Unique Event Venues in San Diego

El Cortez

Winter is definitely here in the Pacific Northwest. I don’t mind it as much as some people do (it helps that I was raised in a colder and snowier climate), but there are times when damp and gloomy days can get to me. That’s when I think of places where summer seems to be all year long. These type of places make great meeting and event destinations in the dead of winter. And if this locale has a Mediterranean climate, it can be good any time of the year! So let’s head to sunny Southern California and explore unique event venues in and around San Diego.

Let’s start with a venue that’s in what was once San Diego’s tallest building and most prestigious hotel. The El Cortez* opened in 1927 and for years was “the place” where big names like presidents or The Beatles stayed while in town. After a period of neglect, the El Cortez is mostly condominiums, but retains some of that old luster in the Don Room at El Capitan. The 3,300 square foot octagonal shaped ballroom can accommodate 250 people seated or 300 standing. There is also an outdoor terrace with fireplace that can be rented separately or along with the Don Room.

The Don Room at El Cortez (from their website)

The Lodge at Torrey Pines is a resort designed in the classic “California Craftsman” style. The lodge boasts over 13,000 square feet of space for events from corporate retreats to weddings. Catering is provided by the in-house restaurants. Perks include a 36 hole golf course with epic views of the Pacific Ocean, a full-service spa, and the manicured grounds featuring the very rare Torrey Pine which only grows in the immediate area!

Lodge at Torrey Pines

It would be very remiss of us if we didn’t mention Raised By Wolves, a Gilded-Age influenced speakeasy located, of all places, inside a suburban mall! It might not be the best place for a meeting where things need to get done, but can be a great add-on for an after event. Reservations are pretty much required to get a spot at this amazing bar.

Raised By Wolves (from their website)

Ok, we’re in a beach town, so let’s go beachside! La Jolla Beach and Tennis Center is a “hacienda” styled private club with 90 guestrooms and of course a lovely beach and tennis facilities. The club features the Walnut Room with 1,300 square feet of space for up to 100 guests, and the La Sala Room with 2,000 square foot event space that can seat up to 150 guests. Events can also be held by the pool, next to the duck pond, and of course on the beach itself!

La Jolla Beach and Tennis Center (from their website)

Would you like both “beachside” and luxury that comes out of a different era? The Hotel del Coronado is a rare surviving example of a wooden Victorian-era beach resort. Upon opening in 1888, it was the single largest resort hotel in the world. A space this big (second largest wooden structure in the US after the Tillamook Air Museum!) has a lot of meeting space, about 96,000 square feet to be exact. The selection of spaces runs the gamut: indoor ballrooms and meeting rooms, outdoor gardens and lawns, and of course the beach itself.

Hotel del Coronado

Forget the beach, how about something on the water itself? Flagship Cruises runs the popular ferry service from Coronado to downtown San Diego and also offers private cruises on its fleet of both modern and vintage vessels. A cruise could be the event itself, or it can augment another event held elsewhere.

Perhaps you want something with more of an urban flavor. Deck 655 incorporates 8,500 sq. ft. versatile indoor outdoor party venue that can be customized for social or corporate events. Deck 655 features a 125 foot long outdoor deck with fireplace and a capacity for 350 guests in both the indoor and outdoor spaces. Centrally located downtown at the corner of W Broadway and Kettner Blvd, Deck 655 is across the street from the historic Santa Fe Depot.

Deck655 (from their website)

And we’ll end our tour at Santa Fe Depot. Opened in 1915, this historic train station built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style still serves as a major transit center. Amtrak runs its popular Pacific Surfliner service several times a day between San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo. One can also catch the Coaster commuter rail service north to Oceanside every weekday. And the depot serves as a hub for the San Diego Trolley, an extensive light-rail system that serves many destinations around the metro area.

San Diego’s Santa Fe Depot, serviced by Amtrak and local commuter rail

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

* The El Cortez Hotel is named after the conquistador, mutineer, and adulterer, Hernan Cortés, who was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Aztec Indigenous peoples. 

It is sadly common that in our regular event planning activities, planners and attendees will encounter venues and points of interest that honor historical figures who committed atrocities against Black, Indigenous, and Peoples of Color. As we all become more aware of our shared history, we can do our part to educate ourselves about the history surrounding the names of event venues and tourism points of interest, and to study the history of colonization and genocide that has led to many of the problems of systemic racism that Indigenous people suffer today; and to prevent future harm. 

In addition, we urge event leaders to provide written or verbal acknowledgement of original peoples and history within the context of hosting an event, and to reinforce verbal statements with actions such as paying voluntary land tax in support of Indigenous peoples.

We ourselves acknowledge that our events and our tourism-related activities with groups and meetings take place on land that was forcibly taken from the original peoples. We endeavor to go beyond mere land acknowledgement and instead, work proactively to prevent harm to Indigenous and Native peoples, and to return land and resources to them. To learn more, here are some resources for starting your journey: https://nativegov.org/news/a-self-assessment/

{Portland Wedding Coordinator’s Hot Tips} Six Venues Where You Can Party ‘Til Late

Here are six Portland wedding venue locations that we love that allow you and your guests to have music and dance way past the typical 10pm venue deadline.

Castaway

The first venue is Castaway Portland, a historic warehouse turned event spot in NW Portland that can hold up to 400 guests. Castaway has a great patio; if more outdoor space is needed, their neighbors Pomarius Nursery and Versailles Gardens can be rented. This venue allows for indoor music and dancing until late, depending on your preference and the 12-hour total event time limit. Both garden areas can remain open late as well, allowing guests to have cocktails and continue celebrating in these outside locations, though outdoor amplified music must conform to City of Portland ordinances.

World Forestry Center

Our second venue is the World Forestry Center, located in Washington Park. They offer many different indoor and outdoor combination options at this venue, which is only one of the many reasons we love them. You can choose to have their beautiful tent and enjoy the outdoor plaza, right next to Cheatham Hall, a great option for an indoor space. You and your guests can enjoy the outdoor area until midnight with amplified music, which makes for great late night dancing – a rarity in Portland. There is also the option of moving to one of their inside spaces.

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