San Francisco Bay Area Meetings and Events

An ariel scene looking down at the dimly-lit rotunda. Tables with party food and people standing around, talking. Two stiltwalkers dressed flamboyantly with lit-up butterfly wings dominate the scene.
A grand afterparty in the Rotunda at San Francisco City Hall

The San Francisco Bay Area has a lot going for it when it comes to meetings and events. The northern California metropolis hums with excitement and energy, a diverse mix of different cultures, vital urban areas, and beautiful natural landscapes. Where else can you go in the US and have a super dense city and a remote feeling hilly coastline less than ten miles apart? Through its numerous airports (SFO, Oakland, San Jose), one can catch a flight to and from most of the important destinations in the world. Today we take stock of three different venues representing different areas of this region. We hope this helps you make the most of planning your San Francisco Bay Area meetings and events.

San Francisco: Fort Mason Center

The Golden Gate Bridge is arguably the most iconic thing about the Bay Area. But catching a glimpse of this technological marvel is mostly impossible in the city proper. So how about a venue that has the bridge and bay as a glorious backdrop? This former Army base in the Marina neighborhood was active during World War II. Fort Mason’s thirteen-acre campus features 12 different venue options from 500 to 50,000 square feet (75,000 total square feet), space big enough to hold a comic convention! (I attended the Small Press Expo here in the early 2000’s.) There is also a 437-seat theater, a 162-seat theater, and ample parking. In short, there’s space for pretty much any type of event you’d want to hold.

Exterior of Fort Mason, showing two three story white stucco buildings and red trim.
Interior ballroom of Fort Mason set up for dining, with people eating.
Fort Mason Center (from their website)

Marin County (north): Marin Museum of Bicycling

Located in the Marin County town of Fairfax, the Marin Museum of Bicycling houses an extraordinary collection of interesting bikes from 1868 to the present. Since Fairfax is the birthplace of mountain biking, the museum also houses The Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. The fully accessible museum can also be a great venue for your next event. The indoor section can accommodate 80-100 people seated or 160 standing, while the outdoor spaces can hold even more folks. And whatever configuration you pick, you’ll get to check out some cool bikes!

Exterior of Marin Museum of Cycling, showing the sign and bikes on the roof.
Interior of Marin Museum of Bicycling, filled with tables with people sitting at them.
From Marin Museum of Bicycling’s Website

East Bay: Claremont Hotel and Spa

Located on the border between Oakland and Berkeley, this impressive edifice of hospitality sits at the foot of the Berkeley Hills. Opened in 1915, The Claremont Hotel offers a commanding view of the bay. It has all the charm and class of the grand resort hotels completed in California around the turn of the 20th century. With 20,000 square feet of combined meeting space, both indoor and outdoor (including a secret garden!) The Claremont is also close to the commercial districts of Elmwood (Berkeley) and Rockridge (Oakland) with lots of shops and restaurants, and not too far from the Rockridge BART station.

Exterior of Claremont Hotel, a structure built in a grand early 20th Century style with ten-story tower at the center.
Claremont Hotel by David Corby, used under Creative Commons license
Conference room set up with long tables and chairs.
A conference room in the Claremont Hotel, from their website

Incorporate a ferry into your event…

The Bay Area has tons of iconic modes of transportation, from the vision-of-the-future-in-1972 subway system known as BART, a fleet of historic streetcars, and of course, the Cable Car. But the Bay Area’s biggest asset is the water itself, so getting around by ferry has a special charm. (Fun fact: Ferry service was all but gone during the mid twentieth century. While unfortunate, the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989 helped bring it back.) And you can book special private cruises via Blue and Gold Lines, who can pick you up and drop you off at a number of bayside ports.

…or the Ferry Building itself!

The San Francisco Ferry Building sits at the foot of Market Street downtown. Opened in 1898, this terminal was the city’s major transportation hub. It survived two large earthquakes and years of neglect brought on by bridge and freeway building. When the controversial Embarcadero Freeway was removed after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the building was reconnected to the city. An extensive remodel was taken in the early twenty-first century, and now the Ferry Building is not just a place to catch a boat to somewhere else, but a destination in itself with lots of shops, restaurants, and offices. And you can rent out the Ferry Building for a special event! The Grand Hall can hold a grand event for up to 650 people, while the Port Hearing Room is perfect for a smaller meeting of up to 100 people. The outdoor plazas can be rented as well.

San Francisco Ferry Building’s Grand Hall, from their website

Why not think big and have your event at San Francisco City Hall?

Sometimes called “The People’s Palace”, San Francisco City Hall opened in 1915 and is a great example of a Beaux Arts building from the “City Beautiful” era. Its beautiful Rotunda can accommodate up to 660 people, plus there are multiple other spaces around the Rotunda that can be used for things like a gala or afterparty. We got to experience the gloriousness of this space at the end of Meeting Professionals International’s conference in 2022. Fun fact: City Hall was also featured in a James Bond movie!

We hope that you found this post informative and that it helps you to source for your next San Francisco Bay Area Meetings and Events. Want more info? Check out our post about Berkeley event venues. There is so much more to the Bay Area, California’s Wine Country, and beyond for meetings and events in this area of the country. If you need any help planning your next corporate meeting, event, or conference in the Bay Area, EJP Events is here to assist!

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