Northern California Destination Guide

Napa Now
• The five-day Napa food and wine festival Flavor! Napa Valley (flavornapavalley.com) will take place in November and will feature more than 125 vintners. 



• The Restaurant at Meadowood (therestaurantatmeadowood.com), which has three Michelin stars, is offering a new three-course tasting menu.

• The 141-room Andaz Napa opened last September with 2,600 square feet of meeting space. The property, steps from Napa's famed markets and tasting rooms, also offers an on-site restaurant and bar.

• For more information, go to visitnapavalley.com.

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 (newsantaclarastadium.com). 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 mcvenues.com.

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; moscone.com 

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

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

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

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

Taxes
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; exploratorium.edu
 
Contact
San Francisco Travel Association, (415) 974-6900; sanfrancisco.travel

Emerging Oakland
Oakland is becoming known as "Brooklyn by the Bay" for its trendy restaurants and edgy art scene. Here are some facts  about this emerging destination.

The Oakland Convention Center (oaklandconventioncenter.com), which offers approximately 64,000 square feet of function space, is connected to the Oakland Marriott City Center, which includes an additional 25,000 square feet of space.

In total, the city offers more than 4,000 hotel rooms.
 
Downtown Oakland is only a 20-minute BART train (bart.gov) or car ride away from Downtown San Francisco

Savor Oakland Food Tours (savoroaklandfoodtours.com) gives participants the inside scoop on a dynamic food scene via a number of savory jaunts, including the Jack London Square & Historic Warehouse District Walking Tour, which traverses the city's waterfront to sample soul food, local wines and pastries.

James Syhabout, named one of Food & Wine's best new chefs in 2010, rose to culinary fame for Commis (commisrestaurant.com), which received Oakland's first and only Michelin star. The 31-seat eatery offers an eight-course tasting menu and is available for buyouts.

The Fox Theater (thefoxoakland.com) reopened in 2009 after being shut for nearly 45 years. A $75 million renovation revitalized its theater space and expanded its seating capacity from 1,500 to 2,800. For events, the venue can accommodate up to 2,000 guests.

San Jose
The San Jose Convention Center will wrap up a major expansion and renovation this fall. The facility is adding 125,000 square feet of exhibit space, for a new total of 550,000 square feet.

The 123-room Aloft Cupertino opened in March with 1,350 square feet of meeting space.

La Quinta Inn and Suites San Jose Airport reopened last month following a $3 million renovation. The property offers free Wi-Fi throughout.

Meeting Hotels
Properties include the 805-room Fair­mont San Jose, 512-room San Jose Airport Garden Hotel, 506-room San Jose Marriott, 505-room DoubleTree by Hilton San Jose, 355-room Wyndham San Jose, 353-room Hilton San Jose and 239-room Hyatt Place San Jose Downtown. For more, go to mcvenues.com.

Convention Center
San Jose Convention Center; exhibit space, 165,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 43; (408) 792-4194; sanjose.org 

Airport Transit
Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, about three miles from the center of the city. Transfer cost by taxi, $15-$20

Taxes
Room tax, 10%; sales tax, 9.25%; total tax on hotel rooms, 10%, plus Convention Center Funding District Tax of 2% to 4% and a $0.75 to $2 per-night hotel business/improvement fee (per location)

Group Venue
In the Santa Cruz Mountains, about a half-hour scenic drive from downtown San Jose, the bucolic Byington Winery offers several options for corporate groups, including an outdoor picnic area complete with bocce courts. In all, the venue can hold up to 135 people indoors and 175 outdoors. (408) 354-1111; byington.com

Contact
Team San Jose, (800) 726-5673; sanjose.org