16 Top San Francisco Landmarks for Celebrating Your Own Historic Moments
by Jessica Terson, Writer
It’s not just the striking fog, rolling hills, and ocean views that make San Francisco a picture-perfect place to celebrate. San Francisco boasts an eclectic combination of modern and Victorian styles which architecture enthusiasts will marvel at. The unique array of museums and landmarks makes this city one of the hottest event destination spots. From sprawling historic estates to imposing skyscrapers, these San Francisco landmarks promise to transform your next exclusive event into an unforgettable experience.
San Francisco Ferry Building
The San Francisco Ferry Building’s clock tower has been a city icon since the building’s construction in 1898. Elegant and chic only begin to describe the venue which boasts a dramatic full-length skylight, architectural charms galore, and a Grand Hall truly worthy of the name. Rows of rounded arches add depth to the space and are illuminated with mini lights, creating a festive feel that can be appreciated through all types of events. We loved the pop art corporate party held here, juxtaposing historical building finishes with vibrant colors of a pop art-themed bar and graphic displays.
San Francisco Ferry Building Capacity: 400 (seated) – 700 (standing)
San Francisco Mint
The San Francisco Mint has an old-school royal air about it, transporting you to a different world within city limits. The space boasts an impressive Classical Greek Revival style, a stunning open-aired courtyard, and two ornate ballrooms. The options are limitless for your corporate event or wedding — consider a cocktail reception under the stars followed by a stunning indoor dinner party. The indoor spaces feature updated period details like gaslight chandeliers with modern LEDs that tune to any color and can drive home your theme. The Mint was an apropos setting for a fundraising gala benefitting those affected by the Northern California fires.
San Francisco Mint Capacity: 240 (seated) – 300 (standing
The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco
This 1909 Neoclassical landmark is a luxurious retreat perfect for elegant celebrations. The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco Ballroom’s chic décor was inspired by couture fashion and the dramatic fog over the Bay. Bavarian crystal chandeliers and silver leaf wall coverings adorn the large space, which can be divided into smaller salons to accommodate a variety of celebrations. The Terrace Courtyard offers an outdoor option, protecting from unexpected turns in the weather under a lovely white tent. We love how one couple created an ethereal indoor garden reception in the space. The Courtyard is landscaped beautifully complete with an ornate water fountain.
The Terrace Courtyard Tent Capacity: 140 (seated) – 200 (standing)
The Ballroom Capacity: 175 (seated) – 500 (standing)
Julia Morgan Ballroom
Located in the Merchants Exchange in downtown San Francisco, the Julia Morgan Ballroom is an opulent Beaux-Arts inspired event space. Before entering the ballroom, guests step through the classic foyer boasting gilded ceilings and stone-carved fireplaces. The bar and lounge make this room ideal for any cocktail reception. The ballroom showcases floor-to-ceiling windows, offering impressive views of the city. The ceiling in this grand space wows with an impressive honeycomb of mahogany octagons. At the far end of this luxuriant room, a 20-foot fireplace serving as a stunning backdrop for photo ops. We especially love the romantic petaled light-fixtures. This historic venue is ideal for your large-scale lavish soirée.
Julia Morgan Ballroom Capacity: 280 (seated) – 350 (standing)
Exposed brick combined with natural lighting makes Twenty Five Lusk a cool, industrial San Francisco event venue housed within a historic building. The space has been transformed from a 20th century meat-packing plant and smokehouse into an award-winning, modern restaurant and venue, offering creative American cuisine and a variety of spaces — from intimate lounge spots to open dining areas. We especially love this spot as a setting for a corporate celebration or cocktail reception.
Full Buyout Capacity: up to 475
The Bently Reserve is a stunning historic landmark that offers four event spaces for everything from intimate gatherings to blow-out bashes. Its Banking Hall boasts soaring ceilings, towering columns, and period chandeliers. Not to mention that the stairs leading up to the entrance are red carpet-worthy — if the Met Gala wasn’t hosted in New York, we suspect it would be here. The venue is also well-known for hosting extraordinary corporate events. One of our favorites was a western-themed party that contrasted the spot’s elegant lines with leather and wood elements. We also love this yearly spring event that showcases The Bently’s flexibility, incorporating different spaces for lounging, meeting, listening to keynote speakers, and dining.
Banking Hall Capacity: 350 (seated) – 805 (standing)
Legion Of Honor
Overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and Pacific Ocean, the Legion of Honor is one of San Francisco’s most impressive Fine Arts museums. The stunning Beaux-arts building was constructed as a three-quarter-scaled adaptation of the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris. It is also home to Auguste Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’. The museum’s Court of Honor showcases imposing white limestone pillars. Its pyramid skylight creates a unique backdrop for a chic wedding ceremony or corporate launch party. We especially loved this classic garden wedding which brought the great outdoors indoors with a raised clear tent and suspended twinkling lights. Consider a cocktail party in one of several gallery spaces available for private viewing. We also appreciate the spacious Balustrade Lawn and its impressive ocean views for outdoor galas. Whichever event space you choose for your exclusive event, the Legion of Honor will transform your soirée into a work of art.
Legion of Honor Capacity: 400 (seated) – 500 (standing)
Merchants Exchange Club
This once exclusive 110-year-old club is now one of San Francisco’s most coveted private event spaces. With flexible room configurations and more than 6,500 square feet of exhibit space, The Merchants Exchange Club is perfect for multifaceted events. The upper bar and lounge area boasts three historic murals by Jose Moya Del Pino, a contemporary of Pablo Picasso. The Great Hall on the lower level showcases state-of-the-art projection capabilities, open walls, and 16-foot ceilings. This transformative space is ideal for visionaries and artists alike.
Merchants Exchange Club Capacity: 144 (seated) – 180 (standing)
Dolce Hayes Mansion
The Dolce Hayes Mansion, once a luxurious private estate, belongs to the National Register of Historic Places. This Spanish Colonial Revival-style manor is surrounded by lavish gardens and dramatic mountain scenery. Ornate stained glass windows, marble floors, and heavy wood-trimmed walls dramatically capture the charm of a bygone era. Whether you choose to host your event indoors or outdoors, your guests will enjoy this luxurious resort equipped with modern amenities. Past meets the present at The Dolce Hayes Mansion, making for an exceptional experience.
Dolce Hayes Mansion Capacity: 560 (seated) – 700 (standing)
The View Lounge
Let the city of San Francisco be the backdrop for your next private event. Domed, floor-to-ceiling starburst windows offer dramatic panoramic views from this elevated venue. The View Lounge also offers an impressive menu. Handcrafted cocktails and locally-inspired small plates transcend standard catering for a truly memorable celebration.
The View Lounge Capacity: 240 (seated) – 300 (standing)
Conservatory of Flowers
Located in Golden Gate Park, The Conservatory of Flowers boasts five event spaces with lush foliage and flowers from all over the world. Specializing in tropical plants, the Conservatory is filled with vibrant colors and intoxicating scents. The greenhouse makes for a luxuriant cocktail reception spot, while the lofty Orchid Pavilion with its adjacent courtyard is perfect for both weddings or corporate events. In front of the Conservatory lives a sprawling platform which is available for tented receptions and large scale fêtes. The Conservatory gardens are sure to stun guests at your more intimate gatherings.
The Conservatory of Flowers Capacity: 240 (seated) – 300 (standing)
Awarded its third Michelin star in 2017, Quince Restaurant promises to elevate your next event. Chef Michael Tusk also boasts the James Beard Foundation’s title of “Best Chef: Pacific” from 2011. Perfect for more intimate gatherings, the West Private Dining Room grants guests views of the vaulted wine cellar through brick archways. Larger parties can reserve exclusive use of the restaurant, while the front salon makes for a luxe cocktail reception. However you choose to celebrate, guests are guaranteed to enjoy this internationally-acclaimed restaurant.
Quince Restaurant Capacity: 64 (seated) – 80 (standing)
The Cliff House
Cliff House dazzles with its dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean, including the famous Seal Rocks. Host a wedding ceremony or milestone birthday event on the private terrace for an unforgettable ocean backdrop. Impressive views live indoors as well — The Terrace room features floor-to-ceiling windows, offering your guests the opportunity to spot the occasional dolphin or whale. The special event coordinator and seasoned culinary team will work closely with you to create a memorable celebration.
The Cliff House Capacity: 120 (seated) – 150 (standing)
A San Francisco icon since 1875, the recently-renovated Palace Hotel boasts three stunning ballrooms full of historic glamour. The Grand Ballroom features 18-foot ceilings, rich ruby and gold carpet and intricate crystal chandeliers adorned with fruit details. Named after one of the hotel’s founding fathers, the Ralston Ballroom is home to dramatic coved ceilings, intricate filigree wall details, and crystal chandeliers original to the space. As the name would suggest, the Gold Ballroom is rich with gold detailing, vintage crystal chandeliers, an ornate fireplace and a gilded balcony.
Grand Ballroom Capacity: up to 550
Ralston Ballroom Capacity: up to 330
Gold Ballroom Capacity: up to 300
James Leary Flood Mansion
A school by day, the James Leary Flood Mansion transforms into a private event venue on weekends and after school hours. The Grand Hall features marble floors and unparalleled views of the bay stretching the entire length of the room. The Reception Room boasts stunning coffered ceilings and elegant murals. The parquet floor makes an ideal dance space. For breathtaking views of the bay, consider the enclosed Grand Hall Courtyard for a wedding ceremony or cocktail reception.
James Leary Flood Mansion Capacity: 165 (seated) – 300 (standing)
Grand Hall Courtyard Capacity: 170 (seated) – 200 (standing)
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