I love San Francisco, and I love Christmas in San Francisco even more. There are so many things to see and do. I’ve narrowed it down to three tried and true, kid-approved outings. I know the holidays often come with a good amount of spending, but these activities I’m sharing today can be done at a low to no cost.
1. Union Square - We really enjoy walking into the heart of San Francisco. The energy is festive and alive. We admire the various window displays as we make our way to see the 86-foot Union Square Christmas tree. There is also an ice skating rink near the tree where our boys love to watch skaters glide by. (If your family decides to give skating a try, I recommend buying tickets in advance, as they tend to sell out day of.) Our end goal for the evening is The Union Square Macy’s. While there, we go to Santa Land, where we “oooh and ahhh” over the Christmas decor and pick out our favorite Nutcracker, and finally take pictures with Santa. We end the night with dinner at the Cheesecake Factory; we like to ask for an outdoor table so we can admire the city lights.
2. Gingerbread House at The Fairmont - The Fairmont Gingerbread house is impressive. When you walk into the Fairmont grand lobby, you’ll be greeted with their beautifully decorated Christmas tree -- a great family photo op! Right behind the tree, you can walk through the 25 ft gingerbread house. There is so much to take in -- the sights and smells of Christmas are wonderful. There is also a toy train display right in front of the gingerbread house, which my boys really enjoyed. Lastly, on the way out you can make a stop at a room where you can purchase a cup of hot chocolate and write letters to Santa. Walking out of the Fairmont, there is a playground a block away where our boys got out some energy. Then we headed home for the evening. It was a great outing, and likely will do it again next year.
3. Chestnut/Treeside Christmas Lights - Christmas lights, festive decor and beautiful homes. This requires a short drive just south of San Francisco, but totally worth it. We bundled into the car with candy canes and cookies while listening to our favorite Christmas playlist. This suburban neighborhood delighted us with its dazzling homes. Keep an eye out for a parking spot -- I highly recommend getting out of the car to walk the street. There are some homes with window displays that can only be enjoyed while strolling by on foot.
I hope you and your family are able to enjoy one of these fun San Francisco Christmas outings. Many of us have moved here from other parts of the country, where we grew up with traditions and outings that we can’t necessarily pass down to our kids here in the city. Christmas looks different in San Francisco, but it’s still beautiful, full of wonder and expectation.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas!