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Event orchestration | 13 January 2016

San Francisco Venues Attendees Will Love

Kathleen Smith

San Francisco has a lot going for it. Not only is it a hub for technical innovation and creativity; it is stunningly beautiful, both naturally and architecturally. No surprise that when it comes to unique event venues the City by the Bay is home an incredibly assortment of stunning event venues. This list of San Francisco venues features over 50 stunning locations. Some San Francisco venues are famous, some well-kept secrets – all of them offer huge potential for hosting an unforgettable conference, meet-up, user conference or off-site meeting.

San Francisco Theological Seminary

The beautiful interiors and grounds of this Victorian-era religious school in nearby North Bay are equipped to host a variety of events. The 170-seat Geneva Terrace (with majestic Mount Tamalpais in the background) is well suited for any event that demands an inspiring ambience. Indoors, Alexander Hall has soaring ceilings and a large adjacent patio with room for 150. There’s onsite lodging and a retreat center also.

San Francisco Theological Seminary

The Hall

For events with a focus on green cuisine, The Hall is a temporary local food and drink San Francisco venue in the Mid Market neighborhood. It was established to support food purveyors who source sustainable ingredients from the SF Bay watershed.  The facility has two special event rooms for a maximum capacity of 150 attendees. There’s also an outdoor patio.

The Hall

Bespoke

This new downtown venue is a collective of co-working, demo, and event spaces strategically located where tech and retail marketplaces converge. As the name suggests, the flexible 18,000 square-foot event venue can be divided and outfitted to perfectly suit groups of 30 to 1,200. There’s also a catering kitchen, AV equipment and WIFI.

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The Nourse

Built in 1927, the Nourse is a landmark theater venue located in the heart of San Francisco’s performing arts district.  After 30 years of closure, City Arts & Lectures began a restoration project in 2012 to bring the theater back to public use.  The 1,689-seat hall features excellent acoustics and many original architectural details.  State of the art lighting and sound equipment makes it a unique San Francisco venue perfect for presentations.

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The Masonic

Located in Nob Hill, The Masonic is one of many historic San Francisco live music venues. Conveniently located blocks away from downtown San Francisco with it many hotels and restaurants, the newly renovated venue offers flexible meetings and exhibition space along with excellent support services. Maximum capacity is 3,300 event attendees.


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Winemaker Studios

Ideal for those who long for wine country but are short on time, Winemaker Studios — a co-op of three trendy wineries — is located minutes from downtown San Francisco on Treasure Island. Perfect for private or corporate events, group tastings and more,

Winemaker’s, flexible indoor/outdoor spaces can accommodate groups of up to 1,000 – while providing sweeping skyline views.

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The Presidio

The massive historic district known as The Presidio has a choice of event venues from intimate chapels to stunning gardens to full on conference facilities. Formerly a military outpost, first for the Spanish, then Mexico, and finally the United States from 1846, The Presidio is a national park as well as being San Francisco’s premier recreation spot (you can walk to the Golden Gate Bridge). Get advice from their full-service event management department about the best venue for your occasion.

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Cavallo Point

Located less than 30 minutes from downtown San Francisco, this event venue is located on the same grounds as The Presidio. Cavallo Point is an award winning resort with stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay. It’s tranquil, luxurious and a perfect San Francisco event venue for smaller events or offsite meetings.

Cavallo Point

Conservatory of Flowers

This historic facility, located in Golden Gate Park, boasts five metal and glass galleries filled with exotic plants and flowers from all over the world. Event rentals include access to greenhouse exhibit galleries, including the new Orchid Pavilion event space, Conservatory staff on site, and docents upon request.


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Wine Foundry / Crushpad

For an unusual twist on meeting in wine country, Crushpad at the Wine Foundry is a blending and bottling facility. The facility can accommodate groups from 12 to 150 interested in the wine-making process as well as in drinking it. There’s a full service event planning staff to help out.

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Yerba Buena Gardens

This important urban garden and park has many flexible spaces for rentals—from large to intimate—amid its expansive lawns, pocket gardens, terraces and plazas. The special events department can advise how best to accommodate up to 1,000 seated guests. Activities to incorporate into your event schedule could include bowling, ice-skating or walks with a naturalist.

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Computer History Museum

Geek alert. Silicon Valley’s Computer History Museum is an inspiring venue for planners organizing tech conferences, corporate functions, seminars, sales meetings, banquets and more. Full of relics from the technological revolution, the space is flexible and customizable. Bring your own catering, but make use of the Museum’s events furniture and state-of-the art AV equipment.

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Dogpatch Studios

This is a 3-level centrally located photography studio with the flexibility to be transformed quickly to suit any event. From product launch parties to corporate events, gamer competitions to press previews, Dogpatch offers a spacious and relaxed space for small or large gatherings. The space is quickly becoming popular with event planners due to attentive management and a modern, hip vibe.

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The Fillmore

If this historic music venue in San Francisco could only speak; The Who, The Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix, among many other legends of rock, famously played here. It is still a live music venue of note, but is also available for rentals.  The storied main ballroom can accommodate a reception for 800 and there’s an on-site caterer as well.

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Flood Mansion

The James Leary Flood Mansion is a 1915 building with a colorful history and a prime location in Pacific Heights. The former family home of one of San Francisco’s original captains of industry, the Flood offers a number of exquisitely crafted hand-carved wood and marble rooms from the Grand Hall to the Little Theatre to The Belvedere, with windows that look out on the Bay. In total, there are 11,000 square feet available for events large and small.

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Bookbinders Museum

This unusual modern-industrial storefront space houses a collection of antiques that charts the history of bookbinding in the US.  For events, it can seat 117 standing and about 75 seated in striking, high-ceilinged rooms. It’s a San Francisco venue best suited to smaller networking events or gatherings.

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The Candy Store

Guests with sweet tooths will swoon at The Candy Store, a Russian Hill-area sweet shop. Confectioners on-site will create a candy bar for your event featuring over-sized martini glasses stuffed with French chocolate olives, or wheel out a candy cart with 20 jars of your favorite sweet. They’ll do custom favors and loot bags as well.

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USS Hornet

If you are looking for a truly unique San Francisco venue with spectacular views of the city skyline and the iconic Bay Bridge, how about the historic aircraft carrier USS Hornet? The ship has a variety of spaces on the flight deck (seats 3,000) or below decks that are perfect for meetings, banquets, tradeshows, product launches or team-building activities. Exhibits include vintage aircraft and the West Coast’s largest display of Apollo moon artifacts. Events can also be enhanced with ship tours, flight simulator rides, fireworks and interactive activities.

Aquarium of the Bay

What is it about aquariums and parties? With panoramic views of San Francisco Bay and the city skyline, Aquarium of the Bay is renowned for its 30,000 aquatic animals, 300 feet of shark-viewing tunnels and an adorable American River Otter exhibit. Their special events department can support almost any kind or size of event. Adding a naturalist-tour or talk is an obvious bonus.

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Firehouse 8

A historic firehouse located is Russian Hill. This formerly vacant building has been revived as an event space with mixed retail. Pop-ups with food, fashion, art and performance intertwine and a curated mix of local artisans, designers and producers rotate throughout the space. The Skylight Room can accommodate up to 280 guests and there are further charming and unusual spaces for more intimate gatherings.

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Mint Plaza

This open public green space space can accommodate events ranging from small intimate gatherings to large-scale productions including special events, private dining, fashion shows, weddings, parties, and corporate receptions.  Lined on three sides with historic buildings, the plaza is also central to many cafes, restaurants and a fleet of food trucks.

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Kohl Mansion

The 53-room Kohl Mansion is another grand slice of SF history in nearby Burlingame.  Rentals include the run of this former home of “frugal millionaire” Charles Frederick Kohl – including the wood-paneled Great Hall, the English rose gardens, terraces and more. It’s an enchanting alternative to generic hotel ballrooms.

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The Warfield

The Warfield Theatre is a former vaudeville and movie palace that dates from 1922. It’s a full service facility with a variety of modern and uniquely historic event spaces. Full venue standing capacity is 2,300 guests, but there are also more intimate spaces for smaller corporate meetings, private concerts, banquets, receptions, and other types of gatherings.

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Exploratorium

This newly renovated, sustainably designed venue in San Francisco is located in the heart of the historic Embarcadero district. Located at Pier 15 on the waterfront, the museum is divided into galleries filled with hundreds of exhibits ranging from mechanical contraptions to artworks highlighting the beauty of the universe’s physical phenomena. Galleries are available to rent either individually or in combination.

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The Box

This private meeting space is available for cocktail parties, corporate events, launches, retreats, and conferences in San Francisco’s South of Market convention district. Once the William Randolph Hearst Corporation’s newspaper printing plant, The Box SF’s historic feel is showcased through warm wood and original 1920’s windows, creating a modern industrial loft feel.

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Treasure Island

This Treasure Island San Francisco events venue offers unique and spectacular views of the city’s skyline and bay in a waterfront venue. The former Navy Officers Club can seat up to 300 guests and has a full catering kitchen.

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Public Works

This new warehouse event space is located in San Francisco’s Mission District. The vibrant interior design featuring artisan-made furniture and modern artwork by local artists offers a flexible space for events of all sizes and types, from 15 to 800 guests.

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San Francisco Design Center Galleria

With its state-of-the-art lighting system, stage and dance floor, and its versatile seating options, the Galleria is suitable for corporate galas, creative receptions and cocktail parties. The facility boasts a polished light maple hardwood floor in the center that can be used for dining or dancing. The elevated stage works for presentations, or performances. Rising on all sides are three levels of balconies, where tête-à-tête tables provide an excellent vantage for people watching. Maximum capacity is 1,600 people.

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Argonaut Hotel

It’s name inspired by the Greek legend and Gold Rush-era adventurers, this boutique hotel is located in the historic 1907 Haslett Warehouse. Its location couldn’t be better: perched on the edge of the Bay at Fisherman’s Wharf. It boasts five flexible meeting rooms totaling nearly 9,000 square feet of space, including a ballroom of exposed brick and massive Douglas fir beams. The Argonaut’s special events department can also help you set-up your meeting aboard the tall ship Balclutha or at the Maritime Museum, both in the adjacent San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park.

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Bimbo’s 365 Nightclub

Established in 1931, this is San Francisco’s most celebrated nightclub. Located at the foot of Russian Hill between the popular North Beach District and Fisherman’s Wharf, the retro super club retains its original Art-Deco design. The San Francisco venue elegantly incorporates neatly draped tables with terraced dining platforms, a curved stage, dance floor, full kitchen and state of the art lighting and sound systems. The original “Bimbo” (Italian for boy) was new immigrant Agostino Giuntoli; today, his grandsons run the iconic facility.

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Julia Morgan Ballroom

The Julia Morgan Ballroom at the historic Merchants Exchange in the Financial District is San Francisco’s most exclusive special event venue, an architectural masterpiece that combines a Beaux-Arts interior with modern amenities. The ballroom itself offers more than 4,300 square feet of unobstructed exhibit and event space, and there are five accompanying breakout rooms plus a bar and lounge for multi-faceted events.

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The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

The Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture is a stunning event space ideal for high-profile business celebrations or networking events. Guests can enjoy three floors of galleries displaying over 2,500 works of contemporary and ancient Asian art, spanning 6,000 years of history.

The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

The Ferry Building

Located on the waterfront, The Ferry Building Marketplace on the Embarcadero offers a unique site for special events, weddings and corporate receptions. The dramatic clock tower on top of the building has been an icon of San Francisco since the turn of the last century. The second floor event space is open and airy, revealing the architecture of this historic landmark building. The space will accommodate seated dinners for up to 400 or cocktail receptions for between 600-800 guests.

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The Chapel

This new live music venue, restaurant, and neighborhood bar is located in the heart of the Mission District.  The Chapel occupies an historic 1914 building that was originally built as a mortuary and has now been stunningly renovated.  The original chapel area with its 40 foot high arched ceiling has been remodeled to create a stunning San Francisco venue with a mezzanine. The services of the on-site restaurant, The Vestry, are available as well as an on-site coordinator, sound and lighting technicians, bar staff, servers, security, coat check, and box office.

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The Women’s Building

This community center and nonprofit hub is a distinct safe-for-women venue with affordable rental spaces for up to 250 guests. It’s housed in a historic building in the Mission District with the famous façade-wide MaestraPeace Mural. Theater, reception and classroom space comes equipped with AV systems and WIFI.

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The Castro Theatre

For events requiring screening or presentation space, the crown jewel of historic movie houses in the Bay Area is a popular event venue. Built in 1922, this restored silent-era movie palace features glorious Art Deco and Spanish Baroque style interiors. The auditorium has 1,400 seats, while the mezzanine area can accommodate 200 guests.

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Haas-Lilienthal House

This Pacific Heights house was built in 1886 and barely survived the 1906 fire. It’s the city’s only intact private home from the era that is regularly open to the public and available as a private venue in SF. Run by San Francisco Heritage, the ballroom can accommodate sit-down dinners for up to 90 people, and standing receptions for up to 100. Additionally, knowledgeable house docents can conduct tours and lectures for guests.

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The Marker

Built in 1910 in the Beaux Arts style, this iconic structure stands at the corner of Geary and Taylor streets in the heart of San Francisco’s Theater District. With its domed lobby ceiling, floor-to-ceiling fireplace and grand marble staircase, this award-winning boutique hotel features over 11,000 square feet of the finest and most complete event and meeting spaces in San Francisco.

Russian Center of San Francisco  

The Russian Center was built in 1911 and retains much of its original Art-Deco character.  A Theater District hub for anyone interested in Russian culture, the center can recommend catering firms that specialize in Russian cuisine. For a unique ambiance, they can also recommend authentic Russian entertainment including balalaika players, ensembles, gypsy, operatic singers and dancers in traditional costume.

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Comstock Saloon

The frontier history of the Barbary Coast comes to life at this wood-paneled brasserie and bar in North Beach. Rebuilt post-fire in 1907, and then restored completely by the current owners. The Monkey Bar can be rented for small groups or buy out the entire facility for up to 80 guests.

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Forbes Island

A decommissioned lighthouse, patios with spectacular city views and a wine cellar dining room with underwater portholes are a few of the event venue possibilities of the Forbes Island facility. An exclusive ferry service shuttles guest back and forth to this formerly private floating compound in SF Bay.

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City View at METREON

Located on the fourth floor of the ultra-modern METREON building, City View lives up to its name with floor to ceiling windows revealing an unobstructed view of San Francisco’s renowned cityscape. Large events of up to 2,000 attendees can take advantage of the expansive 18,000 square-foot interior space and a 12,000 square-foot outdoor terrace overlooking Yerba Buena Gardens.

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Double Play Bar & Grill

Not your average sports bar, this spot is a shrine to baseball in the Mission District. Here, across from the site of the long gone SF Seals Stadium, smaller events incorporating the bar’s multiple HD screens and pub grub menu might get raucous.


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The Bentley Reserve

Located in the Financial District, this stately building is the former San Francisco Federal Reserve. Completed in 1924, the building has been a prominent landmark since. Its upper floors are leased to several prominent San Francisco businesses, while the ground and mezzanine floors are available to rent with multiple small and large rooms.

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46 Minna

This downtown event venue – also known as Harlot – is available for all manner of private functions both large or intimate.  A mezzanine level holds up to 60 guests comfortably, and may be rented out as a private loft space that overlooks the Main Level below. Rentals include AV equipment and a dedicated events staff.

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Hotel Vertigo

Film buffs will get a kick out of meeting at the hotel that played an integral role in the classic Hitchcock thriller, Vertigo. These days the movie plays on a loop in the lobby. The Nob Hill venue is in the process of adding a restaurant, but until then there are plenty of cafes and eateries for catering on the nearby steep streets.

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Beach Chalet

Events right on the water are extra special and Beach Chalet offers close-up views of Ocean Beach in any number of the San Francisco venue’s event spaces. The restaurant is renowned for the exquisite Depression-era frescoes that have adorned the walls since it was a beach changing facility in the 30s.

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The Cliff House

Another Ocean Beach-front space with a storied past is Cliff House, perched atop the Sutro Historic Landscape District. In operation since 1863, the Terrace Room can be configured for any size gathering – though its floor to ceiling views may be distracting. Activities at the nearby giant camera obscura dating from the 40s and walking tours of Land’s End trail and look-out add value.

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Hornblower Cruises

You’re on one of the most famous Bays in the world – why fight it? Throw your event or meeting on one of Hornblower’s stern-wheelers or charter yachts. The fleet’s event planners can help plan meals and drinks for your group, as well as irresistible extracurricular activities such as whale-watching or tours to the world-famous island prison, Alcatraz.

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