San Francisco in February

What to Do in San Francisco in February

This post lists the top things to do in San Francisco in February, including free, family-friendly, as well as nighttime events and activities, updated for 2020. 

 

 

 SAN FRANCISCO HOTEL DEALS ON TRIPADVISOR – If you haven’t already booked your accommodations.


TOP 10 EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO IN FEBRUARY

Below is our top 10 list, but here are a few additional posts that you might want to read:

If you are planning on visiting many of the top attractions in the city, then consider a tourist discount pass, which could save you lots of money.  


1) Go to a Concert

The Bay Area is home to a fantastic music scene that tends to attract a lot of the most popular musical acts in the world. 

 

 

You can expect several notable artists to perform live in and around San Francisco throughout February.

Here are a few of the best concerts to see this month:

Find all the concerts in the area here.


2) Attend a Sporting Event

The Bay Area is home to several great professional sports teams, and two of the biggest names in the NHL and NBA will be performing at home this February.

 

 

Golden State Warriors

San Jose Sharks

Alternatively, with March Madness right around the corner, you may want to enjoy some NCAA basketball by attending a San Jose State Spartans game!

Find all the sporting events in February here.


3) See a Broadway Musical

San Francisco is home to several great theaters which typically host a lot of touring Broadway productions.

 

 

There will be a few great musicals to see in the Bay Area during the month of February, including the following options:

As you can see, at least two of these shows will be available all month long, so you’ll probably be able to enjoy a musical no matter when you’re visiting the city.

Find all the theatrical productions in February here.


4) Consider Getting a Tourist Discount Pass

There are three different pass options to consider: all-inclusive, flex pass and build your own pass.

The easiest option is to build a pass, as you’re only required to purchase 2 tickets to get 20% off each activity.

If you’re planning to visit several affordable locations, this is a great way to save a few more bucks.

 

 

All-inclusive passes include dozens of attractions for a specific amount of time (1, 2, 3, or 5 days). 

Alternatively, a flex pass allows you to pay one flat price for a set amount of activities (3, 4, or 5). 

These services offer an excellent opportunity to save a lot of money on several fun activities. Here are a few of the best places you can visit:

  • Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour | $55
  • Madame Tussauds | $26
  • Ripley’s Believe it or Not! | $23
  • Walt Disney Family Museum | $25
  • K1 Speed Indoor Karting | $28
  • Aquarium of the Bay | $28
  • SF Dungeon | $26
  • Exploratorium | $30

These are just a few of the attractions included with discount cards in this city, but you’ll probably find even more that you want to visit. 

Depending on which service you choose, you should be able to save at least 20% – 50% off general admission prices.

Make sure to check our full post covering all of the different tourist passes in San Francisco for additional information.


5) Take the Family to Monster Jam

Everyone loves monster trucks, and there’ll be an excellent opportunity to see these epic machines in action when Monster Jam makes its way to the Bay Area this February. 

 

 

Audiences can expect to see some of their favorite massive vehicles on display, and there will also be several tournaments taking place involving a variety of stunts.

NOTE: If you’re not going to be in town during the middle of the month, consider heading to the AMA Supercross event on February 1st & 2nd instead!

For more activities you can enjoy with the kids, check our family-friendly section.


6) See Oprah Winfrey

After years of hosting one of the most popular talk shows in America, Oprah has since created her own network and is now going on a speaking tour around the country.

 

 

Oprah Winfrey will be making her way to San Francisco this February with a speaking event where she will be talking about health and wellbeing.


8) Go to the Chinese New Year Festival & Parade

The Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco has been named one of the Top 10 Parades in the World.

Visitors can expect a variety of musical performances and dancing, including the dragon dance!

 

 

This event is free to attend. For more activities that won’t cost a dime, check our free things to do section.

In addition to the Chinese New Year Parade, there are about four weeks of festivals during Chinese New Year. The following events will be taking place in February:

If you want to learn more about the area and discover some of the most historic locations, let us show you the neighborhood on our self-guided tour of Chinatown.


9) Kick Off Mardi Gras Fun in San Francisco

If you’re excited about Mardi Gras, there will be a fun event celebrating the return of Carnaval in the Mission District this month.

 

 

Visitors can expect live samba drummers, dancers and of course a variety of music at the Mardi Gras Fat Tuesday Kick-Off Celebration which will actually be taking place at several different venues!

TIP: Although this event is technically free, a percentage of all sales on drinks and other items at participating venues will be donated to a nonprofit organization.

For more nighttime activities, please check our things to do at night section.


10) Attend the Pacific Orchid Exposition

With spring right around the corner, now is the perfect time to see some of the most beautiful flowers in the world. This event is one of the largest orchids shows in the United States.

 

 

In addition to seeing a lot of great orchids, you’ll also have an opportunity to take tours and learn tips about how to grow your own flowers.

There will also be live music performed for the audience at this event.

  • Tickets: $12/General Admission | $10/Seniors, Students
  • Children 13 and under get in for free.
  • Dates: Feb 20th – 23rd
  • Location: San Francisco County Fair Building
  • Purchase tickets or learn more.

For even more things the kids can enjoy, please read our family-friendly section.

 


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FREE THINGS TO DO IN FEBRUARY

The following section provides several activity ideas that won’t cost a dime. 

While you’re at it, don’t forget to check our other sections for additional freebies such as the Chinese New Year Parade, Mardi Gras Fat Tuesday Kick-Off Celebration and self-guided San Francisco tours.

 

 

If you’d like to learn more about free and cheap things to do all year, be sure to check out our San Francisco budget itinerary and our list of free things to do in San Francisco for more free and almost-free ideas.


Free Museum Days

Every month, various museums throughout San Francisco offer free admission on a certain day. Our city hosts some world-class museums that you should certainly try to visit during your time here. 

For a more detailed description of the museums, check out our page on Free Museums in San Francisco.

Free Museums in February:

  • Asian Art Museum – February 2nd
  • Conservatory of Flowers – February 4th
  • Contemporary Jewish Museum – February 4th
  • de Young Museum – February 4th
  • Legion of Honor Museum – February 4th
  • LGBT History Museum – February 5th

Free National Parks Day

Every year on the Presidents’ Day Holiday in the United States (that’s February 17th this year), the US National Park Service throws open their doors to all the national parks in the area so everybody can visit for free!

Here are a few places you might want to consider:

Each of these locations usually charges a small fee to enter the park, so this is a great opportunity to visit without worrying about your budget.


See the Lights on the Bay Bridge

The Bay Bridge is one of the most iconic sites in San Francisco and there’s no better time to visit than at night! There is a spectacular light show every night from dusk until dawn. 

 

 

Leo Villareal, one of the most well respected light artists designed and orchestrated The Bay Lights.

Originally the show only ran from 2013-2015, but as of 2016, it was made a permanent feature — to both locals and tourists’ delight!

 


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THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT IN FEBRUARY

During winter, the sun sets pretty early in our city. Many things mentioned in other sections of this post are also great night activities, such as Bay Bridge Lights, Broadway shows, and popular concerts. 

 

 

Below, we have listed some of our favorite evening and nighttime activities for you to visit. 

For more ideas, make sure to read our master post on things to do at night in San Francisco.


Valentine’s Day in SF

If you are on vacation in San Francisco with your loved one, you can enjoy this incredibly romantic city on Valentine’s Day. 

One of our favorite parts of San Francisco is the amazing food that we have here. San Francisco has frequently been called one of the best restaurant cities in the world, and we certainly agree!

On Valentine’s Day, many restaurants will have a Valentine’s special for couples, with a prix fixe menu complete with appetizer, entree, and dessert to share. Check out OpenTable to find a reservation.

You may also want to consider taking a cruise, as Hornblower will be providing a series of Valentine’s Cruises. 

Some of these outings will include live music and dancing, while others offer DJ entertainment and complimentary wine. Ticket prices range from $85 – $179.


Alcatraz Night Tour

Most people take a trip out to Alcatraz during the day. But we think that a night tour is a fantastic time to visit the old prison island. 

On your boat ride, you’ll hear about the island, and some of the history involved in it (which you won’t get if you take the morning tour or day tour).

You’ll also get to see the sparkling lights of the San Francisco skyline. Once you’re on the island, you’ll get a special guided tour of the prison that other visitors don’t receive. 

Overall, it’s an incredible experience!  Read our post on visiting Alcatraz at night.


Exploratorium After Dark

Long considered one of the best science museums in the country, The Exploratorium is a fantastic place to electrify your senses (sometimes literally)! 

With exhibits and experiments from engineering to science to biology, every science geek can find something to enjoy. However, during the daytime, there are often kids and school groups walking around and using the experiments. 

Don’t you sometimes wish you could check out the museum without all of them? Exploratorium After Dark is a great way to experience it! 

Starting at 6:00 every Thursday, you can enter the museum at a discounted rate and listen to music, have a drink or two, and check out the exhibits with only adults around.


See the San Francisco Symphony

If you’re not interested in the concerts that will be available this month and you’d rather enjoy some live classical music, there will be several excellent performances to see in February.

The San Francisco Symphony will be performing the work of famous composers like Beethoven, Brahms, Blomstedt and more.

Tickets range from $129-$160 on average and there will be over a dozen shows to see this month.

Purchase tickets or learn more.

 


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THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS

Many of our San Francisco visitors are coming here with families and children and we have put together a list of the great things to do with families and kids in San Francisco during the month of February.

 

 

If you’re looking for even more fun stuff to do, make sure to check our list of 10 fun places for kids in San Francisco.

It’s also worth noting that many of the best family-friendly attractions in this city are included at a discount with San Francisco tourist passes.


Attend Tulipmania

During this yearly event, over 39,000 tulips will be put on display at Pier 39. Prepare for spring by wandering among thousands of beautiful flowers at one of the most historic locations in San Francisco.

It’s entirely free to come and enjoy the flowers, and this is an excellent time to visit Fisherman’s Wharf and enjoy some of the other free activities in the area like Musée Mécanique

Tulipmania will begin on February 22nd.

TIP: If you’re interested in either of these activities, you may want to consider taking either our Fisherman’s Wharf tour or our Chinatown tour

Both opportunities are pay-what-you-wish, so you don’t have to worry about breaking your budget!


Take the Kids to ToyXpo

Introduce your kids to the next big toys on the market by taking them to this exposition featuring some of the biggest names in the industry.

No matter what their favorite franchise is, chances are that the children in your family will jump at the opportunity to see some of the newest, biggest and most unique toys related to their favorite shows, cartoons and more.


Go to the Super Run

Whether they want to take part in the race or just watch a bunch of their favorite comic book characters participate, the Super Run is a great activity for families.

This race welcomes athletes to dress up either as a unique superhero or as their favorite hero. In years past, runners have come dressed as both popular Marvel and DC characters.

 


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San Francisco Christmas Lights

Where to See the Best San Francisco Christmas Lights

This post is a guide to the best Christmas lights and holiday displays in San Fransisco and how to see them. We’ve updated the list for all of the top places to visit around the city for 2019. 

 

 


TOP CHRISTMAS LIGHTS AND HOLIDAY DISPLAYS

At the holidays, San Francisco sparkles more than it already does! Below we list the best places in the city to see Christmas lights and holiday displays.

It’s easy to visit these on your own although they are located all over the city so you may not be able to see them all on your visit.

An easy way to see many displays in a few hours is to take a Holiday Lights Bus Tour. For example, you can take a Cable Car Holiday Nights and Sights Tour, which takes you to over 30 San Francisco’s festive-lit locations.

There are a few holiday-themed tours available. Our post on Christmas in San Francisco has tours listed as well as other holiday fun!


Union Square Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony 

The Macy’s Annual Tree Lighting takes place in Union Square Park on November 29th, 2019, at 6:40 pm.  

The free ceremony features live performances, followed by the lighting of the tree that includes 30,000 lights and nearly 1,100 decorations.  

 

 
 

Be sure to take a look at the Macy’s Holiday Windows display – it will warm your heart! Every Christmas, Macy’s partners with the San Francisco SPCA and includes adoptable cats and dogs in their holiday displays! 

TIP: Our pay-what-you-wish Original San Francisco Tour starts right next to Union Square.


Fairmont Hotel Gingerbread House

Making gingerbread houses is a fun Christmas tradition, but the Fairmont Hotel in Nob Hill takes it to a new level – literally! 

Starting on November 30, 2019, you can visit the hotel’s lobby to see a massive two-story-high gingerbread house measuring 25 feet high, 35 feet wide and 10.5 feet deep. 

 

 

The entire lobby is lit in an elegant manner as is their giant Christmas tree. See the hotel’s website for more information.


Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf

This is one of the most popular neighborhoods in the city. At the holidays, you will see festive lights everywhere. You definitely do not want to miss the ‘singing’ Christmas Tree at Pier 39.

You can see the tree perform between 5 pm – 10 pm from November 26, 2019, until Jan. 5, 2020. 

 

 

 

If you head over to see the tree, read our post on the best things to do at Pier 39.

On December 13, 6 pm – 8 pm, you can see the Fisherman’s Wharf Lighted Boat ParadeThis parade features 60 boats “decked” out in holiday lights and decorations. Prime locations to see it are Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf. 

TIP:  Consider taking our pay-what-you-wish walking tour of Fisherman’s Wharf to learn about this historic part of the city.


Ghirardelli Square

Ghirardelli Square is always a treat for visitors. In addition to their historic “Ghirardelli” sign lit up for the holidays, the shops in the area go all out for the holidays with Christmas decorations.

 

 

The Ghirardelli chocolate store is frequently the best dressed, putting up holiday decorations all over the store.

While you’re there, you should pick up some chocolate and visit the Ghirardelli “dessert-only” restaurant for an ice cream sundae!


Tom & Jerry House

Easily the best single house display of Christmas lights in San Francisco, you can always count on Tom and Jerry to brighten up your holidays with their setup. 

 

 

Join the crowds ooh-ing and aah-ing at the house atop Castro Hill. The address is 3650 21st Street (map and directions).


Zoo Lights at the San Francisco Zoo

Transforming after dark, the San Francisco Zoo turns into an enchanting winter wonderland with familiar Christmas characters like Santa and his reindeer! This is a great activity if you are traveling with kids!

 

 
 

There will also be a holiday market with delicious snacks to enjoy. This annual event takes place on weekends from mid-December to the end of the year. Grab your tickets here

TIP: If you have plans to visit the San Francisco Zoo, you might want to look at one of the tourist discount passes that include the zoo for free. You can find out more from our post comparing the various San Francisco tourist discount passes.


Market Street Lights

Starting in mid-November, lights and snowflakes illuminate this major thoroughfare. You can see the lights from the Market Street cable-car.

Our post on how to ride the San Francisco Cable Cars may come in handy for your excursion!


Palace Hotel

The Palace Hotel goes above and beyond with their Christmas tree displays. This swanky hotel is a fantastic place to visit if you’re walking around on Market Street.

Stop into their historic lobby bar for some amazing cocktails or have coffee and tea to warm yourself up.

TIP: You can learn more about the amazing, sometimes scandalous history of the Palace Hotel on our Secrets, Scandals, and Scoundrels tour!


Illuminate SF Light Festival

From Thanksgiving, 2019 until January 1, 2020, there will 37 large scale light installations located throughout 17 neighborhoods. They are all free to visit. 

 

 

You can also attend one of the available free light art tours running throughout the exhibition. For more information, click here


Giant Menorah Lighting in Union Square 

Every night of Hanukkah from December 22- 30, 2019, you can attend the candling lighting of the Menorah in Union Square.

Find out more here


Embarcadero Center Winter Carnival and Building Lighting

On Friday, November 22, 2019, from 4 pm to 7 pm all four Embarcadero Center buildings will be lit.

The carnival includes children’s activities, special performances, a visit from Santa and a fireworks show. The buildings stay lit throughout the holiday season. More information.


Oakland ZooLights 

Thousands of colorful lights and even a laser light shows make the Oakland Zoo the place to be. The show runs from December 6, 2019 – Jan. 5, 2020 (closed Dec. 24 & 25.).

 

 

In addition to their amazing array of wildlife, you can see reindeer and you might just see Santa too!  See their website for details. 


Parol Lantern Festival and Parade

parol is a traditional Filipino ornamental, star-shaped Christmas lantern that symbolizes peace and hope. 

This unique holiday parade has more than 25 local organizations that march through Yerba Buena Lane carrying parols, lighting the lane.

At the end of the parade, there is a festival with music, games, entertainment, and food.

The annual event will take place on Saturday, December 12, 2019, from 5 pm to 9 pm. Find out more here.

 


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Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is a beautiful park spanning 747,956 acres and 800 miles of hiking trails just 3.5 hours from San Francisco.

Famed for its granite cliffs and giant sequoias, Yosemite also boasts the 5 highest waterfalls in North America.

In addition to hiking, visitors can also opt to go horseback riding, rock climbing, and skiing. 

 

 

Though there is an Amtrak station somewhat near Yosemite, there are no trains that travel directly into the park.

Those looking for easy transportation must either drive there on their own or go with one of the many reputable tour companies providing day trips from San Francisco and Yosemite. 

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This post offers suggestions for the best things to do at night in San Francisco, including a top 10 list, night tours, dinner cruises, late-night museums, rooftop bars, and more. 

 


TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN SAN FRANCISCO AT NIGHT 

Below are our top 10 things to do in the evening in San Francisco.

For even more ideas on spending time in the city, check out our master post on things to do in SF or read the other sections of this post.

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