San Francisco at Christmas time

Jul 9th, 2012, 02:14 PM
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San Francisco at Christmas time

We are heading to SF for our first "December" visit - just before Xmas and home just after New Years. What kind of things unique to the season might we expect? [Not looking necessarily for religious things as we don't celebrate Christmas.] What are the crowds like and any wintertime things should be make note of in our planning?

DebitNM is offline  
Jul 9th, 2012, 04:47 PM
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It's been many moons since I lived in the area and so could visit at Christmas, but a visit to Podesta Baldocchi's (a florist) to view the Christmas display was a must-do.

From this link, it looks like they are still going strong.

There is also an outdoor ice-skating rink over at Embarcadero Center, by the Hyatt Embarcadero & Ferry Building.

Growing up in the East Bay, to me Christmas season was characterized by the fog that would envelop everything. Wonderful. Here's hoping for the Fog Monster to grace your trip.
sludick is offline  
Jul 9th, 2012, 08:55 PM
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I love San Francisco during the christmas season! Here are a few festive ideas:

-union square - the macy's tree in union square is a pretty site at night and the shopping area around union square is very festive. There's also an ice skating rink in the square.

-westin st. francis - the hotel on union square displays a sugar village each year. The chefs of the hotel add on to it every Christmas and it's fun to see, made completely from sugar.

-the fairmont on nob hill has a life size gingerbread house and fantastic decorations. You must stop in to take a peek. is a terrific resource for holiday cultural events from musicals, plays and musical performances to sporting events. I always find unique events to attend during the season at discounted prices.

-the christmas show at the yerba buena theatre is quite festive. I got tickets on last year. The nutcracker is always fun too.

Hope this helps and have a wonderful time!

tiernansf is offline  
Jul 10th, 2012, 02:00 PM
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I think the ice skating rink in Union Square is much nicer, and prettier.

Union Square is where they have the traditional lighting of the tree. Union Square is the center of the SF shopping experience.

Agree on Podesta Balcocchi, however, I think they may have changed things recently.

Macy's is always a kick to see their indoor display for Christmas.

Christmas plays at the Curran and Geary theatres.
Rastaguytoday is offline  
Jul 10th, 2012, 02:48 PM
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Ooh, lucky you! We love SF at the holidays.
PeaceOut is offline  
Jul 10th, 2012, 05:01 PM
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We go every year (at least for the last 12.) Here are some of our favorites.

Grand Hyatt-- off of Union Square usually has a "shoppers" discount room rate: always asked & received a room looking out on Union Square. Sometimes room is low enough we leave the drapes open and go to sleep watching twinkling Christmas tree lights.

See the skaters & the Christmas tree lighting & carolers and visit nearby Flagship store Williams & Sonoma nearby all decorated for the Holidays and giving free samples of hot cider.

BTW, Hyatt usually gives a shoppers coupons to MAcy's..sometims as much as sure to ask at check-in. MAcys windows are reminiscent of back East.

Tix & Emporio Rulli: There are 2 places right in the Union Square itself to take advantage of: Tix 1/2 off theater tickets near Westin side of the square (shows at Christmas often do special Holiday features) and the infamous Itallian Cafe Emporio Rulli fabulous hot chocolate sludge from Italy. You can mailorder home their wonderful Pannetone.

Maiden Lane is a 1/2 block from Hyatt with a great little Italian Cafe Mocca: if it is nice enough you can sit outside and be seranaded by a street muscian of opera level singing Christmas songs as the acoustics in the Lane are wonderful. The Italian Mixed seafood salad is divine & the coffee cups are huge. Please remember to bring your cash no credit cards and they are only open for lunch.

Not too far from Maiden Lane is the French Quarter where Moules Frites are a great and affordable French dinner selection and walkable.

Nordstrom--Flagship store with the escalator to the sky. Shopping is wonderful & they have a great Spa. We always book a spa treatment often with Holiday influences as a in person Christmas treat to each other.

The Hyatt concierges are some of teh beat: they can book a driver & car for a day in Sonoma/NApa wine tasting. It is great to go in teh crisp air and with the vines still changing colors.

If you have your own car, go over the Golden Gate bridge to Rodeo Beach..the concierge can help. The wild winter Pacific Ocean and overlooking the bridge back from teh MArine Headlands of the City by the Bay at dusk with twinkling Christmas lights is one of my favorites.
Then head back over the Golden gate bridge to a nice French Cafe dinner in that neighborhood at Chapeau. The owner usually tastes everyone's wine and when snockered enough will sing French Christmas songs.

I know you are not intersted in religion but we enjoyed the Concert at Grace was a very touching expereince as we took a private tour before and understood teh history.
1JAR is offline  
Jul 10th, 2012, 06:06 PM
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It will be crowded downtown, but not like NYC. It may well rain a lot. does have great deals as tiernan mentioned.
We tend to leave for Xmastime so I can't be much help for Xmas specific things but would be happy to answer any other questions
mztery is offline  
Jul 11th, 2012, 05:49 PM
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The SFBallet's Nutcracker. Elaborate, elegant and a tradition for many people. Check in September to get the best tickets and dates to suit you. At the SF Opera building
NoCaliGal is offline  
Jul 11th, 2012, 06:48 PM
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Nutcracker is a great idea if you can get tickets and it's within the budget. I take my niece every year. I'll keep my eye out for specifics, but some people really deck the halls of those Victorians/Edwardians.
Leely2 is offline  
Jul 11th, 2012, 07:13 PM
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Thanks for all the suggestions!
DebitNM is offline  
Jul 11th, 2012, 07:30 PM
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If you are into the nutcracker at all - get tickets starting August 5 for Mark Morris' The HA=ard Nut. It's the music of the Nutcracker but with a modern twist. We see it every year and own the video.
mztery is offline  
Jul 11th, 2012, 07:51 PM
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That looks like fun!
DebitNM is offline  
Jul 11th, 2012, 08:20 PM
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Lots of good suggestions already, but I'll add the Oakland Interfaith Gospel concert at Slim's on Christmas Eve and pastries from North Beach (Dianda's, Victoria Bakery, and more...)for Christmas breakfast.
car_free_traveler is offline  
Jul 11th, 2012, 08:44 PM
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I have heard the Dickens Christmas Fair is fun but have not been to it- ends Dec 23
sunbum1944 is offline  
Jul 12th, 2012, 06:24 AM
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Beach Blanket Babylon usually does a holiday show. They are very good at doing "seasonal" twists. Might be fun.
tileaftilly is offline  
Jul 12th, 2012, 09:43 AM
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And you know about but TixBayArea is another 1/2 price site for theater.
mztery is offline  
Jul 12th, 2012, 11:44 AM
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Hey Deb--In addition to the above suggestions, ACT usually does A Christmas Carol in December, the SF Symphony will be performing Handel's Messiah, as well as a number of sing a long Christmas songs performances (it doesn't do the sing a long Messiah but you can find performances by other groups). Speaking of sing a long , one of my favorite December activities when I stay on town, is the sing a long Sound of Music at the Castro. It's a hoot! Not just a sing a long but costumes--best I ever saw: a couple who came as brown paper packages tied up with string!!
SAB is offline  
Jul 12th, 2012, 01:13 PM
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Sounds wonderful.....I'm envious!
tenthumbs is offline  
Jul 12th, 2012, 01:17 PM
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Such good tips, thanks again!
DebitNM is offline  
Dec 15th, 2012, 06:58 PM
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I just wanted to thank you guys for all these great ideas. I ended up in San Francisco last week on business and this list was a great help!
sunny16 is offline  

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