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Cvent stands with you during the Coronavirus outbreak. A letter from CEO & Founder Reggie Aggarwal
Welcome to the Meeting and Event Planning Guide to San Francisco - a city guide for meeting professionals. With its mild, spring-like climate, stunning cityscape that includes 7.5 miles of waterfront, and landmark attractions, San Francisco is a popular destination for business and leisure travelers alike. In fact, its total number of annual visitors and convention participants regularly tops 16 million people, and it ranks among the top 10 North American destinations for conventions and conferences. Trendy and popular, meeting and event planning in San Francisco has a lot to offer to planners to ensure the success of their meetings, events and conferences.
Travelers can easily reach the city via plane at San Francisco International Airport or nearby Oakland International Airport. Once in the city, guests can travel from one site to the next thanks to the affordable, 103-mile Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system. The iconic San Francisco cable cars also take guests to destinations such as Fisherman's Wharf, PIER 39, and Aquatic Park.
San Francisco's public transportation network also provides easy access to the Moscone Center, San Francisco's premier facility for meetings and conventions. Comprised of North and South and West halls, the Moscone Center encompasses over two million square feet of space, including more than 700,000 square feet of exhibit space and 106 meeting rooms. The North and South Moscone can provide up to 442,000 of exhibit space, while its Gateway Ballroom can host up to 1,300 people for banquets and receptions. West Moscone's three floors of space can accommodate nearly 300,000 square feet of exhibit space total, in addition to ballroom and lobby function areas, which makes it an excellent option for San Francisco event planning.
Aside from its versatile spaces, the Moscone Center boasts an ideal location in the heart of downtown and within walking distance of multiple San Francisco meeting hotels and more than 20,000 hotel rooms. Overall, for meeting planning San Francisco, the city has more than 33,000 hotel rooms at properties that offer nearly one million square feet of meeting space. In addition to well-appointed overnight accommodations, planners can host receptions, post-event cocktail hours, meetings and more at hotels such as the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, San Francisco Marriott Marquis, InterContinental, Westin St. Francis, Wyndham Parc 55, Grand Hyatt, and Hyatt Regency San Francisco.
Outside of traditional space, San Francisco is home to an impressive array of captivating and memorable attractions that double as unique event locales. The Asian Art Museum, Legion of Honor and de Young all offer stunning settings for everything from an intimate dinner for 10 to a reception for 2,500. Captivate attendees by hosting a reception or gala for up to 550 people among the jellies, octopus, sharks and other aquatic life inhabiting the Aquarium of the Bay. In Golden Gate Park the popular Conservatory of Flowers offers five exhibit spaces marked by exotic plants and flowers, and stunning architecture. The nearby California Academy of Sciences combines an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, and world-class research facility all under one, living, green roof.
In San Francisco, it’s easy to go green when it comes to meetings. The city has been making tremendous strides to be an eco-friendly destination and has pioneered a number of sustainable practices. It regularly earns a spot on green city lists such as Meeting Strategies Best Places to MeetGreen Scorecard, SustainLane's U.S. City Rankings on sustainability, and Popular Science's 50 Green Cities in America. It currently has an 80 percent diversion rate, with a goal of zero waste by 2020. In addition to a number of hotel and restaurant facilities doing their part to implement green initiatives, San Francisco event planning gives alternative choices to planners to suit their needs, like the Moscone Center, which is leading the way with the largest city-owned solar installation in the country on its roof.
A principal banking and finance center on the West Coast in the early 20th century, San Francisco is now home to numerous financial institutions and multinational banks, as well as six Fortune 500 companies. Among the largest 25 public Bay Area companies are Chevron Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., McKesson Corp., Apple, Inc., Intel Corp., Wells Fargo Bank, Safeway, Inc., and Cisco Systems. The city is also home to the University of California, San Francisco, which operates the top-ranked UCSF Medical Centers. The University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, Golden Gate University, City College of San Francisco, and Academy of Art University are among the other educational institutions based in the city.
Enchanted by its aesthetic beauty, cultural attractions, diverse communities and outstanding cuisine, thousands leave their hearts in San Francisco every year. Located about 400 miles North of Los Angeles, the city has ranked amongst the top travel and meeting destinations in the world. Although only 837,000 people live within the city's limits, it is the 2nd most densely populated city in the U.S. with more billionaires than almost any other city in the world. San Francisco, often referred to as "Everybody's Favorite City," is rich with over 150 years of history. The city has been shaped and molded by events like the California Gold Rush and the 1906 earthquake and fire that devastated much of the city.
Surrounded by water on three sides with the Pacific to the west, the San Francisco Bay to the east, and the Golden Gate to the north, San Francisco's romantic setting allures over 16 million visitors each year. San Francisco is also surrounded by 14 small islands including the infamous island of Alcatraz. Characterized by landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, colorful Victorian row houses, and cable cars, the city spans over some 50 hills, making the Bay Area the largest inlet on the California coast. It is also the headquarters for six Fortune 500 companies including McKesson, Wells Fargo, Gap, PG&E, Charles Schwab and URS.
The San Francisco area features the tallest redwood trees in the world, the longest suspension bridge in the world, the crookedest street in the United States, as well as a federal penitentiary that was off-limits to the public until 1973. Other attractions include the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the Yerba Buena Gardens, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), the Exploratorium, the Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39, the Museum of Contemporary Arts (MOCA), and many more. The city also hosts several smaller art galleries that showcase the works of up-and-coming area artists. The three largest art districts are found at 49 Geary Street, the South Market District, and the Mission District.
In addition to its fine art and intriguing history, San Francisco provides a haven for outdoor enthusiasts with several nearby beaches and parks. Ocean Beach and Stinson Beach are two of the most popular sandy destinations. After a leisurely waterside picnic or bike ride through the Presidio, unwind by shopping in one of San Francisco's many shopping districts like Chinatown, Ghirardelli Square, Union Square, Chestnut Street, Fillmore Street or Haight Street. For a night on the town, check out popular music clubs and venues like Mezzanine, the Swedish American Hall, and Studio Z or try hip bars like Vital Tealeaf, G Bar, and Club Six. To grab a bite to eat, take a trip down to famous Fisherman's Wharf to select from numerous delicious fresh seafood restaurants. San Francisco is a city with a unique and colorful culture, opening a door to a world full of adventure and opportunity.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
The climate of San Francisco is strongly influenced by the cool current of the Pacific Ocean, which produces a remarkably mild climate with few seasonal temperature variations, earning San Francisco the name "the air-conditioned city." Heavy smog can quickly blanket the city for several hours and then disappear as fast as it arrived. While the smog can interfere with traffic flow and line of sight, it is also the key ingredient for San Francisco's spectacular sunsets.
The months from May to September comprise the warmest and driest period and the rainy season lasts from December to February. Travelers should plan their San Francisco visit during late summer and early fall to enjoy the city's warmest and sunniest weather.
The Moscone Center an SMG Managed Facility
The Moscone Center is San Francisco's premier location for meetings and exhibitions. Set in the heart of the business district, this San Francisco meeting facility hosts nearly one million conference, tradeshow and convention participants every year.
The center is also setting the standard for green convention centers in the country, thanks to its initiatives in the areas of recycling, resource-efficient design, air quality maintenance, energy efficiency, and purchasing and contract compliance. Additionally, the successful execution of its waste reduction programs allows the Moscone Center to stand out from other San Francisco meeting facilities. From diverting nearly two million pounds of waste materials each year to operating the largest municipally-owned solar generation installations on its roof, the Moscone Center has earned awards such as the Environmental Leadership Award of Excellence from the U.S. EPA and the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award from the State of California.
Comprised of North and South and West halls, the Moscone Center encompasses over two million square feet of space, including over 738,000 square feet of exhibit space, nearly 152,000 square feet of pre-function lobbies, and 107 meeting rooms. Moscone North and South has five of the center's six primary exhibit halls; South's Halls A, B and C can be combined to create the largest contiguous exhibit space of 260,560 square feet.
Opened in 2003, the resource-efficient design of Moscone West features nearly 100,000 square feet of dedicated exhibit space on Level 1 and nearly 200,000 square feet of flexible space on Levels 2 and 3. This San Francisco meeting facility also boasts a variety of meeting rooms and a third-floor ballroom and lobby area.
Leading the way in technology, all of the center's meeting rooms are equipped with advanced sound systems and state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment. The center also offers wi-fi access, theatrical and lighting services, in-booth broadcasting, and an on-site business center. Regardless of the complexity of an event, the Moscone Center's primary preferred caterer, SMG, is prepared to take charge. SMG has been providing world-class food and beverage services throughout the Bay Area for over 20 years.
The Moscone Center provides convenient access to downtown San Francisco's many hotels and attractions. The center is located within walking distance of 20,000 hotel rooms, while a BART station just a few blocks away provides easy access to those situated at a further distance. Several parking stations are located nearby.
West Bay Conference Center
Located in the trendy Fillmore Jazz Preservation District of the Alamo Square area, the West Bay Conference Center is an exceptional meeting facility in San Francisco that can accommodate groups of all sizes in its more than 23,000 square feet of meeting space. The center's professional staff can assist in providing catering, musicians and audio-visual equipment. Convenient parking across the street can also be arranged.
Mission Bay Conference Center at UCSF
Located on the University of California-San Francisco's 43-acre life sciences campus, the Mission Bay Conference Center is just south of downtown San Francisco and steps away from the AT&T Ballpark. Designed by architect Ricardo Legorreta, this San Francisco meeting facility inspires with vibrant colors, ergonomic furnishings and the latest in technology. A member of the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC), the center offers 13,000 square feet of meeting space and can arrange accommodations at nearby hotels.
AMA San Francisco Executive Conference Center
Located in the San Francisco Marriott hotel, AMA's Executive Conference Center offers a state-of-the-art meeting experience. Each of its 13 meeting rooms has built-in audio-visual equipment, "executive-style" seating and adjustable lighting. High-speed Internet access is available.
Attune San Francisco Meeting and Training Center
Situated in San Francisco's Financial District, the MicroTek computer classroom is easily accessible via public transportation and is within walking distance of several nearby hotels. Its 15 meeting rooms and 12 computer labs offer Internet access via a 100 MBPS Fiber and T1 lines, as well as wireless Internet access.
San Francisco Marriott Marquis
Soaring 39 stories into the city skyline, the beautiful San Francisco Marriott affords breathtaking views of the city below. Just steps away from the Moscone Convention Center, the hotel has 1,500 luxurious guest rooms, including 138 suites. With over 100,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space, the property is ideally suited for everything from corporate functions to post-conference receptions and is known as one of the finest event facilities in San Francisco. Outside of the boardroom, guests can enjoy a great view of the city with a cocktail at The View lounge, or settle in for dinner at on-site Mission Steak.
Hilton San Francisco Union Square
Offering modern glamour, the Hilton San Francisco is well-suited to business and leisure travelers alike. Its guest rooms feature all the essentials, including high-speed Internet access, while a 2,800-square-foot health club and on-site business center are available for guests' convenience. Over five floors of meeting rooms, including an executive conference center, make it easy for planners to find a space for any function. The hotel's prime location in the heart of the city makes virtually everything to see and do in San Francisco only a short walk or cab ride away. If you're looking for one the more memorable meeting facilities in San Francisco, consider planning your event in style at this property.
Hyatt Regency San Francisco
As the only Four Diamond downtown San Francisco hotel located right on the Embarcadero waterfront, the Hyatt Regency San Francisco is a perfect balance of location and luxury. Its 802 modern guest rooms feature city or Bay views, while its meeting facilities boast high-speed Internet access. The hotel has a 24-hour gym and on-site Eclipse Restaurant and Lounge, but it's also easy for guests to take a stroll to Chinatown, Union Square, Fisherman's Wharf and other iconic city attractions located nearby.
The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square
The only hotel located on Union Square, the landmark Westin St. Francis is noted not just for its historic Magneta Grandfather Clock, but also for its world-class service and magnificent accommodations. Marble columns, ornate balconies and intricate woodwork transport guests back to an of era elegance as they stay in one of 1,195 guest rooms, relax at the on-site health club and spa, or dine at the award-winning MICHAEL MINA restaurant. Equally as sophisticated are its meeting facilities, which include the 10,700-square-foot Grand Ballroom and Imperial Floor.
InterContinental San Francisco
Towering 32 stories above the lively South of Market neighborhood, the InterContinental San Francisco is the city's newest luxury hotel. The hotel welcomes guests to its 550 guest rooms with a plush setting of rich wood and marble, sleek furniture and contemporary art, along with high-tech amenities. Its meeting rooms are also the most technologically advanced in San Francisco, boasting high-speed Internet access, ISDN lines, independent climate controls and advanced security.
Fort Mason Center San Francisco
The nine Mission Revival buildings of this waterfront destination are comprised of classrooms, galleries, meeting rooms, performance spaces, a conference center and two pavilions. Nearly 25 non-profit organizations reside on the Fort Mason Center campus, which hosts over 15,000 events each year. Perfect for exhibits, fairs, lectures, performances, fundraisers, workshops and more, the center boasts 130,000 square feet of space spread among 20 facilities.
Nob Hill Masonic Center
Dedicated in 1958, the Nob Hill Masonic Center's stunning design features a one-of-a-kind mosaic window at the entrance foyer and the large Memorial Sculpture topping the east end of the California Street wall. In addition to housing the Henry Wilson Coil Library & Museum of Freemasonry, the center regularly hosts both public and private events. Planners can take advantage of high-quality San Francisco meeting facilities offered here, which offer incredible acoustics and 3,165 seats the on-site auditorium, or enjoy 16,500 square feet of space at the exhibition hall.
San Francisco Design Center Galleria
This four-story atrium of the San Francisco Design Center's Galleria sets the stage for a party with a retractable skylight, hardwood dance floor, state-of-the-art lighting and three levels of balconies and tables. Available year-round, this hip space serves as the perfect site for weddings, corporate functions, fashion shows and more.
With rich wood accents, low lighting, and soft leather elements, Roe restaurant evokes a feeling of pure glamour and sophistication. The premier boutique nightclub and lounge in San Francisco, Roe's tri-level facility can accommodate 40 to 700 guests for all types of occasions. Its American contemporary menu with Asian and South American flair is sure to please with dishes such as pan-fried mini crab cakes and shitake mushroom mini egg rolls.
Located in San Francisco's downtown district, Le Colonial evokes the feeling of French colonial Vietnam, thanks to its oasis-like inner courtyard that features mosaic tile flooring, a pressed-tin ceiling, tropical plants, and rattan furniture. French-Vietnamese dishes and tropical cocktails make up the menu. Available for private parties and corporate events, Le Colonial offers rooms as large as its second-floor lounge for up to 250 people and intimate veranda for up to 25 people.
Combining a California/Mediterranean-inspired menu and screenings of foreign and independent films, Foreign Cinema is a quintessentially San Francisco dining experience. Located in the bustling Mission District, the facility's industrial chic setting features fireside seating indoors, a semi-private mezzanine, and an outdoor patio. The entire 5,000-square-foot restaurant is available for rental, as are smaller spaces including the adjacent Laszlo bar for up to 100 people.
ThirstyBear Brewing Company
Located in a historic brick building next to the Moscone Convention Center and W Hotel, ThirstyBear is the first brewery restaurant in the country to serve authentic Spanish cuisine. Incorporating specialty ingredients from Spain, ThirstyBear's menu items include prawns with ancho chili oil, grilled flank steak with chimichurri sauce, and a number of tapas such as patatas bravas and empanadas. A minimum of nine distinct beer styles are on tap any given day. Private and semi-private rooms are available, including the popular Billar Room, which offers a pool table, dartboards and informal seating. Full restaurant buyouts are offered.
San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
Approximate taxi fare: $61 USD
Located 14 miles south of downtown San Francisco, San Francisco International has been ranked as one of the world’s 30 busiest airports, serving more than 33 million passengers every year. The three-terminal, 90-gate airport debuted a $383-million renovation of Terminal 2. The renovation project resulted in a new 575,000-square-foot terminal with 14 gates, 33,633 square feet of retail space – including 12 restaurants, nine retail stores, a gourmet market, wine bar and spa – and a pedestrian bridge to the airport’s fully automated people mover.
Currently, San Francisco International is committed to showcasing its home city. Nearly all of its eateries are branches of local restaurants, bars and cafes, so passengers can get a true taste of San Francisco even if they can’t leave the airport. Much of the airport’s eclectic mix of bookstores, gift shops, travel outfitters and luxury boutiques has ties to local purveyors as well.
San Francisco International is also home to the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, a 7,000-square-foot public exhibition space with various historic transportation artifacts. Admission is free and groups of up to 250 people are welcome to hold private events in the sprawling space.
San Francisco International offers parking in hourly, daily and long-term areas. The airport also provides direct service to the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Rapid Rail and San Mateo County Transit (samTrans) bus system.
Traveling between terminals is easy thanks to AirTrain, a fully-automated people mover that runs 24 hours a day. AirTrain’s Red Line connects all terminals and terminal garages, as well as provides direct access to the BART station. AirTrain’s Blue Line connects all terminals and terminal garages, as well as provides direct access to the BART station and the Rental Car Center.
Airline carriers serving San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco has eight curbside bus stops that provide connecting service to Amtrak stations in nearby Oakland and Emeryville, both eight miles outside of San Francisco.
Trains at the Oakland station travel on three routes: the Capitol Corridor, Coast Starlight and San Joaquin. With multiple daily trips along the Sacramento region and San Francisco Bay Area, the Capitol Corridor route runs from San Jose to Auburn. The Coast Starlight route provides daily service from Seattle to Los Angeles, passing through Portland, Sacramento, Santa Barbara and the San Francisco Bay Area. Finally, the San Joaquin passes through California's Central Valley, with daily trips from Sacramento to Bakersfield.
The Emeryville station is serviced by the Capitol Corridor, Coast Starlight and San Joaquin routes as well. It also offers service on the California Zephyr route, which runs daily between Emeryville and ChicagoChicago.
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), San Francisco's 104-mile-long light rail system, links eight downtown stations with San Francisco International Airport to the south and 29 stations in the East Bay region. The system runs weekdays from 4 AM to midnight, Saturday from 6 AM to midnight and Sunday from 8 AM to midnight; trains typically run every 15 minutes. Fares vary by destination but passengers under 5 ride free. The fare from the airport to downtown is $5.15.
Founded in 1912, the San Francisco Municipal Railway system, or the Muni, is one of the country's oldest public transit agencies. Today it is the 7th largest of its kind in the United States. Known for its 1,000-vehicle fleet of historic street cars, modern light rail vehicles, diesel buses, alternative fuel vehicles, electric trolley coaches and cable cars, the Muni sees more than 200 million riders every year. This number is not surprising, seeing as how the system's 80 routes throughout San Francisco offer stops with two blocks of 90 percent of all residences in the city.
The Muni's nine light rail, or metro, stations allow for both underground downtown travel and aboveground service in San Francisco's outer neighborhoods. Historic streetcars, or the F-line, operate along Market Street beginning in the Castro District and ending at Fisherman's Wharf. Cable cars operate among three routes: the Powell-Hyde line, terminating near the Maritime Museum and Aquatic Park; the Powell-Mason line, terminating three blocks from Fisherman's Wharf; and the California Street line.
Schedules vary based on route and vehicle. Bus, metro and streetcar fare is $2 each way, while cable car fare is $5 one-way or $11 for an all-day pass. Children under 5 ride free.
Golden Gate Transit offers ferry and fixed-route bus service throughout San Francisco and Marin and Sonoma counties. Three ferry terminals offers daily transport between San Francisco and Larkspur in central Marin County as well as Sausalito in southern Marin County. The transit's bus system operates daily along 45 routes throughout six zones.
Ferry fares are $4.90 each way for passengers ages 6-18 and $7.85 each way for adults. Bus fares vary by zone, ranging from $1.70 to $9.25 each way. One-day, seven-day and 41-day bus passes are available. Children under 6 ride the ferry and bus systems for free.
San Mateo County Transit offers bus service throughout San Francisco to communities on the Peninsula as far south as Palo Alto. It also has direct service to the San Francisco International Airport and the Moscone Center. The 446-square-mile service area covers 54 routes and serves 15 million passengers every year. One-way daily service fare is $1 for youths ages 17 and under and $1.75 for adults.
Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National and Thrifty service the San Francisco International Airport's Rental Car Center. The center is accessible by the AirTrain's Blue Line.
Taxis can be found at the San Francisco International Airport's designated taxi zones on the Arrivals/Baggage Claim Level of all three terminals. Fares range from $40 to $44 from the airport to downtown San Francisco, with an additional $2 pass-through airport departure fee. Once in San Francisco, taxis can be hailed on the street or called from hotel front desks.
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