Cutting-edge companies and vibrant conferences make the City by the Bay a prime business destination.
San Francisco is famed for its entrepreneurial spirit — it’s home to numerous success stories, from Craigslist and Yelp to Wells Fargo and Banana Republic. Finance, new media, technology, and medical sciences are just a handful of the industries with a strong presence here. San Francisco also is a popular destination for conferences and conventions. In 2013, there were 1,150 booked meetings, resulting in 2 million booked room nights.
In this coastal California city, they walk the walk — usually up some pretty steep hills. “You totally need good walking shoes in San Francisco,” says Eve Maler, an executive who works out of her Kirkland home for San Francisco-based ForgeRock, an identity and access management software company.
What else do you need? If you’re planning to find your way to the City by the Bay, lace up and read on.
PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES
When traveling to San Francisco, you have a couple airports to choose from: San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Oakland International Airport (OAK). To get to nearby Silicon Valley, Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) is another option. Maler prefers flying into Oakland since morning flights there are less likely to be plagued by the fog that can delay things at SFO. “It’s a cleaner experience flying into Oakland,” she says. “It’s actually easier to catch the BART train from Oakland into San Francisco — there are fewer stops to my office.”
Once you’re in the city, the aforementioned BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is a convenient way to get around. If you’re driving, Maler recommends using the Waze app. “It’s not just your average app that tells you how to drive from point A to point B,” she says. “It crowdsources information from current drivers and reports it to you.” This can help you avoid traffic jams in what is always a crowded city. San Francisco also is the epicenter of ridesharing, so you can easily catch a ride via Lyft, Uber, and Sidecar, among others.
THE POWER LUNCH
Recently named the best domestic culinary destination by Saveur readers, San Francisco isn’t a place you’ll ever go hungry. In the Financial District, talk business over comfort food classics like fried chicken, onion-soup dip, and chocolate cream pie at the popular Wayfare Tavern, which is decked out in hunting lodge-style décor. For a nice Indian lunch buffet, Maler’s colleagues enjoy Amber India.
GET SOME SLEEP
If you must work from your hotel room, the views at the stately Fairmont San Francisco can’t be beat — from atop Nob Hill, you can gaze out your window at the skyline between emails. The business center is open around the clock, with an attendant available to help during the daytime Monday through Saturday. For those attending an event at the Moscone Center, it doesn’t get more convenient than the W San Francisco in the South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood. This trendy spot has most everything you’d need: plenty of pillow options, a nice work desk, a heated lap pool, a restaurant with an extensive wine list, and the Bliss spa if you want to unwind after meetings. The 24-hour workout center looks more like a nightclub than a typical hotel gym. In the Tenderloin district, Hotel Monaco strikes a balance between classic and kitschy design. Join the Kimpton Karma Rewards program for free Wi-Fi and a $10 bar credit.
OFF THE CLOCK
If you have a few free hours, a bike ride over the Golden Gate Bridge is a worthwhile touristy activity. Grab wheels at San Francisco Bicycle Rentals or another spot near Fisherman’s Wharf, then pedal along the Golden Gate Promenade bike path for 8 miles to Sausalito. You can turn around (the wind makes it easier on the return) or catch a ferry back. Natural history buffs won’t want to miss the California Academy of Sciences, which includes a planetarium, rainforest exhibit, and aquarium. After hours, the Alcatraz Cruises night tour offers a different perspective on the famous prison.