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December 8, 2021
The holidays in SF are awesome!

5 Reasons Why San Francisco is Always Awesome During the Holidays

There’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit than to enjoy 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.

Best Areas to Stay in San Francisco for the Holidays

Where can you grab great deals on hotel rooms during the holidays? Almost anywhere! Snag some of the lowest prices of the year in one of these great locations:

Exceptional Dining

Speaking of dining options, there’s something delightful to be had in every neighborhood of San Francisco. 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.

  • Treat yourself to the very best at any of San Francisco's dozens of Michelin-starred restaurants. Running the gamut across cuisines and cultures, San Francisco's culinary scene is full of top-notch talent that are ready to take you on an unforgettable culinary experience.
  • Take advantage of San Francisco's dry, temperate weather and enjoy some of San Francisco's many outdoor dining experiences. Semi-enclosed and heated parklets have sprung up curbside at many of San Francisco's most popular restaurants, allowing you the chance to dine outside and soak in that holiday spirit.
  • 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. You can sip a martini while enjoying impeccable service from white-coated waiters.
  • 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.

Diverse Neighborhoods 

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.
  • Dogpatch/Mission Bay: East of San Francisco's charming Potrero Hill neighborhood lies Dogpatch, a formerly industrial part of town that is now host to a number of great bars and restaurants. Head north along Third Street and you'll find yourself in Mission Bay, which is home to Stagecoach Greens, an outdoor mini-golf course; Spark Social SF, a public park that welcomes some of the city's best food trucks on a regular basis; and the Chase Center, home to the Golden State Warriors.
  • FillmoreShop until you drop and catch up on all the up-and-coming trends. Fillmore appeals to those with varied interests; it has quaint bookstores, flower shops and even hardware outlets scattered among the upscale clothiers. You'll be able to find everything along this one cosmopolitan stretch of San Francisco.
  • Hayes Valley: Located near major performance venues like Davies Symphony Hall and the War Memorial Opera House, home to the San Francisco Ballet and San Francisco Opera, Hayes Valley is a neighborhood full of boutique stores, terrific restaurants, and charming open spaces. Much of the holiday excitement will be centered on Patricia's Green, a popular neighborhood park.
  • The Mission District: The center of San Francisco's historic, thriving, and colorful Latino culture, the Mission is where you'll find stunning public art, exciting nightlife, and an almost overwhelming number of restaurants that all beckon your taste buds.
  • Outer Sunset: Head due west towards the Pacific Ocean 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.

Light Art 

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 CampbellNed KahnJames Turrell and Leo Villarreal, you’ll be amazed by the glowing beauties lighting up the city's parks and public spaces. Best of all, the show is free, so you’ll be able to save your cash for wining, dining and shopping this season.

Fine Holiday Shopping

In addition to the selection of retail giants in Union Square—including Macy's, Neiman Marcus and Westfield San Francisco Centre—San Francisco is a maker’s paradise, full of small boutiques and galleries that you won't find anywhere else. Try these spots for utterly unique gifts to wow your loved ones:

  • Destination Fragrances crafts special candles that capture the unique scents of many San Francisco neighborhoods. You'll find their products at boutiques all over the city.
  • Brazilian-born confectioner Cristina Arantes has crafted delectable, award-winning chocolate goodies at her shop, Kika's Treats.
  • You'd be hard pressed to find a store stranger than San Francisco's Paxton Gate. From garden tools to taxidermied critters, this is the place where you can finally find something for that hard-to-shop-for someone on your list.
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