It's always nice to attend an event at a venue that has an appealing atmosphere and good food. It’s even nicer when there’s picturesque scenery to boot. And, Minnesota being the beautiful state that it is, it’s no surprise that the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” is home to a number of locales that provide just that to meeting and event attendees.
Windows on Minnesota
Windows on Minnesota—there has never been a more apropos name. One of the premier event centers of the Twin Cities that makes up the entire 50th floor of the IDS Center, Windows on Minnesota offers a panoramic— and magnificent—view of the entire city of Minneapolis, part of St. Paul and the Chain of Lakes through its floor-to-ceiling windows. Managed and catered by The Marquette Hotel next door, Windows on Minnesota is an exclusive space for private meetings and events.
“It makes your time there extremely special in that you’re one of very few people who get to experience it,” says Sally Ableitner, The Marquette’s director of sales and marketing. Windows on Minnesota can accommodate up to 1,300 people for an event. The space can also be split into four separate rooms of 500, 400 and two of 200.
While the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis is well known for its diverse productions, it also provides breathtaking scenery. Just off the ninth-floor Dowling Studio, one of three theaters that is also used for event space, is the amber glass Pohlad Lobby that offers a spectacular view of the Mississippi River and the Minneapolis skyline. To obtain its signature hue, the glass is tempered with a ceramicbased paint permanently bonded onto it.
“From the Pohlad Lobby, we have what’s called the amber box, which is also cantilevered out a bit and gives almost a 360-degree view,” says Director of Catering Kim Renneberg. “The Pohlad Lobby and amber box can seat 80, and for a reception can accommodate 150.”
Another signature feature of the Guthrie is a lobby known as the Endless Bridge, a 30-foot-wide observatory for the Mississippi River falls and landscape. “The Endless Bridge is cantilevered out from the building between the fourth and fifth floors,” Renneberg says. “It also holds 175 for a reception or cocktail party. It’s enclosed but also has access to an outdoor patio that seats 50.”
All catering is done in-house.
Leopold’s Mississippi Gardens
Exquisite floral gardens out front; a huge deck that overlooks the bluffs of the Mississippi; magnificent stairs leading down to the clasp of the river; beautiful trees that provide some shade and privacy—Leopold’s Mississippi Gardens is a sight for sore eyes.
Weddings make up its primary business, but Mississippi Gardens in Minneapolis also hosts business meetings and corporate events. A leading upscale event center owned by former Minnesota Wild defenseman Jordan Leopold and his wife Jamie, Leopold’s Mississippi Gardens can host up to 500 for cocktail parties and 340 for dinners. The event center uses Mintáhoe Catering & Events in Minneapolis.
“The building is absolutely stunning,” says General Manager Cathy Dunn. “The entire property is gorgeous.”
Want to turn a regular meeting into a floating paradise? Padelford Riverboats in St. Paul does just that, cruising down the Mississippi River with the natural scenery as its backdrop.
“We go 6 miles up past the mouth of the Minnesota River within sight of Fort Snelling,” says Vice President Gus Gaspardo, who mentions that bald eagles are sighted on most trips. “When we come back down the river, you get a great view of downtown St. Paul. People are caught by surprise that they’re in the middle of a metropolitan area.”
The fleet includes the Jonathan Padelford (160 capacity, 114 for indoor dining); Anson Northrup (300 capacity, 224 for indoor dining); and the party barge Betsey Northrup (300 capacity, 176 indoor dining). The Anson Northrup and Betsey Northrup can be paired to create one vessel with a capacity for 600 passengers, 410 for indoor dining. Main decks are heated and air conditioned and catering is done on-site.
The Learning Jet
Although mainly used as a hands-on classroom for children from grades pre-K through 12 in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics areas, The Learning Jet, a nonworking FedEx-donated Boeing 727- 200 located on the tarmac at the St. Paul Downtown Airport, just might be the most unique setting ever for a private event. Opened last May and the first of its kind, The Learning Jet was inspired by a group of aviation-minded women now known as the Minnesota Association of Women in Aviation.
“The Learning Jet offers spectacular scenery— from the nose side of the plane is a beautiful view of the St. Paul skyline,” MNAWA President Darlene Dahlseide says. “The back of the plane is a stone’s throw from the Mississippi River.”
The jet can seat up to 35 for dinner and 75 for cocktail parties. Groups can use a caterer of their choice.
The University of Minnesota is one of the largest institutions in the United States. Like any other big school across the country, the U of M has something for just about everyone. One of those offerings is the Campus Club located on the fourth floor of Coffman Union. A wonderful and unique setting for private events (university or not), the Campus Club is a membership organization with a full-service restaurant and bar.
“Anybody—even if you’re not affiliated with the university—can become a member,” says Jenn Hultman, events and marketing manager. “We have floor-to-ceiling windows and we overlook downtown Minneapolis and the Mississippi River. We have a terrace out front that oversees the city and the Northrop Auditorium.”
The Campus Club can accommodate groups from 25 to 230.