Top things to do in San Francisco for the holidays

Seems I was on a roll writing Christmas guides in Galway HERE and New York City HERE, I had to write one on top things to do in San Francisco for the holidays. There are lots of festivities and fun things to do in San Francisco for the holidays.

Visit the Fairmont Hotel

Lorna Ryan Travel Blogger San Francisco Travel Guide blogger Christmas
Lorna Ryan Travel Blogger San Francisco Travel Guide blogger Christmas

The Fairmont hotel transforms into a festive destination during December. A giant life size ginger bread house stands tall in the foyer of the 5 star nob hill hotel. The ginger bread house is so large you can walk through to the restaurant. The slabs of ginger bread are made in house by the team over many days. The house is decorated with lots of sweets (there are always a few causalities that get munched). A magnificent tree stands tall beside the ginger bread house and 2 towers of Moet champagne stand glamorously by the festive pop up Moet bar. Definitely a must visit for the holidays. Visit the Tonga room bar downstairs in the hotel for a great cocktail and live music.

Go Ice Skating in Union Square

An iconic tree stands tall in Union Square surrounded by tropical palm trees decorated in fairy lights. Ice skating runs through the holidays in Union Square which is a great way to catch up with friends and get in the festive spirit.

Lorna Ryan Travel Blogger San Francisco Travel Guide blogger Christmas
Lorna Ryan Travel Blogger San Francisco Travel Guide blogger Christmas

Visit Pier 39

The tourist haven has been transformed for the holidays and lights sparkle throughout. Stores and restaurants have special festive goods/gift ideas in the run up and there are lots of family friendly events planned throughout the rest of December & early January.

Walk along the Embarcadero or by Golden Gate Bridge

When the parties, crowds and shopping get a little much, take some time to relax and refresh by taking a stroll along the Embarcadero or to Golden Gate Bridge. Although it is a little nippy in San Francisco at the moment, the crisp bay breeze does wonders to refresh and relax.

Lorna Ryan Travel Blogger San Francisco Travel Guide blogger Christmas
Lorna Ryan Travel Blogger San Francisco Travel Guide blogger Christmas

Museum of Ice Cream festive nights

The Museum of Ice Cream has been given a make-over for the holidays - lots of the usual pink & sparkles but with a festive cheer. The Museum of Ice Cream is offering free entry every Thursday in December for the first few hundred people. If you really want to go, definitely buy tickets in advance rather than risking a free visit on Thursday night as I imagine the lines being long.

Deck the halls Christmas Bar

I made sure to fit this in before I left for Ireland. I found this gem last year and wanted to return again this year. The bar has moved location this year and is on Polk and Sutter. This year, the bar is more spacious and the decorations have moved up a notch. Think giant candy canes, sleigh seats, snow frosting, bauble shots and Santa boot cocktails (a little strong!). There is a special holiday cocktail list with plenty of choices.

Have dinner among the fairy lights in North Beach

I passed through North Beach on my way home last week and saw how beautifully it is decorated. Food in North Beach (Italian) is always a win so add fairy lights and I’m definitely there. Lots of great choices for a festive dinner.

Go to a Christmas show

There are lots of shows for the holidays around such as musicals, plays and carol singing. My favorite that I went to last year was a symphony of Home Alone. A classic movie with a talented orchestra enhancing the movie with live music. Towards the end, a children’s choir emerged and made the experience enchanting. Dress up and make a night of the event. I also went to the Nutcracker which was a fantastic and classic evening of ballet.

Visit Westfield mall

Westfield mall is my go to if I have lots to get in minimal time. Everything is under the one roof and there are so many great deals on for the holidays. Be sure to visit this one stop location for all your gifts!

Visit a spa and have some pamper time at Burke Williams Spa

Christmas for me is often a time of running around trying to fit in a lot into my days, staying out until late and getting up early to pack even more in! I always take time to make sure I have at least one spa day to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle. In San Francisco, I love Burke Williams spa in Westfield mall which stays open until 10pm every night. Read more about it HERE (this was a previous collaboration).

Lorna Ryan Travel Blogger San Francisco Travel Guide blogger Christmas

Hope you have a fabulous time if you are visiting or staying in San Francisco for the holidays. Read about other top things to do in San Francisco HERE.


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