Best Christmas Activities in San Francisco - 510 Families
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Best Christmas Activities in San Francisco

Thanks to 2020, some of my favorite annual traditions for Christmas in San Francisco (as with all of life) are modified for your safety — or outright cancelled. Luckily, children love the play with the cardboard box every bit as much as the toy inside.

Holiday and seasonal traditions for families in San Francisco

Planning a Christmas visit to San Francisco to take in some extra holiday cheer? We got you! Whether you BART, ferry, or drive, there are so many ways to make a day of it by celebrating Christmas in the City.

Macy's holiday window display
Macy’s holiday window display features real pets you can adopt! | Photo: Sally Mason

Holiday windows! Did you know that the Macy’s holiday window displays include live animals that can be adopted? The SPCA and San Francisco Animal Care team up to from Nov. 24 to Jan. 3 (except Thanksgiving and Christmas) to bring pet magic including kittens, puppies, chinchillas, rabbits, and guinea pigs available to adopt from Macy’s the same day.  Find out more >

Cable car and cocoa. Wear a scarf and this classic mode of transportation feels extra Christmasy. From Union Square (or Powell & Market), hop on either the Powell/Hyde or Powell/Mason lines and take them to the end of the line. Refuel at Starbucks with hot chocolate right at the turnaround. Pro tip: for really little ones, I always get child size cocoas and an extra cup to split the drink and cut them further with cool milk.

Christmas Tree stroll. Ghirardelli Square is hosting a self-guided Christmas tree stroll with trees decorated by the students at the Academy of Art University. It begins Nov. 27, 2020.


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Stroll through the trees | Photo: Academy of Art University

Christmas lights and festive decorations to see and love

Whether you plan a stroll or stay cozy in the car for a drive-by, we love holiday lights to get in the Christmas spirit. Add hot chocolate and a twinkling tree, and I’m happy.

Lights throughout Golden Gate Park. The illuminated Entwine exhibit lights up Golden Gate Park’s Peacock Meadow with twinkling lights and giant iridescent sculptures. Lighted trees range from 12 to 20 feet tall. This exhibit runs Dec. 1 through Feb. 29 with a possible extension through May.

A festival of light. Throughout San Francisco from Thanksgiving through January 23, 2021, you can find 39 extraordinary light art and sculptures. For FREE. Check out where and what at Illuminate SF >

Rendering courtesy San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department

These holiday light displays in the East Bay (and beyond) are worth the drive >

Find lots of Virtual Nutcracker and holiday performances >


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What do you like to do in SF for the holidays? Find our East Bay Christmas bucket list over here >


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