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Celebrating the holidays in San Francisco

Not sure what to do in San Francisco over the holidays? Draw some inspiration for your holiday getaway in the Bay Area with our suggestions for dining and things to do in the festive season!

Tree lightings

Start the holiday season off right with a tree lighting ceremony! On November 19, head to Pier 39 where you can write a letter to Santa from noon to 5 p.m., make crafts, catch live music, and then see the tree lighting at 6 p.m.

Another option is the Macy’s 28th Annual Great Tree Lighting Ceremony on November 24 in Union Square! Listen to live music, sneak in some savings on your holiday shopping with Black Friday deals, and watch the 43,000 bulbs light up around 6:50 p.m.

Another option for seeing a twinkling San Francisco is to visit from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day for the Illuminate SF Festival of Light. See the installations, some of which are even on the move, on a self-guided tour or let the pros lead you around to discuss the works of art on a guided version.


Miss the days of piling in the car to see the holiday lights around the neighborhood? Why not recreate those memories but in San Francisco on a Big Bus Open Top Holiday Lights Bus Tour? Offered only in December, you’ll see many of our city’s top neighborhoods all lit-up as well as drive across the Bay Bridge for photos of the city from Treasure Island.

Go back in time

San Francisco is known for its Victorian beauties but in honor of the Yuletide season San Francisco becomes the home for the Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victorian Holiday Party. This party spans five weekends, starting after Thanksgiving, and is complete with live entertainment, shopping, and of course festive food and drink at the pubs.

Ice rink

Put on your skates and hit the ice at the Union Square Ice Rink! Take your partner’s hand (whether as a romantic gesture or to steady yourself) as you skate around the rink and take in the magical glow of the holiday lights. You can also time your visit around special events like Drag Queens on Ice on December 7, Flashback Fridays on December 8 and January 12, or the Polar Bear Skate on New Year’s Day. The rink is open daily from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., with the exception of its closing at 9:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, and is $18 for admission and skate rental.


San Francisco isn’t like other coastal California cities with its cooler and foggier weather no matter what time of year you’re here but citing the cool temperatures during the holiday season is the perfect excuse to head indoors and visit our many wonderful museums! Check out the works at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), the deYoung Museum’s collections, or learn more about San Francisco’s cable cars at the Cable Car Barn and Museum.

Comedy clubs

‘Tis the season of joy and what better way to get in a joyful mood than attending a comedy show? Check out Cobbs Comedy Club, Comedy on the Square, or the Downtown Comedy Theater for upcoming performances.


You will never go hungry when you visit San Francisco, in fact it might be harder to narrow down where you want to dine when you’re in the city as there’s just not enough time to try all of our fantastic restaurants! If you need a helpful hint of where to start, be sure to ask for your restaurant map upon check-in to dine at our favorite neighborhood spots.

Get dessert

No trip to San Francisco is complete without visiting Ghirardelli Square and sampling some amazing chocolate creations.

Hot drinks

You’re more than welcome to help yourself to a glass of sherry or port in one of our parlor rooms at Inn San Francisco, but with an abundance of bars and lively nightlife there’s no shortage of places to go for a hot toddy or even spiked hot chocolate!

Performing Arts

Take a magic carpet ride from San Francisco to Agrabah and the Cave of Wonders with the production of Aladdin at the Orpheum Theatre! With dates running into early January 2018, it’s a great date night activity over the holiday season.

Visiting in December? Take part in a holiday tradition and see the magical costumes and fairy tale dances come to life at the San Francisco Ballet’s performance of Nutcracker! This limited-time performance runs December 13 – 30.

Are you ready to plan your holiday getaway to San Francisco? Start by finding the perfect room to retreat to each night at Inn San Francisco!

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