Soiree Special Events

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Venue Spotlight: Glen Echo Park

Are you still looking for a wedding venue? How about a rehearsal dinner venue? Have you considered Glen Echo Park in Maryland? Near Chevy Chase, this cute little amusement park had it's heyday in the turn of the century and through the first half of the 1900s. A brochure describes some of the most popular rides as "the Gravity Railway, the Gyroplane, the Derby Racer, the Coaster Dip, and the Whip." Many of the rides and attractions are gone but a surprising number of buildings have been restored.

Glen Echo was considered a trolley park like Coney Island and Kennywood. Guests would come from the city by streetcar! The line would take Washingtonians from Georgetown to Glen Echo along the C&O Canal. Here is the original entrance and an old streetcar:
Wouldn't this streetcar be fabulous as a background for some informal bridal party portraits?The entrance by car is slightly different although just as charming. From the parking lot you take this cute wooden bridge: The park is surrounded by beautiful forest. Here's the view of a little waterfall from the bridge:
Up the path you start to get a glimpse of the carousel! The day I visited they were cleaning up from a weekend festival (hence the tent):
Up on the left is a huge stone building. This land was originally established in 1891 as a National Chautauqua Assembly, a place where people could learn and practice science, arts, languages, and literature. In 1899 it was bought and turned into an amusement park. Then in the 1970s it was turned into a park emphasizing arts and cultural education. You can sign up for glassblowing, painting, sculpture, dance, or a multitude of other classes.The view of the park as you enter:To our left we have a popcorn stand! This building houses a small museum and National Park Service offices. The roof (where the portholes are) can be rented for wedding ceremonies:To the right is a gorgeous 1921 Dentzel carousel. This beauty is the last operating ride in the park and you can still ride it! It operates weekends through the summer and some weekdays. You can purchase tickets for every guest at your wedding to go for a ride!Inside, the carousel features many of the original animals, a band organ for music, and even a brass ring dispenser:
Just past the carousel we find the Bumper Car Pavilion. This fun building is an open-air space and can be rented for events up to 300 guests (or 200 seated with a dance floor): Inside, the Bumper Car Pavilion has a gorgeous wooden floor. Many Saturday nights this space is used for swing dancing classes! The sides have plastic panels that can be rolled down for weather protection. There is also a built-in stage and audio system for a band or DJ to hook up to:Next to the Bumper Car Pavilion is the stately Spanish Ballroom. This building is significantly larger and can be rented for special events. Built in 1933, this space holds up to about 400 guests:Inside we truly see why it's called the Spanish Ballroom:This building is great but unfortunately the antique restored floor must be covered if you plan to serve food or drinks inside. Most rental companies can install a carpet or wood floor over top, though: On our way out there's another space available. The Crystal Pool used to be one of the largest pools on the east coast! It has long since been filled in but the facade of the entrance still stands: Here is the Crystal Pool in all it's glory. This area can be tented for groups up to about 150-175:The one caveat to Glen Echo is that they don't allow hard liquor to be served. Beer, wine, and champagne are all fine with a National Park Service permit. This is actually a nice feature for budget brides who are looking for a good excuse to cut back their bar package!

I was really impressed at the great rates at Glen Echo Park. For such a unique, fun, fantastic venue so close to DC, they are extremely affordable! For more information on rates and availability, call and ask for Emily M. -- she'll answer all your questions. To learn more about the history of the park, their website, the NPS website, and Wikipedia are great sources of information. Otherwise to see it for yourself (and perhaps take a ranger-led tour), just take the Clara Barton Parkway and follow the signs!

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6 Comments:

  • what a fun place to get married!!

    By Anonymous Emily@oncewed, at 9/7/08 10:42 AM  

  • The Spanish Ballroom absolutely has the best swing dancing in the DC area! Even without A/C in the summers and heat in the winters!

    By Blogger jess-nutt, at 9/7/08 11:32 AM  

  • Oh, awesome -- I just reserved my date with Emily last week! This is without a doubt the coolest, quirkiest, most charming venue we visited, and my fiance and i totally fell in love the minute we saw it. Hurray for getting the word out about this awesome place!

    By Blogger Caroline, at 9/7/08 4:23 PM  

  • I adore this place. The parking is easy and close; the scenery can't be beat. Several years ago Ace of Cakes (Charm City Bakery out of Baltimore) did a bunch of bumper car cakes for a wedding held here. They were so cute!

    By Blogger MB, at 9/7/08 4:35 PM  

  • Oh that is SUCH an awesome venue! I love it!

    By Blogger Kate, at 10/7/08 2:07 PM  

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/7/08 10:08 PM  

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