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November 5, 2018

6 Family Fun Activities in San Francisco This Holiday Season

The brisk winds and pretty lights that adorn the Bay Area come wintertime—not to mention the great hotel room rates—make for a perfect family getaway. If you are heading to San Francisco with your family, here are some essentials that epitomize a lovely winter holiday in the City by the Bay.

1. Stockton Street Winter Walk

Every year, Stockton Street is converted into a pop-up pedestrian mall to celebrate the holiday season. From Nov. 23 to Dec. 31, you can indulge in street food, watch live performances, shop till you drop, or snap a family photo for keepsakes. The entire strip is buzzing with people and the area is lit up with beautiful holiday lights.

2. Ice Skating

Winter in San Francisco also means pop-up ice skating rinks. The most popular one is at Union Square, under Macy's giant Christmas tree. It lasts until Jan. 21, 2019. Given its popularity, you would do well to book your tickets in advance. Also check for scheduled events at the rink, such as Drag Queens on Ice on Dec. 6, 2018, and the Polar Bear Skate on Jan.1, 2019.

If you can't find a spot at Union Square, you don't need to be bummed out. Embarcadero Center has the biggest pop-up rink in the city, with gorgeous views of the waterfront.

3. Reindeer Romp

If bustling downtown isn't your idea of holiday fun, head to the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens on the opposite side of the city. Every year, the zoo organizes a reindeer exhibit, where cute relatives of Rudolph can be seen in their natural habitat. The exhibit is accompanied by an educational tour on reindeers. This year, Reindeer Romp is scheduled from Nov. 17, 2018 to Jan. 1, 2019.


4. Holiday Lights Tour

Ring in the holiday season aboard a special 90-minute Open Top Holiday Lights Bus Tour of San Francisco with Big Bus Tours, available nightly Dec. 8, 2018 through Jan. 5, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. The Holiday Lights Tour begins at Big Bus's Visitor Center at 99 Jefferson St. in Fisherman's Wharf. Along the way, you'll see San Francisco's festive holiday trees, trimmings, and twinkling lights decorating the city for the winter season. Enjoy jovial jingles along with a complimentary seasonal treat from Ghirardelli Chocolate and a complimentary souvenir.


5. Run Wild San(ta) Francisco

Run Wild San(ta) Francisco is an annual event at East Beach (Crissy Field) that sees hundreds of people run a 5K race dressed in Santa hats and running gear. The event also features a kids' dash, with prizes for winners. There is a Christmas festival after the race, too, which has food trucks and musical performances. It's a darn good way to get the entire family into the Christmas spirit. The event is scheduled for Dec. 1, 2018.

6. Dance-Along Nutcracker

The annual production of this San Francisco tradition takes place on Dec. 8 and 9 at the Yerba Buena Gardens Center for the Arts. Join the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band as they marry Tchaikovsky’s famous "Nutcracker Suite" with J.K. Rowling's wizarding world. Be prepared to shake your own rump when the “Dance Along” signs lights up.


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