Finding family reunion locations is probably one of the most difficult tasks of organizing this event.
Did I exaggerate it? No, especially after going through so many times of doing it. You need to consider the budget, time and other things depending on the destination of the family reunion.
Before looking for your next family reunion site, you must answer this question first.
The time is the first thing you need to know because this will be the deciding factor if you can look into certain venues.
If it is a long weekend with public holiday, such as Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day and so forth, sounds great. Well, hold that thought for a moment....
Long weekend may be a good time for most people to travel. But to some, weekend likes mentioned above is just too crazy to go through all the traffic.
Besides, there are some parks or places closed or change of hours in those weekends because of special events for that weekend, not to mention that the crowd will be extremely big.
We just had a very recent experience that parking was also an issue during any weekends like that. People parked alongside the road because all the parking lots were full. At the end, people illegally parked their cars along the main road. Some cars got parking tickets or towed. That would be the last thing you want to see for such a wonderful event, right?
So, aside from long weekends, see if anyone will prefer to take a long vacation from work to attend the family reunion and travel or check out some new places at the same time. If so, more options will open up for you than you can imagine.
When looking for a family reunion place, here is the number 1 tip that you must bear in mind.
Let me say it again, "Always ask the questions". I cannot emphasize enough how important this tip is for you to look for the best family reunion location.
You will be surprised how much great info you can find out simply from casual conversation. So, don't be shy to ask the questions and NEVER assume.
Learning from my experience, always asking the questions could save you a lot of money. Also, it helps you to decide if that location is good for family reunion.
Here is an experience that I want to share with you why asking questions is so important. It may not be family reunion, but a event related to family.
When I got married, we planned to have a small ceremony in the park in town. So, when I first asked, the town clerk was a bit shocked by my question. I guess nobody had ever thought of using that cute little park in town for anything. She said that the only way I was allowed to use it was to have some special insurance. In other words, I needed to present an insurance certificate. In the back of my mind, I was thinking, "Are you serious? The ceremony will not last more than an hour, maybe 30 minutes, with close family attending."
Since it was the town judge to do the wedding ceremony for us, I raised the same question to him. Now he was shocked, too. Well, he was shocked by the info provided by the town clerk. He told me that I didn't need to pay a penny nor any insurance for using that park. All we needed to do was to show up.
What does this lesson teach us? Well, you know now.
There are several places you can consider. But always have a backup plan or as you call, plan B. You will know when I talked about it below:
If someone in the family or an attendee of the family reunion has a good size of property and allow you to use it, that would be the best option.
However, unfortunate things happen all the time. We had a family committed to let people use theirs for our first family reunion.
Then, 3 months before the event, they backed out. Luckily, one of my brothers-in-law was able to find a park. Best of all, it was free.
Yes, we were very lucky because finding a place which could accommodate for at least 50 people for free is almost none out there.
But....do keep in mind that there are some. You just need to keep your eyes and ears open.
This explains why you should always have plan B.
When you have a big event like family reunion, you always want to have more space, especially areas for the little ones in order to keep them busy.
But when you schedule it, you don't know how the weather is. A pavilion or any areas or rooms undercover just in case it rains is the best thing to have. If not, this area would provide the shades for everybody.
If possible, look for pavilion with electric outlets. You never know. In one of our family reunions, a family member brought along his band to give us a little performance.
One setback of having the family reunion here is that some parks do not have restrooms. Make sure ask about it. If they don't, you may need to arrange the rental of portable restrooms (a.k.a. porta potty). A family reunion usually last for at least 3 hours. Mostly more than that. Restroom is definitely a must.
So, how much does it cost for having a family reunion at this venue? It depends....it can range from $0 to over $300 (as of July 2016)
Here are some great family reunion locations in upstate New York. They each give you some ideas what kind of facilities you should look for:
This park is ideal for almost every activity you can think of. There is a hiking trail if someone wants to check out places. In the same area, there are several pavilions, a children playground is next to them and several park charcoal grills. Parking is at the same area. (Refer to the picture below the "Park with Pavilion(s)" heading)
There is a zoo, a swimming pool and a small museum in this state park. But they all scatter at different places. When we were there for our family reunion, it was packed with people. We couldn't find a spot to park our cars, not to mention about other activities.
Luckily, someone in the group suggested us to go to Anthony Wayne Recreation Area which is about 10 minutes drive away from the Bear Mountain. We had a great time there. It is about 30 minutes drive from one of the biggest shopping outlets in upstate NY, hotels and the city center. Within driving distance, you can check out West Point and Storm King Art Center, too.
If some family members would like to spend a couple days while they are out and about for the family reunion, this is a great place to be.
There are camp grounds, big fields with pavilions and BBQ areas. Of course, there is that beautiful lake right there that you can soak into the tranquility of it forever. It is about 10 minutes of ride from the city where all shopping malls are.
Here is an example of a local park where you don't need to ask for permission or anything. There is enough room for kids to play and rooms for cookout.
There is a small hiking trail behind the park, too. However, there is no bathroom there. It is so tiny that you can't even find it on Google map. But you know what? That was how our first family reunion started.
Yes, churches. Any churches had ever hosted any event such as spaghetti dinner or BBQ, with a good size parking lot and backyard, you should make a phone call to them.
If one of the family reunion attendees is the member of that church, they most likely able to rent the area for free or with a small donation.
Most churches have a kitchen where you can use their fridge. This definitely come in handy for any cold dishes.
Besides, churches are the best places if the weather is bad.
Little did I know that firehouse would let people to use their facility to have event like family reunion until I stepped into a big baby shower. After that, I went to that same firehouse to attend many different events, such as wedding reception, the wake, graduation party and so forth.
Both church and firehouse have very similar features and offerings for you to be a potential family reunion site. Firehouses only charge a very reasonable price for using their facilities. If any family member is the fireman of that station, you may able to rent it for free.
They usually have a big room for people to sit around the tables. Fridge and undercover areas where you don't need to worry about too much of the weather.
They may not have a big outdoor areas for kids or other activities. The more population of the city/village/town, the lower the probability to have outdoor area with grass in that firehouse property.
The layout of the inside is different from each other. Some firehouses have big kitchen where it can accommodate many people. Some even have bar tending areas with pool tables. Some have small indoor area, but a big pavilion outside of the building.
All you need to do is to ask the questions to find out.
Boat launch areas don't mean that you must have a boat or you need to ride it even you have one.
What I found throughout my experiences is that when there is a place to launch your boat, there is a very high possibility that there is a good size park nearby. The area has BBQ area, a big field and maybe other facilities.
The park doesn't always by the river front or lake shore. The park could be a driving distance. If you have little ones and worry about their water safety, look closer. Like I said, the park may be quite a ways.
Of course, there are places where you can only park your car and launch the boat. Nothing more than that. But all I ask of you to do is to keep your eyes and ears open.
No matter where you decide to have the next family reunion, always make sure to re-confirm at least a week before the event.
If doors need to be unlocked, it is always smart to remind the person in charge to be there to open the doors for you. We learned this lesson in a very hard way.
Now you know what to look for when it comes to looking for a place for family reunion. When you pick up the phone, what questions do you ask?
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In our recent family reunion, we were so glad that we brought these items along because we needed to change location at the last minute. These items just made this family event so much more special than we thought.
Even though we didn't go camping in the last family reunion, little did we expect the little ones had so much fun in this camping tent.
Folding Camp Chair is a must. Pavilion or not, you need it.
Portable Grill is really handy. I was so glad my cousin brought it along in our last family reunion to save the day
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