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The Best Venues in the Bay Area, According to Experts in the Industry

By Dianna Candido


Planning an event in the Bay Area? Good news! You’ve got options. Plenty of them. The bad news? You might have too many of them.


Whether you’re deep in the throws of wedding planning or looking to spice up your next corporate event, the Bay Area is going to deliver everything you need from your event space… as long as you know where to look.


As event industry and rental experts, we’re familiar with the overwhelming options you face when planning your event. But if you’re looking for the best event venues in the Bay Area, you should hear directly from those with their fingers on the pulse of the industry: event planners and industry experts.


For this article, we interviewed experts in the industry and set out to find the best venues all around the Bay Area to help you find the perfect venue for your next event.


Event Planning Trends in the Bay Area

No matter what type of event you’re planning, this is what we see the most: people looking for simple solutions to event hosting. Event planning is complicated enough without adding extra (and sometimes unnecessary) steps to make your event happen smoothly. 


Which is why these days, simplicity is trending in the event industry.


Simplicity can take many different forms when it comes to booking the best venue:


  • A seamless site viewing and booking process

  • Flexible space offerings

  • Easy access to accommodations

  • Onsite catering options

  • Bonus equipment available onsite


If you found yourself nodding along to this list, you’re not alone. Booking your event space with an onsite caterer in a space with extra on site amenities? That’s definitely a win.


Most of the venues below have one or more of these benefits, making them not only one of the best venues in the Bay Area, but also a top choice for people just like you trying to plan a stand-out event.


Our Research into the Best Bay Area Venues

We’ve been busy behind the scenes looking into the best venues — so you don’t have to. We’ve also been lucky enough to partner with more than a few of these exceptional venues, so we have first hand experience with events hosted at these locations.


Here’s how we decided to rank them:


  1. Interviews with experts in the industry

Event industry professionals see both sides: the venue planning and all the details that go into it, but also the vision and experience of the clients and their guests.


  1. Ratings and reviews

We combed through real reviews from real people on Google, Yelp, and other relevant platforms to help us determine if event venues are holding up to the hype. 


  1. The Venue Perks

What space is available? What does it offer? Is it unique? Are there add-on options or automatic inclusions? We dug into what venues have what, and ranked them accordingly.


Here are the Bay Area’s best venues for weddings, corporate events, and private parties, and more.


The Bay Area’s Best Venues

Best overall venue in San Francisco: The Fairmont


About the venue: 

This iconic venue has it all. From small intimate spaces, to large grand ballrooms, the Fairmont has everything to offer event planners of any type of event. Historic architecture paired with stunning views makes this venue stand out from the crowd. Whether you’re looking for elegant rooms for a lavish wedding, smaller more intimate space for a social gathering, or a modern meeting room, The Fairmont has what you’re looking for. Bonus: catering your event should be a cinch with on-site world renowned chefs on hand.


Capacity: Up to 970 (Seated), 2300 (Reception)



Best overall venue in East Bay: Piedmont Community Hall


About the venue:

Even though this venue has a smaller capacity compared to some of the other venues on this list, we love Piedmont Community Hall’s unique space. This venue has the ability to take your event and make it memorable for all involved. Beautiful gardensand indoor event space with plenty of natural light give you options for indoor and outdoor events. Want to add something even more unique? Take advantage of their Japanese Tea House located on site for more intimate gatherings.


Capacity: Up to 120 (Indoors), 200 (Outdoors)


Best overall venue in South Bay: Rengstorff House


About the venue:

Exceptionally suited for intimate gatherings, this venue space sets a romantic scene that’s bursting with charm. One of the more unique venues in the Bay Area, The Rengstorff House is a serene, picturesque, and with a Victorian elegance that many find alluring. Looking for a venue on a budget? Rengstorff House makes the list twice for being a more affordable venue. (See below.)


Capacity: Up to 150

Honorable Mention: Blanco Urban Venue


Best overall venue in North Bay: Marin Art and Garden Center


About the venue:

Breathe in the lushness of this beautiful event venue in North Bay. The Marin Art and Garden Center is the perfect venue for those looking for tranquility and beauty from their event venue, but still want options for indoor and outdoor events. Plus, there’s no need to source all the pieces to make your event possible — this venue boasts some massive perks with on-site equipment such as tables, chairs, tents, heaters, and more.


Capacity: Up to 300

Honorable Mentions: Outdoor Art Club


Best venue for outdoor events: The Metreon


About the venue:

You want a view? You’ve got it with The Metreon’s stunning views of the city. Known for its rooftop space, this venue is one of the most popular venues for weddings and conferences, with options for outdoor and indoor events. Clear tents allow you to keep the view without relying on clear skies outdoors, while the indoor areas are adaptable depending on your desired capacity. Our take? This venue wins a big gold star for its outdoor terrace in particular.


Capacity: Up to 2,000


Best venue for indoor events: Fort Mason Center

About the venue:

Indoor events can sometimes feel confined and tucked away. Not so with Fort Mason Center’s Gateway Pavilion and Gallery 308. The venues at Fort Mason Center are extremely popular for weddings, conferences, and corporate events due to their open, customizable spaces. Sprawling, adaptable spaces filled with natural light will give you an outdoor energy but all the perks of being indoors. Fort Mason brings even more to the table with six other event spaces, ample parking on site, and the flexibility to make your event even better than you imagined.


Capacity: Up to 3,800


Best venue for intimate gatherings: Intercontinental


About the venue:

Elegant but not overly opulent, the Intercontinental is the place to be for intimate gatherings. Luxurious and stylish, you won’t want to miss Intercontinental’s unparalleled ambience. With onsite catering, advanced technology, and exceptional customer service, this venue is brimming with benefits no matter the type of event you’re looking to host. Planning a micro wedding? The Intercontinental has packages curated just for you.


Capacity: Up to 540 (Seated), 1,000 (Reception)


Best venue for large groups: Fort Mason Center


About the venue:

We’ve already highlighted about the perks of this amazing venue. But Fort Mason Center's spaces deserve a second slot: the best venue for large groups. With an impressive capacity of up to 3,800, Fort Mason Center’s Festival Pavilion is its largest event space, perfect for conventions, trade shows, and more. Not expecting 3,000+ people in attendance? Their 8 different venue spaces with varying capacities give you the freedom to choose exactly what you need.


Capacity: Up to 3,800

Honorable Mentions: The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco


Most naturally beautiful venue: Thomas Fogarty Winery


About the venue:

This serene venue is everything you could hope for in an outdoor venue. From corporate events to weddings, the Thomas Fogarty Winery is a stunning backdrop perched on a hillside so you can take in the incredible view. If you’re looking for natural and timeless ambience, this is the venue for you. 


Capacity: 200

Honorable Mentions: Marin Art and Garden Center


Most beautifully designed venue: Julia Morgan Ballroom 

About the venue:

The Julia Morgan Ballroom is a masterpiece. Beautifully designed, this historic venue is simply breathtaking. But it’s not only the beauty that has us eyeing this venue: according to reviews, the staff onsite are some of the best. Exceptional service and visually stunning? Say no more. (Just kidding. We’ve got more to say.) Don’t forget about the versatility factor — the Julia Morgan Ballroom has extra breakout spaces and different sized rooms that can accommodate intimate and large groups alike.


Capacity: Up to 320 (Seated), 750 (Reception)


Most affordable venue: Rengstorff House


About the venue:

The Rengstorff House is on this list for two different categories: Best in South Bay and (you guessed it) most affordable venue. Not only is it affordable, but their straightforward pricing structure means no unexpected fees. This historic and charming venue gives you all the romance without a massive hit to your wallet. Onsite equipment and professional staff make this an obvious no-brainer.


Capacity: Up to 150


Most luxury venue: The Westin St. Francis


About the venue:

If luxury is what you’re after, look no farther than the Westin St. Francis. This iconic locale isn’t just a pretty face. Your guests will thank you for choosing The Westin St. Francis for your event given it’s extremely convenient downtown location with easy access to transportation hubs. Versatile and stylish, the Westin St. Francis is suitable for both traditional and contemporary weddings.


Capacity:


Best Hidden Gem: Blanco Urban Venue


About the venue:

If we could give this one an award, it would be “best kept secret.” According to our expert account managers, Blanco Urban Venue is sure to be increasingly popular. Trendy and unique, this rising star is the perfect backdrop for weddings, corporate events, and private parties. Blanco Urban Venue is a blank slate, so get creative and embrace your desired vibe. Choose from three different event spaces available, including their Rooftop Terrace, Mezzanine, and Great Room. 

 

Capacity: Up to 230 (Seated), 300 (Reception)

Honorable Mentions: Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay


How to Choose the Best Venue in the Bay Area for Your Event

It’s easy to get caught up at the details when looking into all your venue possibilities. Here’s our recommendation to help you navigate through your options.


  1. First and foremost, consider capacity 

You don’t want to book an event space that has space for 450 people (even if that view is stellar) if you want an intimate space for 35 of your closest friends for your annual holiday party. In the same vein, your company might need space for 800 people to not only mingle and have open conversation, but you also need banquet seating. The capacity of your space therefore, needs to be front and center of your focus.


  1. Customer service is paramount

If you don’t interact well with the event space personnel, you might not be inclined to book a venue. And for good reason! You don’t want uncomfortable interactions to put a sour note on your event. Your event venue professionals should work with you to ensure their space is the right space for you. 


  1. Feel out the vibe 

Looking for upscale and modern? Don’t book a charming winery in the country. Instead, go for the metropolitan rooftop event space with a view of the city. It goes without saying that the venue has to look and feel exactly like the vibe you’re going for.


4. Consider the finer details

This is where you can start to differentiate between the venue potentials and the one you really want to book. Are you booking a cocktail hour for your next employee party and the event space offers transparent pricing to keep things simple? Do you automatically get an indoor option and and outdoor option by booking your wedding venue with multiple site offerings? These are details that sweeten the pot, and definitely worth considering.


Tired of stressing about whether your venue needs to be cleared out by 9pm, whether there’s a caterer on-site, or which room in what hotel will have exactly the vibe you’re looking for? 


We understand!


Planning your event can feel overwhelming, but it can be a whole lot easier with the right support. Our partnered event planners: Winslow & Associates, Fun & Confetti, Reventals, Nancy Popp Event Planning, SmittenKiss LLC, Doucet Productions, Off the Grid Services LLC, Allegra Entertainment & Events, BEW Productions & Event Services, His & Hers, are exceptional industry professionals that can help you plan your next event without the headaches that come from stressing. Check out our event planning partners and get the support you need to choose the best venue for your event.

 

Brief Summary

Planning an event in the Bay Area? Whether you’re deep in the throws of wedding planning or looking to spice up your next corporate event, the Bay Area is going to deliver everything you need from your event space… as long as you know where to look.


As event industry and rental experts, we’re familiar with the overwhelming options you face when planning your event. But if you’re looking for the best event venues in the Bay Area, you should hear directly from those with their fingers on the pulse of the industry: event planners and industry experts.


In our recent article, we’re bringing the expert insights to you. We’ve broken down the Bay Area’s best venues for intimate groups, large groups, outdoor events, and more. Find out exactly which venues made our exclusive list of the Bay Area’s best event venues. 


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