My City Celebrates: Nancy’s San Francisco

Embarcadero Ice Rink.jpgI_Heart_City_LOGO.jpgThis year, inspired by our ever-popular “I Heart My City” series on Intelligent Travel, we’re kicking off the holiday season by asking our readers to share their favorite ways to celebrate in their cities. Today’s city-lover is Nancy D. Brown of the What a Trip blog, offering her picks for San Francisco. 

What to share the things that make your city special?

We’ve put together a festively-themed fill-in-the-blank questionnaire, and we’d love to hear your responses. So cut and paste the list, fill in your answers, and email us your picks at

(Please include links and photos if possible). We’ll be featuring your “My City Celebrates” posts through the New Year. Happy Holidays!

My City Celebrates: San Francisco

When I need a dose of holiday cheer, I always head to Union Square in San Francisco.

The best place to grab a cup of cocoa is Ghirardelli Square, after a (Powell Street) cable car ride, of course!

If you want to find great sledding you have to head to Lake Tahoe.

Strap on your skates at the Embarcadero Center, and enjoy the views of the city lights.

For a classic holiday photo op, be sure to check out the Golden Gate Bridge. The best vantage points are from the Presidio and can be taken from Crissy Field, the Coastal Trail and Torpedo Wharf.

30105706full.jpgA great place to take the kids during the season is for a Golden Gate Bay cruise on the Red and White Fleet.

For all of your gift-shopping needs in one location, check out San Francisco Centre shopping mall.

The Ferry Building has the best markets, be sure to pick up a baguette and cheese, along with a bottle of olive oil for a thoughtful hostess gift.

No holiday meal in my city is complete without Boudin’s Sourdough bread, Mt. Tam triple-cream cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Palmeri wines, preferably the 2002 if you can get your hands on one,  and a two-pound box of See’s candies chocolates.

My favorite holiday tradition in my city is San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker.

Locals know to avoid the throngs at Pier 39 and find the real magic in walking on the beach or the Marina Green.

The best part about my city during the holiday season is that most of the time, people are smiling, happy and have a spring in their step. The fact that we don’t have to shovel snow is a plus too!

Photo: Above, The Embarcadero Ice Rink, by Flickr user brothergrimm under Creative Commons; Below, San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson’s Nutcracker © Erik Tomasson.


  1. Jenny Ugara
    March 4, 2010, 9:09 pm

    We also like to stay at the Crowne Plaza Hotel San Francisco especially when we have an early flight out–since it is so close to the airport. Last December, they had a display of handmade gingerbread houses for a contest and guests could vote and there are plenty of convenient public transportation options to get you to the festivities in the city!

  2. KaylaJeffries
    February 21, 2010, 9:28 pm

    San Francisco is quite festive during the holidays and we love the The Embarcadero Ice Rink. The rink is outside and is open only during the holiday season. It’s a great place for a private party–we had our company Xmas party there and it was a blast. If you are vacationing in San Francisco during the holidays, the Crowne Plaza Hotel San Francisco is centrally located and quite reasoable. If you want to splurge and emmerse yourself in San Francisco history, the St Francis Hotel San Francisco is elegant and truly magnificent. We stayed two years ago when Executive Pastry Chef, Jean-François Houdré, unveiled his incredible 12-feet rotating holiday Sugar Castle!

  3. Tracy
    December 3, 2009, 9:15 am

    The first picture is great!
    I have heard SF is a wonderful city.

  4. Mich
    December 3, 2009, 5:49 am

    I’m preparing to take my mother to SF next year for her birthday, what a great city it seems to be, I’ve wanted to go since I was kid.