Christmas in San Francisco, a photo essay
San Francisco is a wonderful place to visit during the Christmas season and you will be able to find the holiday season celebrated throughout the city at the many landmarks and different neighborhoods around the city. Of course the main venues for seeing the holiday in full force would be downtown at Union Square where all the large stores and boutiques are decked out in Christmas decorations along with the many hotels, restaurants and the main square itself with the huge Christmas tree and ice skating which dominate the entire square.
Why visit San Franisco in winter time?
With mild weather and a lot of holiday festivies and decorations all around this fabulous city, exploring during the winter is pleasant and even nice outdoors. The Christmas holiday for the city by the bay rings in unique rituals and holiday festivities along with decorated shopping venues, eateries and enjoying some of the wonderful window shopping fun and exploring outdoors in the city. You’ll find less crowds visiting the city so there will be plenty of choices for attractions without massive tourists and availability at popular restaurants all around the city to eat.
Here are a few highlights of Christmas images visiting around San Francisco
Downtown Civic center is quite festive especially at City Hall. It looks like weddings are very popular around the rotunda when I bumped into 4 weddings happening all at the same time around the grand hall and why not, it is quite spectacular especially around the huge Christmas tree laden with the thousands of hand-made paper crane origami.
There are many festive lights and Christmas decorations in the different the communities and neighborhoods around the city, here are just a few that I was able to visit while I was in the city for an extended holiday staying with friends and family.
Close by is one of my favorite bread bakeries called Thorough Bread Bakery, located along the Church street corridor. This Xmas they created a huge Christmas tree completely made of baked bread including all the limbs, main trunk and ornaments. It looked quite tempting to try some of the goodies that were dangling on the tree and within easy reach to sample, but I took a photograph instead to satisfy my creative urges.
The popular neighborhood community of Hayes Valley close to Civic Center was also decked out for the holidays and fun to explore all the unique galleries and boutique shops that were selling some wonderful Christmas worthy presents. Even on a non holiday, this is one of my favorite areas to walk through and just window shop or grab something to eat while I’m enjoying the scene.
Christmas shopping on Hayes Valley in San Francisco
The colorful muni trolleys decorated for the holidays
Downtown at Union Square is packed with shops, galleries and large department stores all decked out in holiday colors with beautiful Christmas windows to attract any shoppers walking through the area. The best views of the entire scene can be seen from above, typically of the main square fronting the shops with the requisite skating rink and huge Christmas tree and lights.
The giant Christmas tree at Neiman Marcus
Darling miniature jewel displays at Tiffany’s
Visiting Iconic Gump’s department store
Whenever you walk around Union Square during the holidays, it’s a must to visit Gump’s department store to check out the Christmas displays and ornaments or check out the many of the over the top luxury goods that the specialty store creates tempting displays for quick purchases. It’s just as fun to wander around the aisles and enjoy the festive environment and busy crowds looking for something unique almost one of a kind and very expensive merchandise.
San Francisco Hotels during the holiday
The Palace Hotel
The holiday scene is elegant and grand at the Palace Hotel off Market Street. The main interior glass pavilion is stunning to see any time of the year, but even more spectacular decked out in Christmas splendor and understated elegance. This is definitely the place to indulge in a nice meal or just a delicious cocktail at their signature bar called Maxfield’s Pied Piper.
The Fairmont Hotel and gingerbread house
St. Francis Gingerbread fantasty cake
The manger scene at Grace Cathedral
Live rain deer and Christmas cheer at Noe Valley on 24th Street
Santa Con in the city by the bay
Christmas in San Francisco is also a big party with the Santa Con festivities happening all around the city with both male and female Santa Claus and other Christmas inspired characters hanging out and mostly drinking at the many bars, restaurants and even parks like Washington Square in the North Beach area above.
Christmas in the Financial District
A redwood tree lit at Bank of America Plaza
A Christmas dinner at Tadich Grill
Christmas at the Ferry building in San Francisco
The Ferry Plaza and Embarcadero are very festive for the holidays with all the stores and restaurants ready to service and package any Christmas purchases. It’s wonderful to spend time along the waterfront especially at the Ferry building with its unique shops and tempting bars and restaurants which are perfect for people watching and enjoying the holiday scene in a grand old arcade that was originally a ferry terminal and is still used as a ferry transport center.
Fresh seafood displays at Hog Island in the Ferry Plaza
Ferry Plaza, Embarcadero and Bay Bridge lit up for the holidays
Illuminate San Francisco
During the Holiday season in San Francisco there is a spectacular light festival that happens around the city called Illuminate San Francisco. This is an art light display of well known artists from around the Bay Area create light installations around the city and the largest lit display itself is the Bay Bridge with graphic displays happening all night long (above). For an update of the newest Illuminate art displays around the city, check out the Illuminate website here for more details and how to locate them.
The Illuminate experience in San Francisco changes every year with different installations added to the mix to really lighten up the night landscape and exploring outdoors at night to view these wonderful art exhibits.
City Hall in green and red Christmas colors
Japan town plaza
The Tom and Jerry Christmas display in San Francisco
Probably one of the most over the top Christmas displays is at a private home on 21st street and Sanchez in Noe Valley, the owners share their love of the holidays and do this as a fundraiser for passerby to visit and give to the owner’s favorite rotating charities. If you’re in the area at night, this is a must see spot to enjoy the Christmas spirit.
Close up details at Tom and Jerry’s Christmas house
Thanks for visiting this post on the Christmas in San Francisco. If you enjoyed the images and post, could you please share it with any of the social media buttons located around the post. Thank you for sharing some of the wonderful sights and tourist locations around the city , all thoughts and opinions are my own. If you are interested in finding out more information about visiting San Francisco during the holidays and on to the New Years, check out the San Francisco tourism site here for all the wonderful updates and events.
Other fun attractions to visit around San Francisco
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I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!