Things to do in San Francisco During the Holiday Season

The holidays are the most magical time of the year! Throughout November and December San Francisco is illuminated with holiday lights and filled with new and fun things to do specifically for the holidays. From meeting with Santa, to special trolley rides and fun parties there’s an abundance of fun things to do during the holiday season in San Francisco.

Union Square

Lori Cornmesser

One of the biggest Christmas tree in San Francisco is located in Union Square next to a beautiful mahogany menorah to celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah. Located in the heart of San Francisco’s shopping district this square offers the best views of some of the city’s most extravagant window displays. There is also an ice skating rink open for fun to be had by all throughout the season.

Pier 39

A 60-foot tree will light up one of the most popular spots in the city starting on November 21st. Starting in mid-December Pier 39 will offer the best views of the Holiday Lights and Sights Boat Parade. More than 60 boats decorated with thousands of lights cruise along the Bay throughout the month.

Moscone’s Winter Wonderland Party

Mid-December the Moscone Recreation Center (who doesn’t have a website; address is 1800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco; 415-292-2045) hosts a family-oriented Christmas party. From 11am to 1pm you can decorate cookies, jump on an inflatable bouncy house, do arts and crafts, play games, and visit with Santa Claus. The event is free.

Union Street

Historic Union Street hosts thousands of lights illuminating Victorian homes throughout the holiday season. During the annual event you can visit with Santa Claus, take a romantic hayride, decorate cupcakes, or meet the Snow Queen and her entourage of comical jugglers. During the holiday season many people get in the mood to help others. At the event you have the option of donating a gift to San Francisco’s Firefighters Toy Program.

Holiday Lights Trolley Tour


This 90-minute evening tour on an open-top trolley run by Viator Tours takes you from San Francisco to Treasure Island to view incredible Christmas displays. Highlights of the tour include: Christmas decorations on Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square, which are all decked out in lights. When you cross the Bay Bridge to Treasure Island you will have amazing views of the sparking city. Tickets can be purchased online.


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