If you're lucky enough to be in San Francisco during the holidays, you'll be rewarded with some of the most magical events of the year. The city sparkles with seasonal decorations, and ornate trees are lit throughout the metropolis — Macy's in Union Square, City Hall, the Presidio, Pier 39.
Christmas in San Francisco is a busy season! Concerts, dinners and special events book quickly at this time of year, so we recommend you book your December SF events as early as possible. And the magic continues beyond the city gates. There are so many wonderful experiences to be had on day trips from town. First and foremost, of course, think wine tours in lovely Napa Valley & Sonoma.
You're going to be even more jolly than usual if you can get your hands on a few discounted tickets through GoldStar.
There is always a good selection of half-price tickets for events and activities in San Francisco, and the holiday season is no exception. The number of tickets at these savings are very limited, so you have to act quickly.
We're excited about this new 3-in-1 tour that takes you to the best of the San Francisco Bay area. What's even better is that it's spread over 2 days (but always based in the city) to make sure you aren't rushed and have time to enjoy the sights.
You start out at Fisherman's Wharf and then are whisked across the famous Golden Gate Bridge to marvel at the giant coastal redwoods found in Muir Woods park. It's awe-inspiriting to walk among these 1000-year-old- trees that soar far up towards the sky. On the way back to San Francisco you have time to stop at the very cute seaside village of Sausalito and to enjoy the views of the city across the bay.
The next leg of your tour takes you to the best the city has to offer, from Chinatown, to the Painted Ladies (Victorian homes), to North Beach. Of course there photo stops — at the Golden Gate Bridge and other places along the route.
After a night's rest back at your hotel, use your ticket to hop on a ferry for a leisurely audio tour of Alcatraz and its infamous prison. Available most days in December.
Relax and enjoy California hospitality with a casual two-hour cruise of the bay that gives The City by the Bay its nickname.
Take in the sights, bay-side, while sampling an array of appetizers, crudités, dips, seasonal fruits and dainty miniature desserts. You sail past Fisherman's Wharf, the Presidio, the Marina District. Don't forget to make a toast to the spectacular city view. Available Christmas Day!
This is California, so even though it's December, get out on a bike! San Francisco is a compact city and best explored on two wheels. Despite what you may think it's also a mainly flat city — perfect for cycling.
On this gentle 3-hour ride you follow the Bay's scenic waterfront before crossing Golden Gate Bridge. The ride is gentle and is suitable for all ages and fitness levels. Currently shows availability every day in December!
In December grab the chance to catch a performance of this classic ballet performed by the San Francisco ballet.
This uber-famous ballet runs for only two weeks. While there are two performances on Christmas Eve & New Year's Eve those tickets will sell out fast, so you've got to book now.
What would the season be without Charles Dickens' most famous work? This favorite Christmas story returns with Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, various of ghosts, historic costumes, and plenty of sparkling music.
The production by the American Conservatory Theater is a Bay area holiday tradition.
This is a really easy way to explore the best of the wine country, letting someone else to the planning and driving.
Ride through picturesque California wine countryside, walk though vineyards, sample fine wines in both Napa & Sonoma Valleys. Best of all, you are picked up right at your hotel with the luxury of just enjoying the day. Available daily (except Christmas?)
Here's another way to make your holiday really memorable — a sunrise balloon ride over Napa Valley. The day starts at Domaine Chandon, the famed sparkling wine producer, with a pre-flight snack. Then board the colorful balloon for a ride of a lifetime over the beautiful countryside.
Back on ground toast your flight with a glass of bubbly as you enjoy a classic American brunch.
As we've mentioned, the best way to visit the Wine Country is on a small group tour, and this one really delivers. You travel by luxury van through the best of California Wine Country — Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley. Along the route you stop at vineyards for tours and tastings, followed by a gourmet lunch in Sonoma.
Wineries include Viansa Winery, Cline Cellars, Larson Family Winery, Homewood Winery and a final stop at Domaine Chandon for a glass of bubbles and stunning views.
These two SF neighborhoods are well known to SF foodies. Take the opportunity this Christmas to discover the seasonal delights of Little Italy and North Beach while they're both decked out for the holidays. This tour is perfect for food lovers — and for walkers. Stroll & taste your way through San Francisco's most delicious neighborhoods.
With your food expert at your side you taste your way through the finest California delicacies in this famous food hall and heritage building. After sampling your way among creameries, delis, and patisseries, it's time to wander to Pier 33 to hop on board the ferry for your Alcatraz adventure, complete with 45-minute audio guide.
Three acres of the Cow Palace are transformed into the world of Charles Dickens, where it's perpetually Christmas Eve. Costumed characters and carollers roam the recreated London town with pubs, dance halls, tea shoppes. Visit Pickwick Place, the London Docks, a street carousel and pop in for a visit with Father Christmas.
Every year, the lighting of the Christmas tree on Union Square in front of Macy's is the real kick-off to the festive season.
In 2016 the illumination extravaganza starts on Friday, November 26 at 6 pm. If you're planning to attend it's best to head to Union square at least an hour before to get a good spot. But not to worry, the tree is lit throughout the holiday season, so there's plenty of time to enjoy it.
What began as an Army tradition more than 50 years ago has evolved into a classic San Francisco event.
This tradition kicks off the holiday season at the Presidio with an interactive ceremony where participants join hands in a large circle. The tree lights when the circle is complete. Check the website for exact date and time.
Children and their favorite stuffies gather in The Terrace Courtyard Tent to say hello to Santa Claus, the elves, and the giant Teddy Bear, the largest in the city! A special tea is served with hot cocoa and teddy bears.
Starts in late November and continues every weekend in December.
Be there when science + cocktails converge. Arrive at the museum after hours for your express entry to this adult only event. Get the skinny with a one hour behind-the-scene tour, then relax with drinks & music.
Upgrade to the VIP tour and have unlimited cocktails before the tour begins. What a great way to spend Christmas Eve or New Years Eve! Thursdays in December.
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