San Francisco: Top Holiday Tours and Culinary Events

Published on : Thursday, November 28, 2013

12+Days+of+Christmas+at+Meadowood+650x350San Francisco is famous for dining and sightseeing any time of year but during the holidays there’s something extra special about it.  Here is a list of some great ways to take in the sights and tastes of the holidays in San Francisco this holiday season:




Classic Cable Car Holiday Lights & Sights Tour
Through Dec. 29, 2013 (closed on Christmas Day), tours depart every half hour, departs from Fisherman’s Wharf (at Jefferson and Taylor streets) and Union Square (Geary Street) Sundays-Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. On the 7th annual holiday tour passengers will ride through the city and experience the festive lights on an original cable car from the California Street line, dating back to the late 1800s/early 1900s. Aboard this 70-minute city tour, guests will travel around the city aboard these motorized cable cars built from the ground up using the original cable car blueprints and constructed of solid oak and brass.  Passengers will receive a complimentary Santa’s hat, narrated points of interests, and enjoy songs and the lights and sights of San Francisco.




The Science of (Holiday) Light Walking Tour

Dec. 11-26, 2013, 6:30 – 8 p.m.

Join Discovery Street Tours on a festive trek to gain a new appreciation for some of the city’s spectacular light displays.  Explore stairways, side streets and scenic vistas while experimenting with color mixing and animation.  Learn about the history of holiday lights while enjoying hot cocoa and holiday treats.  This tour covers 1.5 miles and includes hills and staircases.



Gourmet Walks’ Holiday Lights and Chocolate Tours  

Dec. 13, 14, 20, 21, 23, 26 and 27, 2013 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Join Gourmet Walks for a series of evening Chocolate Tours during the holiday season. View spectacular light displays from the Ferry Building to Union Square, while learning how to taste fine chocolate and warming up with drinking chocolate. Tours depart from Justin Herman Plaza.



Victorian Home Walk Tour Yuletide Walking Tour in Pacific Heights

Meet daily in December, 2013 at 11 a.m. in Union Square – at the corner of Powell and Post Streets, across from Saks Fifth Avenue, right next to the big red heart. Visitors can explore Pacific Heights’ colorful Victorian row houses, many decked in Yuletide cheer, famous mansions and beautiful gardens. The walk is easy, the pace leisurely, and there are no hills to climb. The 2.5 hour tour includes bus transportation between Union Square and Pacific Heights. No reservations are required.




Nutcracker Holiday Tea at The Fairmont San Francisco

Saturdays and Sundays in November and December, 2013 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

A San Francisco tradition, the popular “Fairmont Nutcracker Tea” offers traditional tea sandwiches, scones as well as assorted teas, hot apple cider and hot chocolate. Reservations are a must.  The cost is $69 per person, or $34.50 for children under five years old. During the tea, all children will receive a nutcracker trinket and a gingerbread cookie to decorate with the help of the Nutcracker Soldier.  A strolling magician will entertain each table with some holiday magic.




Teddy Bear Tea at The Ritz-Carlton, San FranciscoDec. 6-8, 14-15, 20-24, 2013

The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco will host its popular Teddy Bear Tea; two daily seatings at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.  Children and their favorite stuffed animals are invited to gather in the Terrace Courtyard Tent for this popular tradition featuring Santa’s Elves and the giant Ritz-Carlton Teddy Bear. A special tea experience of hot chocolate, holiday confections and assorted sandwiches will be served while the kids enjoy holiday entertainment. A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation.




Breakfast with Santa at Hyatt Regency San Francisco

Dec. 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 2013 from 8 a.m. to noon

Hyatt Regency San Francisco has the inside track with personal visits from Santa Claus who will be making his appearance during the weekends leading up to Christmas, at Eclipse Restaurant’s Breakfast with Santa.




Ho-Ho-Homes for the Holidays

Dec. 14, 2013, 2 – 4 p.m. at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel

Ho-Ho-Homes for the Holidays brings children together with Executive Chef Adam Mali and his culinary team to create lavish gingerbread houses and baked creations.  Children will receive their own chef’s hat and apron and learn how to decorate gingerbread houses and holiday themed sugar cookies using an array of sweets including icing of all colors, sprinkles, candy canes, gum drops, licorice and more. The Ho-Ho-Homes for the Holidays experience includes: Two hours of gingerbread house decorating; hot chocolate and mulled cider; a variety of bubbly, festive cocktails and snacks for parents to enjoy at the hotel bar and decorative boxes for finished houses and cookie creations. Alcoholic beverages and valet parking are not included for accompanying adults. Reservations are required and can be made by or 415-986-2020.




Fisherman’s Wharf Crab Fest

Dec. 8, 2013, Noon to 3 p.m. at the Maritime Museum

Fisherman’s Wharf will be celebrating crab season by bringing together chefs from top local restaurants to share their favorite crab recipes, complimented by local, sustainable wine. All proceeds will go to the San Francisco Fire Department toy program and the San Francisco Police Department youth fishing program. Participating restaurants include Alioto’s, Bistro Boudin, Blue Mermaid, Cafe Pescatore, Capurro’s, Fog Harbor Fish House, The Franciscan, McCormick & Kuleto’s and Scoma’s.





This is just a sample of what’s going on in San Francisco this holiday season.


To make it even more inviting, the San Francisco Travel Association is offering “49 Hours of SF: Holidays” hotel deals featuring deeply-discounted rates when booked at  Visitors who stay three or more nights at participating hotels can receive up to 25% off the entire stay. This offer is valid through March 31, 2014.




The San Francisco Travel Association is the official tourism marketing organization for the City and County of San Francisco. For information on reservations, activities and more, visit or call 415-391-2000.  The Visitor Information Center is located at 900 Market St. in Hallidie Plaza, lower level, near the Powell Street cable car turnaround.




American Express® is the official Card partner of the San Francisco Travel Association.




San Francisco International Airport (SFO) offers non-stop flights to more than 31 international points on 30 international carriers. The Bay Area’s largest airport connects non-stop with 76 cities in the U.S. on 15 domestic airlines. For up-to-the-minute departure and arrival information, airport maps and details on shopping, dining, cultural exhibitions, ground transportation and more, visit Follow SFO on and

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