The Best Things to Do in San Francisco During The Holidays

The holiday season is filled with joy, laughter, and good cheer. However, because of their hectic lives and schedules, many people find it difficult to be happy. Fortunately, San Francisco comes alive during this time of year with magical holiday attractions and events. The city’s iconic cable cars are painted red and green, restaurants serve special menus, street vendors sell Christmas-themed merchandise, and outdoor markets set up stalls selling locally crafted gifts. During the winter, the yuletide spirit pervades this fairytale town. If you’re planning a trip here with family or friends during the holiday season, keep reading for some helpful hints on how to make it an unforgettable experience.

Plan your trip and know the events calendar

The city’s iconic Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Union Square, where thousands of people gather to celebrate the festivities, kicks off the holiday season in November.  The Union Square Christmas tree is festively decorated, with dazzling lights and lovely ornaments. The tree is also adorned with gifts collected by the Salvation Army charity organization. Shortly thereafter, the annual San Francisco SantaCon fills the city with merriment and holiday spirit. The sight of thousands of people dressed in Santa suits  throughout the streets of the city dazzles the city. This annual early December event has been a part of the city’s Christmas calendar since 1994. As the month of December progresses, the city’s calendar fills up with Christmas-themed events. Some of the most popular holiday events include the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas Concert, The Nutcracker Ballet, and Carols by Candlelight. The celebrations do not stop here, as the city has much more in store for you. It’s a good idea to check out the Christmas calendar of events and plan your itinerary accordingly as you plan and book your trip.

Enjoy Advent and Christmas services

If you’re religious and enjoy Advent and Christmas services, San Francisco is the place for you. A number of churches in the city hold Advent and Christmas services. You can attend your preferred services or visit several churches to enjoy their Christmas celebrations. You can also enjoy Christmas-themed exhibitions at the Exploratorium and the California Academy of Sciences museums. If you’re taking your kids to the museums, make sure to stop by the Exploratorium Kids’ Club or the California Academy of Sciences Kids’ Club. These clubs are excellent places for your children to learn more about the Christmas season while also having fun. The Union Square Market is also worth a visit during the holiday season. It is a popular spot that sells a wide range of Christmas gifts, festive food, and other souvenirs.

See spectacular winter lights at Golden Gate Park

Walk (or drive) through Golden Gate Park after dark to experience six light-up installations. Visit the park’s Uncle John’s Tree, a Monterey Cypress tree adorned with hundreds of old-fashioned colored lights and a charming holiday train display, every evening from sundown to 10 p.m. You can also check out JFK Drive to the Skystar Wheel and Golden Gate Bandshell, where poetry, live music, and light art are featured until December 31. The coolest part? It’s free and open to all.

Go on a holiday cruise of San Francisco Bay

To celebrate the holidays in style, seafaring enthusiasts can embark on a cruise in San Francisco Bay. From the water, you can see breathtaking views of the city’s iconic attractions, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and Fisherman’s Wharf. The holiday cruises occur on a regular basis, and are a great way to enjoy the city’s beautiful waterfront. If you are visiting the city with your children, you can even arrange for an onboard party for them. If you love to party, the Christmas Eve party cruise is a must-do. It is the perfect place to celebrate the festivities with friends, family and loved ones.

Hit a shopping spring at Union Square

If you love to shop, you can visit the Union Square Christmas Market. With over 100 vendors selling Christmas gifts, decorations, and other festive items, it is one of the country’s largest Christmas markets. You can go there and buy the Christmas gifts you’ve been meaning to get for your loved ones or yourself. The Union Station corridor is also home to department stores like Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, and Saxs Fifth Avenue, so you’ll have plenty of options when shopping for gifts for loved ones.


San Francisco is a dream destination for every traveler. The city has a lot to offer to travelers, be it adventure seekers or people who are searching to relax. The city is truly magical, and one of the best places to visit during the holidays. So, if you are planning a trip to this fairytale town, make sure you plan it during the holiday season so that you can enjoy the best that the city has to offer. If you’re considering relocating here, visiting San Francisco during the holidays is a great way to see what the city has to offer.




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