8 Family Fun Activities in San Francisco This Holiday Season
The brisk winds and pretty lights that adorn the Bay Area come wintertime—not to mention the great hotel room rates—make for a perfect family getaway. If you are heading to San Francisco with your family, here are some essentials that epitomize a lovely winter holiday in the City by the Bay.
1. Stockton Street Winter Walk
Every year, Stockton Street is converted into a pop-up pedestrian mall to celebrate the holiday season. Through Jan. 1, 2018, you can indulge in street food, watch live performances, shop till you drop or snap a family photo for keepsakes. The entire strip is buzzing with people and the area is lit up with beautiful holiday lights.
2. Ice Skating
Winter in San Francisco also means pop-up ice skating rinks. The most popular one is at Union Square, under Macy's giant Christmas tree. It lasts until Jan. 19, 2018. Given its popularity, you would do well to book your tickets in advance. Also check for scheduled events at the rink, such as the Polar Bear Skate on Jan.1, 2018.
If you can't find a spot at Union Square, you don't need to be bummed out. Embarcadero Center has the biggest pop-up rink in the city, with gorgeous views of the waterfront. It runs till Jan. 7, 2018.
3. Reindeer Romp
If bustling downtown isn't your idea of holiday fun, head to the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens on the opposite side of the city. Every year, the zoo organizes a reindeer exhibit, where cute relatives of Rudolph can be seen in their natural habitat. The exhibit is accompanied by an educational tour on reindeers. This year, Reindeer Romp is scheduled from Nov. 18, 2017 to Jan. 1, 2018.
4. Holiday Lights Tour
Ring in the holiday season aboard a special 90-minute Open Top Holiday Lights Bus Tour of San Francisco with Big Bus Tours, available nightly Dec. 15, 2017 through Jan. 2, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. The Holiday Lights Tour begins at Big Bus's Visitor Center at 99 Jefferson St. in Fisherman's Wharf. Along the way, you'll see San Francisco's festive holiday trees, trimmings, and twinkling lights decorating the city for the winter season. Enjoy jovial jingles along with a complimentary seasonal treat from Ghirardelli Chocolate and a complimentary souvenir.
5. Trip to PIER 39
PIER 39 has its resident sea lions, street performers, magicians, food, shopping and, of course, pretty lights. PIER 39 is hosting its tree lighting celebration on Nov. 19, 2017, featuring Disney characters straight from Disneyland Resort. Kids can even send letters to Santa at the event, with the help of the U.S. Postal Service. While you are here, catch the boat parade from the marina. About 60 boats, lit up for holidays, cruise through the bay during December.
6. Winter Wonderland Party at Moscone Recreational Center
Every holiday season, Moscone Recreational Center throws a holiday party for kids. The event typically happens in mid-December and features arts and crafts for kids, a visit from Santa and a bouncy house, among other activities. On Dec. 4, catch their production of The Nutcracker Sweets at 10 a.m. Additional performances and activities will be announced. The Recreational Center also accepts Christmas donations of cash and kind, which can be a good opportunity to share the spirit of giving in your child. Check their website for the latest details.
7. San Francisco Symphony at Davies Symphony Hall
San Francisco Symphony plays Christmas favorites throughout December at Davies Symphony Hall. These include such classics as A Charlie Brown Christmas and Home Alone set to a live orchestra. The Davies Symphony Hall is decked in pretty lights and festive decorations to add to the spirit.
8. Run Wild San(ta) Francisco
Run Wild San(ta) Francisco is an annual event at East Beach (Crissy Field) that sees hundreds of people run a 5K race dressed in Santa hats and running gear. The event also features a kids' dash, with prizes for winners. There is a Christmas festival after the race, too, which has food trucks and musical performances. It's a darn good way to get the entire family into the Christmas spirit. The event is scheduled for Dec. 2, 2017.