Wild but true — one of the greatest day trips for all ages is also an amenities-rich and full-service meetings and events venue. At Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Stillwater Place, views of Waterfowl Lake reveal the naturally entertaining antics of its animal residents while a 10,000-square-foot, fully equipped facility provides ample space, technology and features for hosting a corporate event, wedding, team meeting or celebration of any kind.
“We consider our zoo a one-stop shop, which is a benefit to event planners and organizations,” says Sam Cario, director of events and experiences, Cleveland Metroparks. “What makes the zoo property so unique is its nontraditional setting, so you’re not in a hotel meeting room and guests can wander the property, engage with the exhibits and educate themselves on the animal species while getting a better understanding of our mission.”
More groups, both corporate and social, are seeking spaces that allow guests to make memories, Cario points out. For business executives attending a meeting or event at Stillwater Place, the surroundings offer a healthy breather from a packed agenda.
“You can meet and mingle around the property safely; walk outside on to our patio and have amazing, picturesque views and take a deep breath, unwind and reenergize,” Cario says.
The outdoor setting allows event planners to get creative as opposed to breaking out teams into sterile meeting rooms.
“Team members can engage and walk the zoo property to refresh their batteries as they go through their day,” Cario relates.
As for food and beverages, on-site service with longtime caterer Aramark is a plug-and-play win for planners, and Cleveland Metroparks facilitates mealtimes along with ensuring that the necessary technology is available. There’s no need for an outside vendor, and extras like tables, chairs, linen, china, glass and silverware are included at no extra charge.
“Getting outside is very important to organizations,” Cario says, relating the demand for different spaces during the pandemic and an overall desire to create meaningful event experiences versus just another meeting.
Along those lines, Cleveland Metroparks can practically convert any open public space or pavilion area into an event venue. With more than 75 rental locations, “we host a diverse schedule of events, whether it’s a wedding for 300 or a private anniversary dinner for four people,” Cario says.
Reservable picnic spots, event locations at the Cleveland Metroparks golf courses and Merwin’s Wharf restaurant in the Flats offer rentable meeting and celebration spaces.
“Nontraditional settings are attractive to guests,” Cario says. “It creates those memories, and it’s not just the typical four walls.”
Book It: Cleveland Metroparks
Number of Rooms: 75 rentable spaces — picnic pavilions, golf course banquet rooms, Merwin’s Wharf and the flagship Stillwater Place at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Room Size (largest): 10,000 square feet (Stillwater Place)
Maximum Capacity: 300 guests
Amenities: Stillwater Place features views of Waterfowl Lake, access to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, catering by Aramark and professional event planning services by Cleveland Metroparks staff.
Memory Maker: Add an animal encounter or Circle of Wildlife Carousel ride.