Attending an outdoor event as a guest can be a ton of fun. But if YOU’RE the one planning the event, there’s suddenly a lot to consider.

For those thinking about hosting an outdoor event in San Francisco, this helpful Outdoor Event Planning Checklist will tell you what you need to know to avoid surprises and ensure a successful event.

Your Event = A reflection of you

It’s important to recognize that hosting an event comes with many roles and responsibilities that can be unfamiliar.

Your event will be a direct reflection of you and the concern and care that you have for your guests. And whatever reason you have for hosting the event, the desired outcome is to create something to be remembered and shared with others.

Whether you’re holding a party for 30 jumpy kids, a corporate brainstorm for 100 team members, or celebrating the next big tournament with 250 sports enthusiasts, frustration and chaos don’t have to be part of your planning process.

Outdoor Event Challenges | Mission Bay Parks
Your event will be a direct reflection of you | Mission Bay Parks

Straightforward advice on how to succeed

After managing hundreds and hundreds of events in Mission Bay Parks | MBP, we’ve learned a lot about what you need to know to host and organize a successful outdoor event in San Francisco.

The result is we can offer tons of help so that you avoid an embarrassing faux-pas and deliver a great experience for your guests.

Many Bay Area residents consider Mission Bay Parks for their outdoor event in San Francisco because we provide great planning assistance and take good care of you during your event.

But before you get too far along as a host for an event, you need to answer some important questions so that we can provide the best recommendations for you to succeed.

  • What’s the primary function of the event?
  • What will your guests do?
  • Will you be serving food, beer and wine, or just mocktails?
  • Are bubble soccer, cornhole or other lawn games on your agenda?
  • What kind of comforts and amenities will your guests need?
  • How many guests will you invite?
  • What is the date and time that you are considering for your event?
  • What’s your budget for the event?
Why get overwhelmed with planning an outdoor event in San Francisco? | #Event #Planning #Checklist Click To Tweet

A location for outdoor events in SF like no other

All of the venues and parks in Mission Bay Parks are new, clean and safe. What’s more, parking is hassle-free and there’s easy access to most areas.

With expansive lawns, tree-lined patios, open plazas, esplanades that look out to the bay, overlooks of Mission Creek, a boat launch, sports courts, and even an indoor, light-filled Pavilion with floor-to-ceiling windows, there’s a venue—or combination of venues—that’s just right for your guests.

Lots of Choice for Outdoor Events = | Mission Bay Park
One of our venues—or a combination—will be just right for your guests | Mission Bay Parks

Every MBP venue is a different size with unique features and amenities that can meet your guest capacity requirements. And most of the facilities that we offer are in an outdoor setting.

Our planning experts can provide you with all the location data—like square footage, seating + standing capacity and more—to ensure that your event ends up in the right place with everything that you’re looking for.

For example, our Outdoor Amphitheater is great for luncheons and grassy outdoor games. The light-filled Pavilion is the perfect spot for indoor/outdoor meetings, gatherings, and celebrations. And our Kids’ Park is an ideal spot for birthday parties for young children and families.

At MBP, you’re not just renting a picnic table and you’re on your own on the day of the event. If trash cans get filled, toilet paper runs out, or a big spill happens, you can have confidence that with a call to us, we’ll take care of it and do our best to ensure that your guests are satisfied. Our event planning team loves what they do and they know what it takes to help you succeed.

What you need to know to host + organize a #successful outdoor #event in San Francisco | #Event #Planning #Checklist Click To Tweet

Real world value

At MBP, our rental + services fees are considerably less than other venues in San Francisco. Some recent examples of events held in our parks demonstrate this value.

This is box title

Example | Sports Event

This group hosted an athletic event using our basketball courts and adjacent grasslands with rental + permit fees of $1,800 for mostly location + park restoration.

Example | Indoor Pavilion Event

A recent event at our Pavilion for 50 guests had rental + permit fees for janitorial, security, facilities manager of $1,400.

Example | Large Outdoor Event

An outdoor event that used great expanses of Mariposa Park with hundreds of guests and activities realized rental + permit fees of $5,000.

Example | Photo Shoot Event

This group conducted a photoshoot along our running paths with rental + permit fees of $200.

These examples reveal a broad range of event types, locations, requirements, and fees. So once you’re forming your event idea and theme—with answers to the important questions we’ve outlined above—we can help you create a realistic budget that avoids surprises.

Outdoor Event Planning Checklist | Mission Bay Parks

An outdoor event planning checklist for success

There’s no need to get overwhelmed with the challenges of outdoor event planning. Take a step back and review this helpful Outdoor Event Planning Checklist to understand:

  • What you need to plan for?
  • What can affect your budget?
  • What will improve your guest’s satisfaction?
  • What will make you look your best?
icon-check-circle | Plan Ahead
Before you zero in on a date for your event, recognize that you will need to contact and work with MBP at least one month before your event can take place.

And for larger events with many venues or hundreds of guests, you may need to allow up to a year to secure the dates and locations that you’re looking for.

icon-check-circle | Check Your Budget
Fees can vary dramatically for different events and activities. That’s because every event, audience, and location has unique requirements and needs.

Considerations for an outdoor event in Mission Bay Parks require accounting for a variety of services + fees including:

  • | Permit fees
  • | Plaza, patio, park, pathway or facility rental fees
  • | Exclusive area use fees
  • | Barricade rental fees
  • | Chair/table rental fees
  • | Janitorial + security fees
  • | Engineering + power services fees
  • | Facilities management fees—like the Pavilion
  • | Landscape cleaning + parkland restoration fees
  • | Administrative fees
icon-check-circle | Know your guest count
It’s essential that you do all that you can to develop an accurate assessment of how many people you expect to attend your event. Why? The bigger the impact on the park, the more the event is going to cost.

An accurate guest list will enable you to create a realistic budget for food and other related costs. And if your information is accurate, MBP can provide better guidance for labor cost, janitors, security personnel and more. For example, if 50 more guests than expected attend your event, clean-up will take longer and cost more because of the required labor time.

icon-check-circle | Dismiss weather at your peril
Annual weather averages in San Francisco include highs of 57° in winter months to 71° in summer. So plan for changing weather conditions that can include rain, fog, wind, scorching sun or chilly temperatures.

Consider making accommodations for tents, blankets, extra water, and umbrellas for shade in your planning. Addressing these issues will impact your budget and ensure that your guests won’t be left out in the cold.

icon-check-circle | Lay it out to keep everyone aligned
Sharing what your event plans are and how you would like to set it up on the site at MBP will enable everyone to work together more effectively and efficiently.

For example, MBP can identify power sources and help you position necessary equipment near them. We highly recommend not using gasoline-driven generators due to their noise, pollution, and plywood base requirements that add cost to your event budget.

icon-check-circle | Play it safe
At MBP, a licensed and bonded security guard is required for every 100 people that attend your event.

We prefer that you use our security personnel since they are familiar with the parks and how to address security challenges in our location. For those who are considering film and photoshoots, we recommend hiring your own personnel.

Thinking about hosting an #outdoor #event in San Francisco? Avoid surprises with this #Outdoor #Event #Planning #Checklist. Click To Tweet
icon-check-circle | Take advantage of onsite amenities
For smaller events, we have about 50 chairs, 10 table rounds and 10 rectangular tables for picnics, prize tables or booths. All of these items are available for rent.

But don’t dilly-dally. You need to reserve and book these optional amenities early if you think you’ll need them for your event.

icon-check-circle | Invite Guests ASAP
It’s a good idea to invite guests at least 30-60 days in advance of your event date as everyone is busy with work and family commitments and the demands of life in the Bay Area.

We recommend creating a variety of plans for guest attendance. And once you have more visibility on the number of guests that have RSVP’d, you’ll have more certainty on costs and the impact on your budget.

icon-check-circle | Play by the rules
While MBP has terrific venues for your event, we also have rules for use that San Francisco requires us to enforce. Therefore, it’s important to understand what’s permissible for your event before your plans go off course.

At MBP, we do our best to accommodate your needs and recommend alternatives where it’s appropriate. However, our rules + regulations are not negotiable. Park rules + regulations for events include:

  • No balloons
    These festive decorations can harm marine life if they accidentally drift away, deflate and end up in the waterways. Consider flags, streamer, kits, pinwheels, or bubbles instead.
  • No open flames
    This includes sterno or gas powered warming trays. Electric chafing dishes are allowed but accommodations for power are required.
  • Jumpy house in the right place
    At MBP, we prefer that these inflatable structures be erected in hardscape areas. Positioning them on grasslands will cost more.
  • Large signs are no-no
    We want to support your event but our regulations don’t allow for brand or event domination of an area within MBP. However, we do allow the presentation of content on tables.
  • Beer and wine only
    MBP requires fees for serving adult beverages. You’ll also need a specific space that must be roped off to serve beer and wine. So if you’re thinking about serving alcohol, consider mocktails instead.
icon-check-circle | Build a contingency plan
It can be unfortunate, but it happens. If an unexpected issue requires you to call off or postpone your event, your budget, reputation and guest satisfaction can be affected.

So if it’s pouring rain on your event date, you need to understand the MBP cancellation policies and the impact on your guests and your budget.

icon-check-circle | Keep it together
Being organized is your best friend in outdoor event planning. Once you establish your event goals and budget, choose a desired date and location, and get clear on your desired number of guests, you’ll have a mental framework from which to move forward.

Think about how you’re going to invite guests, track attendance, and communicate updates to them. Our Outdoor Event Planning Checklist is here to help you prioritize tasks, consider their impact, and improve the outcome for your guests so that you look your best.

Consider making a schedule for the day of the event including times for set up, guest arrival, special moments and clean-up. And if you always consider what you are planning from the perspective of how it will affect the guests that you want to attend, you’ll be on the right track.

Outdoor Event Planning Help | Mission Bay Parks
Our experienced team of specialists can help you to create an event to remember | Mission Bay Parks

Event planning help is within reach

At Mission Bay Parks you can reserve a beautiful outdoor space for a private gathering of a small or large group—from a handful to hundreds of people. Come to enjoy the Mission Bay sunbelt for your event including:

  • | Birthday Parties
  • | Weddings
  • | Retreats
  • | Presentations
  • | Team Building
  • | Sports Tournaments
  • | Performances
  • | Charity Events
  • | Photo + Film Shoots
  • | And more

Our experienced team of event specialists is dedicated to helping you to create a one-of-a-kind event to remember. And they’re here to help you find the right fit for your event that meets your needs.

To start planning your unforgettable family or group event at Mission Bay Parks, just follow the five steps on our Event Planning Page.

And if you would like to download or share a copy of our Outdoor Event Planning Checklist, just click the button below.


We look forward to working with you to make your event a success. Feel free to contact us if you have a question that our Outdoor Event Planning Checklist didn’t cover.

FAQs + Answers

What you need to plan for?

Before you zero in on a date for your event, recognize that you will need to contact and work with MBP at least one month before your event can take place.

What can affect your budget?

Fees can vary dramatically for different events and activities. The bigger the impact on the park, the more the event is going to cost.

What will improve your guest’s satisfaction?

Reserve optional amenities early if you think your guests will need them for comfort.

Who do I turn to for help?

Our team of event specialists at Mission Bay Parks is dedicated to helping you to create a one-of-a-kind, outdoor event to remember.

One thought on “Outdoor Event Planning Checklist for success

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *