by Michael C. Lowe | June 27, 2013
Why Here?
Northern California encompasses a wide variety of scenes, whether tech-centric Silicon Valley, picturesque Napa or hip Oakland. San Francisco is even more picturesque than ever with the addition of the Bay Lights (above), a fine-arts display mounted on the Bay Bridge's vertical cables.
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San Francisco
In February, city officials approved the creation of the Moscone Expansion District to fund construction of 400,000 square feet of new function space at the Moscone Center. Work will begin in November 2014 and finish in 2018.

The Moscone Center achieved LEED Gold certification for Existing Buildings last October for its energy efficiency, water savings and 60,000-square-foot solar-energy installation  atop Moscone South, among other efforts. Last June, the 1.2 million-square-foot facility completed a $56 million renovation. 

The SFJazz Center opened in January with a 700-seat performance hall. Event spaces include the 1,900-square-foot second-floor lobby, with floor-to-ceiling glass on three sides.

In March, the Bay Bridge debuted the Bay Lights -- 25,000 programmed LED lights mounted on the bridge's vertical cables. Planners can book a bay cruise to give guests a unique view.

In 2016, the 50th Super Bowl will take place in Santa Clara, 45 minutes from San Francisco, at the 1.8 million-square-foot Levi's Stadium ( The venue, opening in 2014, will be the new home of the San Francisco 49ers. 

Meeting Hotels

Among properties in the Union Square area are the 1,908-room Hilton San Francisco Union Square, 1,496-room Marriott Marquis San Francisco, 1,195-room Westin St. Francis, 1,010-room Parc 55 Wyndham San Francisco-Union Square and 533-room Hotel Nikko San Francisco. To find and compare hotels, and send RFPs, go to

Convention Centers
Moscone Center; exhibit space, 442,000 square feet in Moscone North/South combined; number of meeting rooms, 68. Moscone West; exhibit space, 3,000 square feet; meeting rooms, 38. (415) 974-4000; 

Fort Mason Center; exhibit space, 130,000 square feet; meeting rooms, 11. (415) 441-3400;

Concourse Exhibition Center at the San Francisco Design Center; exhibit space, 125,000 square feet; no meeting rooms. (415) 490-5800;

South San Francisco Conference Center; exhibit space, approximately 20,500 square feet; meeting rooms, 12. (650) 877-8787;

Airport Transit
San Francisco International Air­port, about 13 miles south of downtown San Francisco. Transfer cost by taxi, $45 to downtown.

Room tax, 14%; Tourism Improvements District Assessment, 1% or 1.5%; Moscone Expansion District, .3125% or .5%; total tax on hotel rooms, 15.3125% or 16%

Beginning January 2014: room tax, 14%; Tourism Improvements District Assessment, .75% or 1%; Moscone Expansion District, .3125% or 1.25%; total tax on hotel rooms, 15.0625% or 16.25%

Group Venues
The Exploratorium reopen­ed in April in its new home on the Embarcadero waterfront. The 330,000-square-foot interactive art and sciences museum features some 150 new exhibits and several areas for events, including the 20,000-square-foot Central Gallery. (415) 528-4444;
San Francisco Travel Association, (415) 974-6900;