The Holidays in San Francisco

I am a self-proclaimed Christmas Freak and I have zero shame about it. Due to my Holly-Jollyness, San Francisco is a perfect place for me because we start EARRRRLLLLYYYY early. The Macy’s Union Square Tree has been up for a couple weeks, the storefronts are ready to go for the holiday shoppers and the light pole wreaths went up last night! In an effort to make the season the best yet, I have been planning our Holiday to-do list for awhile and thought I would share some great activities with you if you happen to be in the San Francisco Bay Area soon!

San Francisco Ballet’s The Nutcracker

This will be our 5th straight year going to The Nutcracker (we started going way before we moved here!) and it is by far my favorite thing to do around Christmas. A few veteran tips:

  • Make sure to get a reservation around the War Memorial Opera House EARLY! The early reservations go so quickly so get a 5:00 spot as soon as you know you are going. My favorites are Absinthe, Dobb’s Ferry and Che Fico!
  • Don’t get to the Opera House TOO early or you will miss the snow! About ten minutes before show time, the main entrance will begin to have snow falling from the roof and it’s the most magical way to start the evening.
  • If you want any souvenirs, during intermission, split up and one of you gets drinks and the other goes shopping. The little store usually only has one person working and it gets so busy before and after the show.
  • The bathrooms are downstairs so if you really need to go during intermission, make a dash for the doors first because the lines get INSANE

Union Square Activities

If you are willing to fight the crowds, there is so much going on in Union Square! Ice Skating, the Annual Tree Lighting, animal adoptions at Macy’s, Shopping (duh), food trucks, go-kart rides for kids, etc.ย  Check the Union Square website for the dates of what you’d like to see!

I highly recommend going on a weekday if you can. Needless to say the weekends are INSANE. Also, try to get a reservation at the Cheesecake Factory! It has a perfect view of the tree lighting and skaters!

A Christmas Carol (and other Theater)

There are always plenty of plays happening around the city and, since The Christmas Carol is one of my all time favorites, it is a must see! This year it is at the ACT Geary Theater and I suggest getting your tickets quickly! If you are looking for a break from all the Christmas Joy (what…?) then check out the Theater District for shows like Mary Poppins and Dear Even Hansen to name a few! Also: watch out for Hamilton tickets to go on sale for their February shows!


So, as Christmas obsessed as I am, I just can’t get into Santa-Con due to the crazy amount of people! With that being said, I know plenty of people that live for the annual gathering of thousands of Santas so each to their own! Just be warned, you will be waiting awhile for a drink at most bars and it can get rowdy but it will be great for the Gram!

There is definitely a heightened police presence so just make sure to behave! No one likes to embarrass Santa with a mug shot. Also, try to take an Uber into the city if you don’t live here…parking is a total joke during this event!

Have a Drink at Miracle by P.C.H

Pacific Cocktail House on Sutter Street is one of my favorite cocktail bars in the entire city and at Christmastime, it turns into Miracle! They have special holiday cocktails and a TON of decorations. It’s a great way to start (or end) your Union Square festivities!

This year, they are opening at 3pm on Black Friday! Make sure to get there early because this place fills up SO. DAMN. QUICK.

Gingerbread House Hunting

The Fairmont and Westin (both in close proximity to each other!) have a unmentioned Gingerbread House war every Christmas and their hard work is so worth checking out! While you are at the Fairmont, also check our their afternoon tea!

Get Away from (most of) The Crowds

There is stuff going on all oveeeeer the city, not just the heart of Shopping district so be sure to check out things like the skating rink in Golden Gate Park, the tree lighting in the Presidio or visit and eat goodies from a Dickens’ Victorian Christmas at Cow Palace!

The above are a few of the most popular around the city but there is still SO MUCH TO DO! If you want to know more, check out this list on Thrillist!

Happy Holidays!

Chelsea Leonard

Email Address:

First Name: