4 Great Ways to Celebrate the Holidays with Kids in San Francisco

Ways to celebrate the holidays in San Francisco with kids big and small.
San Francisco cable car decorated for the holidays
(Photo: Shutterstock/Mathieu LE MAUFF)

What San Francisco lacks in snow it makes up for in holiday spirit in November and December. Looking for a fun and festive way to spend a day sure to get both kids and adults in the holiday spirit? Here are three great seasonal activities geared to families that you can make an annual tradition. 


The most famous of the kid-friendly holiday teas in San Francisco is the Teddy Bear Tea at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco. The hotel’s ballroom is transformed into a winter wonderland complete with elves, trees, music, and dance. Tea (with offerings to suit both kids and adults) is followed by a fun and interactive performance for kids. 

Other holiday teas suitable for kids in San Francisco include the Magical Tea at the Mark Hopkins and the holiday tea at the Fairmont and the Holiday Tea Party Celebration at Sip Tea Room. 

A Performance

The Nutcracker is a perennial holiday favorite, and the San Francisco Ballet does a lovely rendition of this great intro to ballet for kids. But it’s certainly not the only holiday performance worth the ticket price in San Francisco. For the last 36 years, ODC/Dance Company has performed the Velveteen Rabbit. And for the ultimate in dance-along fun, nothing beats the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band’s annual Dance-Along Nutcracker

Ice Skating

Union Square is a holiday hotspot in San Francisco. It’s home to Macy’s wonderful holiday-themed windows (and its ultra-cute puppies and kittens). With plenty of shopping, it’s an easy place to buy gifts in person. And it’s home to a seasonal outdoor ice skating rink that’s perfectly positioned for great views of the massive Christmas tree and the cable cars. There are multiple sessions a day, but it’s still a good idea to sign up in advance. 

The Dickens Fair

The Dickens Fair is back and bigger and better than ever. A ticket grants you access to Victorian London, where adults and kids alike will love the singing, dancing, costumes, treats, and treasures of the event. Even families who don’t dress up in period costume will feel at home in this richly recreated version of Charles Dickens’ England. 

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Christine Sarkis is a traveling parent and longtime travel writer and editor. The former executive editor for TripAdvisor travel magazine SmarterTravel.com, Sarkis has spent nearly two decades finding and sharing the best places to go with an audience of enthusiastic travelers. Her stories have appeared on USA Today, Conde Nast Traveler, Huffington Post, and Business Insider. Her expert advice has been quoted in dozens of print and online publications including The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and People magazine. She has also shared travel tips on television and radio shows including Good Morning America, Marketplace, and Here & Now. Her stories have been published in the anthologies Spain from a Backpack and The Best Women's Travel Writing 2008, and she is working on a travel memoir.

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