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What to Do in San Francisco in December

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This post covers the best things to do in San Francisco in December, including free, nighttime, as well as family-friendly activities, all updated for 2021. 

For tips on the best activities in San Francisco, check out our other popular pages: 

Several of the items below are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.

 

 


TOP 10 EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO IN DECEMBER

This list includes concerts, sporting events, Christmas-themed activities, things to do with kids, and tours, among other fun entertainment! 


(1) See a Concert

San Francisco has an abundance of big-name artists performing in the area. You can find artists in almost any genre from Metallica to Marc Anthony (on the same weekend, no less). 

You can find all the San Francisco Bay area concerts here

 

 

You can find all the San Francisco Bay area concerts here


(2) Take a Tour

December means there will be smaller crowds of people, which makes it the perfect time to take a tour! 

San Francisco is full of interesting neighborhoods, diverse cultures, and years of history to discover. We have tours to cover all of it! 

 

 

Here are several that we provide:

  • The Original San Francisco Tour
  • San Francisco in One Day
  • Lombard Street, Little Italy, & Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Secrets, Scandals & Scoundrels of San Francisco
  • The Gold Rush, Wild West & Early Years of San Francisco
  • The Castro and the Fight for Equal Rights
  • Downtown San Francisco
  • Chinatown

CHECK OUT OUR FULL SCHEDULE OF TOURS.


(3) Attend a Sporting Event

There are several large tournaments and championships happening this month in the San Francisco Bay Area, in addition to San Francisco 49ers football games.

Find all the December games you can attend here.

 

 

NFL Football

NBA Basketball

NHL Hockey

Find all the December games you can attend here


(4) Enjoy the Theatre

There a few great theatrical productions you can enjoy this month, and almost all of them will be holiday themed.

The San Francisco Ballet will be putting on their annual performance of The Nutcracker, with shows running from December 18th - 22nd.

You'll also have the chance to see A Magical Cirque Christmas later in the month.

 

 

If you're a movie buff looking for another type of theatrical experience, consider going to see a live performance of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on December 20th.

You can see all of San Francisco’s theatrical productions here.

Be sure to read our post on things to do at night in San Francisco for more nighttime activity ideas.


(5) Major Attractions

December is the perfect time to explore the city. In addition to festive lights and decorations, you'll have fewer crowds and smaller tour groups. 

One of the most popular activities is taking a ferry ride to Alcatraz and touring the island.

Even though baseball season is over, you can still take tours of Oracle Park, where the San Francisco Giants play. 

 

 

If you're in the Golden Gate or Chinatown areas, you should make a stop at the fortune cookie factory, where you can watch fortune cookies being made by hand.

In the city center itself, bus tours and walking tours are fun options that help visitors get a good feel for San Francisco.


(6) See Trevor Noah, Jim Jefferies, or Steve O Live

Multiple big-name comedians are making their way through San Francisco this month.

You’ve seen their Netflix specials, movies, and TV shows. Now you can see their stand up routines in person! 

 

 

Trevor Noah

Jim Jefferies

John Oliver

Click here to see all the comedy and theatre in San Francisco this month.


(7) Celebrate New Year’s Eve 

Ring in 2022 with a number of events in the city by the bay!

 

 

Look out for restaurant drink and meal specials, as some will offer special menus for the evening.

For those wanting to hit the town before the clock counts down, there are a variety of events to choose from (most are 21+).

You can find parties and themed galas on land, as well as cruises in the bay.


(8) Tourist Attraction Discount Pass

There are several tourist passes you can use to save a lot of money on popular attractions and activities in San Francisco.

 

 

Here are a few of the most notable services included with these passes:

Depending on which service you choose, you can expect to get anywhere from a 20% – 50% discount. Most passes also provide skip-the-line entry at some popular attractions.

For more details, make sure to read our post covering San Francisco tourist passes.


(9) Attend The Subliminal Sunday BBQ Show

If you're looking for a fun music festival to attend, this event is one of the best options of the month.

Most festivals have had trouble figuring out how to handle the pandemic, but Subliminal SF has a few basic requirements to keep attendees safe.

The Subliminal Sunday BBQ Show Advertisement: Source: SubliminalSF.com.

In addition to wearing a mask, you'll also need to either show proof of vaccination or a negative test from the last 48 hours.

If you can do this, you'll have the opportunity to enjoy a lot of live local rock, punk and metal bands while eating free BBQ. Tickets start at just $12.

Purchase tickets or learn more.


(10) Go to a Holiday Craft Fair

Although similar fairs in the Bay Area have been cancelled, the Mill Valley Holiday Craft Fair is still scheduled to take place on December 4th, 2021.

Mill Valley is just half an hour north of San Francisco, so it shouldn't be too difficult for most people to reach.

Mill Valley Holiday Craft Fair Advertisement. Source: Mill Valley Recreation.

You can expect to find a variety of interesting and unique Christmas gifts, decorations, jewelry, ceramics, and other great examples of local artwork.

This holiday fair is entirely free to attend, but you might want to bring some cash along just in case you find something you can't live without.

For more fun Christmas-themed activities, check out our guide to Christmas in San Francisco.


CANCELLED: ZooLights

ZooLights is an annual celebration at the San Francisco Zoo that transforms the zoo into a magical land filled with thousands of holiday lights along with special attractions like Santa, reindeer, and other seasonal delights.

 

 

Check back on the zoo’s calendar as they update it with 2021 information.

Find more family-friendly activities on our full post

If you’re looking for more Christmas activities, take a look at our post about the holidays in San Francisco.

NOTE: This event has been cancelled for the 2021 holiday season. Instead, they will be putting up holiday decorations and hosting an event called Joy at SF Zoo during regular hours. 


CANCELLED: Great Dickens Christmas Fair 

Great Dickens! This Christmas fair and Victorian holiday party is sure to delight. 

 

 

Head to the Cow Palace in Daly City to enjoy an atmosphere that is set for Victorian-era London.

It is filled with music, pubs, dance parties, food, and shops filled to the brim with handmade holiday gifts. 

Don’t miss over 800 colorful characters from the imagination of Charles Dickens.

NOTE: This event was cancelled for the 2021 holiday season due to the pandemic.

 


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About The Author

Britt

Britt is a San Francisco Bay Area native, and has spent 25 years in this magical city. He has traveled to over 30 countries, and has never found a place he loves as much as this one! If you come to San Francisco, you might join one of Britt's tours of the city. A graduate of the University of Maryland and University of Southern California, he has been leading tours for Free Tours by Foot since 2015.
Updated: September 27th, 2021
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