San Francisco might be one of the best cities in the world, and that’s why we’ve made it home. A lot of other companies have, too. With a thriving business scene comes the demand for corporate events, but let’s be real: a lot of them are more than a little uninspiring. Our list of 13 creative corporate event ideas in San Francisco contains a little something for everyone, from the mellow to the wild.
1. Fire up a culinary grudge match, Iron Chef style.
Group cooking classes are a great corporate event idea all on their own, but places like The City Kitchen take it a massive step further. They go so far as to host their own version of a cooking competition, in which teams compete under the instruction of a professional chef to come up with a menu and prepare it. (And don’t worry, each time ends up cooking enough food that everyone can eat at the end.)
2. Book an unforgettable Peerspace.
Sometimes, you’ve just got to escape the office and mingle as a team together in a really cool space. Not only is Peerspace the largest online marketplace for unique event spaces, but we’re based here in San Francisco, and we’ve therefore got a giant selection of venues around town, from this SOMA warehouse with colorful shipping containers to this historic jazz lounge. If you need help filling your space with entertainment, food, or equipment, you can reach out to our trusty Concierge team, who will get every bit as excited about your event as you are.
3. Make street art.
San Francisco has some incredible outdoor art, and much of it is on public walls. Graffiti’s fun and creative, but opportunities to make it as a group in a legal setting are few and far between. Thankfully, 1AM facilitates group painting sessions. At these events, an instructor teaches some techniques, history, and meaning in a casual and informative setting, then helps your group create their own murals, either on the wall outside or on a canvas you can take away (and even display in your business.)
4. Get a new job straight out of a noir crime thriller, at least for the day.
If you ask around among people who spend a lot of time coming up with corporate event ideas in San Francisco, you’re going to hear about The Racket, which hosts an elaborate noir-inspired party game that’s perfect for corporate teams. Their team can run the game at their venue or yours—they’re extremely flexible. Each player is given a unique profession and rushes to be the person with the most money at the end of 75 minutes, but playing incentivizes them to search out allies, and certain professions combine with others in profitable ways. Time and time again, reviews say that event planners or attendees themselves were a bit nervous that something so interactive wouldn’t go over well, and time and again The Racket ended up being a smash hit.
5. Sample all the food trucks you can.
Food truck and street food popularity continues to skyrocket, and you might as well make that work to your advantage. In San Francisco, Off the Grid has over 300 mobile food and drink partners, so you can offer a dizzying variety of food and drinks to your guests. Whether it’s Asian baos or hyper-healthy vegan bowls, there’s a truck in town that serves it up, and Off the Grid can bring them to your curb.
6. Swoon over a signature drink.
Don’t settle for a caterer’s staff handing out canned beers from a cooler—class things up a little with a craft mixologist. A good bartender like the ones at The Bartender Company can come up with a signature cocktail particular to your company, meaning your team has its own official drink (or drinks!) You’ll catch them ordering it at other bars for many Happy Hours to come.
7. Take Trivia Night to the next level.
If your crew likes going to trivia nights, The Big Quiz Thing is right up your alley. Customize the theme of the questions if you want, or don’t. A professional quizmaster—many of whom have big personalities or employ a bit of delightful sarcasm—delivers the questions with the help of a large screen, and teams play via their smart phones, so there’s no need to scribble on those annoying little scraps of paper like at the pub down the road.
8. Live the foodie life.
Food-loving teams take note: there’s a wonderful food tour, Foodie Adventures, which takes your team on an hours-long stroll around a historic food neighborhood. You’ll sample some of the best spots in San Francisco, get a behinds-the-scenes peek at some historic family businesses (as well as meeting the owners), and learn surprising things about the culinary history of a city with a rich tradition of amazing eats.
9. Take a booze cruise.
If we’re talking corporate event ideas in San Francisco, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include booze cruises. After all, we’ve got some of the most beautiful coastline on the planet, along with some of the best weather. Hornblower Cruises & Events specializes in corporate yacht cruises, and they offer several great options, from floating cocktail hours to an “Escape the Yacht” interactive game or salsa-making competition. No matter the group’s taste, you’ll find an excellent entertainment option to enjoy as the sun goes down over the bay.
10. Play head games with your employees.
By now you’re probably tired of hearing people rave about how much they love escape rooms, but what’s even cooler is that now a lot of companies are trying to come up with even more innovative approaches to those same experiences in an effort to keep things new and fresh. One such company is Head Games, which offers several creative options. One example is “Hacked!,” a mobile game event that sees your office turned into the site of a political cyberattack. Head Games was founded by sociologists and psychologists, and they’ve designed team-building games with a scientifically-informed view of team dynamics, meaning after all the fun is over, your company can walk away with real, actionable insights.
11. Dance your heart out, only very quietly.
If your San Francisco corporate event idea involves dancing, put a unique spin on it by making it into a silent disco through Silent Storm. Basically, it’s the same as a normal dance party, but everyone’s listening through headphones. How’s that so much more fun than a normal dance party? We’re not entirely sure, but it is. There are also unique advantages. For one, noise ordinances no longer matter, and you won’t disturb neighbors. But headphones can cycle channels, meaning guests can dance to different songs at the same time, or you can even have multiple live performances going on at once, allowing guests to switch who they’re hearing at any given time. It’s a trip, and it’s totally fun.
12. Learn to make the freshest sushi in the office.
God, we love sushi. And since it’s San Francisco, we’ve got places like Breakthrough Sushi, which provides group sushi making events. This can be laid back, or you can do a Chopped or Iron Chef-style competition, just like The City Kitchen. Breakthrough Sushi takes sustainability seriously, and much of the fish is caught locally. Don’t worry—it’s also vegan friendly, despite all the fish.
13. Play the Go Game like it’s your job.
The Go Game is a cell-phone led team scavenger hunt game, and it actually originated right here in San Francisco. There are numerous variations, from spy-themed challenges to something similar to comedic game shows, but the classic version is like a hilarious cross between The Amazing Race and America’s Funniest Home Videos. The challenges are inventive and unexpected, and since you’re also using their proprietary app to play, it’s easy to keep things smooth and organized. You can customize elements of the game to include trivia about your group and give everyone their own “hero moment.” Perhaps coolest of all, The Go Game can even include secret actors out there in the world to provide surprise interactions with your team as they play.
A great event pays itself off a thousand times over.
When you add it all up, you spend a lot of time with the people you work with. Ultimately, there are few things more rewarding than seeing your team have fun, work together, and develop real synergy. Teams like that not only enjoy their lives more, but they’re also powerhouses in the workplace. Who doesn’t want that? Our favorite creative corporate event ideas in San Francisco all have one thing in common: they’re an attempt to create a unique experience. We hope you give your team a day to remember.