Things to Do Beyond San Francisco This Holiday Season
There is plenty of fun to be had in San Francisco this holiday season, but don’t restrict yourself to city limits. Beyond San Francisco, you will find a rich variety of events and activities to put you in the holiday spirit.
Take a spin on the ice at Monterey's seasonal skating rink, now through Jan. 6, 2019, located in the Custom House Plaza. The nearby Portola Hotel & Spa hosts its Winter Wonderland, Dec. 13-25 (except Dec. 19 and 21). You and your family can enjoy live music and delectable treats themed around the Twelve Days of Christmas. You can also ring in the New Year at a celebration of the arts when you join First Night Monterey on Dec. 31, from 3 p.m. to midnight. Performances range from theater to dance, and you can look forward to a sampling of music that ranges from reggae to hip-hop.
Tuolumne County’s historic role in the California gold rush isn’t its only claim to fame. This area hosts a wide variety of holiday events that bring visitors back every year. Railfans can relive the magical journey of The Polar Express™ on an hour-long train ride to the North Pole at Jamestown's Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. Hot chocolate and yummy cookies add to the festivities as riders journey north. Upon arrival, Santa will give each passenger a silver sleigh bell, the “first gift of Christmas.” Rides will be offered Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through Dec. 16.
Creating special holiday memories is easy in wine country, where seasonal events are paired with the flavors of California’s best vineyards. In Sonoma County, the "Holidays in Healdsburg" walking tour is a popular holiday tradition that lets visitors explore the sights, sounds, scents and tastes of this gorgeous town. Choose from the four-hour daytime tour (available daily) or the two-hour evening tour (available on Fridays and Saturdays). Across the way in the Napa Valley, hop aboard the Napa Valley Wine Trolley Holiday Lights Tour to see downtown in all its holiday splendor. Tours depart at 6:30 every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening in the month of December. And if you want an even bigger ride, hop about the Napa Valley Wine Train's Santa Train. Sip hot cocoa, munch freshly-baked cookies, and join in games and sing-alongs with a jolly cast of characters headlined by Santa himself. The train departs daily at 5 p.m. through Dec. 28, with special second departures on certain days.
Illuminate SF is a gorgeous display of light art that takes a seasonal turn around the holidays. While the installations are on display year-round, the Illuminate SF Festival of Light takes place from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. The free event lets you experience art that reflects holiday themes and the changing seasons.
This holiday season, take a break from the city and enjoy the many exciting events taking place in the surrounding area. Come experience Northern California's winter wonderland!