Aug 01, 2017 by Ellie Andrews

A Visual Guide to 18 of the Best Summer Venue Ideas

From breezy ocean views and city rooftops to twinkling string lights in the woods, we’ve created a visual summer venues guide so you don’t have to look far to be inspired by some great North American venues for your next event.

“Location, location, location!” is shouted from every event service website as the standard for organizing a successful event. This mantra continues to be true for summer events, with an important distinction: summer venues are much broader than just hotel conference rooms or dark event halls. The season opens doors to the variety of venues event planners can take advantage of, from beaches to rooftops to banquets and more.

However, summer also brings its own complications: how do you create a magical atmosphere while still ensuring a comfortable temperature? How do you define a clear event area while taking advantage of open spaces? What do you do about bugs? And most important: where do you start? 

Before diving into the logistics, a successful summer event begins with venue inspiration, and we’ve got just that for you here.

Waterfront Venues

Nothing says “summer” like celebrating by the water, with the sun setting over the horizon and a hint of salt in the air. Though more exposed to the elements than other venue options, a waterfront event can be either elegant or casual and offers a versatile range of event options. Beachside, poolside, lakeside – every side is good from a waterfront angle. 

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Location: Ixtapa, Mexico

Venue: Krystal Hotel (Photo: Krystal Hotels)

Why have your event inside when you can have the same setup – on the beach? This event ensured guests would be comfortable while on the beach: mats under the table, comfortable chairs, well-proportioned table settings so people aren’t crowding each other, and soft tiki torches for appropriate lighting. Soundtrack of the event: crashing waves and seagulls overhead.

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Location: San Diego, California

Venue: The great outdoors (Photo: Leighton Smith)

The heaters and creative lighting at this San Diego evoke the moon, giving even the technology in this setting a natural vibe that doesn’t disrupt the breathtaking California scenery.

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Location: Santa Monica, California

Venue: Indoor/Outdoor Banquet Hall (Photo: EventUp)

Opt for a poolside event for an equally-summery but less-exposed event style. The more defined layout pushes guests to naturally interact more with each other, rather than stretching out by themselves on a beach. With standing tables, umbrellas for shade, soft lighting, and comfortable seating, this event can feel more private and personal than a beach. Plus the water is probably warmer.

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Location: Los Angeles, California

Venue: Perry’s at the Beach (Photo: Perry’s Cafe)

Instead of creating your own space on a beach, find one that is already made for you. A beach cafe like this, or other similar waterside event spaces, ensure a blocked off area, tables and supplies already available, and an easy address for guests to find. This offers convenience with the ability to personalize your beachside event.

Open-Air Venues

Open-air venues such as these give the impression of being outside, but with all the benefits of being inside. Open roofs, glass paneling, and wide decks allow guests to appreciate the summer in comfort.

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Location: San Diego, California

Venue: Diamond View Tower (Photo: EventUp)

Spacious indoor areas with accessible outdoor decks offer the best of both worlds for a summer event. The Diamond View Tower in San Diego has a comfortable interior with huge windows and opens to the deck for fresh air. The warm wood tones and decor bring some of the summer sun inside to even an elegant indoor setting like this one.

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Location: Washington, D.C.

Venue: Capitol View 400 (Photo: EventUp)

This venue looks over some of D.C.’s finest buildings, and is furnished like the penthouse of your dreams. Similar to the previous venue, the outdoor area and indoor space are equally huge, so guests can wander in and out as they please. Note that the colors here are cool whites and purples – the opposite approach from the warm woods of the other space, and does more to keep the summer heat at bay rather than invite it in.

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Location: New York City, New York

Venue: Hudson Terrace (Photo: EventUp)

The Hudson Terrace in NYC boasts a retractable roof during summer evenings and opens up the space to the sky. Come night time, guests can look up and see the stars while inside a comfortable and stylish space. This is a good one for events that start in the day and transition into the night, to get the best of both worlds in one venue.

Tented Venues

With the right tent, lighting, and decor, choosing a tented venue adds a bit of magic to your event. Tents cover all the facets necessary: shelter, space, and ambiance, while your guests can still enjoy the outdoors in style.

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Location: Miami, Florida

Venue: Fairchild Botanical Garden (Photo: azureazure)

This gorgeous tent was designed to celebrate the anniversary of one of Florida’s finest Botanical Gardens. You can see how decor completely transforms a standard white tent into a tropical garden: fake (or real?) trees, creative lighting, botanical ornamentation, bright tables, even a green turfed floor. Budget-allowing, a space like this can elevate an event beyond what guests may think of when they think of a tent.

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Venue: County Marquees (Photo: David Higgs)

Think a tent is too small for the size of your event? This massive marquee should prove you wrong – it has enough space for a huge group, a stage, and room to spare! The beautiful lanterns add a pop of contrast color and ambiance to this expansive and elegant space.

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Location: Suffolk, Virginia

Venue: World Inspired Tents (Photo: World Inspired Tents – RiverWeddingPhotography)

In this “tipi-style” tent, the back of the space feels cozy while the front stays wide open. Warm lighting and appropriate decor add to the atmosphere, and though for a smaller event, there is more than enough seating to go around. A tipi offers a different event space than other tents as it allows guests to interact both in and out of the interior spaces with ease.

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Location: Atherton, California

Venue: A backyard! (Photo: Adriana Klas)

A clear tent like this showcases your outdoor event and allows the guests to watch the sun set and night fall right above them. It is particularly best for evening events, as the summer sun might heat up the room, but the transparency displays your surroundings while being comfortably sheltered.

Rooftop Venues

Nothing like 80 floors above the ground to take your breath away. Rooftops offer an urban luxury and romance impossible to attain in a different venue. Admire the views of your city in style and comfort, and take advantage of rooftop access while the weather permits.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois

Venue: Morgan’s On Fulton (Photo: EventUp)

Indoor room, ample space for dancing, stringed lights, a variety of seating and tables, an outdoor heater in case of cool evenings, a touch of greenery, and a view to die for. This venue’s tag line is “It’s more than a space – It’s a place!”

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Location: Nashville, Tennessee

Venue: The Bridge Building (Photo: EventUp)

A view like this can easily be the centerpiece of your event. As long as there is seating, snacks, and romantic lighting (already supplied here by Nashville’s gorgeous skyline), all the ingredients for perfect nighttime ambiance are right there.

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Location: Long Island City, NYC

Venue: Penthouse 808 (Photo: Penthouse 808 Gallery)

Penthouse 808 in Long Island City is a lounge, restaurant, and event space with flawless views of the city across the river. They have ample seating options and an indoor room that will awe your guests.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois

Venue: Godfrey Hotel (Photo: Godfrey Hotel Gallery)

The blue lighting featured at this hotel rooftop adds a contrast to the glow of the skyline, and the off-kilter decor make the Chicago venue a memorable spot, perfect for guests to snap photos of themselves at your event for social media.

Outdoor Rustic Venues

Maybe you prefer to throw indoors to the wayside and opt for a completely outdoor event under the sky. Parks, picnics, and banquets are classic summer locations and can be dressed up or dressed down for either a fairy tale atmosphere or a casual picnic in the grass. As a professional event planner and designer, Bryson Van Wyck told Vogue for an article his thoughts on summer events, especially the outdoors ones:

The worst mistakes to make are: “Not having enough ice, shade, bug spray, or tequila.”

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Location: Hood River, Oregon

Venue: The Roof Barn (Photo: EventUp)

Rent out a barn or picnic area for a casual, rustic day outside. The shelter provides space for food, drinks, and shade, and guests can sit and mingle around the space. Add lighting and fire pits for longer, evening events.

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Location: Rio Medina, Texas

Venue: Brady’s Bloomin’ Barn, Garden, & Event Center (Photo: EventUp)

Speaking of barns and evening events, this venue hints of a Southern summer cookout with a possible dance floor inside and seating outside. Guests can take a breather from the energy inside and rest under the trees while the high-energy festivities continue inside.

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Location: Miami Beach, Florida

Venue: Miami Beach Botanical Garden (Photo: EventUp)

Furnishing your outdoor event as if it were indoors adds style and comfort to complement your regular seating. Plus, as you can see from this photo, it’s very photogenic – and photogenic venues lend themselves to guests making more memories there.

More Resources

Now that you have some new ideas after scrolling, you may be thinking about how to source a venue. Check out what advice the Lime Venue Portfolio team, who curate the largest collection of unusual, sporting, and cultural venues in the UK and Ireland, shared on how to source a high-end venue. It includes 7 tips on what to look for in renting venues like some of the ones you’ve seen here. Happy hunting!