Top San Francisco Holiday Attractions to Visit This December

San Francisco really shines in the wintertime. Although the cold may keep some away, it’s more than worth the trip to spend sparkling winter days in this seaside city that loves the holidays.

So if you’re lucky enough to be spending some time this holiday season in San Francisco, you’re probably looking for a few unique attractions to add to your itinerary.

To help you plan, we’ve put together some suggestions of our favorite holiday attractions we know you’ll love.

Save up to 55% off combined admission to many of San Francisco’s top attractions with the Go San Francisco® Card. Learn more here.

Holiday in the Park

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
November 27 – January 3, 2015

Image credit: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom / David Paul Morris.

Image credit: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom / David Paul Morris.

Known as the biggest holiday celebration around, the series of events, activities, and festivities that make up Six Flags Discovery Kingdom ’ “Holiday in the Park” series are truly magical.

From an amazing synchronized light show to a giant snow hill, there’s holiday fun to be had everywhere. Included with regular park admission.

Union Street Festival of Lights

Between Gough & Steiner Sts.
December 6, 2015

Image credit: San Francisco FunCheap.

Image credit: San Francisco FunCheap.

See a magnificent collection of old Victorian style homes transformed by thousands of holiday lights as Union Square turns into a winter wonderland just waiting for Christmas magic to happen.

Marvel at jugglers, dancers, and other performers, and get excited by live ponies dressed as reindeer. This event is free and family-friendly!

‘Tis the Season for Science

California Academy of Sciences
November 25 – January 3, 2016

Image credit: The California Academy of Sciences.

Image credit: The California Academy of Sciences.

This is one for the curious types. Learn all about the science behind your favorite holiday traditions, with fascinating information about subjects like how reindeer adapt to extreme cold, and how snowflakes form.

There are also a variety of other holiday-themed performances, music, quiz shows, and more. The California Academy of Sciences is the place to be this winter! 

Christmas Trees of San Francisco

Various Locations
December, 2015

Image credit: Presidio.gov

Image credit: Presidio.gov

There are so many famous and beautiful trees that populate the city of San Francisco that you can’t really get away with seeing only one.

The most iconic trees across the city are located in Union Square, Ghirardelli Square, on Pier 39, and at the Presidio.

Each of these locations also hosts a number of other great attractions, so you’ll have plenty to do besides taking in the holiday greenery.

A good way to explore all of these areas is with a hop-on, hop-off tour.

Great Dickens Christmas Fair

Cow Place Exhibition Halls
Weekends, November 21 – December 20, 2015


Set in Victorian London, this fabulous recreation of the world of Charles Dickens is another must-see attraction.

It’s the perfect fantasy of Christmastime, from the ornate holiday décor of the period to the amazingly festive atmosphere of the entire affair.

Enjoy period-appropriate shopping, dining, and entertainment. What’s not to love?

Holiday Boat Parade

Fisherman’s Wharf
December 11, 2015

If you love boats, then you won’t want to miss out on this marvelous event.

It’s a fantastic parade of more than 60 colorfully illuminated boats that sail along the coastline near Fisherman’s Wharf. For the best views, head to Pier 39 or Aquatic Park. This event is totally free!

Zoo Lights

San Francisco Zoo
Weekends, December 4 – January 3, 2015

Image credit: San Francisco Zoo.

Image credit: San Francisco Zoo.

This is perfect for the kids. It’s a fun and festive time of year where the San Francisco Zoo transforms into a winter wonderland after the sunset.

Enjoy specific holiday-themed programing and demonstrations, nightly performances, a holiday marketplace, plus tons of fun and games.

You’ll also get to visit with a few of Santa’s reindeer, plus take a photo with the big man himself! Please note that the Zoo is not open on Christmas or Christmas Eve.

Save on Admission 

So whether you take in a play, scope our some tree trimmings, or roam zoos and museums, we know you’ll love whatever you’re doing this holiday season in San Francisco.

And just remember, you can save big bucks on many of the top attractions with the Go San Francisco® Card, so you’ll have more left over for present shopping.
Go San Francisco Explorer Pass

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