Things to do in San Francisco over Xmas?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by irbdavid, Sep 20, 2008.

  1. irbdavid macrumors regular


    Mar 27, 2006
    Hey all.

    I'm going to San Francisco for a conference in December, and going fly the GF out with me, and spend a week extra in town since opportunities like this don't come round often. We'll be there from the 21st-27th (spending Christmas there as well :D ).

    Since I figure there are probably a few people who live or regularly visit San Francisco on this forum - I'd like to get some suggestions as to what to see in the city/surrounding around this time. We've got a couple guide books, but most center on the summer time side of things, and we'd like some suggestions from local people

    If people want to chip in their $0.02 - know any interesting places to eat / sights to see?
  2. pac-a-mac macrumors member

    Sep 1, 2006
    The British Empire
  3. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    If you not renting a car, the multi-day transit pass is a good way to see almost everything.

    As to eateries, I will differ to others.
  4. CalBoy macrumors 604


    May 21, 2007
    Well naturally Boudin sourdough bread is a must! ;):D

    As for what you'd like to do, what kinds of things would interest you and your gf? It is a big city (and a big metro area too-lots to do outside of the city limits).
  5. TuffLuffJimmy macrumors G3


    Apr 6, 2007
    Portland, OR
    Go swimming in the sea ;)
    can you visit Alcatraz in the winter?
    Ride bikes everywhere and say phrases like "That's cutty."
  6. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    The new DeYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park is certainly worth a visit; the architecture alone makes it worth the price of admission. The SFMOMA has a very important collection of modern art that you shouldn't miss.

    Getting around to see all the "painted ladies" (Victorian houses) is a must. Your guide books can probably tell you where they are concentrated.

    A ride on a cable car is great fun, especially if you can get an edge spot and hang off the side while the car scoots along past some of the best people-watching spots in the city.

    If you can rent a car one day, consider a trip over the GG Bridge to see Muir Woods (giant Redwood trees), and the amazing views down onto San Francisco from Mount Tamalpais.

    The wine country is an easy day drip from SF. There is a wine train that takes tasters from winery to winery, which makes things more fun (and safe!).

    Those are the first things that come to mind. :)
  7. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    :rolleyes: (anything else I say would be a ban-worthy offense)

    SF is great around that time of year. That is, if you like Christmas in general. Everything is very nicely decorated downtown, Union Square shopping is a must for the GF no doubt. My advice is to bundle up and walk the city. Go down to the wharf and have some clam chowder over there by the Grotto. You can eat real inexpensively there or you can splurge and head out to some of the restaurants on the wharf. Make sure you hit up Ghirardelli Chocolate and get something nice a sweet.

    If you're renting a car drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and check out the city from the other side over in Stanislaus.

    Unfortunately, you're going to miss the tree lighting ceremony but the there are a few Christmas fairs you can check out. Also, make sure you get to the Wharf at least once to see the light festival. That was simply amazing.

    The whole thing about SF is unless you're huge on shopping, you can really have a great time just walking around the shops and browsing through Chinatown without really spending a dime. I'm a fan of cheap vacations and packing my **** is enough, I don't shop much because I don't want to bring it all home with me. Lazy FTW. :)
  8. CalBoy macrumors 604


    May 21, 2007
    You know, they are nice, but not as spectacular as one would expect. There are actually more interesting houses off to the side that have bolder colors.

    I think the Painted Ladies get a boost only because of Full House. :p
    (for anyone else who may want to see them)

    They are across from Alamo Square.

    As for other things to see in the City OP, I think that the Haight is worth seeing, if only for the cultural learning experience. :p

    Oh, and a shot from Twin Peaks can be amazing when the fog isn't there (but you're coming in the winter, so there shouldn't be as much fog).
  9. nadyne macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2004
    Mountain View, CA USA
    I could spend hours on restaurant recommendations. What kind of food do you like, and what kind of price range do you want? I could start at Michael Mina (expect to spend at least $400 for the two of you to have dinner, and you could spend twice that without trying too hard) and go all the way down to the city's many fine taco trucks ($10 for two people). There's a lot of room in between those two. :)

    Museum-wise, there's the de Young, SFMoMA, the Asian Art Museum, the Museum of the African Diaspora (definitely one of my favourites), and so many more. Those are just the ones that I love the most right now. The California Academy of Sciences reopens in its new permanent home in Golden Gate Park this week.

    If you visit the tourist trap that is Fisherman's Wharf, make sure that you walk over to Pier 45 to visit the Musée Méchanique, the largest private collection of coin-operated antique arcade machines. Have plenty of quarters, dimes, and pennies in your pocket to see them at work - it's a fascinating way to spend a couple of hours.
  10. ravenvii macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    Yep. And take the walk there, from the Castro all the way to the peak. You'll see some amazing sights along the way. How people live there is crazy! And there's schools there, even. One particular school, the Roof-Top School, is an interesting sight! Once you make it to the top, take the bus back. :)

    Oh, and dress WARM if you're going to the Peaks. Trust me!
  11. devilot Moderator emeritus


    May 1, 2005
    *swoon* *drool* I <3 <3 <3 Boudin! You can't beat their clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. Sigh.

    Have to say, I don't get up to the City much even though I was born and raised here in the Bay Area so I haven't much else to add. I do love the Christmasy decorations in Union Square (lotsa great shopping, too). And I love SFmoma and the DeYoung museums as others have mentioned.

    I'm surprised applespider hasn't popped in yet to suggest setting up a visit to the Anchor Steam brewery. ;) I've not yet gone myself, but she can't rave enough about how nice the tour is. She, despite being from the UK, managed to get me on my v first cable car ride and it was a blast! :D

    Hope you and the gf have a great time!
  12. irbdavid thread starter macrumors regular


    Mar 27, 2006
    Thanks for all the responses - i'm going to look into them all over the next few days.

    We're not planning on renting a car, but I think it would be a shame to spend the entire time within the city limits. We'd looked into going out to Yosemite, as its something that we both want to do at some point, but it just takes too much time to travel there and back for just a day/night.

    What we think we'll do is spend most of the week in a cheaper hotel somewhere, and splash out for a night or two somewhere a bit special - some classy hotel with a room with a view, good food and a few well made martinis :D

    At the moment I think we can afford perhaps $800-1k on the accommodation side of things for this week. Hotels seem to start at $150 ish, so that seems feasible?

    On the food side - we're not picky :D It'd be great to hear from people about any of the restaurants that only 'locals' know about. Kind of a mythical thing I guess, but the sort of places that don't look like much, but do great food.

    On a similar note - good bars? We're into pretty low-key kind of places with good atmosphere.
  13. ravenvii macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    In that case... stay at the Chateau Tivoli. It's a couple of blocks from the Alamo (and the painted ladies ;)) and the interior decorations are amazing. Try to get a weekend night, so you get the hot breakfast in the morning (with champagne!) Very reasonable prices, too, amazingly.

    Ah, in that case... like burritos? If you go to the Asian Art Museum (or heck, anywhere in the Civic Center - check out the city hall!), on Hyde St., walk north past UC Hastings College of the Law to Golden Gate Ave, and go left. There's an awesome Mexican joint there, with the best burritos. I have no idea what the name of the place is, but you can't miss it (it's right next to the Vietnamese restaurant if you're having difficulties - it's across from the giant parking garage/retail space under construction).

    Hamburgers? Fries? Fries with cheese and chili? Split hot dogs? Go to the Castro. Enter a joint named Sliders. Eat up!

    Sushi... there's a place on Powell, a couple blocks north of Union Square. Awesome sushi, not too touristy, despite it's location. You also can't go wrong with the sushi place in the Castro. In fact, you just can't go wrong in the Castro as far as food is concerned.

    Pizza? Hit Uncle Vito's Pizza, just off Powell St. on Bush St. (Take the cable car and hop off at Bush St if you don't feel like walking!) There's also the Sausage Factory in the Castro (told you, you just can't go wrong!)

    Italian? If you like garlic, you're gonna love this place. The Stinking Rose, on Columbia in the Little Italy part of town (near North Beach). Either take the cable car, and walk all the way there (it's fun! :)) or take the bus on Stockton (that's the street the Apple Store is on, so you will definitely be in the right place :D) up to Union Street, and walk there.

    Dim Sum? If you want a more fancy, nicer location, and best-tasting, you gotta pay for it :). Where? Yank Sing, located in an office building on Spear St. (take the old F line north along Market if you want some fun! You can also take the F line to the Castro, too!)

    But if you don't mind a run-down place that looks iffy, but has delicious food for INCREDIBLE prices, hit Dol Ho on Pacific St. between Powell and Stockton, just off the tourist parts of Chinatown. You will see locals there, no question about it (take either the Stockton bus or the cable car up there).

    BOBA TEA! I loooove those drinks! Quickly's in the Castro is the easiest to access - stop by there after eating your hamburgers at Sliders! But there are better... My favorite is Sweetheart, on Grant St. (it's right in Chinatown, just walk through sightseeing, you'll spot Sweetheart eventually). For a more, ahem, interesting one, check out Chamalyn's. It's a bit out of the way, but if you don't mind that, you can take the bus on the Mission all the way there. It's on 19th St. You can check out Dolores Park while you're there, too.

    Thai? Check out the place at the corner of Larkin and Geary. Awesome Thai food, and even more awesome fried rice! Good prices, too!

    For something not-so-local, go check out the mall at the Powell station. Check their food court - it's unlike most food courts. It's the upper end of food courts.

    There's os many great places to eat. As someone who lives in San Francisco, those are the "local" places you really should check out.

    EDIT: And to add... I don't go to many bars, but I can suggest one! It's the La Trappe, a Belgian bar. Located on Greenwich St., take the cable car there, the bar is literally right next to the track. Just hop off and enter! Great atmosphere, very local place. Great food, too! Try their chipotle mayo with fries! Yum! Decent beer selection, of course.
  14. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    +10 … errr I mean +1. Got all excited. Great pizza!
  15. spork183 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2006
    Second both the DeYoung and the Academy of Sciences. The Academy is reopening next week after a multi-year renovation and looks to be really impressive. The architecture along ought to be worth the price of admission.

    For the eclectic, the Ghost tours are supposed to be interesting, no personal experience here.

    If you hit the wine country, the Culinary Institute in St. Helena is good for experimental eats. Yountville's Christmas lights and small town walkaround feel are worth an afternoon/evening. Expensive and excellent supper at Mustards, but you'll leave hungry. Caveat on Yountville: The pacific blues cafe by Vintage 1870 looks like a nice drop-in casual dining spot. Food and service suck beyond belief (4 different family members, 4 different times over a 2 year period, same result.)
  16. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030


    May 18, 2004
    check out the Sir Francis Drake which is part of the Kimpton chain. Kimpton also has other hotels in SF you might consider
  17. gauchogolfer macrumors 603


    Jan 28, 2005
    American Riviera
    The Exploratorium is a fun way to spend an afternoon. If you're looking for a great meal give Gary Danko a try.

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