This post compares the different San Francisco bus tours, from hop-on-hop-off to themed bus tours, combination tours and more, in order to help you choose which is the best for you. We have included detailed information, reviews and ticket prices (as of 2018). Consider one of these awesome bus tours and complement your experience by taking on of our pay-what-you-like walking tours.
This post is a visitor’s guide to the Golden Gate Bridge, with tips on how to get here, where to park, where to get the best views as well as guided and self-guided tours. Check out our pay-what-like tours of San Francisco, including our Golden Gate Bridge tour!
Christmas is an amazing time to visit San Francisco. The city is full of culture, lights, events, and people. And the place is beautiful, festive, and fun every day. But with so many things to do, it’s difficult to figure out the Best Christmas Activities in San Francisco. And that’s why we have created a helpful guide for you!
Union Square is Christmas Central in San Francisco! The whole place is covered with lights, decorations, and festivities. And best of all, we have a giant Christmas tree right in the middle of the square! The Union Square Christmas tree is the biggest tree in the area, and it’s in the center of the busiest shopping area of the city. Every year the city hosts a tree lighting festival where the Union Square tree is lit up, and it’s one of the most fun days of the year for kids and adults alike. If you’re going to be doing any shopping around the area, you won’t want to miss the best tree in the city!
Explore the Christmas Lights Around the City
There are great displays of holiday lights all over San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area. If you have some free time (and a car would help), you can get to all of the best places to visit. We put together a list of the Best Christmas Lights in San Francisco and we would highly suggest you check that page out!
See the Rescue Animals at Macy’s
Every year, Macy’s teams up with the SPCA to display rescued animals in the windows of the department store. The store decorates the windows with a holiday theme, with tiny kittens and puppies in the windows. And best of all (or worst, if you have enough animals in your house!), all of the animals in the windows are available for adoption. So, head on up to the Christmas tree in Union Square, and then you can walk right down the block to Macy’s and check out all the cute little animals in the windows. Right next to Macy’s is a street called Stockton Street. If you visit that street over the month of December, you’ll see that they’ve closed it off to vehicle traffic and turned it into a large pedestrian mall. This area is called the San Francisco Winter Walk, and it is normally filled with festive activities, Christmas carolers, light shows, and other fun activities. Be sure to head over there if you’re near Macy’s!
Watch an Iconic Performance of The Nutcracker
You can go to The Nutcracker in many different cities around the country. But there is simply nothing like the San Francisco Nutcracker. Hosted at the incredible San Francisco Opera House, the venue is simply unbeatable. Located directly across from San Francisco City Hall, it is a beautiful theatre to watch the show. Whether you’re bringing kids or watching with adults, the Nutcracker is a wonderful holiday show to take in when you’re visiting San Francisco.
Visit the Amazing Fairmont Hotel Gingerbread House
Perhaps you have made gingerbread houses while you were growing up, or maybe while your kids were growing up. If you have ever gathered the ingredients, cooked the gingerbread, decorated it with all the goodies, and somehow tried to make it look presentable, you’ll appreciate the difficulty of making a good gingerbread house. And this will also give you a good sense of how incredible the Fairmont gingerbread house is! This gingerbread house, created by the Fairmont’s own chefs Oscar Gonzalez and Kimberly Tighe, measures 22 feet high and 23 feet wide (6.7 by 7 meters), and is two full floors! They use hundreds of home-baked gingerbread bricks and over a ton (900+ kg) of frosting and candy treats. Don’t miss it!
Go Ice Skating
So, I understand that it may seem a bit weird to go ice skating when it’s 60 degrees outside. But don’t let that stop you when you’re in San Francisco! We have three great public ice skating rinks downtown, and they’re all delightful to visit in the winter. They open up in late November and they stay open all throughout the holidays. You can go there, rent some ice skates, listen to Christmas carols, and have a wonderful time. The city has three main ice skating rinks to visit:
The Embarcadero Center – 4 Embarcadero Center. This is only a block away from the Embarcadero BART station and right across the street from the Ferry Building. You can go ice skating here and then watch the Bay Lights right after!
The Yerba Buena Gardens Ice Rink – 750 Folsom Street. This is between the Montgomery Street and Powell Street BART stations.
No trip to San Francisco can be complete without an evening by the San Francisco Ferry Building admiring the best light show in the Bay Area, the Bay Lights. A local artist strung up over 25,000 energy efficient LED lights along the 1.8 mile (2.9 km) San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. And every night between sunset and 2:00 AM, the entire bridge is lit up in an incredible, never-repeating light show. If you want to see this amazing display, we recommend that you go to the Ferry Terminal for some dinner (at great restaurants such as Mijita, Hog Island Oyster Company, or The Slanted Door) or an evening of wine tasting at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant. Then, wrap up in a jacket (and perhaps a scarf if it’s windy) and you can sit down on one of the many benches on the Bay side of the ferry building. From there, you can admire the breathtaking views and wait for the lights to turn on. Once you see it, we promise you won’t be sorry.
Take a Picture with Santa
Especially if you have kids, you simply must get a picture taken with Santa! There are plenty of locations around San Francisco to get a Santa picture, but we’ve put together a list of the best places to get the picture taken.
Pier 39 – Located right on the waterfront, Santa will visit Pier 39 all throughout November and December.
Macy’s Union Square – This store has an entire floor dedicated to Christmas. On the 4th floor of the department store, you’ll find an area called Santaland, which (no surprise here) is where you’ll find Santa all throughout December.
Westfield Shopping Center – Under the Grand Dome of the mall, you’ll find Santa at the Westfield Holiday Bazaar (scroll down to learn more about the bazaar) all throughout December.
The Fairmont Hotel – Along with this hotel having the greatest gingerbread house you’ll ever see (see above for more information), you can also see Santa there. He will be dropping by the hotel very quickly, during the lighting of the gingerbread house on November 26.
Japantown Center Malls – In the heart of Japantown, there is a shopping center where Santa will be visiting on the weekends of December 3-4 and 10-11.
The Ritz Carlton Hotel – This is one of the most luxurious hotels in San Francisco, and it’s where you can get pictures taken with the Big Man on December 1.
Westfield Shopping Center Holiday Bazaar
All throughout the holiday season, the upscale Westfield Center will host a holiday bazaar under the Grand Dome of the mall. They will offer all different types of local cuisine and gifts. But in addition to the fun shopping (and eating) that you can do, the center will host a variety of entertainment during the month of December. Local performers will come out and entertain you with acts from “A Christmas Carol,” “White Christmas,” and many other holiday plays. Check out their website to learn more.
Take in Some Festive Theater
This year, local theaters are putting on great holiday performances with plays such as “A Christmas Carol,” “White Christmas,” “Handel’s Messiah,” and others. The theaters in San Francisco are some of the best that you’ll visit, and we have world class stage actors and musicians putting on these performances. If you grab a ticket early, you can still get good deals. So come out here, dress up, and enjoy the show!
December is one of the coldest months of the year in San Francisco. However, if you are visiting here from many other places in the world, you may have a different definition of the word “cold.” As you may have heard, San Francisco has a Mediterranean climate, meaning it doesn’t get very cold in our city. The average high temperature throughout December is about 66 F (19 C), which means that during the day, a sweatshirt or light jacket is all you need to stay warm. The average low temperature, which typically happens late at night and early in the morning, is 46 F (8 C). If you are an early riser or a night owl, you’ll want some extra layers to protect against the weather. The temperature almost never gets below freezing, and the last time it snowed in San Francisco was over 40 years ago.
The Best San Francisco December Activities
As we get closer to the holiday season, you’ll see all different types of decorations in Downtown San Francisco. Read out post on the Best Christmas Activities in San Francisco. So if you’d like to explore the area, we’d recommend taking our Downtown SF walking tour. This tour explores the heart of the city, and takes you right next to Union Square, the highlight of the San Francisco holiday decorations. December also offers some amazing bus tours. With all the holiday light displays around the city, nighttime bus tours can take you to some of the most beautifully lit areas of San Francisco.
What to Wear in San Francisco During December
As we mentioned above, December is one of the colder months of the year. We would recommend bringing a sweatshirt in addition to a light jacket to wear around the city. If we have one of our colder days, when the weather gets into the 40s (below 10 C), it will be helpful to have multiple warm layers. In addition, if you will be walking around the waterfront, such as near the ferry building or around Fisherman’s Wharf on our Fisherman’s Wharf Walking Tour, it may get windy. So you might want to bring a light scarf or earmuffs.
Do I Need an Umbrella in San Francisco in December?
December is typically the rainiest month of the year. On average, the city will receive rain on 11 days out of the month. However, you also should understand what “rain” means out here. If you are from a tropical area when you can get very heavy downpours, you should know that doesn’t happen here. A rainy day could mean only 5 minutes of drizzle during a day, and sunny skies for most of the rest of the day. So, we do recommend that you bring an umbrella to San Francisco. However, make sure it’s a light umbrella that’s easy to carry around and stow away, because you probably won’t need to use it very much!
Other December Activities: Free Museum Days
Every month, many of the museums around San Francisco offer free admission. For December, we have some incredible free days. December 4: Asian Art Museum and the Exploratorium December 6: Contemporary Jewish Museum, Golden Gate Park Conservatory of Flowers, and Legion of Honor Museum December 11: California Academy of Sciences December 13: Golden Gate Park Botanic Gardens
Hey everybody, we’re looking for part-time tour guides!
Are you passionate about San Francisco? Are you interested its history, its people, and its stories? We’d love for you to join Free Tours by Foot as a tour guide!
We are the #1 “name your own price” walking tour in San Francisco because we provide amazing walking tours for our guests. But we are a small company looking to expand, and we hope you are the person who can grow with our company!
We are looking for guides who can offer neighborhood tours of at least one of the following areas: Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, Market Street, or the Castro. We also offer themed tours of the Gold Rush and Barbary Coast era. We are also looking to add new neighborhood tours, as well as food tours, cocktail tours, etc. so if you have knowledge about other areas, we’d love to hear it!
In short, we are looking for awesome people who love this city and want to share their excitement with others.
What do You Get out of This?
So many things!
1. Insanely flexible schedules. Do you want to work mornings? Afternoons? Evenings? Weekends? We have tours during all of those times, and we need people to fill all kinds of schedules. You can work as few or as many hours as you want (if you can call walking tours “work!”)
2. With all your money being paid in cash, you’ll never have to visit the ATM again!
3. Being a tour guide is awesome! You get to walk around this amazing city, and you get to spend time with travelers who are excited to hang out with you.
What We’re Looking For
1. In addition to being awesome (as mentioned above), we need people who are absolutely dependable and who will show up when they say they will. We’d hate to have 20 people show up for a tour and have no tour guide there!
2. You need to be able to walk people around the city, oftentimes up hills, for 2 hours at a time.
3. Be outgoing! Successful guides are “on” the whole time they’re working.
4. Make every guest happy! Our entire business relies on Tripadvisor, Yelp, Google and Facebook reviews.
Sound Good? Here’s What to Do:
1. Send your resume to email@example.com.
2. Include a cover letter that says why you want to work with us.
That’s it! And remember: if you don’t have a lot of tour guiding experience, you should apply anyway! None of us had guiding experience before we became a tour guide. We can teach you!
If you want to know more, email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to chat with you. Or, just show up on a tour sometime and we can talk.
There are hundreds of great activities to do in San Francisco, and with limited time it’s hard to get them all done (check out our Three Day Budget Itinerary to fill up a few days here). But if you have some extra time in the Bay Area, or if you are a wine lover, or if you just want to get outside the city for a day, you simply can’t beat an excursion up into the Wine Country.
The problem for visitors is that there are so many wine tours, how do you choose the right one? Well, that’s what we’re here for! This post will help you decide between visiting Napa or Sonoma Valley. We also share our FAVORITE wine tours of both areas, as well as list everything you need to know before booking a wine tour from San Francisco.
Note: For some of these tours, you can get up to a 20% discount using the Go SF Card Build Your Own Pass. We’ll point out which tours this pass covers!
This post is a summary of the weather in San Francisco, with tips on what to wear and things to do. If you are traveling to San Francisco in September, congratulations! You could not have picked a better month to visit. Many people expect that summertime would have the best weather in the area, but actually September has the best weather during the entire year. It’s very sunny and quite warm (at least for San Francisco standards) for most of the month.
Everybody knows how much we love our Walking Tours. But we also know that some people prefer to rest up a little bit on their vacation and take a ride around the city. And what better way than to cruise around town in a Segway, right? With the speed that you can get heading down the streets and sidewalks of the city, you can cover many miles on each of these tours and see a large portion of the city all in one shot!
So, we have gone through all the Segway tours that are offered in San Francisco, and we have rated each one for you. And we have a list of the best Segway tours in San Francisco!
Now, we know what you’re thinking. “Are you crazy? I’ve never ridden a Segway in my life! I’m going to fall and break my arm!” Fear not! Every Segway tour company in San Francisco understands you. And that’s why each one of them offers a training session before the tour begins. Everybody wants to make sure that you feel safe and comfortable before setting off on one of these machines.
So, without further ado, check our our list of the best San Francisco Segway tours!
One of the easiest and most convenient methods to travel throughout San Francisco is by riding Muni Metro, the electric light rail train that runs throughout the city. The trains will get you where you need to go easily and (typically) on time. But for visitors to San Francisco, it can be difficult to figure out how to use the trains. That’s why we have put together an easy guide to show you how to ride Muni Metro all through San Francisco!
Follow this guide for a quick and easy summary, and you’ll be riding Muni Metro just like the locals!
This post covers several itineraries for those in San Francisco for one day, including a budget-friendly and kid-friendly itineraries as well as a 3-day option. We have also developed our own One Day in San Francisco Tour to help you economize you time here.