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Holiday Guide to San Francisco

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Found this guide helpful

San Francisco is beautiful year-round but becomes particularly charming during the holidays. Dig into this local guide to experience the best of what the city has to offer during the festive season!

Good for
  • Shopping Fanatic
  • Foodie
  • Luxury Traveller
  • Trendsetter
  • Like a Local

12 Places

3 City Tips

Print
Map

12 Places

Union Square

Shopping Malls

Cow Palace

Conference & Convention Centres

Market Street

Points of Interest & Landmarks

American Conservatory Theater

Theatres

San Francisco Ballet

Ballets

Pier 39

Piers & Boardwalks

Union Street

Neighbourhoods, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Ghirardelli Square

Shopping Malls, Points of Interest & Landmarks

SHN Curran Theatre

Theatres

San Francisco Symphony

Symphonies

California Academy of Sciences

Science Museums

Fairmont San Francisco

Hotels

parttimetravel's City Tips

  • In addition to world-class shopping, there are many free holiday events offered by the city that cater to all ages.
  • It can be a bit chilly in the city during the winter months; it's best to dress in layers.
  • Many of the holiday shopping locations and festivities are centered around Union Square, which can get quite crowded; try heading out first thing in the morning to avoid crowds.
  • Save
    Union Square
    Shopping Malls
    See more photos
    parttimetravel Says:

    The center of all things festive in San Francisco, here you'll find some of the city's best shopping and eateries as well as holiday decorations and an ice rink!

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    Tips
    • Arrive early as shops can be crowded in this popular area.
    • The ice rink is open from November to mid-January and there are skates for hire.
    • If you are planning your trip in late November, don't miss out on the annual Macy's Christmas Tree lighting!
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #61 of 561 things to do in San Francisco
    • Nice Square 20/11/2017
    • Great spot in SFO 08/11/2017
    • Union Square
    Phone:
    +1 415-391-2000
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:00 - 00:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Cow Palace
    Conference & Convention Centres
    parttimetravel Says:

    Every holiday season, this center is transformed into Victorian-era London, with the Great Dickens Christmas Fair and Victorian Holiday Party. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, tearooms, street vendors, and christmas carolers will transport you back into the time of Charles Dickens. A great event for families.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    Tips
    • Live entertainment is performed over seven stages and you will find lots of shopping and food options. Check the website for listings and showtimes.
    • Open for five weekends from November 22nd.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #296 of 561 things to do in San Francisco
    • Nice events venue! 25/07/2017
    • Old, Needing Renovation 05/04/2017
    • Cow Palace
    Address:
    Geneva Avenue and Santos Street
    2600 Geneva Avenue Daly City
    San Francisco, CA 94134-0206
    Phone:
    +1 415-404-4111
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    08:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Market Street
    Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    parttimetravel Says:

    The ever popular Market Street is transformed for the season with holiday decorations and lights, and offers some of the best holiday shopping and deals in the city.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    Tips
    • Don't miss the festive snowflakes added to the lights lining the street!
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #101 of 561 things to do in San Francisco
    • Part good, part bad 17/11/2017
    • The Good, The Bad & the Ugly 13/11/2017
    • Market Street
    Address:
    Market Street
    San Francisco, CA
  • Save
    American Conservatory Theater
    Theatres
    See more photos
    parttimetravel Says:

    The timeless seasonal tale 'A Christmas Carol' runs annually here during the holiday season. Friends and families alike will be thoroughly entertained by this classic.

    Good for
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Family
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Tickets are quite affordable and it's best to reserve ahead of time.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #183 of 561 things to do in San Francisco
    • A Truly Great Theatre! 19/07/2017
    • Venue for some of the best SF Theatre going back to the 60's. 13/07/2017
    • American Conservatory Theater
    Address:
    415 Geary Street
    (Between Mason and Taylor St)
    San Francisco, CA 94108
    Phone:
    +1 415-749-2228
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    11:00 - 18:00
    Other:
  • Save
    San Francisco Ballet
    Ballets
    See more photos
    parttimetravel Says:

    If you are looking for a classic holiday performance, each year the San Francisco Ballet delivers a world-renowned presentation of 'The Nutcracker.'

    Good for
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • Discount tickets are often available on weeknights.
    • This is often a dressy night out in SF. Plan to wear your holiday best.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #116 of 561 things to do in San Francisco
    • Swan Lake and Cinderella. EXQUISITE BEAUTY! 30/04/2017
    • Great Company 25/04/2017
    • San Francisco Ballet
    Address:
    401 Van Ness Ave
    (between McAllister and Fell Sts)
    San Francisco, CA 94102-4522
    Phone:
    +1 415-703-9400
    Other:
  • Save
    Pier 39
    Piers & Boardwalks
    See more photos
    parttimetravel Says:

    Pier 39 is transformed with holiday lights and decorations each holiday season, and offers some tasty seasonal food treats too. On November 21st and 22nd you can take part in the tree lighting celebration with lots of activities and fun for families.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    Tips
    • Don't miss the annual Lighted Boat parade along the waterfront, with more than 60 ships passing through covered in holiday lights.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #24 of 561 things to do in San Francisco
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Decent Shopping - love the sea lions! 24/11/2017
    • The seals are the best part of Pier 39! 23/11/2017
    • Pier 39
    Address:
    Beach Street & The Embarcadero
    Parking area
    San Francisco, CA 94133
    Phone:
    +1 415-705-5500
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 - 21:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Union Street
    Neighbourhoods, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    parttimetravel Says:

    Union Street is home to the festive Fantasy of Lights event, where Santa and his elves bring festive cheer to an adoring crowd. Face painting, jugglers, and live entertainment add to the excitement as the street is illumimated with thousands of lights.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    Tips
    • Union Street is also lined with cute boutiques and restaurants, great for holiday shopping and dining.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #104 of 561 things to do in San Francisco
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Lots of shops and restaurants 11/10/2017
    • Lot's of stuff to see 29/09/2017
    • Union Street
    Address:
    Union Street Association: 1686 Union St.
    Cow Hollow
    San Francisco, CA 94123
    Phone:
    +1 415-441-7055
    Other:
  • Save
    Ghirardelli Square
    Shopping Malls, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    parttimetravel Says:

    Indulge in some classic San Francisco treats - including delicious sundaes and chocolates - at this landmark location, which also gets dressed up for the holidays. A perfect place to find some easy gifts to take home for the family.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    Tips
    • There are some fun shopping spots near the square.
    • Walk through the store and receive a sample of their famous chocolate at the door!
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #50 of 561 things to do in San Francisco
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Fun, neat area! 23/11/2017
    • Great place for your sweet tooth 21/11/2017
    • Ghirardelli Square
    Address:
    900 N Point St
    At Polk Street
    San Francisco, CA 94109-1192
    Phone:
    +1 415-775-5500
    Hours:
    Sun - Thu
    09:00 - 23:00
    Fri - Sat
    09:00 - 00:00
    Other:
  • Save
    SHN Curran Theatre
    Theatres
    parttimetravel Says:

    The SHN Curran hosts the seasonal 'Elf the Musical,' a fun holiday story adapted from the Will Ferrell film about a North Pole resident who realizes he is actually human, not an elf!

    Good for
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • This show is great for all ages, and definitely puts you in the holiday spirit.
    • Reserve tickets ahead of time.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #202 of 561 things to do in San Francisco
    • Janis Joplin! 10/07/2017
    • New and improved 19/02/2017
    • SHN Curran Theatre
    Address:
    445 Geary St
    San Francisco, CA 94102-1222
    Hours:
    Sun
    12:00 - 16:00
    Tue - Sat
    12:00 - 20:30
    Other:
  • Save
    San Francisco Symphony
    Symphonies
    See more photos
    parttimetravel Says:

    The City Symphony hosts a classic program of holiday favorites, including 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' and 'A Charlie Brown Christmas.'

    Good for
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • There are often famous guest musicians and performers playing, and tickets do sell out.
    • It makes for a great night out on the town, combined with a dinner before the show.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #89 of 561 things to do in San Francisco
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Amazing orchestra but dress the part 27/10/2017
    • Rhiannon Giddens was guest vocalist; amazing all the way around 31/07/2017
    • San Francisco Symphony
    Address:
    201 Van Ness Ave
    San Francisco, CA 94102-4585
    Phone:
    +1 415-864-6000
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    10:00 - 18:00
    Sat
    12:00 - 18:00
    Other:
  • Save
    California Academy of Sciences
    Science Museums
    See more photos
    parttimetravel Says:

    This wonderful natural history museum, aquarium, and planetarium has annual holiday exhibits as well as many holiday events. Experience indoor snow flurries, interactive displays, and holiday themed performances.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Family
    • Nightlife Seeker
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Check out the nightlife events every Thursday.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #14 of 561 things to do in San Francisco
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Tickets & Availability 24/11/2017
    • Unexpectedly Fantastic! 23/11/2017
    • California Academy of Sciences
    Address:
    55 Music Concourse Dr
    Golden Gate Park
    San Francisco, CA 94118-4503
    Phone:
    +1 415-379-8000
    Hours:
    Sun
    11:00 - 17:00
    Mon - Sat
    09:30 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Fairmont San Francisco
    Hotels
    See more photos
    parttimetravel Says:

    One of San Francisco's most iconic hotels has not only spectacular holiday decor, but also serves a seasonal Gingerbread High Tea. Plus, a huge Gingerbread House is constructed and on show for all to see, standing at over 20 feet high!

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Family
    Tips
    • Great for children, who receive a teddy bear and a gingerbread cookie to decorate.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #30 of 230 Hotels in San Francisco
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Magnificent 24/11/2017
    • Stay at the top 23/11/2017
    • Fairmont San Francisco
    Address:
    950 Mason St
    San Francisco, CA 94108-6000
    Phone:
    +1 866-986-4841
    Other:
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