Meeting in Oakland provides a unique flare
If you ever stumble into a Bay Area native—which is unlikely these days—they will probably tell you that Oakland is one of the last cities in the region with some remaining vestige of the freewheeling, creative spirit the Bay Area is known for. Accessible from most Bay Area cities in under an hour, Oakland is a true Pandora’s box of culinary creatives, artists of every ilk, and distinct meeting venues all wrapped in a city where passion and a sense of community provide a life pulse throughout the city’s streets.
For attendees flying in from out of state, the Oakland International Airport (OAK) is about a 10- to 15-minute drive from the downtown area or the city’s famed Jack London Square with numerous dining options, nightlife and places to meet. In early March, the Port of Oakland Board of Commissioners adopted ordinances that include 10-year space agreements for 16 new retail storefronts at the airport with the intent of connecting travelers with local businesses.
“People are always surprised by the array of activities in Oakland as well as our outdoor space. We are proud to say that It’s easy, it’s vibrant, and It’s inspiring to book events in Oakland. And it is very true! With a great location near three major airports, Oakland is an ideal choice for meetings and events. We are home to beautiful traditional venues, industrial warehouse space, lush park-like settings, outdoor options and attractions,” says Carole Manning-Kim, director of sales at Visit Oakland.
Where to Meet in Oakland
Jack London once said, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” But we can swap out the formidable object the famous author mentioned with the more constructive and fun word like “meeting.” Jack London Square proper sits beyond the harbor of the Oakland Estuary on the interior of the San Francisco Bay and is home to innumerable restaurants and one of the oldest bars in the state, Heinolds First and Last Chance Saloon, which was built from reclaimed wood from an abandoned river boat in 1884 and was the preferred watering hole of London during his younger years who died at the age of 40. Heinolds is truly a historic wonder serving premium beers and cocktails fresh from an outpost of Oakland’s past.
However, beyond Jack London Square proper lies numerous taprooms, wineries and restaurants—many of which are primed to host events. Buck Wild Brewery and Taproom in the Jack London neighborhood is a short walk from the waterfront and features three indoor meeting spaces available for hosting. The main taproom is available for a full buyout and can accommodate 115-130. The brewery’s board room is situated in a private room and can accommodate 16-24 depending on the configuration of tables.
Buck Wild’s Lounge sits adjacent to the Boardroom and can be booked separately or as a combo with seating for up to 50 guests. Buck Wild serves a wide selection of beers and offers a tasty menu of small bites and mains—all of which are gluten-free—making it an extremely inclusive experience.
“Buck Wild is truly unique in that we’re California’s original gluten-free craft brewery, says Mike Bernstein, founder and CEO of Buck Wild Brewing. “Our taproom is beautiful—it’s located in a 1946 industrial space with concrete floors and beautiful exposed wood ceilings.”
Located a few blocks away from Jack London Square is the Brooklyn West Winery (named for the fable that Oakland was once known as the Brooklyn of the West)—a smaller upscale and chic tasting room serving small-lot, handcrafted wines sourced from Sonoma’s Alexander valley. Guests can enjoy flights served at Brooklyn West that include a selection of reds and whites. The tasting room consists of a single room measuring 1,400 sq. ft. and can accommodate 16 for a seated boardroom meeting and up to 35 for a standing reception.
Just a stone’s throw from Jack London Square in Oakland’s uptown area in the multiuse complex known as The Hive. Drake’s Dealership has embraced the area’s former professional disposition as “auto row,” serving customers various styles of hand-crafted beers from its extensive library. However, while the beer served at Drake’s may be the main attraction—the brewing company also offers a delicious selection of wood-fired pizza, sandwiches, salads and more.
Groups can meet in one of three rustic, brick-lined spaces. Drake’s Alley Bar is perfect for intimate gatherings in an outside space and comes equipped with heaters and two auxiliary speakers, allowing guests to play music of their choosing. The Alley Bar can accommodate up to 30. The Beer Garden offers five rows of picnic bench seating that can accommodate up to 75 with heaters readily available. The indoor Utica Room is designed in the vain of a beer garden, featuring two 50-inch HD TVs for presentations or entertainment and can seat 70 or accommodate 90 for receptions.
Get in Where You Fit in
In addition to the vast array of food and entertainment options available in The Town, Oakland is also home to an assortment of high-end lodging options. “Oakland has 40 hotels with 5,000+ guest rooms from first-class hotels and boutique properties to the top names in lodging,” Manning-Kim says.
Located 10 minutes from Jack London Square by car in Oakland’s Arts and Entertainment District, Moxy Oakland Downtown, which was completed in 2021 under the Marriott brand, offers guests a complimentary beverage upon arrival with rooms boasting high-end amenities. Meeting professionals can take advantage of 172 guestrooms and 3,284 sq. ft. of event space spanning four meeting rooms and one breakout room. The Moxy also has space for attendees to blow off some steam after a day of meetings at Bar Moxy, which consists of a blend of social lounge and office space.
Centrally located in Downtown Oakland, the 494-room Oakland Marriott City Center is connected directly to the Oakland Convention Center. The property includes 37 meeting rooms spanning 102,992 sq. ft. of event space. The property is also home to Iron and Oak, a restaurant specializing in a mix of American classics and globally influenced fare. The Iron and Oak Topgolf Swing Suite provides an entertaining way for groups to relax, have some fun and grab a drink—all in a casual environment.
The Courtyard Oakland Downtown, located on Broadway directly across from Oakland Marriott City Center, offers planners access to 157 guest rooms and 1,330 sq. ft. of meeting space with three meeting rooms and provides the same easy access to the convention center and surrounding attractions with blocks available starting at 10 rooms.