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. Find a list of my 10 favorites to visit that are open all day long.
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.
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.
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Additional events will be added as they are finalized. Here are just a few that are already scheduled.
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.
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.
Disney's Aladdin takes the stage on Saturday, December 24 at 1pm. This Broadway musical brings to life the story of a poor Middle Eastern boy that finds a genie in a bottle and his life is changed forever. It's the perfect way to kick off this special holiday with friends and family.
Learn More: Full December theater calendar
Head down to Santa Clara this Christmas in San Francisco for a 49ers football game. The game is on Christmas Eve at 1:05pm. The 49ers take on the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Enjoy this holiday classic with your entire family to celebrate Christmas in San Francisco. This show is performed each December at the American Conservatory Theater. There are two shows on Christmas Eve at 11am and 4pm. The final showing will be on Christmas Eve.
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.
The SF Symphony will be performing songs from A Charlie Brown Christmas. The Christmas Eve performance starts at 2pm at Davies Symphony Hall.
Smuin's The Christmas Ballet: You will find one performance on Christmas Eve of the Smuin's annual Christmas Ballet show. It starts at 2pm and is at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, find tickets at a discount for this show.
Brian Setzer Orchestra: Every year, the Brian Setzer Orchestra offers a Christmas Eve show at the Warfield. It starts at 8pm, check for ticket availability.
If you want a unique experience for dinner this Christmas Eve, then check out this dinner cruise offered by Hornblower Cruises:
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.
It's easy to find something fun to do this Christmas in San Francisco. You will find dozens of attractions open this holiday. Here are my 10 favorites to visit (some of them are free)!
1. California Academy of Sciences: Head over to Golden Gate Park to visit one of the top attractions in San Francisco. The California Academy of Sciences is four museums in one with a 4-story rainforest, aquarium, natural history museum, planetarium, and so much more. Find tickets for Christmas Day.
2. SF Zoo: The San Francisco Zoo is also open on Christmas Day. See lions, tigers, and bears as well as dozens of other interesting animals from around the world. Pick up tickets for Christmas Day.
3. 7D Experience: Another family-friendly option for Christmas Day is the 7D Experience. This part movie, part video game experience is one you will never forget. Buy tickets in advance.
4. Botanical Gardens: The Botanical Gardens are one 365 days a year and offer free admission on Christmas Day. They opens at 7:30am with last entry at 4pm on Christmas Day. Learn more about what you will see when you visit.
5. Japanese Tea Garden: Just a few steps away from the Botanical Gardens, you will find the Japanese Tea Gardens. They are also open daily. You can visit the garden free this year if you enter before 10am. More about the Japanese Tea Garden.
6. Golden Gate Bridge: The Golden Gate Bridge is another fun option for Christmas in San Francisco. The walkways open just before sunrise and will stay open to late in the evening. Tips to visit.
7. Painted Ladies of Alamo Square: Another free and open attraction is in Alamo Square. The Painted Ladies of Alamo Square are six identical historic Victorian houses that are a must see during your stay. More about the Painted Ladies of Alamo Square.
8. Contemporary Jewish Museum: The Contemporary Jewish Museum is open all day on Christmas Day. Discover their interesting traveling exhibits on Jewish history, culture and art. More here.
9. Pier 39: You will find several shops and restaurants open on Pier 39 on Christmas in San Francisco. Their large holiday tree will also be on display, so make sure to see it lit up that night too. Find more details here.
10. Lombard Street: My final item on my list of the best attractions at Christmas in San Francisco is Lombard Street. This curvy street welcomes both car and pedestrian traffic all year long. Learn all about it here.
Many restaurants open on Christmas Day also feature a special menu. Click the link below for my recommendations for your entire family.
The 2016/2017 NBA Champs take the floor this Christmas in San Francisco. They take on the Cleveland Cavaliers at noon at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. This will be a hot ticket, so make sure to pick yours up today!
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 in San Francisco 2017.
1. Golden Gate Bay Cruise: 60-minute cruise around the SF Bay, departs several times on Christmas in San Francisco between 10am and 3:45pm, Starts at Fishermans Wharf, sails under the Golden Gate Bridge, around Alcatraz and many other attractions along the bay, book your tickets today
2. 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, you can continue biking or explore Sausalito after the tour, ticket includes a ferry ride back to SF from Sausalito, tours offered at both 10am and 1pm on Christmas Day, check for ticket availability
3. Self-Guided Bike Tours: A great way to explore SF on your own, rent a bike and follow one of their self-guided tours...or head out on your own route, check for availability
4. 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, walk past and learn more about other historical landmarks throughout the district, tour starts at 10am, buy your tickets today
5. GoCar Tours: Cruise around town in a small, two seat yellow Go Car as you explore top attractions, follow their programmed route to see as much as possible in just a few hours, available in several languages, check for availability
Are you looking for something fun to do on Christmas night? One of the best options is to head out to find the best Christmas lights displays. Even though some of these places are closed, you can still take a look at their gorgeous displays. Many turn their lights on around dusk.
Hornblower will offer four great cruises on Christmas Day 2017. Two offer buffet style dinners and two offer a 3-course seated meal.
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