The Herbst Theater: A Historical Gem in San Francisco

The Herbst Theater is a historical gem for any cinema or theater enthusiast. As one of the oldest and most iconic theaters in the city, this venue brings a rich cultural heritage that has been attracting visitors from around the world for decades, providing many shows over the years.

herbst theater san francisco

Location of the Herbst theater in San Francisco

Situated in the Civic Center neighborhood, the Herbst Theater is easily accessible by public transportation or private vehicles. You can find the Herbst Theater at 401 Van Ness Avenue, at the corner of McAllister Street and Van Ness Avenue. Its location makes it convenient for visitors to explore other nearby attractions such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art or the Golden Gate Park.

History of the Herbst Theater

Originally called the Veterans Auditorium, this historic 892-seat theater opened in 1915 and is considered historically significant as the birthplace of the United Nations. It was famous for hosting live broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera and the San Francisco Symphony in the 1930s. In 1977, The Herbst Theatre underwent a multi-million renovation and became a performance space for San Francisco’s most important cultural institutions, including Berkeley Repertory Theatre, San Francisco Opera, and San Francisco Ballet. Today, the theater is owned by the City of San Francisco and operated by San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center.

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Herbst Theater FAQs

What can you expect when visiting the Herbst Theater?

Visitors to the theater can enjoy an exciting lineup of events ranging from musicals and operas to comedy shows and film screenings. The facility also has a café with snacks and drinks, as well as a gift shop where you can purchase souvenirs and other memorabilia. There are also guided tours available, allowing visitors to learn more about the history of the theater and the historic attractions in the Civic Center neighborhood. The Herbst Theater is also a popular venue for corporate events, banquets, conferences, and private parties. Guests can also get discounts on tickets by purchasing.

What kind of events are hosted at the Herbst Theater?

The Herbst Theater in San Francisco is a popular venue for a wide range of events, from theatrical performances to corporate gatherings. It has been host to some of the most iconic shows in theater history, such as Cats and Les Misérables, and remains a popular destination for musical performances, comedy shows, seminars, conferences, and other events. The Herbst Theater is also regularly used to host special events such as fundraising galas and awards ceremonies. It has even been the site of presidential debates and political conventions over the years.

san francisco herbst theater

Are there any restrictions on what I can bring inside the theater?

The Herbst Theater implements a strict policy regarding items that can be brought inside to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all guests. Prohibited items include large bags, backpacks, outside food or beverages (except for water), professional cameras or recording devices, and any items that can disrupt the performance or other guests’ experience, such as noise-making devices or laser pointers. Kindly note that all bags may be subject to search upon entry. It’s advised to check with the theater before your visit if you’re unsure about any specific items. Please respect these rules that are provided on the theater’s website to help maintain a pleasant environment for everyone.

What is the process for renting the Herbst Theater for private events?

To rent the Herbst Theater for private events, you will need to first contact the venue’s administrative office. They can provide details on availability, rental fees, and policies. Once a date and time are agreed upon, a rental agreement will be drawn up which outlines the terms and conditions of use, including any applicable insurance requirements. You’ll also need to discuss your technical needs, as the theater offers a range of setups and equipment. Catering, if required, can be arranged through the theater’s approved vendors. Please note that any alterations or decorations to the theater must be approved in advance and comply with the theater’s preservation guidelines.

Where is it possible to park vehicles in the Herbst Theater in SF?

Parking at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco is not possible in the premises of the theater, however parking can be found at multiple nearby locations. The Performing Arts Garage on Gough and Grove Streets is a popular choice due to its proximity to the theater. Other options include City Park at Civic Center, located on McAllister Street between Polk and Larkin Streets, and the UC Hastings Parking Garage on Larkin Street between McAllister and Golden Gate Avenue. Please note that availability may be limited during peak times. Always check local parking regulations and signage to avoid any potential fines or penalties.


In conclusion, the Herbst Theater is an iconic venue that holds a special place in the hearts of San Franciscans and visitors alike. Its rich history and cultural significance have made it a beloved destination for theater enthusiasts from around the world. If you’re ever in San Francisco, be sure to visit the Herbst Theater to experience its charm and cultural significance for yourself. You won’t be disappointed!

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