Trailblazers, unite! Come late September, Dreamforce will be taking over downtown San Francisco. If you’re familiar with the annual software conference (read: festival), you already know that a group of innovators, pioneers and lifelong learners descend upon the host city with vigor. Nearly 3,000 sessions and thousands of speakers, sponsors, and attendees make Dreamforce one of the most massive corporate events in the world—the conference is huge, and it seems to impact every industry, including tech and finance. Plus, it’s a chance to network with a star-studded roster of speakers and performers. Everyone from Jerry Seinfeld and Alicia Keys to U2 and former First Lady Michelle Obama has made an appearance in recent years.
Attending a conference like Dreamforce makes for an action-packed week. On top of keynotes, workshops, and client meetings, you still need to eat, sleep, keep up with your emails, and enjoy the incredible host city. Whether you’re a Dreamforce rookie or a veteran Trailblazer, read on—we’ve gathered some key intel on how to make the absolute most of the conference.
Caffeine and convicts
With a full-day of workshops and sessions ahead of you, it’s important to keep your energy up. Skip the free cup of watered down coffee at your hotel and track down the best espresso in the city. Philz and Blue Bottle are both conveniently located near the conference campus; Equator, which literally bookends the conference with its two locations on Market and 2nd, brews a mean Americano, too. And don’t forget your reusable mug! Most SF coffee shops offer a discount for their environmentally conscious customers.
Need to meet a client before the morning keynote? Some Breather locations are available as early as 8 a.m.—this one even has a rooftop deck if you want a bit of fresh air. If your morning schedule is light, consider catching up on emails in nearby FiDi (that’s local speak for the Financial District). Some independent wifi will come in handy when there’s a casual hundred thousand attendees trying to share the conference signal.
Squeeze in some sightseeing with a quick ferry ride over to Alcatraz. Your entrance fee includes the ferry and an excellent audio tour, which makes for an informative and efficient one-hour wander. Book early to secure your spot on the 8:45 a.m. ferry and simply hop back on the boat when you’re done. You can easily make it back to the conference before noon.
Sandwiches and squats
Lunch hours are perfect for a quick meeting because it’s the one time everyone’s schedules tend to align. West Coast clients will be extra happy to meet in a bike-friendly Breather that’s close to Dreamforce HQ. Need sustenance? Look no further than Lou’s Café (located on Pine Street) for a sandwich you’ll never forget. Plus, they offer assorted platters—the perfect takeout order for lunch meetings.
If you don’t have any meetings scheduled, take the opportunity to escape the air-conditioned walls of the conference and wander down to the Ferry Building Marketplace (about a 20 minute walk from the center of the Dreamforce campus). There are dozens of stalls inside and out offering varied cuisines. The iconic avocado toast from local favorite Frog Hollow Farm will not disappoint: it’s a simple combo of toasted sourdough, cracked pepper, a sprinkle of salt, and a drizzle of olive oil that feels like luxury. Too full to walk back? Lyft and Uber are easy to come by—this is the Bay Area, after all—but the BART is easy to hop on as well.
Want to sneak in a workout to recharge before heading to the evening Dreamforce events? Check out one of San Francisco’s many downtown workout studios. They’ve got everything from Equinox and crossfit to barre and yoga, all within walking distance of the conference.
Wine and dine
Impress your clients with dinner at Burma Superstar or their sister shop Burma Love. Though they don’t offer reservations, you can join the waitlist on their website to simplify the process. (Waiting for a table also gives you the perfect excuse to grab a drink down the street at The Plough and the Stars.) Once seated, we recommend the Tea Leaf Salad. Pro tip: don’t wait too late to go out for dinner… unlike LA or New York, most SF restaurants close at 10 o’clock, so seating is limited.
If you prefer to head straight to dinner after the final session of the day, try Bluestem Brasserie. It’s located in the heart of the Dreamforce campus and offers a diverse menu that oozes California cool, including the all-important Napa Valley wines—some are even available on tap! Book a table for 6 p.m. to catch the tail end of happy hour.
If your workload means happy hour is not even close to being an option, then a late night work space is essential. And don’t forget to layer up… even in September, an evening walk back to the hotel can be chilly. By packing a lightweight vest, you’ll fit right in with the local’s NorCal style.