and surrounding parkland.
Groups can also enjoy shows in a
240-seat planetarium or in small portable planetariums that can be set up for
customized presentations. Events can also
include use of the center’s ultra-powerful
reflector telescopes, the largest on the West
Coast available to be public, for spectacular
East of Oakland, Mt. Diablo is the
stunning centerpiece of a region that
encompasses the communities of Concord,
Walnut Creek, Livermore, Pleasanton, San
Ramon and others. Mt. Diablo State Park is
one of the area’s major outdoor assets and
visitor attractions, according to Kerri Harris-Gay, director of sales and catering for
the Concord Clarion Hotel and a representative for Visit Concord CA, formerly Visit
Visitors can hike, bike or drive to the
summit of the nearly 4,000-foot-high Mt.
Diablo, the loftiest point in the Bay Area,
where a 1930s stone visitors center offers
interactive exhibits on the mountain’s
history and geology and telescopes for
taking in views that encompass almost all
of Northern California.
Along with affordable hotel rates, con-
venient access on Bay Area Rapid Transit
(BART) and shopping and dining options,
Visit Concord promotes the Diablo Valley
parklands as a reason to meet in the area.
“We have great trails for hiking and biking here, especially on Mt. Diablo, where
you can really enjoy our sunny weather,”
Harris-Gay said. “These are wonderful free-time options for groups.”
San Mateo County
South of San Francisco, the San Mateo
County coast offers a wealth of dramatic
places for hiking along coastal cliffs and ex-
ploring tide pools and rocky coves. Among
its newest accessible areas is the Devil’s
Slide Trail in Pacifica, a 1.3-mile multiuse
trail repurposed from a segment of High-
way 1 that was replaced by a tunnel. Paved
with separate lanes for hikers and cyclists,
the spectacular trail offers observation
points and interpretive plaques explain the
history and geology of the area.
The coast also offers a number of hotels
and resorts that emphasize outdoor activities and scenic event spaces for groups.
Among them is The Ritz-Carlton, Half
Moon Bay, a 261-room luxury property set
atop seaside bluffs 20 miles south of San
Francisco. The spacious grounds adjoin
coastal trails and are dotted with informal
gathering spots set around fire pits.
“We have the Ocean Lawn for large recep-
tions and also numerous spaces where groups
can have their own fire pits and deck areas,”
said Chrissy Wean, director of sales. “You
don’t need to bring in decor. The waves crash-
ing and the sunsets create the wow factor.”
At the southern end of the San Mateo
Coast near Pigeon Point Lighthouse, Cos-
tanoa is a secluded eco-tourist resort ad-
jacent to four state parks with 30,000 acres
of hiking trails. Accommodations are in a
39-room main lodge, 12 Douglas fir cabins
with skylights and several tented bunga-
lows. Meeting areas include an events lawn
and 1,550 square feet of indoor space in
the restored Ranch House. The resort offers
numerous activity options for groups,
including yoga sessions, interpretive nature
walks, horseback riding, kayaking, moun-
tain biking and spa treatments.
THE RITZ-CARLTON, HALF MOON BAY, SAN MATEO COUNTY
What does your company do?
We’re a full-service corporate event and
special event planning firm. Our clients
range from Fortune 500 companies to
Have you planned any recent events
in a San Francisco Bay Area park?
We planned an annual outdoor corporate picnic for Zendesk, a locally based
software company, in Golden Gate Park
in San Francisco in September 2016. We
had previously planned their 2015 event
in Roberts Regional park in Oakland.
Were the parks a good choice for
We needed a venue that could support a
wide range of activities to satisfy the demands of a young, active workforce of 600
employees and their partners. The parks
gave us plenty of outdoor space for badminton, lawn bowling, chess games, giant
Jenga and even ping-pong, plus a soccer
tournament as the main event. Signage
was used throughout the area to clarify
game rules and keep teams on point about
the timing of scheduled activities.
What challenges did you face?
Summer 2016 was even colder than
usual in San Francisco, with the number
of foggy, cold and sunless days breaking
records. This posed a dilemma—how do
you turn a foggy San Francisco day into a
fun corporate event?
How did you accomplish this?
Our solution was to create outdoor warming huts to provide inviting opportunities
for team members to shelter and mingle
in a more intimate space while warming
up between outdoor activities. We outfitted those warming huts with comfortable
cushions for lounging. By adding some
fun gaming opportunities and serving libations and snacks, we created a mini event
within the main event. Once warmed up,
the Zendesk team was ready for action
with lots of outdoor events to keep the
What advice do you have for planners
using a park for an event?
You have to know that the park service is
your partner and understand the rules. You
have to appreciate the fact that they are
stewards of the environment, first and foremost. The rules and regulations might seem
frustrating, but recognize there is a greater
purpose involved. Be prepared to ask a lot
of questions and know the limitations.
Anna Marie Rembold // President
Anna Marie Events, San Francisco
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