the city) are grand. Across from Boise Centre is Hotel 43, named such due to its location in the 43rd state on the 43rd parallel. The Modern Hotel is located in a renovated motel about a ten minute walk from the Boise Centre. All three hotels provide rental bicycles.

Getting there: Boise is about 425 miles east (by car) from Portland, making for a doable but long one-day drive. It’s a quick one-hour flight from PDX to Boise, and Boise has direct flights to most West Coast cities. From the airport it’s a ten minute drive to downtown. Amtrak no longer serves Boise, as the Seattle-Portland-Salt Lake City-Chicago Pioneer was discontinued in 1997. We hope that taking the train to Boise will become an option again.

Getting around: Boise lacks any rail transit, though a streetcar has been proposed. Valley Transit, the regional bus operator, provides service to most major destinations. (A bus trip from the airport takes about a half hour.) Boise suspended its bike share service in 2020 with no definite plans for reinstatement, but many hotels provide free loaner bikes and bikes can be rented at Idaho Mountain Touring and George’s Cycles.