San Francisco in December

San Francisco in December featured image
Published on August 30, 2023

San Francisco in December offers a unique blend of crisp air, festive activities, and the allure of California's winter charm.

Whether you're planning a holiday getaway or curious about what to expect during this month, the City by the Bay has a myriad of experiences waiting for you.

Dive into this guide to discover the magic of San Francisco during the final month of the year, and continue reading to unlock the best local tips and attractions for an unforgettable visit.

Top Events and Things to Do in December

The list we've provided is packed with exciting activities. From live music and sports events to festive holiday celebrations, there's something for everyone.

Dive into family fun or embark on guided tours, all while enjoying diverse entertainment options.

San Francisco City Hall lights

San Francisco City Hall Lights

City Hall, near San Francisco's Civic Centre, is famous for its dynamic light shows.

City Hall's summertime lighting displays include patriotic red, white, and blue for the Fourth of July and a rainbow of hues for Pride Month.

If you go to City Hall in December, you'll notice a sea of red and green decorations. The City Hall holiday display usually begins around the middle of December and continues through the end of the year.

Ghirardelli Square at Fisherman’s Wharf

Ghirardelli Square

Ghirardelli Square in Fisherman's Wharf is fun to visit year-round because of its unique sundaes, local craft beer, and iconic marquee.

A visit in December, however, will be more exciting thanks to a 50-foot Christmas tree in the square and appearances by Santa Claus.

Experience the magic of chocolate being created from scratch, stock up on unique presents, and of course, indulge in some of the best chocolate in the world.

Macy’s Great Tree and holiday window displays

Macy’s Great Tree

Union Square in San Francisco is illuminated by Macy's famed 83-foot tree every holiday season.

You may spend a joyful day out admiring (and photographing) both the massive Christmas tree and the store's holiday window displays.

The customary practice of lighting the tree begins the week before Thanksgiving and continues until the day after the New Year.

Japanese Tea Garden

Japanese Tea Garden

If you're looking for some peace in the middle of the city, look no further than this beautifully planted haven in the middle of the expansive Golden Gate Park.

Take a stroll through the tranquil garden and stop in at the pagoda and restaurant to sample some of the many different kinds of Japanese tea and food on offer.


Chinatown San Francisco in December

Taking a stroll through San Francisco's Chinatown, which spans 24 blocks, is like getting a glimpse into a new and exciting world.

The oldest Chinese temple in the United States is there for you to explore; you can also buy Chinese herbs and souvenirs there and marvel at the fortune cookie factory.

Ferry building marketplace

Ferry Building Marketplace

The incredible variety of food available from the many stands and snack spots, from seafood to burgers to Japanese food to Mexican treats, makes this an absolute must-visit.

At this establishment, you will enjoy a culinary adventure unlike any other.

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair

Embrace the Christmas spirit and get some holiday shopping done in Victorian England.

The Dickens Fair is always a crowd-pleaser during the holiday season because of its authentic specialty shops, period-dressed actors, and live musical entertainment.

Local and international beer is available, as well as traditional 

British meals like fish and chips and nicer European fare. Spending a whole day at the fair is recommended to make the most of the event.

Just taking a seat and listening to a few of the raucous choruses will put you in the spirit of the season.

Anchor Steam Brewery

San Francisco's Anchor Steam beer is as iconic as the city itself. Residents eagerly await the annual release of the brewery's "holiday brew," the recipe for which is guarded by a list of secret components.

The brewery tour is quite popular with both visitors and locals.

The tour is interesting even if you don't enjoy beer because it tells the narrative of the area's brewing process, which dates back to the Gold Rush when the beer was named for the steam that rose from the vats as they cooled in the mild climate.

The tour is excellent, but reservations must be made two months in advance.

Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral, the third biggest Episcopal Cathedral in the United States, is beautiful year-round.

Located in the posh Nob Hill district, it provides easy access to the city's most exclusive dining establishments. The holidays are when Grace Cathedral truly shines.

The Gothic arches and resonant acoustics provide a spooky setting for holiday music.

Recitalists perform on the cathedral's stunning eolian-Skinner organ, while the resident Choir of Men and Boys continues a centuries-old Anglican tradition.

Jazz greats including Pharoah Sanders and Joshua Redman, as well as the US Naval Academy Men's Glee Club, Chanticleer, and the Vienna Boys Choir, have performed as special guests.

“Entwined” at Golden Gate Park

Entwined At Golden Gate Park

This year, "Entwined," Golden Gate Park's iconic holiday-themed immersive LED light display, returns for another season.

Peacock Meadow in the park will be transformed into an "enchanted forest" thanks to an artwork by Bay Area artist Charles Gadekin, which will use 2,000 LED lights.

Every movement in "Entwined" offers enchantment and whimsy.

Holiday ice rink in Union Square

Holiday Ice Rink In Union Square

The Safeway Christmas Ice Rink presented by Kaiser Permanente is an outdoor rink in Union Square open during the Christmas season for skating.

In addition to open skating, unique activities including skating lessons, silent skate parties, Drag Queens on Ice, and more will be happening most weekends through the end of the year.

The price of an adult ticket is $20, while a child's ticket is $15.

Gingerbread house competition in Sausalito

Gingerbread House Competition In Sausalito

Sausalito, just across the Golden Gate Bridge, goes all out for the holidays, constructing elaborate gingerbread replicas of local landmarks.

The spectacular gingerbread houses entered for the Annual Gingerbread House Competition may be seen all across downtown Sausalito.

Participate in this no-cost, family-friendly tour and cast your vote for your favorite.

The Impossible Zoo

The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco is transformed into a one-of-a-kind mythological petting zoo in this extraordinary augmented reality event.

The Impossible Zoo is a mystical place where you can meet fantastical animals like unicorns, dragons, and more by donning a specialized holographic headset.

Experience a high-definition interactive adventure that will make you feel like you're actually in a video game.

Emperor Norton's Holiday Bazaar Vendors

This year marks the debut of Emperor Norton's Holiday Bazaar in the historic Salesforce Transit Centre and Salesforce Plaza.

The Salesforce Transit Centre will be taken over by manufacturers, artists, and food producers from November 29th, 2019 through Christmas Day, December 24th, 2019.

Popular brands including Paulcity Goods, Adelyn SF, Surreal Collective, Goyangii, Laloirelle, and Wen Wen Designs are among those selling their wares.

808 Poke Shack, Bacon Bacon, Bahn Mi Zon, Bowl'd Acai, and Curry Up Now are just a few of the "Off the Grid" staples that will be selling their delicious eats.

Known to himself as "His Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I," Joshua Abraham Norton was a well-known San Franciscan and the inspiration for the market's moniker.

Travel Tips For Visiting San Francisco In December

Tips For Visiting San Francisco In December

Given that weather conditions play a significant role in decision-making, it is advisable to consult the forecast for the entirety of one's trip and thereafter construct a daily itinerary for navigating the city.

Don't leave home without your foreign driver's license, proof of medical insurance, and any necessary electrical adapters.

If you plan on visiting multiple attractions, buying a City Pass Discount Card is a good idea to save money.

The package grants you entry to some of the best museums in the city in addition to a breathtaking bay cruise that lasts for 60 minutes.

In addition, for three days, passengers can take as many rides on buses, light rail, streetcars, and cable cars as they like.

It is recommended to book a hotel a few weeks in advance to secure the best rooms and pricing, even though hotels offer discounts.


Learn to Believe in the Magic of December in San Francisco. The city's allure is evident, what with its Christmas lights and friendly cafes.

Explore a wintery landscape adorned with famous monuments. Immerse yourself in the Christmas mood while discovering local markets and cultural attractions.

Amid the season, unforgettable moments will occur. Get a taste of the magic that can only be found in San Francisco in the winter.

Hermillis Haden
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