Well, the countdown is officially on – Dreamforce ’12 is in it’s final motions…as I write this the counter tells me it is just 18 days away. And if you are like me, you are getting giddy with anticipation. This year looks to be a blazing amazing time, with the Keynote, Jeff Immelt, Gen. Colin Powell, Angela Ahrendts (whom I am absolutely glad she is back – she was a wonderful speaker at Dreamforce ’11), Tony Robbins, Sir Richard Branson, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and hundreds of breakout sessions, along with a tonne of networking (and I would be loathe to forget the after party networking!). By the way, if you are going to Dreamforce, and would love to meet, feel free to follow me in the Dreamforce org and send me a message!
However, if you have never been to San Francisco or Dreamforce before, I will tell you right now that the craziness of Dreamforce can be scary and overwhelming. The area where the Moscone Center is in San Francisco is right downtown in between Union Square, the Financial District and SoMA sections of the city. Add in the thousands of people that are walking from various hotels to Moscone and if you are not used to the hustle and bustle of a large city (think Times Square, New York City) it can be overwhelming. So, what do you do if you find yourself ready to flip out? First and foremost, a tip: you will notice many people walking around San Francisco with lanyards, ninety percent of which have very happy, cordial faces (and the other ten percent likely have coffee cups in front of their tired faces!). If you at any time feel lost, scared, overwhelmed or otherwise needing assistance, ASK! One of the things I love about Dreamforce is the high level of civility, friendliness and compassion each and every attendee has. As a point, I and many others I know spend plenty of time walking Howard, 4th and Mission Streets looking for people who have the Dreamforce bag or lanyard and have a look of fear and trepidation look, to see if I can help them get to where they want to go.
Which brings me to the point of this blog post – where do you go when your at Dreamforce and you need to just get away from it all, but don’t want to head to your hotel room? Well, here’s five places + 1 that you can clamour over towards to get away from the hustle and bustle….
1) Yerba Buena Gardens: While the Gardens have become busier and busier each year, it is still a place where there is a quieter feel to it (last year you got to relax along to some music thrown out by some of the partner luncheons going on). The gardens is located just behind Moscone North – quickest way to get there is up the stairs on the west side of Moscone North.
2) Alcove between Moscone North and Novellus Theatre: Also right by the Moscone Center is a walkway that runs between Howard and Mission in between Moscone North and the Novellus Theatre. While you can still here the hustle and bustle of the roads, it is a walkway that is not often used and as such can be a little bit of fresh air during the conference. To get there, just turn west along Mission and you’ll see it just past the Moscone North building.
3) Children’s Creativity Carousel: Located on the other side of the street by Moscone South and the Children’s Creativity Carousel. When you’re walking towards the Moscone North/South for keynotes or sessions you’ll see it up on the hill. What some don’t know is that there is a small park located right beside the carousel with some trees and a children’s playground. During the day it CAN get busy with children (not always), but if you don’t mind the sound of playing children (I have two hooligans, so it is actually a welcomed sound to me) it is a great place just to get away from 50,000 people for a moment.
4) Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Market Street and 4th: San Francisco has many, MANY coffee houses….I do believe that there is a Starbucks within spitting distance no matter where you go downtown! However, the line ups and crowds, especially at the Starbucks Marriott Marquis, or 4th Street are CRAZY. Just on the other side of the Marquis (across from another usually packed Starbucks…see what I mean?) is the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Co, which I find to be pleasantly busy – no huge lineups, and they aren’t pounding the latest song from Michael Kiwanuka or Jack White (two of the favourites right now at my local Starbucks). It’s pretty decent coffee, with a pretty laid back atmosphere. If the inside is too busy, there is another walkway just west of the shoppe which will, if you follow it south, take you right back to Yerba Buena Gardens and the stairs you walked up to get there from hideout number 1!
5) Lapu-Laput Street Gardens: This is a find that I made three years ago, and was happy that I did. Although it is a little further than the first three, it is a nice play to just relax for 15 minutes or more. Nestled in beside condos and an office building is a small garden on Lapu-Lapu Street, that I can guarantee will have very few people around. Lapu-Lapu is a side road of a side road off of Folsom, so there is little traffic. And the only people I have ever ran into there were people who were tending to the garden itself. I ended up speaking with one lady who loved her flowers and just chatted for a good twenty minutes once. I would recommend this place if you find yourself really needing to get away but not wanting to hide in your hotel room. To get there, walk south on 4th Street. Just past Folsom, you’ll see Pacific Bicycles on your left side of the road. Cut down the road beside the store, and when you get to the right turn, you’ll see the garden on your left.
So, there you have it – 5 places to hopefully grab a moment of zen within short walking distance of the Moscone Centre if you need to just unwind. I truly hope you don’t need it too much, but it’s always great to diffuse after the hustle and bustle. For those who are returnees to Dreamforce, any ones I missed? I’d love to hear of them!
See you in 18 days!