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Christmas in San Francisco

Things to Do on Christmas Eve & Day in 2016

Christmas in San Francisco is a magical time. The air is crisp, but warm enough to walk around and explore this beautiful city. I also love this time of year as the city is full of gorgeous holiday lights.

You will find quite a few things to do this holiday season from theater performances to shopping in Union Square or Pier 39.

Many attractions close on Christmas Day, but you can still find fun activities such as cruising down Lombard Street, visiting the Japanese Tea Garden, or walking through the Mission to see its colorful murals.

You will also find several recommendations on places to eat for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Each section below offers several options at every price point.

Christmas Window at Macy's in SF

Are you looking for a unique way to celebrate the holidays? How about jumping aboard a Hornblower Cruise? You will find cruises each day that include dinner, dancing, and fun on the SF Bay.

Christmas Day: Click here to skip down to events and activities planned on Christmas Day.

Christmas Eve in San Francisco

Additional events will be added as they are finalized. Here are just a few that are already scheduled.

Holiday Attraction Schedule for Christmas Eve

Some attractions close early on Christmas Eve, even if they are open the next day. Before you finalize your plans for Christmas Eve Day, make sure to check out the closing times for many of SF's major attractions.

Learn More: Holiday Attraction Schedule for Christmas Eve & Day

SF Ballet's Nutcracker on Christmas Eve in San Francisco 2016

The San Francisco Ballet performs two shows on Christmas Eve in San Francisco. You can catch their interpretation of The Nutcracker at 11am or 4pm at the War Memorial Opera House. This is one of their most popular performances every year and tickets sell out quickly. If you plan to go to one of these performances, I recommend buying your tickets right away.

Tickets: On sale now

Learn More: Additional information on the SF Ballet's Nutcracker shows

The Lion King

Disney's The Lion King takes the stage on Saturday, December 24 at 2pm. This Broadway musical brings its cast of animals to life at every performance. It's the perfect way to kick off this special holiday with friends and family.

Tickets: On sale now

Learn More: Full December theater calendar

Cirque du Soleil's Luzia

Catch one of two Cirque du Soleil performances on Christmas Eve. This year's show is called Luzia, a magical and colorful Walking Dream of Mexico. All performances are under the Big Top behind AT&T Park. This year's Christmas Eve shows are at 1:30pm and 5pm.

Tickets: On sale now

Learn More: Find additional information and ticketing details

Irving Berlin's White Christmas

Don't miss out on the final performance of Irving Berlin's White Christmas. This classic musical tells the story of a song and dance team in Vermont that is falling for a sister act. It's a funny, high energy performance that you will remember for years to come. There are two shows on Christmas Eve, one at Noon and a second at 5:30pm.

Tickets: On sale for Christmas Eve

Half-Priced Tickets for Christmas Eve Events

Here are a few additional tickets for events on Christmas Eve. All of them are on Goldstar with discounts at up to 50% off.

  • SF Bay Cruise Adventure: Leaves from Pier 39 several times a day on Christmas Eve, Full price $30, Goldstar price $15*

  • Brian Setzer Orchestra: Live at the Warfield on Christmas Eve, Full price $72.50 - $84.50, Goldstar price $49.50 - $69.50*

  • The Set-Up, Comedy & Craft Beers: Enjoy an evening of laughs and tasty local brews in the Beer Basement of Ales Unlimited, Full price $10, Goldstar price $5*

*Small fee applies.

Christmas Eve Dinner Recommendations (2015)

Dozens of restaurants in San Francisco open their doors on Christmas Eve. Most offer special menus so you can sit back, relax, and let the chef do all the work.

Here are just a few of the special menus scheduled for Christmas Eve Dinner.

NOTE: These recommendations are from 2015. The 2016 menus will be posted once the restaurants finalize their plans. This will give you an idea on what to expect during your stay. Check back soon for my recommendations for this year!

  1. 501 Zingari: Four-course dinner from 3pm to 10pm for $69 per person

  2. 750 Restaurant & Bar: 3-course prix fixe menu with roasted beef tenderloin, smoked salmon, or roasted rack of lamb

  3. Bobo's: Serving off their regular steak menu from 5pm to 11pm on Christmas Eve

  4. Bourbon Steak: 4-course prix fixe menu for $125 per person

  5. Burritt Room & Tavern: 3-course meal with spiced brined Sonoma duck with a Niman Ranch honey glazed ham for $48 per person from 4 - 8pm

  6. Campton Place: 5-course meal at $145 per person

  7. L'Olivier: Serving a special menu and regular menu from 5:30pm to 10pm

  8. Luce: Special 3-course prix-fixe menu $95 for adults, $140 with wine pairing, $45 for kids 4 - 12 years old

  9. OneUP Restaurant & Lounge: 4-course Christmas Eve Dinner for $68 per person, $38 for children 4 - 12

Secure your spot early, by booking a table on

Sunset Cruise with Heavy Appetizers

You can also head out on the open waters on this more casual cruise. It lasts two-hours and offers plenty of food for dinner in their buffet.

  • 2-hour cruise
  • Hearty appetizer buffet with sandwiches, salads, desserts, and one cocktail (you can purchase additional cocktails at the bar)
  • Cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Dress code is casual and has open seating
  • Cruise leaves at 5:30pm
  • Per person cost is around $64.00
  • Buy your tickets today!

Hornblower Supper Cruise 2016

If you want a unique experience for dinner this Christmas Eve, then check out this dinner cruise offered by Hornblower Cruises:

  • 3-hour cruise
  • Holiday dinner buffet with gourmet selections
  • Live entertainment and dancing
  • Wine and cocktails available for purchase
  • Cruise leaves at 3:30 pm and returns around 6:30 pm (boarding starts at 3pm)
  • Dress code is upscale casual to business casual. Jeans are not allowed
  • Per person cost is around $108 per person (+ taxes and other fees)
  • Buy tickets today!

Save on Your Stay

The best way to save on your hotel stay is to shop around a little before you book. Here are just a few of the great places to save! Click on the links below to find the best deals in San Francisco for Christmas.

TripAdvisor: What's the #1 hotel in San Francisco? Read reviews & find hotel deals on TripAdvisor!

Bookings: Save on your Hotel with, Planet Earth's #1 Accommodation Site. No booking fees ever!

Christmas Day in San Francisco 2016

Attraction Schedules for Christmas Day

Many paid attractions close on Christmas in San Francisco. However, several key attractions are free and open almost every day of the year.

Learn More: Click here for a full Christmas Day schedule of SF's top attractions.

Supper Cruises

Hornblower will offer two great cruises on Christmas Day 2016.

  • Casual Twilight Cruise with Hearty Appetizer Buffet
    • 2-hour cruise on the SF Bay
    • Leaves Pier 43 1/2 at 5:30pm
    • Casual cruise that offers heated indoor seats as well as outdoor seating
    • Cruise past top attractions such as Alcatraz Island, Sausalito, & the Bay Bridge
    • Ride under the Golden Gate Bridge - twice!
    • Enjoy the SF Skyline at dusk
    • Full per person price starts at $64
    • Buy your tickets today!

  • Premier Christmas Day Dinner Cruise
    • 3-hour cruise that leaves at 4pm from Pier 3 (boards at 3:30pm)
    • Three-course seated premier dinner plus a dessert buffet
    • Hosted premium bar
    • Beautiful holiday decor
    • Business casual dress, jeans are not allowed
    • Price starts at $176 per person + taxes
    • Buy your tickets to this dinner cruise today!

  • Christmas Day Supper Cruise
    • 2 supper buffet cruises this year
    • One leaves at 3:30pm and one at 4pm
    • 3-hour cruise on the SF Bay
    • Holiday supper buffet with gourmet selections
    • Live entertainment and dancing
    • Wine and cocktails available for purchase
    • Dress code is upscale casual to business casual. Jeans are not allowed
    • Tickets are available now: Starting at $113.00 per person + taxes
    • Buy your tickets today!

Lunch & Dinner Recommendations (2015)

Many restaurants open on Christmas Day also feature a special menu.

NOTE: My recommendations below are from 2015. I'll update them when restaurants start to plan for 2016. Read on for an idea on what to expect again this year.

  • 501 Zingari: Four-course meal from $69 per person, 1pm to 10pm, kids menu available as well

  • 750 Restaurant & Bar: 3-course prix-fixe featuring roasted beef tenderloin, smoked salmon, and roast rack of lamb

  • Americano Restaurant: 3-course holiday dinner starting at 2pm, wine pairing available

  • Bobo's: Serving steak from their regular menu from 5pm to 11pm

  • Campton Place: Multiple choice 5 course tasting menu for $145 per person

  • The Cavalier: Prix fixe menu for $85 per person, 10:30am to 7:30pm

  • L'Olivier: 4-course dinner at $60.50 per person, serving from 3pm to 10pm

  • Luce: Serving both Christmas Brunch and Dinner; Brunch for $85 per person with bubbly, $45 for the kids; Dinner for $95 per person, $140 with wine, $45 for kids

  • McCormick & Kuleto's Seafood Restaurant: Serving holiday specials

  • The Oak Room: Appetizer and dessert buffet with 5 entree choices: turkey, prime rib, pork loin medallions, maple glazed salmon, wild mushroom ravioli, $97 for adults, $47 for kids under 12

I recommend you book a table as soon as possible, as restaurants fill up quickly. The easiest way to book your table is through

Tours Operating on Christmas Day

Even though many attractions close this day, you will still find a number of fun tours running. They range from the standard bay cruise to walking tours around SF's top districts. Here are a few of my favorites that plan to run on Christmas Day 2016.

  • Golden Gate Bay Cruise
    • Cruises depart several times this day between 10am and 3:45pm
    • One hour cruise on the SF Bay
    • Starts at Fishermans Wharf, sails under the Golden Gate Bridge, around Alcatraz and many other attractions along the bay
    • Narrated tour, available in several languages, where you will learn all about SF's history and these famous attractions
    • Full bar with drinks and snacks
    • Buy your tickets today

  • San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge Bike Tour
    • 3 hour guided tour from Fishermans Wharf to Sausalito
    • Bike along SF's waterfront and over the Golden Gate Bridge
    • After the tour, you can continue biking or explore Sausalito
    • Ticket includes a ferry ride back to SF from Sausalito
    • Tours offered at both 10am and 1pm on Christmas Day
    • Tickets start at around $55 per person
    • Buy your tickets today

  • Chinatown Walking Tour
    • Two to three hour walking tour of the famous Chinatown Neighborhood
    • Highlights include a stop at an Herbal Pharmacy, the Fortune Cookie Factory, and a Chinese Temple
    • You'll also walk past and learn more about other historical landmarks throughout the district
    • Walk through the Stockton Street Food Market
    • Tour starts at 10am
    • Tickets start at around $35 per person
    • Buy your tickets today

Christmas Eve & Christmas Day Mass

Many churches throughout San Francisco will offer a Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day Mass. To help you find one, I complied this list of the best churches in the city.

It includes some that you can visit as attractions. Others on the list offer less traditional services. Use it to find the experience you seek during your stay.

Learn More: A list of churches in SF

Other Events in December

sf symphony
new years eve
ice skating
SF Symphony
New Year's
Eve Events
Full December

> > Christmas & Christmas Eve 2016

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