What To Do In San Francisco During The Winter + Holiday Season


The holiday season in San Francisco is truly magical. Since there are many events that happen throughout the city, you will never run out of things to do and places to see. Whether you are planning a short trip, staying long into the new year, or are a native to the city, this holiday guide will inspire you to go out and seize the city lights!

Ready? Lets go!

holiday in sf

Sneak A Peak At Macy’s SPCA Pet Window

Lets kick things off with one of my favorite attraction in downtown, San Francisco: MACYS HOLIDAY WINDOW. This is an annual event that goes on in support of San Francisco’s SPCA pet adoption. There are always so many adorable kittens and puppies to glaze at and to even adopt! You can even enjoy a nice stroll through the shopping mall afterwards!

macys holiday window

Go To A Lighting Ceremony

Moving onto…LIGHTING CEREMONIES! There are TONS of spots to catch a tree lighting event. From local neighborhoods to larger scale city events, you will find one just for you and your family! 

The first tree lighting event happens to occur on one of the busiest days of the year…Black Friday. Yup. We San Franciscans take our tree ceremonies very seriously and just CANNOT wait to get Christmas trees lit. The most iconic of which is the Union Square Tree Lighting ceremony. By the time you are reading this, the tree is already lit, so you can hustle your way downtown to catch a glimpse of it!

also check out  555 California In Downtown San Francisco + Presidio Tree Lighting Ceremony

what to do during the holidays in San Francisco

photo credit here

Attend The Great Dickens Christmas Fair

If you are a fan of Charles Dickens, you will love the Dickens Christmas Fair with its costumes, music, and show performances all set in the Victorian London time frame. This event will definitely throw you back in time.

Plan your trip with bart HERE

what to do during the holidays in San Francisco

photo credit here

Munch Your Way To The Fairmont Gingerbread House

The iconic GINGERBREAD HOUSE located at the Fairmont Nob Hill is one of the oldest and dearest structures in my heart. This is an annual event that showcases a 2 story, 25 feett fall gingerbread house loaded with a thousand pounds of candy. They even give out free ginger cookies! The display will open on November 24 and stay open until January 1st, 2018.


photo credit here

Go To A Show

There are countless of shows happening all over San Francisco. From musicals to concerts, there is something for the whole family to enjoy! You can check out GOLDSTAR for sales on tickets!

Attend Half Moon Bay Night of Lights

The Half Moon Bay Night of Lights is an event that features a parade of lights down Main Street, performances, and tons of activities. It is a fantastic event that reigns in the start of December! Mark your calendars, for this years event is on Friday, December 1st!

what to do during the holidays in San Francisco

photo credit here

Enjoy The Tiburon Holiday Festival

Tiburon’s Holiday Festival is on Saturday, December 2nd from 2pm-6pm. Located just across the Golden Gate Bridge, Tiburon is a great city to celebrate the start of winter. This all-day event features holiday activities, Christmas carolers, performances, and even a tree lighting ceremony at 6pm at downtown Tiburon.

Getting there: You can drive across the lovely Golden Gate Bridge, OR you can simply take a ferry that departs from the Ferry Building. Don’t forget to grab extra coats!

Tiburon holiday festival

photo credit here

Napa Lighted Art Festival

This years festival is from Saturday, December 9th through Sunday, December 17th from 5PM-10PM. It is a fantastic event if you love lights and art shows (who doesn’t?!). Check out their site HERE for more info!

napa lighting festival

photo credit here


Winter Nights In Golden Gate Park

The Winter Nights In GGP  takes place December 7th, 2017 at 4PM. This is a fantastic event that will bring out the entire family. The event features many free activities, carnival rides, live performances, and even a tree lighting ceremony at 6PM. The event will also feature a fantastic light installment by the conservation of flowers. You will not want to miss out on this!

what to do during the holidays in San Francisco

photo credit here

Get Jolly At Santa-Con

I cannot write up a holiday guide and not put in Santa-Con. This is the most fun and popular event that happens annually in not only San Francisco, but all across the states including NYC, Boston, and Washington D.C. There are seriously so many Santa fans out there and you cannot help but join in on the fun! It all goes down December 9th, 2017 from 2PM-2AM.

what to do during the holidays in San Francisco

Be Merry At Fisherman’s Wharfs Boat Parade

One of my absolute favorite holiday event to attend is the Fisherman’s Wharfs Boat Parade. The water parade will feature boats decorated with lights and holiday decorations brought to you by the St. Francis Yacht Club and Fisherman’s Wharf Community District. This year’s parade will be on December 15, 2017, so mark you calendars!

Attend San Francisco’s Restaurant Week

I simply cannot write a holiday post without mentioning some sort of food adventure for you to attend. If you find yourself staying long into the New Year, attend San Francisco’s Restaurant week which happens from January 22-31, 2018! This is a fantastic week that is filled with hundred of restaurants creating fixed menus showing their best dishes. For more information on tickets, check out their site HERE

sf restaurant week

photo credit via Restaurant Week 

Go To A Cafe For Some Hot Chocolate

Sometimes, the best activity to do is simply enjoying the company of your friends over a nice arm cup of hot chocolate. Can it get any merrier than that?! Check out my list of top cafes to check out in San Francisco here,

Seattle travel guide

And there you have it! My list of top activities to do in San Francisco during the holiday season…(or really any season). I hope you find this post helpful and use it for your next trip to the city!

Thanks for reading!


November 27, 2017