5 Reasons Why San Francisco is Always Awesome During the Holidays
There’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit than to spend a night — or if you’re lucky, a long weekend — in the bracing air and twinkling lights of San Francisco. The hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers on the prowl for unique gifts, the musical performances and artistic displays, and the ultra-cozy winter dining scene all create the perfect backdrop for making your list and checking it twice — or for a quick escape before the season ends.
'Tis the season for savings, and you can get some of the lowest rates of the year in one of the best cities on earth right now. With the low hotel rates during the holiday season, you can snag a great deal to experience the warm and fuzzy feelings of merrily hopping among only-in-SF shopping spots, wine bars with roaring fireplaces, and light art tours.
Where can you grab great deals on hotel rooms during the holidays? Snag some of the lowest prices of the year in one of these great locations:
- Union Square: Here you’re well connected to everything, including public transportation, delicious restaurants and award-wining bars, and theaters hosting concerts, Broadway tours and original productions.
- Fisherman’s Wharf: Water views, historic cable car lines and loads of shopping make this a favorite spot for tourists and locals alike. There’s no shortage of places to dine and enjoy an evening out.
- The Mission District: The city’s oldest building — Mission Dolores — meets hot new nightclubs and restaurants in this happening area. Art lovers will enjoy strolling among both holiday lights and the largest collection of murals in San Francisco.
Warm up during the holidays by exploring some of San Francisco’s greatest neighborhoods. Get a sense of how people here celebrate the holidays in style.
- Chinatown: For many San Franciscans, celebrating the holidays with an incredible Chinese meal is a tradition. Take a walking tour of Chinatown during the holidays to see how this unique neighborhood makes Christmas special.
- Fillmore: Shop until you drop and catch up on all the up-and-coming trends. Fillmore appeals to those with varied interests; it has three quaint bookstores, three flower shops and even three hardware outlets scattered among the upscale clothiers. You'll be able to find everything on this one cosmopolitan stretch of San Francisco.
- Outer Sunset: Head due west towards the Pacific to discover the quiet side of San Francisco. Wide, windswept beaches beckon and tranquil residential neighborhoods are home to friendly local shops, cafes and restaurants. Welcome to the Outer Sunset.
For something cool to break up those traditional holiday activities, be sure to check out Illuminate SF, a city-wide display of some of the greatest light art in the country. With works by such luminaries as Jim Campbell, Ned Kahn, James Turrell and Leo Villarreal, you’ll be amazed by the glowing beauties lighting up the parks and public spaces of the City by the Bay. What better way to celebrate the season than with a tour of these incredible displays? Best of all, the show is free, so you’ll be able to save your cash for wining, dining and shopping this season.
Speaking of dining options, there’s something delightful to be had in every neighborhood. The holidays are the time for enjoying the best food and drink, so go ahead and be a little bit gluttonous before your New Year’s resolutions kick in come January.
- Union Square restaurants attract local foodies, so you know they have to be good. For fine French cuisine, try Gaspar Brasserie or 398 Brasserie. For incredible Thai food, head to Kin Khao, a Michelin-starred favorite.
- For a bit of history with your meal, try the Tadich Grill, California’s oldest restaurant and the first mesquite grill in the country. Today you can sip a martini while enjoying impeccable service from white-coated waiters.
- Another historical choice is the Cliff House, where Victorian bigwigs enjoyed the same sunsets you’ll be privy to at the far western tip of the city.
- For the foodie who likes to try new restaurants while the iron is still hot, the Mission District is the neighborhood to check out, as there are new options popping up here every week
Fine Holiday Shopping
In addition to the selection of retail giants in Union Square such as Macy's, Nieman Marcus and Westfield San Francisco Centre which includes Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom, San Francisco is a maker’s paradise and abounds with small boutiques and galleries that you’ll only find here. Try these spots for utterly unique gifts to wow your loved ones:
- Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts: Take a mask-making class to give someone an original creation, or browse sculpture and paintings from local artists.
- Destination Fragrances: Now you don’t have to leave your heart in San Francisco when your trip is done. Instead, bring home a candle designed to evoke the local aromas of your favorite San Francisco neighborhood.
- Lot No. 1: The Levi’s store on Market Street lets you custom-order a pair of jeans made specifically the way you want. Levi’s are a true California tradition, and this is one of only two spots in the world that offer this level of customization.
Ready to book your trip to San Francisco for the holidays? Get started today by choosing a neighborhood as your home base and booking a great deal on a place to stay. Come to San Francisco using Amtrak for a perfect holiday vacation. Book early and save 20%. Then decide where to dine and which areas to explore for the perfect holiday shopping trip or cultural experience. In San Francisco, the holiday truly is the most wonderful time of the year, so book your trip today!