When planning an event, you picture the venue first — right? Whether that’s an outdoor picnic, a rooftop soiree or a 200-person conference space, the setting has to be just right. The venue gives attendees the first taste of what’s to come and creates the first ‘wow’ moment.
With so many incredible spaces in the San Francisco Bay Area, it can feel overwhelming to visit each location. So, here are my top picks that showcase the rich history and culture of the Bay area, whilst keeping all the modern inclusions you need for a seamlessly-run event.
Top 5 Unexpected Event Spaces
One of San Francisco’s newest and most historical event spaces, The Hibernia SF offers more than a touch of elegance. It’s a full time-travel experience back to 19th and 20th Century European glitz and glamor. The architecture includes a dominating marble bar, a grand entrance hall and ceilings to rival Roman palaces.
Plus, with three unique and flexible spaces to hold a combined capacity of 2000 guests, it has plenty of room to suit your modest OR extravagant guest list. The Hibernia SF is centrally located for guests traveling on public transport, adjacent to a hotel for multi-day events and — one of my favorite accessibility-focused features — has customizable outdoor lighting and signage options. The possibilities are endless – and we can’t wait to see how event planners use it!
Berkeley City Club
California Wellness Board of Directors Holiday Dinner at Berkeley City Club
Berkeley City Club is an iconic location near downtown Berkeley. Designed by the famed, female architect, Julia Morgan, it is known as her “little castle” to honor the need for a women’s activity center.
The legacy of her pioneering work can be seen throughout the venue. With decadent designs, modern facilities, a fine dining restaurant and versatile rooms, it’s perfect for a grand wedding, a luxurious staycation or – as we used it – an intimate, festive dinner for the California Wellness Board of Directors for their holiday event in 2021.
Using an event venue like this is all about respecting the beautiful architecture and inherent beauty but adding the frills that make it personable to the specific event that you’re hosting. Adding a few extra touches like personalized cookies and branded merchandise is just part of the charm.
The Regency Ballroom
LiveRamp Holiday Party at the Regency Ballroom
(Photography by Cage and Aquarium)
If you’re looking for a venue that is adaptable and has something for everyone, this is the one for you. Built in 1909, The Regency Ballroom features 35-foot high ceilings and statement turn-of-the-century chandeliers, with “hardwood floors, a horseshoe-shaped balcony and a built-in stage”. When not booked for private functions, the space plays host to touring musicians; it’s totally rocking the old-meets-new identity (pun absolutely intended) and set up for all of your audio-visual needs!
The Regency Ballroom played host to the Holiday Party for LiveRamp last year. We utilized the different spaces to create different zones for our guests to enjoy – whether they were keen for a boogie and some drinks or some more intimate board games in the Speakeasy downstairs. It brought the level of fun and interactivity needed for a holiday party – particularly one that brought the community together after two long years away.
St Joseph’s Art Society
St Joseph's Art Society
St Joseph’s Art Society promotes the relevancy of art and artists in our daily lives while giving back to the creative community. Their space in the Bay Area is owned by an art gallery curator and there is so much eclectic detail and fun spaces that would make hosting an event there so exciting. They’ve got locations in Healdsburg, California and Provincetown, Massachusetts and all of them host live performances and curated exhibitions of art from all disciplines, innovative culinary offerings, collaborations with local arts organizations, transportive celebrations and access to local thought leaders and cultural producers.
For a creative client that wants to celebrate the art of the city, this would be a fantastic venue to curate an exciting event and we can’t wait to host an upcoming client event here soon.
The Ferry Building
If you’re a Bay Area local, you’ll likely already know about the Ferry Building. After all, it is one of our most famous landmarks! The marketplace holds an array of some of our finest local artisans, farmers and producers — I LOVE that they share BB Event’s core value of sustainability and celebrating diversity in the community. But did you know it could be your next event venue?
Choose from: the “Grand Hall [that] features a soaring ceiling and skylights illuminating 6,500 square feet of historic mosaic tile”, The Port Hearing Room with modern event amenities and stunning Bay views through floor-to-ceiling windows or The Front & Back Plazas — a sprawling outdoor location set on the picture-perfect waterfront.
Your Go-To Event Venue Checklist
At BB Events, I personally attend all site inspections to ensure each venue tick’s all the boxes for the specific event we’re holding. And this is what we’re looking for:
Does the venue have the capacity to fit all attendees? What is the total capacity across all spaces?
What different spaces are there for different activities? Consider the flexibility of each room for meetings, break-out spaces, sit-down meals and the potential for stages or activations to be built-in
What are the tech and AV options available? Will the space work for virtual or blended events?
Does the venue share my value of sustainable practices?
Is the venue accessible? Does it cater for those with disabilities?
What is the ‘x-factor’ that can add a special touch for clients?
Remember that even if you fall in love with an event space, it might not be the right fit. Breathtaking, yes. It might have the grand staircase you’ve always dreamed of, yes. But if it’s over budget and doesn’t cater to your group size, it’s not the one for you.
We take the hard work out of venue hunting. If you’re ready to start planning your next event, get in touch with BB Events to learn which event space is right for you.