For the people in the know, there are quaint lovely historical places and parks where couples can have their special day for a fraction of the prices of the luxury hotels and event halls. Some belong to local municipalities while others are regional and state parks but all bring something unique to any occasion. Whether a wedding or another occasion the places on this list have charm, atmosphere and some have stunning views. For example, in San Francisco, Stern Grove has an adorable cottage in the midst of towering redwood trees. One can rent the cottage or the park for the event. I have designed several weddings in that location and they are magical (although can be rather cold if it’s a foggy day). On the opposite side of the bay, Oakland also has lovely event venues that are nestled in the hills or in the heart of the city. Warmer weather helps schedule events throughout the year. Preservation Park is a beautiful location right in downtown Oakland that would transport you and your guests to a time gone by with it’s late 19th early 20th century neighborhood.
The best place to start your search is the municipal website or recreation and parks department. They will list venues and prices. In California, the regional and state parks manage several spectacular locations that are well worth checking out. Please note that these venues range from small structures to huge open spaces. Make sure to match the location with your expected guest list. The list below includes some options around the bay, but it is not comprehensive.
There are many other options to explore. Most restaurants and clubs will rent the space for the night. If you have a favorite hang-out or eatery, share your experience with your guests.
San Francisco City Hall $-$$$$$
Numerous outdoor and indoor locations around San Francisco accessed through San Francisco Recreation and Parks $-$$$
Officers’ Club and Log Cabin, $$-$$$$ The Presidio, San Francisco, CA
Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA
Piedmont community center and Japanese garden $$$$, 711 Highland Piedmont, CA 94611
Brazilian Room $$$, Tilden Regional Park, Wildcat Canyon Rd. at Shasta Rd. Berkeley, CA, 94708
Berkeley Botanical Garden, Julia Morgan Hall/Conference Center $$, W/Redwood Grove $$$$
Fern Cottage $ 6530 San Pablo Dam Rd, El Sobrante, CA
Lake Temescal Boat House $$, 6500 Broadway Oakland, CA 94618
Shoreline Center $, 7250 Doolittle Drive Oakland, CA 94621
Preservation Park, 1233 Preservation Park Way, Oakland, CA 94612
Art & Garden Center $
Rengstorff House $ 3070 N. Shoreline Boulevard, Mountain View, CA 94043
Michael’s at The Shoreline 2960 N Shoreline Blvd Mountain View, CA 94043
Shoreline Boathouse and Lake $$$
Allied Arts Guild $$$-$$$$, 75 Arbor Road at Cambridge Avenue • Menlo Park, CA
Marin Art and Garden Center $$$$, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross, CA 94957