If you are thinking of traveling this holiday season, consider making San Francisco your destination of choice. Home to the Golden Gate Bridge, Haight Ashbury, cable cars, hilly streets and magnificent architecture, it’s no wonder this city by the bay is one of the most romantic in the world.
During Christmas time, there is plenty for couples to do but there is a lot of family fun to be had as well. Read on to find out about the things you will want to check out while you’re in town.
A Trip to Union Square
Union Square is one of the city’s major hubs and it is a must-see holiday stop. The square is typically lit up well before Thanksgiving, but things really kick off with the Macy’s Great Tree Lighting that takes place on Black Friday.
While there, you can do plenty of shopping. Stop in at Macy’s to look at their beautifully decorated holiday windows including the SPCA window where adoptable pets run among Christmas scenes. Then step inside to get the kid’s pictures taken with Santa Claus.
After you are done shopping, visit the Union Square pop up skating rink that is open from early November to January each year. Make a reservation in advance because it often sells out.
If you miss out on reserving a session at the Union Square skating rink, you can try the one located near the ferry building in the Financial District. It’s a little bit bigger and conveniently located making it another great place to get your skate on.
A third rink is the recently opened (2018) T-Mobile Winter Park at Civic Center. Located right near city hall, you can skate away while taking in the city’s historical architecture.
Fairmont Gingerbread House
The Fairmont Hotel has a Gingerbread House display that’s worth checking out. The house is two stories and large enough for adults to walk through. It is magically decorated in true fairy tale fashion and there is even a miniature train that circles around it.
Westin St. Francis Sugar Castle & Sweet Shop
The Westin St. Francis is another SF hotel that goes all out for Christmas. The pastry chef builds a castle out of sweets which is on display from late November until January.
If that makes you hungry, no worries! The hotel also typically has a pop-up sweet shop set up especially for the holidays.
If you decide to stay at the hotel for the holidays, you’re in for several special treats. Guests can enjoy the Holiday Hideaway that takes up an entire floor of the hotel. They also receive special treats and a Letter to Santa Kit.
Go to See a Christmas Carol at American Conservatory
Christmas is a great time to take in a show and what could be more fitting than A Christmas Carol? The American Conservatory is a well-respected, professional theater that has a tradition of hosting the show every year. Tickets can be as low as $25.
Joy at the San Francisco Zoo
The San Francisco Zoo is a great place to visit any time of year, but Christmastime is special. During the holidays, the zoo is all decked out in holiday lights. Children can ride the train, get photos taken with Santa and enjoy other holiday activities.
The Zoo also hosts a breakfast with Santa. The all you can eat buffet makes for a great holiday meal and it’s a terrific way to celebrate.
San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker
The Nutcracker is another holiday performance that brings the spirit of the season. The San Francisco ballet has made it a tradition to perform the Nutcracker since 1944.
They even have Passport Performances where the first 500 children to attend receive plush toys. Seasonal intermission beverages and treats are served as well.
The Ferry Building Becomes the Merry Building
The San Francisco Ferry Building is the terminal for all San Francisco ferries. During the holiday season, it transforms to become the Merry Building with a gingerbread replica of the building placed in the lobby for free public viewing from late November until January.
Stroll through the rest of the building to visit Roy’s Italian style panettone which pops up every Saturday during holiday time. There are also performances by choral groups, free holiday backdrops and selfie stations set up throughout the building. It’s a great place to get some Christmas shopping in as well.
High Tea Events
Even though San Francisco may be known for its alternative culture, there are also a lot of old school traditions that are alive and well throughout the city. For instance, there are many hotels that serve high tea and during the holidays, these are very special occasions.
There are several hotels that host high tea events around Christmastime including the following:
· Gingerbread Holiday Tea at Fairmont San Francisco
· Teddy Bear Tea at Ritz Carlton
· Children’s Magical Tea at the Top of the Mark in the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins
Although these teas take place in upscale hotels, they are very much geared towards children so don’t be afraid to bring your little ones. They will love dressing up for these fancy events.
Pier 39 & Fisherman’s Wharf
Pier 39 & Fisherman’s Wharf are other popular San Francisco attractions. You can visit the many shops, enjoy the seafood restaurants, go on boat rides and enjoy views from the boardwalk.
At Christmastime, the Pier is lit up with the Happier Holidays Celebration and Tree. The attraction includes a nightly light show that is synchronized to holiday music.
While walking around Fisherman’s Wharf, be sure to stop in at Ghirardelli Square. Not only do they have delectable ice cream treats, they also have their own tree lighting ceremony. And if your lucky, you just might catch the Fisherman’s Wharf lighted boat parade coming through.
If you are looking for a travel destination this Christmas, San Francisco can’t be beat. With so much to see and do, you are guaranteed to have a happy holiday in the city. What will you be adding to your to-do list?