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Get Up on the Roof

California boasts opportunities to gather in open-air venues in the heart of the state's bustling downtowns and oceanside locales.

By Amanda Christensen

With abundant views of the Pacific Ocean, the mountains, or lively urban centers, California’s rooftop venues offer memorable backdrops. Gather seaside for an intimate cocktail party at sunset, or host a grand party on a ballpark rooftop—the choices are endless. 

Situated on San Francisco Bay and across the street from the city’s Oracle Park, home to MLB’s San Francisco Giants, the 159-room Hotel Via is an independently owned and operated venue. The property was originally purchased by two brothers in 2006 and broke ground for construction in 2014, eventually opening in June 2017. Inside, two meeting spaces have room for intimate gatherings: the City Room for up to 100 guests and the Shoreline Room for up to 45 guests. Take your event upstairs to the 3,000-square-foot rooftop bar for events of up to 225 guests with endless views of the bayside city. 

Connect with colleagues on Hotel Via’s rooftop, and savor remarkable views of the Oracle Park baseball diamond. CREDIT Jeff Zaruba

“We’re south of most of the big hotels in the city, so … when you’re up on the rooftop, you have an unobstructed view of the skyline of San Francisco flowing out to the [San Francisco–Oakland] Bay Bridge,” says Jerry Leap, director of sales and marketing for the hotel. The rooftop venue has both indoor and outdoor areas, allowing the bar to stage events regardless of the weather, Leap notes. 

Head south to San Jose for an event at The Tech Interactive, a science and technology center adjacent to the Plaza de Cesar Chavez downtown. Planners can immerse attendees into the urban skyline view of the city on the rooftop terrace for an intimate cocktail reception or seated lunch of up to 180 guests. 

For another modern option that will engage attendees in a setting that sparks discovery, host your event at Moxi, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation in Santa Barbara. 

“What I love about my job is that I get to help a variety of people and companies celebrate meaningful moments, memories, and milestones in a unique venue,” says Jennifer Corcoran, events manager for the museum. “Plus, working in a museum setting is amazing. … [The museum’s] rental fee is supporting an important mission to ignite learning through interactive experiences in science and creativity.” The museum’s rooftop Sky Garden offers 6,700 square feet of space for flexible events seating up to 200 people. Corcoran notes that the views of the Santa Ynez Mountains at sunset are exceptionally memorable in the garden. 

The Santa Ynez Mountains make for a naturally stunning backdrop to the Sky Garden at Moxi, the Wolf Museum of Science + Innovation. CREDIT Beautiful Day Photography

Gather in the Sonoran Desert city of Palm Springs at La Serena Villas’ Sugar High Rooftop Lounge, a chic boho venue with panoramic views of the San Jacinto Mountains. 

Host a private cocktail party for 65 or a seated dinner for up to 46 on the top floor of the venue’s Azúcar Restaurant and Bar. The restaurant serves modern cuisine with fresh, local ingredients, and attendees can take a short walk to the famed Palm Canyon Drive, home to several historic buildings, boutique shopping, and more. 

On the west side of the state in Huntington Beach sits the Waterfront Beach Resort, a Hilton Hotel. With over 50,000 square feet of total meeting space between several private boardrooms and ballrooms, the resort provides guests with Southern California flair. Gather on the ninth floor of the resort’s Twin Dolphin Tower at the Offshore 9 Rooftop Lounge to sip on cocktails, wines, and champagnes while dining on shared plates including Market Oysters on the Half Shell or Grass Fed Beef Sliders. Breathtaking panoramic Pacific Ocean views provide emotive scenery your attendees are sure to remember. 

If you have baseball fans in your group, host your event at San Diego’s Western Metal Rooftop at PetCo Park, home to MLB’s San Diego Padres. The historic building sits in line with the ballpark’s left field foul pole and offers views of both the field and downtown San Diego. 

Groups can meet and network at PetCo Park’s Western Metal Rooftop and get panoramic views of downtown San Diego and the ballpark. CREDIT PetCo Park Events

“I think the fact that it’s in the middle of downtown and right across from the convention center makes it really convenient,” says Jaclyn Lash, vice president of special events for the Padres and PetCo Park. The rooftop provides 8,000 square feet of space and the flexibility to host groups as small as 30 or as large as 300.

Lighting, branding, in-house catering, entertainment, and furniture are all handled by the events team based on the vision of the event planner. Available year-round, the space can host events on game day or in the off-season—the off-season offers planners the option to extend the event to other floors of the building or onto the concourse. “We allow you to come in and make [the space] your own,” Lash says. 

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