The San Francisco Bay Area has music venues all over and range from small eclectic ones to stadiums. This is just a start to a very long list of accessible music venues. If you would like to contribute to this list please email us.
Orpheum Theater (San Francisco)
was built in 1926 and is a historic landmark for this art inspired city by the bay. It features Broadway’s hottest shows in this beautifully designed and intimate theater. For the handicapped and wheelchair users a discount is given on ticket prices for everyone in your party. The accessible seats are fabulously close, though depending on the size of your party, everyone may not be able to seat right next to each other. There is space to stay in the wheelchair or it may be possible to transfer; however, if you transfer into a theater seat your chair needs to be removed not to block the isles and will be returned at intermission and the at the end of the show. Talk to the ticket agent about concerts. Expect to find typical public restroom stall setup with one handicapped stall. Their are a few parking garages near the Orpheum Theater if you decide to drive. A good one is the SOMA Grand Garage or use this yelp.com
link to look at other garages. Taking MUNI and getting off at Civic Center will allow you to be a short two blocks from the theater.
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (San Francisco)
is located in the Civic Center neighborhood of San Francisco, adjacent to the capital building. Meter parking is available all around this area but whether a spot is open is a different story. Nonetheless, there is a public parking garage right across from the venue and small park; look for signs as it is underground, under the park. Usually when there is an event in the area the parking garage will ask for a flat rate cash only fee. There is also a station for BART located real close if using public transportation. Inside there are two seating options for a disabled person. One is a raised platform with a ramp on the ground floor. If looking at the stage, it’s often setup on the left but you can always find a crew member with a blue shirt to escort you. On the ground floor everyone is standing in the middle, which is why the platform is necessary to see the performers onstage. The other option is to take the elevators to the balcony on the 4th
floor. Head towards right and look for the sign with wheelchair accessible symbol. There will be people wearing bright blue sweatshirts with a wheelchair printed on the back and one of them will assist you up the lift to the platform. The lift itself has an automatic door opener. Then head to the left where the designated accessible spots are located directly in front of the stage. These accessible seats are a first-come first-serve basis. Purchase regular general admission tickets, then alert Security Staff upon arrival at the venue on the night of the show, and you will be accommodated. Wheelchair accessible restrooms are available on the 4th
and basement level. The bars also only accept cash.
Great American Music Hall (San Francisco)
is off VanNess and O’Farrell Street in San Francisco known for the ornate furnishings crafted in 1907. Very limited meter parking is available around the theater but one’s best shot is the parking at the AMC VanNess Theater garage on O’Farrell St (between Van Ness and Polk). It is an intimate venue with the majority of the guests standing in the middle of the floor. Alongside the floor are two rows of tables. Wheelchair users are given the closest available tables with good viewing of the stage. What is beneficial to those that sit at these tables is the full menu that is offered and a waiter. The food is not your typical venue food of hot dogs and fires, no, it’s filled with tasty selections, like the “After School Special,” which is a grilled cheese and tomato soup or there was a Mediterranean plate with grape leaves, Greek meatballs, olives, hummus and more. It’s very important that you call the Great American Music Hall in advance and inform them of what show you will be attending so that the production crew can reserve the best table for you. Furthermore, a handicapped restroom is available on the same ground floor near the entrance. It’s also good to note that credit cards are accepted.
The Fox Theater (Oakland) is in the heart of downtown and renovated with its old charms in 2009. Parking is a challenge but there are a couple of garages in the area. For guests in wheelchairs, seating is available in the very back row of the ground level and in a small area on the right as you enter by the orchestra seating; access to these seats require going down a one-person lift. Bathrooms for men and women were stalls.
Greek Theater (Berkeley) is an acoustically sound outdoor music venue in the city of Berkeley. The design is like an Ancient Greek coliseum and in the center of it is a wheelchair accessible platform that wraps around the stage. When purchasing tickets it’s a great idea to inform the person at the box office of your disability. This way you’ll get the best disabled seats available. One can get there tickets adjusted the day-of the show but then you’ll be left with what’s available. Honestly, all the handicapped seats are on the same level so the view is good all around, however some may prefer to sit more center stage. Berkley has a large population of disabled people, so the designated areas usually fill up. The handicapped restroom is located separately from the rest. Instead, look for the Red Cross signs for medical assistance between the concession stands and the stage. Here you will find a bathroom stall just for Red Cross workers and the disabled that is perfectly big.
One very important thing to note is the problem of getting to the Greek Theater. Since the venue is located practically on the UC Berkley campus, parking is a nightmare. Do not expect to find street parking unless you are extremely lucky. Disabled parking is available at Upper Hearst parking garage at the corner of Hearst Ave and Gayley Road (there are two DP spaces on the lowest level entering from Hearst Ave, and several more DP spaces on the third level entering from Gayley Road). Upper Hearst parking garage has the best path of travel (one relatively level block) from the parking area to the Greek Theater. Please note that there is a curbside drop-off area on Gayley Road just north of the Greek Theater entrance for passengers with mobility disabilities who prefer to minimize the travel distance to the Greek Theater. Additionally, the terrain getting up to the venue is a little rough. There are sizeable cracks from weathering and tree roots as well as small cobble stones but once up at the venue level the ground surface is more manageable. At the concession stands credit cards are accepted.
The Pavilion (San Jose) is most commonly known as the home of the NHL team the San Jose Sharks but occasionally this super dome transforms into music venues for only the biggest super-stars, like Van Halen, Radiohead, Madona and Andrea Bocelli. For concerts, the HP Pavilion can hold nearly 20,000 people. There is wheelchair accessible seating at every price level. The whole facility has smooth, concrete walkways, elevators to everywhere and accessible restrooms. Plus, courteous staff is at every corner to help you find what you need. The HP Pavilion is located downtown San Jose with it’s own parking structure, which is the most expensive. However, all around the venue are other parking lots the are less expensive than parking at the venue if you don’t mind a little stroll. At the North Entrance curb there is passenger-unloading zone if needed.