A local’s quick suggestions for group fun in the Bay Area

As a Bay Area resident of almost a quarter-century, and a frequent visitor before that, I’ve had the opportunity to explore everything from its funky dining spots to its offbeat attractions on a regular basis. Here are some quick ideas for group outings when your bunch is between meetings and events.

Memorable Dining Spot – Trader Vic’s, Emeryville. Sure it’s pricey, touristy and part of a global chain, but Trader Vic’s—and the Mai Tai—began in the Bay Area, and this waterside establishment offers endless bay views and upscale maritime kitsch that makes the setting almost as enticing as the colorful food and drink.

Museum Outing – California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Okay, I know everyone knows about this place already, but having made my initial visit to this fantastically revamped wonder recently, I have to recommend it just the same. Consider visiting for one of the special evening ‘adult-only’ affairs, with beer and cocktails served throughout the facility and eight busloads of frenetic children happily absent.

Performing Arts—Beach Blanket Babylon is a quintessentially San Franciscan experience, and a cool way for groups to let their hair down in a fun and casual setting. The show is also constantly refreshed and updated to integrate current news and pop culture, so even if some of your group has seen the show it will still be new and exciting.

Sporting Events—AT&T Park has to be one of the best places in the world to watch a baseball game. While it can be pricey too, save some cash by getting your seats in the upper deck (aka ‘view reserve’), which offer vibrant views of the surrounding Bay Area as well as the field. Meetings Today had a recent company outing where we sat in Section 317, more or less directly behind home plate, and you really couldn’t have asked for a better perch.

Outdoor Escape—Consider Tilden Park in the East Bay as a refreshing alternative to Golden Gate Park. In warm weather Lake Anza offers some of the best swimming in Northern Cal, complete with a sandy beach and great snack bar/food joint; other Tilden fun includes an old-timey steam train, golf course, endless hiking trails and picnicking spots, and family fun like a petting farm and vintage carousel. And for events, the Brazilian Room—actually a handsome structure with gorgeous grounds—is one of the most charming venues for a reception imaginable.

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