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Are you spending Thanksgiving in San Francisco? If so, you will be excited to learn that there are a lot of fun things to do on Thanksgiving Day and throughout the weekend. In 2020, this popular holiday falls on Thursday, November 26.
Several restaurants open their doors to serve up a variety of gourmet dishes. You can also do something a little different and enjoy your meal while cruising around the bay. In addition, many tour companies run most of their fun adventures throughout the day.
2020 Update: Due to current regulations, all dining is outdoors or take out only.
The rest of the weekend (11/27-11/29) is also full of activity including a chance to check out our holiday lights and Black Friday Shopping.
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While many museums and a handful of attractions close this day, you will still find several that open their doors to visitors. Here are some of our biggest attractions and museums open on Thanksgiving in San Francisco.
Aquarium of the Bay: The Aquarium of the Bay on SF's Pier 39 is open on Thanksgiving Day. All day long (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), you can watch their playful jellyfish swim around their tanks, walk through the tunnels within the aquarium or touch a starfish. It's one of the best family-friendly options this holiday. Pick up advanced tickets for your visit.
Botanical Gardens: The weather is usually lovely in SF on Thanksgiving and it's a fun time to walk around our colorful Botanical Gardens. You will find them in Golden Gate Park and admission is free all day long.
California Academy of Sciences: Our most visited museum is also open all day long (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.). The California Academy of Sciences is a perfect stop and a wonderful experience for the entire family. You can stop by and say hello to Claude, the rare white alligator, walk through the 4-story Osher Rainforest or visit the Steinhart Aquarium. You are required to have a ticket before you arrive. Find them online here.
Golden Gate Bridge: You can stroll across the Golden Gate Bridge 365 days a year. It's cool and windy this time of year, but it's an experience you will never forget. Make sure to stop by the Welcome Center for a few souvenirs to remember your visit.
Japanese Tea Garden: Visit one of the oldest Japanese Tea Garden in this US this Thanksgiving in San Francisco. The gardens are open and welcome visitors all day long (9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.). You will find them in Golden Gate Park.
Muir Woods: Another attraction just north of SF that is open every day of the year is Muir Woods. It's home to some of our famous redwood trees that are hundreds of years old. You can walk along the flat paved paths or get your heart pumping on one of the more challenging trails. You can also head up on a guided tour and leave the driving to someone else. You must make reservations in advance. You can also head out on this guided tour.
Twin Peaks: Another fun attraction open all day this holiday is Twin Peaks. From the top, you will get some of the best views of all of the SF Bay Area. You can climb to the top of one or both peaks or just soak in the views from the parking lot nearby.
You will find dozens of restaurants open on Thanksgiving in San Francisco. In 2020, all restaurants are offering outdoor dining or take away meals only as no indoor dining is allowed.
Many will offer a prix-fixe meal with turkey, dressing, and all of the fixings. Some also offer you the chance to choose a meal from their menu.
Here are a few ideas for this holiday. NOTE: These are subject to change at anytime based on changing regulations.
Buena Vista: Fisherman's Wharf, will be offering both a special Thanksgiving Day meal in addition to items off their menu. Open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Park Chalet: Ocean Beach, 3 course menu for $69 per person, does not include taxes or tip
Zingari Restorante & Rooftop: Downtown/Union Square, offering a three course menu for $85 per person
Palio: Financial District/Embarcadero, pick up option only on Thanksgiving Day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., call to order in advance
Mathilde French Bistro: SOMA, three course meal for $80 per person
Most tours run regular schedules on Thanksgiving in San Francisco. You can bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, enjoy a lovely meal on a cruise, or head up to Napa for some wine tasting.
Here are a few ideas to help you get started.
Golden Gate Bay Cruise: This 60 minute bay cruise takes you out for a relaxing time on the water. The cruises starts in Fisherman's Wharf. You will then slowly cruise along the northern shore of SF as you make your way to the Golden Gate Bridge. After you cruise under the bridge, your boat will turn around and head back under the bridge a second time. You'll then head over to Alcatraz Island. After a loop around the island, you will return to Fisherman's Wharf. Along the way, you will listen to narration about SF, our top attractions, and a little about our history. Learn more here.
Golden Gate Bridge Walking Tour: On this one-hour walking tour, you will learn all about the Golden Gate Bridge and why it's one of the most famous bridges in the world. As you walk, your knowledgeable guide, will take you to five gorgeous spots with some of the best views of this gem. Find out more here.
San Francisco Hop On/Hop Off Tour: Spend the day visiting some of SF's top attractions. On Thanksgiving Day, you will find many of our top free attractions such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, and the Painted Ladies of Alamo Square open. It's a fun day to explore the city on this Hop On/Hop Off tour as you learn more about SF's history. More about the 24-hour tour option.
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Are you visiting with kids? Here is a quick guide to the 25 most kid friendly places in the city. All offer a fun experience for both your kids and you!
If you plan on going shopping, I recommend heading over to the Fisherman's Wharf area. Most shops in that area are open this holiday.
Chinatown is another great option as most of the shops and restaurants run their regular hours.
If you head to Union Square, plan on most shops being closed as they prepare for Black Friday.
Ghirardelli Square: The management here lets the shops decide if they want to open or not on Thanksgiving Day. However, they did confirm that at least some of the shops will be open on Thanksgiving Day.
Pier 39: Several shops on Pier 39 are also open on Thanksgiving in San Francisco. You will find about 75% are open this day and many are open from mid-morning to mid-evening. You will also find some great restaurants here and don't miss your chance to stop by and check out our famous sealions.
Union Square: A few shops in Union Square area also open, but it's more hit or miss in this neighborhood.
Chinatown: Here you will find inexpensive items such as San Francisco gifts, clothing and jewelry. Most places are open on the holiday and throughout the weekend. It's a fun place to come for some great bargains!
The San Francisco weather for Thanksgiving and the weekend is usually temperate during the day with temperatures in the mid to lower 60s. It's often partly cloudy with some sun throughout the weekend. At night, the weather will dip into the lower 50s.
The wind here will make both the day and night feel a bit cooler.
I do recommend that you check the weather a few days before you arrive. November is the start of our rainy season, so it could also be rainy for a day or two this weekend.
You will find many other fun things to do all weekend long in San Francisco. Even though there aren't any events on the calendar, you will find lots of outdoor activities, additional tours, and museums open throughout the weekend.
Here are just a few additional recommendations for Thanksgiving in San Francisco.
de Young & Legion of Honor: Both of our fine arts museums will be open this Thanksgiving Weekend in San Francisco. The de Young is situated in Golden Gate Park just across the street from the California Academy of Sciences. The Legion of Honor is on the northwestern side of the city near Land's End. Both offer several hour of fun for those that love the fine arts.
SF Museum of Modern Art: The SF Museum of Modern Art is also open all weekend long. This modern arts museums features pieces from several well known modern artists including Henri Matisse, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Andy Warhol. It's located in the South of Market District. Buy your tickets in advance.
Lombard Street: You can also head over to Lombard Street. This free, outdoor attraction is open 365 days a year and is a fun sight to see!
Painted Ladies of Alamo Square: Another free, outdoor attraction sits along Alamo Square. The Seven Sisters or Painted Ladies of Alamo Square as they are called are seven beautifully painted Victorians. Six are almost identical (except for their paint colors) and a larger one sits on the northern end. If you find just the right spot, you will get that picture perfect view with downtown San Francisco in the background.
SF City Guides Walking Tours: SF City Guides, which is part of the SF Public Library, is also offering a handful of free walking tours this weekend. They cover topics and districts such as Fisherman's Wharf, Pacific Heights Mansions, and the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. The walks are free, but they do request a donation. I usually donate about $10 per person I'm with. Reservations are required. Visit their site here for more details and to register for a walk.
Little Italy & North Beach Walking Tour: You can also head out on a walking tour to explore San Francisco's famed North Beach District. On this tour, you will learn all about this Italian district. From food to history, you will know this place like a local at the end of your tour. Find out more here.
San Francisco Urban Hike: Burn off some of those Thanksgiving Day calories on this challenging 3-hour, 5-mile urban hike. You will walk up and down some of SF's steepest hills as you learn more about some of our famed attractions. You'll climb to the top of Telegraph Hill to see Coit Tower. You'll walk around the North Beach District and make your way over to Lombard Street. Your tour starts and ends at Levi's Plaza. Find out more here.
Wine Tasting in Napa or Sonoma: You can also head up to Napa or Sonoma for a day of wine tasting. Each region is home to several hundred wineries, so you will have plenty to choose from. You can sample only sparkling wines or spend the day enjoying just reds. It's up to you! If you don't want to drive, you can also head up with a guided tour. This is one of my favorites.
Black Friday is a big shopping day in SF. This is when you'll want to head back to the places with larger retail stores for the best deals.
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