Wondering what to do on Christmas Day? We’ve got a list of what to do on Christmas Day in San Francisco.

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October 16, 2019

7 Things to Do on Christmas Day in San Francisco

December is a beautiful time to visit San Francisco—just don’t expect to see snow on the ground. No matter how cold California natives might find the weather, Dec. 25 in San Francisco is guaranteed to be warmer than at least 38 other states. And it’s bound to be considerably less crowded than the slushy sidewalks of Manhattan. All this means that there are plenty of reasons to be out and about in San Francisco on Christmas Day.

Ice Skate

All four downtown San Francisco ice skating rinks (Yerba Buena, the Embarcadero, Civic Center, and Union Square) are open for you to show off your triple axels on Christmas Day. The Union Square rink is particularly jolly, as the commercial bustle will have ceased but the adjacent holiday tree remains lit.

Illuminate SF Festival of Lights

Light art installations around the city don't stop glowing on Christmas Day. Go on a self-guided light art trail to see some of this year's newest installations, like "W.F.T" at Civic Center, "Tara Mechani" at Hayes Valley, "Grace Light" at Nob Hill, "Coding" at SFO, and "Kaleidoscope" at the Exploratorium.

San Francisco Botanical Gardens Society at Strybing Arboretum

The Botanical Gardens are Golden Gate Park’s most manicured jewel. Although San Francisco residents never pay an entrance fee, the gates are flung open to everyone on Christmas Day. Roam through 55 acres of native plants, succulents, magnolias, a grove of redwoods, the Ancient Plant Garden, and the rest of the 8,000 species on display, some of which might even be in bloom (especially the Mesoamerican Cloud Forest). If you’re lucky, the weather will be temperate enough for a picnic.

Christmas Day Dinner at PIER 39

While the shops at PIER 39 will be closed on Christmas Day, many of the Pier's restaurants like Fog Harbor Fish House, Pier Market Seafood Restaurant, Eagle Cafe, and Crab House will be serving up holiday feasts. Be sure to make your reservations far in advance!

Contemporary Jewish Museum

The Contemporary Jewish Museum is open on Christmas. Better yet, it’s a Community Free Day, so all the galleries are open (which means advance registration is highly recommended). Art-making, musical performances, and a nosh from Wise Sons Delicatessen round out a wonderful holiday afternoon inside Daniel Libeskind’s post-modern cube.

Kung Pao Kosher Comedy

Kung Pao Kosher Comedy brings together the Jewish comedic heritage with the venerable tradition of eating Chinese food on Christmas. Comic Lisa Geduldig began performing at the 370-seat New Asia Restaurant in Chinatown in 1993, and the tradition has grown every year since. This year’s performances happen Dec. 24-26.

Brunch at the Fairmont San Francisco

The Fairmont San Francisco will turn into a holiday wonderland this year, offering an exquisite holiday brunch buffet menu, a jazz duo performance and photos with Santa! While you're there, don't miss out on more photo ops with the Fairmont's impressive Gingerbread House and 23-foot Christmas tree in the main lobby.

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