What to do in San Francisco on Christmas Day

(Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The holidays are a magical time to live in and visit San Francisco. No matter how chilly the temps get in Northern California, Christmas in San Francisco is sure to be warmer than many other U.S. cities and states. This is not only good reason to get out celebrate on this special day, but there is also plenty going on despite the typical closings. Here are a few of our favorite ideas for celebrating Christmas in San Francisco.

  1. Ice Skating Downtown

Show off your moves at one of downtowns three ice skating rinks that are all open on Christmas Day: Union Square, Embarcadero Center, and Yerba Buena Gardens. The first two will remain open into the evening as well. Union Square is an excellent choice because the area’s main tree is still lit for revelers.

  1. San Francisco Zoo & Gardens

San Francisco’s famous zoo is open 365 days a year and is a low-cost family-friendly atmosphere in the heart of the city, just south of Golden Gate Park. Plan a day or an afternoon at the 100-acre park that boasts more than 1,000 animals and be sure to check out their annual holiday Reindeer Romp.

  1. Visit Chinatown for a Delicious Meal

One Christmas Day tradition that you won’t want to miss is eating out at an authentic Chinese restaurant. Chinatown rarely closes for Western holidays, so a visit here should be at the top of your list. Grant Ave is where many of the souvenir shops are located, and one of the best Chinese restaurants in San Francisco is called Z & Y Restaurant (655 Jackson St.). Enjoy authentic Chinese cuisine at this award-winning Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant.

  1. Contemporary Jewish Museum

Not only is the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco open on Christmas Day, but it is a Community Free Day. You’ll find all of the museum’s galleries open, some musical performances scheduled, and likely a good-sized crowd on hand. If possible, you may want to register in advance if this one is on your list.

  1. Cruise the Bay

San Francisco’s Red and White Fleet offers Christmas Day cruises that allow you to experience the city from an entirely different perspective. See the Golden Gate Bridge from every angle as well as the rest of the city’s skyline. Check online for tickets and departure times.

  1. Tour the Lights and Displays

Christmas Eve or Christmas Day is the perfect time to take a self-guided tour of some of the city’s Christmas lights and holiday displays. View the giant Christmas trees at Union Square, Ghirardelli Square, Macy’s, the Presidio, and Pier 39. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, check out the annual Illuminate SF Festival of Light art displays throughout the city. Also, be sure to visit some of the hotel lobbies, such as the Hyatt Regency and the Westin St. Francis, to gawk at their annual holiday displays.

Whether you are a San Francisco resident or one of the more than 25 million annual visitors to the City by the Bay, the holiday season makes every outing even more special. The best news is that there is plenty to do in San Francisco on Christmas Day and the weather nearly always cooperates, giving you every reason to be out and about with your loved ones.

Krissy Georgiadis

Written by Krissy Georgiadis

Law graduate and wanderlust sufferer. I like rum and beaches.