If you’re seeking a venue off-site from your host hotel that embodies what’s great in formal, fanciful or laid-back Central Florida, consider the following venues that stand apart from function halls, hotels and theme parks:
For an “untamed Florida” theme, there’s Black Hammock Fish Camp along the shores of Lake Jesup. The venue includes a gazebo, lake-view bar, airboat rides, pontoon eco tours, full-service restaurant, and wildlife exhibit. 2316 Black Hammock Fish Camp Road, Oviedo, FL 32765. (407) 365-1244.
Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens offers animal lovers a large room and interactive gallery for meetings and receptions, as well as a patio area, and an outdoor space with a gazebo. The venue also includes Rainforest Pavillion, with seating for 300, and an indoor air-conditioned exhibit area. Zoo staff can entertain attendees with live animals during cocktail hour, and the party can walk around and take photos among animal habitats. 3755 W. Seminole Blvd. Sanford, FL 32771. (407) 323-4450.
The rural Danville B&B, 5-star AirBnB-rated, is self-contained in an airplane hangar that looks like a country porch upon arrival, then magically transforms into a mini-town. It features a cozy inn with two guest rooms, yurt and treehouse accommodations, an Irish Pub, theater, photo booth and outdoor pavilion. Additional hangars house planes, a man cave, and classic cars. The owner/pilot can take attendees for an aerial view of Central Florida in his private plane, while other guests can tool around the property from the classic car hangar in vintage autos. Others can explore their surroundings on Segways. 232 N. Jungle Road, Geneva, FL 32732. (407) 349-5724.
Gallery J, and “J Street” are pet-friendly venues combining the feel of an old-world brick art studio with a cozy jazz club/speakeasy vibe. The “secret” loft area at the top of a spiral wrought-iron staircase creates a dramatic entrance for VIPs and speakers. Details include a trickling tiered fountain, baby grand player piano, 600 soft twinkling stars in the ceiling, photo booth and more. Max seating: 60; standing Cocktails: 150. 920 Belle Ave, Winter Springs, FL 32708. (407) 947-5718. .
Magnolia Acres offers an intimate Victorian era home and garden setting for up to 40 attendees. The house was built in 1888, and adjacent gardens are filled with fruit trees, magnolia and palms, hydrangeas, antique roses and lilies, a wildflower field and more. 593 W. Church Ave., Longwood, FL 32750. (407) 260-0409.
Route 46 Entertainment District® in Sanford, FL. The 4.9-acre complex provides four event venues for meetings, parties, and gatherings in a variety of impressive spaces with unique decor ranging from warm and elegant to classic turn of the century Florida. Space amenities include: 27,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor space; Each space is distinct and uniquely decorated; Culinary services with full catering and wait staff; State-of-the-art technology, audio-visual, production, and business support; and Event Planning Services, including live entertainment booking. The Venues at Route 46®: Monroe’s features an eclectic décor of authentic early 20th century memorabilia and automobilia; while the Smokehouse BBQ restaurant offers up a cozy cabin-style setting; the indoor/outdoor Garage Bar complete with classic cars provides a live entertainment venue and outdoor dance floor; and The Saloon, reminiscent of an 1890s American tavern, is a great spot for private cocktail functions. Route 46® in Sanford, FL. 4316 FL-46, Sanford, FL 32771. (407) 268-4646.
Wekiva Island, an oasis along the Wekiwa River, sits amid the bubbling natural springs. Meetings and social functions can be held year-round under the large event tent, smaller private cabanas or the rustic indoor event center, which seats up to 50. Adding to the charm are the Sanctuary marina, boat launch, fire pit area, boardwalk featuring wooden Adirondack chairs, canoe/kayak rentals. 1014 Miami Springs Drive, Longwood, FL 32779. (407) 862-1500.
The Rivership Barbara Lee begins with a welcoming walk up the gangplank of this authentic paddlewheeler. There’s a spacious top deck as well as an indoor salon. Food, entertainment and great views along the St. John’s River round out the offerings for this floating meeting and event venue. The ship is docked at 433 N. Palmetto Ave., Sanford, FL 32771. (321) 441-3030.
Other popular venues to choose from include: