San Francisco work culture is on another level given its role as a home base for various tech giants and its proximity to Silicon Valley. But no matter your occupation, there’s one activity that everyone partakes in sooner or later: team building.
We did a deep dive of San Francisco Bay Area team building activities and came up with this list of our favorites. These options range from freeform activities where you can get to get to know each other to structured workshops specifically designed around a team mindset. Read on to get inspired!
1. DIY terrarium at Succulence
Succulence Life and Garden is an adorable plant store in Bernal Heights where you can actually have an interactive planting experience after you browse their awesome selection. At the Planting Bar, you can create your own unique terrarium, vertical garden, or traditional horizontal planting with help from their staff. After you’ve chosen the plants you want to include, bring your creation to life with assorted pebbles, rocks, sands, mosses and more.
For private events they serve wine and light snacks during the workshop and offer a 15% discount on store purchases to guests.
2. Graffiti class at 1AM SF
1AM SF offers fun and creative graffiti workshops specially designed for team building. The personalized 90-minute experience will teach guests the basics of spray paint control and technique, and the group will then collaborate either on a custom artwork on the walls or a smaller takeaway option including 4’x6′ canvases. The experiences can accommodate groups as small as 5 guests or as large as several hundred.
Although the graffiti classes are massively popular, it’s also worth looking into 1AM’s hip hop team building workshops, wherein groups can learn about vinyl record scratching and make a beat on the drum machine before having a hip hop battle.
3. Ropes course and ziplines at Mount Hermon Adventures
If you’re looking to get your team away from their computers and into nature, Mount Hermon Adventures truly makes the most of California’s towering redwoods. Team building will be back in fall 2023, and there are a few options you can look into.
The Zayante Team Building Course is specially designed for teams to build their group problem-solving skills and navigate obstacles together. It’s better for groups of up to 25 guests.
If you have a larger group or prefer less structure, you can book the Team Play/Combo wherein guests can effectively choose their own adventure. This includes the Sequoia Aerial Adventure, a more active option with 40+ fun and challenging obstacles to navigate high up in the air; and the Redwood Canopy Tour, an exhilarating guided adventure where guests can zoom across ziplines and suspension bridges throughout the canopy.
Take your team on a scenic boat cruise starting at Pier 41 and taking you past the waterfront’s famous sea lions, Alcatraz Island, and the Golden Gate Bridge. For a team that can’t tear their eyes away from the computer, this is a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, or for work teams visiting the city to enjoy some sightseeing.
5. Bookbinding workshops with SF Center for the Book
This non-profit organization is dedicated to the appreciation and creation of book arts. Visitors can sign up for unique workshops in letterpress and bookbinding that are customizable for groups of 4 or fewer, or for teams of 20+.
Options include the 3-hour “Sewn Boards Variation” experience in which participants can print their own book cover and then fold, sew, and fasten it into a personalized book; the 3-hour “Letterpress Posters” project in which guests can design and create their own customized set of posters; and the 2-hour “A Flight of Books” project in which guests will learn and apply a variety of bookbinding techniques.
An escape room is a classic team building activity, and we’d be remiss not to include the tried-and-true Palace Games at SF’s Palace of Fine Arts. This is a local favorite for their creative themed escape rooms and high production value, which makes for a genuinely immersive experience. Groups of 4-8 people can enjoy The Great Houdini Escape Room, The Roosevelt Escape Room, and the Edison Escape Room, all of which foster teamwork and collaboration.
If you have a larger group, you can book multiple rooms in close time slots and see who breaks out the quickest. Palace Games is also reimagining their large group experience “Escape the Palace,” which can accommodate up to 125 — get in touch with them to see about reserving the experience when it’s available.
7. Volunteering with Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity is a national nonprofit organization whose local chapter, Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco, is always looking for volunteers to guide in simple building techniques that make all the difference for people in need of housing. The organization is dedicated to building affordable housing for working families under financial pressure from the region’s housing crisis.
Groups can sign up to help work on new construction, community gardens, home preservation, and playhouse builds which people will enjoy at permanently affordable rates for years to come.
Foodies will love this three-hour food tour through Chinatown and North Beach with the neighborhoods’ best delicacies including Peking duck, BBQ pork buns, sui mai, steamed sesame balls, pizza, wine, and exquisite chocolates. Show up hungry and get ready to indulge in the best of SF cuisine alongside your coworkers!
9. Ramen making with The Story of Ramen
Groups of up to 45 can enjoy these engaging team cooking classes. Options include a 2-hour ramen party where guests will make ramen noodles, assemble their ramen bowls, and enjoy an optional sake/tea tasting; or a 4-hour ramen workshop which adds topping prep and broth making to the list.
Your group will leave with full bellies and a new appreciation for the art of ramen making, which truly capitalizes on teamwork and collaboration in order to reach the final delicious result.
10. DIY classes with Workshop SF
Workshop SF is a playful and creative space offering a huge variety of DIY classes including sewing, painting, woodworking, pottery, leatherworking, block printing, candle making, dyeing, sketching… and basically anything you can think of. This adults-only DIY school really brings out anyone’s creativity and curiosity with accessible projects adaptable for both individuals and groups.
Their team building workshops can accompany both small groups of 10-20 participants to large groups of 100+. They also offer nifty make-and-take stations for off-site events involving simplified crafts where people can spend 15 minutes or so on a project and take it home with them.
11. After Dark at the Exploratorium
After Dark at the Exploratorium is a fun option for smaller groups who want to get to know each other in a more casual environment. These kid-free events happen every Thursday from 6-10pm with a different theme every week, featuring guest speakers, films, great music, and more. Guests can let out their inner child at the Exploratorium’s 650+ interactive exhibits including a giant kaleidoscope, groovy optical illusion mirrors, and the ethereal Fog Bridge.
All of this is available to you alongside refreshing cocktails and drinks available for purchase from the Exploratorium’s Seaglass Restaurant. DJs are brought in for maximum party vibes while you enjoy the exhibits.
12. Mini golf and tipi rentals at Parklab Gardens
Parklab Gardens and SPARK Social SF are 2 different parks that have joined forces just across the street from each other in Mission Bay. We love this spot for the great environment and food trucks, but what’s really caught our eye are the giant tipis available to rent by the hour, complete with comfy couches and TVs. Enjoy a day of mini golfing at Stagecoach Greens for a great time outdoors while nomming on delicious food from both parks, or bring a smaller group to roast marshmallows at SPARK Social’s firepits.
Let loose on your coworkers at Santa Clara Paintball, which offers an active and high-intensity experience outdoors. You’ll need over 20 people to book a private event and there are a few options depending on how adventurous your team is feeling: paintball, which puts players head-to-head on multiple themed fields; and low-impact, which stings a bit less but is just as fun. After going through a safety and rule straining, each participant gets a semi-automatic paintball gun, mask, chest protector and neck guard, and 500 paintballs.