San Francisco is one of California’s dynamic cultural cornerstones, featuring a beautiful, mild climate year-round. And while it might not snow in the Bay Area, San Francisco has a holiday charm all its own—and certainly knows how to celebrate.
Whether you’re looking for quaint holiday activities with your family or major Christmas theatrics, San Francisco is a great metropolis to ring in the season.
Below are the eight best ways to spend the holidays in San Francisco.
San Francisco Ballet’s The Nutcracker
This holiday classic is back and better than ever. Come see the San Francisco Ballet at the War Memorial House, where the cast creates a magical (and slightly different) winter wonderland every year. There will be glistening snow, stunning costumes, and, of course, unforgettable dancing. A live orchestra will perform the show’s beautiful musical score.
A Christmas Carol
Another time-tested tradition in San Francisco is Watching A Christmas Carol—and the Golden Gate Theater puts on a fantastic show. You’ll watch as Ebenezer Scrooge meets three ghosts, each of which shows him glimmers of his past, present, and future, and discovers the meaning of Christmas. You’ll surely leave feeling like a kid again—and the cultural connections to modern life in San Francisco are yours to ponder. But get your tickets soon: the show runs from November 26th through December 26th, and is justifiably popular with SF residents.
The San Francisco Symphony
An evening at the San Francisco Symphony is a perfect way to elevate your holiday celebrations. The interior is beautiful, and you can dress to impress alongside the city’s elite. This season, the symphony will be performing several distinct holiday shows. Enjoy Yolanda Adams and the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir in “Holiday Soul.” They’ll bring passion and energy to this jazz, soul, and holiday performance. Film lovers won’t want to miss the screenings of Love Actually and Home Alone, both of which are accompanied by a live orchestra.
The fun continues through New Year’s Eve, during which, acclaimed actor Darren Criss will perform endless hits in “New Year’s Eve with Darren Criss.” Be sure to follow the symphony’s calendar to stay up-to-date.
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair
While The Great Charles Dickens Christmas Fair is usually an in-person, interactive experience, this year, you can enjoy the entire thing from the comfort and safety of your vehicle. Located at the Cow Palace Exhibition Halls, this Grand Concourse invites you to drive through and explore the delicious foods, fun crafts, and endless entertainment. Many vendors will be represented at the fair, including Cook’s Court Pot Pies, Mr. Punch’s Popcorn, and London’s Finest Cakes & Puddings. Load up on authentic holiday treats and explore the artisan’s market. Purchase hand-dipped candles, blown glass pieces, and seasonal beauty gift bags. As you drive, you can park and enjoy a show at the Covent Garden Drive-Up Theater.
Union Square Ice Rink
The Union Square Holiday Ice Rink is a San Francisco gem and is open all throughout the holidays. For $19, families can skate around the well-groomed rink, which is surrounded by twinkling lights and the iconic Union Square Christmas tree. The rink also hosts a range of events throughout the season, including Learn to Skate sessions every Saturday and Sunday, Flashback Fridays, Drag Queens on Ice, and a Polar Bear Skate (in bathing suits!)
Photos with Santa
If you and your family love capturing Christmas memories over the years, then the Stonestown Galleria is a great place to take photographs with Santa Claus. This upscale mall opens its doors to Santa lovers through the New Year. Book an appointment online and take the kids to sit on Santa’s lap.
Macy’s pulls out all the stops during the holidays, and this year is no exception. Since 1899, Macy’s has delighted visitors with enchanting, animated window displays. The Macy’s in Union Square will be decorated with trees, wreaths, lights, and giant teddy bears. You can also write a letter to Santa and give it to him personally.
Looking at homes for sale in San Francisco?
If you’re in the market for San Francisco real estate or a beautiful Peninsula home this holiday season, work with experienced local agent Mary Ann Teixeira to find your Bay Area dream home. Mary Ann offers her clients curated listings, market analysis, and exceptional customer service to make buying or selling a home easy and enjoyable. Contact Mary Ann’s team today!