Christmas in San Francisco

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May 14, 2018

12 Days of San Francisco Christmas

You know the song, but do you know how to find all the items from “The Twelve Days of Christmas” in San Francisco? Some are harder to find than others, but we’ve laid it all out here for you. Why not attempt a Christmas scavenger hunt while you’re here? See if you can you cross all of these off your list in one visit.

A Partridge in A Pear Tree
San Francisco’s Union Square may not have a pear tree, but it’s got something better: their Christmas tree, right in the heart of the shopping district and in close proximity to some of the city’s most extravagant window displays. The big, beautiful Christmas tree shares pride of place in Union Square with the handsome mahogany Bill Graham Menorah erected every year to celebrate Chanukah and honor Jewish tradition.

Two Turtle Doves  
Feeling lovey dovey? Indulge yourself and your special someone with the stylish surroundings and exceptional cuisine of One Market. Cosmopolitan and sophisticated, steps from San Francisco's gorgeous waterfront, One Market serves up contemporary seasonal dishes that are worth the indulgence.

Three French Hens 
Why stop at French Hens? Head to the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens and see birds and other creatures from all over the world. African ducks, Chilean flamingos, Eurasian owls and many more species can be found there. On select nights from Dec. 15 to Dec. 30, you can enjoy Zoo Lights, a magical display of twinkling holiday cheer complete with hot apple cider and cocoa.

Four Calling Birds
Switch out birdsongs for classic carols and see American Conservatory Theater’s annual production of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol,” a highlight of every holiday season (Dec. 1-24). Performed in A.C.T.’s beautifully ornate, century-old structure in the heart of the theater district, the spirit of the holidays is sure to be on display inside and outside the theater.

Five Golden Rings
Rings of gold, platinum and diamonds, not to mention gem-encrusted bracelets, necklaces, watches and other jewelry of fine design and high quality, are the stock in trade of Gump's, which has served San Franciscans and welcomed visitors since 1861.

Six Geese-a-Laying 
Chickens fill in for geese at the bountiful breakfast table at Palm House, a Caribbean-seasoned favorite in the Marina neighborhood. Don’t miss their flavorful interpretation of Huevos Rancheros. You could also journey out to the Cliff House, with its dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean, and enjoy their legendary Sunday brunch.

Seven Swans-a-Swimming
The resident swans at the Palace of Fine Arts have been a beloved fixture for years. The neo-classical, open-sided Palace — the lone surviving building of the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition — is flanked by a man-made lagoon where swans gather and glide across the water. A popular spot for photo opportunities and just plain relaxing, the Palace is a must-see for first-time visitors. 

Eight Maids-a-Milking
And where did that fresh milk go? Why, into milk chocolate, of course! Specifically, Ghirardelli Chocolate poured over fresh-made ice cream sundaes at the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company shop in Ghirardelli Square. This restored red brick historical landmark, once a chocolate factory, has defined the northern waterfront for years. Browse through dozens of shops selling more than just candy and enjoy the views of the Bay while you're at it. 

Nine Ladies Dancing
On Christmas Eve 1944, the audience at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House was the first to experience a performance of The Nutcracker stateside. Since the very first performance, The Nutcracker has been a national holiday tradition. This holiday season, join San Francisco Ballet, Dec. 13-30, as the lights dim, the music soars and ladies dance in a production that is as unique as it is magical. 

Ten Lords-a-Leaping
There are leaping lords, magic carpets, and one big blue genie in Disney's Aladdin, currently playing at the SHN Orpheum Theater. See this Tony Award-winning adaptation of the Oscar-winning animated classic before it disappears into thin air on Jan. 7, 2018.

Eleven Pipers Piping
There are pipes and an assortment of other instruments at the San Francisco Symphony, one of the most acclaimed orchestras in the nation. Visit Davies Symphony Hall from Dec. 21 to Dec. 24 for their performances of A Charlie Brown Christmas, a beloved holiday standard and one of the most nostalgic performances of the season.

Twelve Drummers Drumming 
You can drum or build or even change the weather at The Exploratorium. A museum intended to be multi-disciplinary and highly interactive, The Exploratorium offers visitors a wide variety of fun, educational experiences. Bring the whole family during the day or visit in the evening for one of their special After Dark events.

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