The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

Ho, Ho, Huh? Your guide to a car-free Christmas

How to explore the city using only public transit this holiday season
Ryosuke Kojima
A photograph of the various Christmas decorations inside the Fairmont Hotel, located in the Nob Hill district of San Francisco, California on Dec. 9, 2023. (Ryo Kojima/Golden Gate Xpress)

As the holiday season approaches, there is a wealth of events and attractions popping up across the city. It can be hard to choose where you want to go with the varying options, but this guide to the city provided by GGX reporters shows you various locations and activities at varying price points and locations. The best part? Everything is accessible via public transit and involves minimal transfers. Whether you lack a car or license or you simply don’t want to pay for parking, sit back and enjoy the ride.

Great Dickens Christmas Fair

2600 Geneva Avenue, Daly City

First up on our list is the Great Dickens Christmas Fair and Victorian holiday party. The event itself is an immersive holiday experience inspired by the works of author Charles Dickens and life in Victorian England. It features performers dressed in period clothing, live performances, and over 100 vendors. Optional experiences include a Sherlock Holmes-themes scavenger hunt and a Jekyll and Hyde-inspired bar crawl. General manager Andrew Patterson, who is also the grandson of the fair’s founders, called the event a “one-of-a-kind, immersive experience like nothing else in the US.”

The event runs from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. on the weekends until December 17. Adult tickets are $45 and youth tickets are $25.
Located in Daly City, it’s the only event outside of San Francisco, but it only takes one transfer to get there. From campus, take the M towards Balboa Park to Balboa Park BART station. From there, transfer to the 8 bus headed towards Fisherman’s Wharf and disembark at Santos and Geneva stop. Walk five minutes and you’re there!
For more information click here.
3.6 miles, ~54 minutes

Safeway Holiday Ice Rink

333 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94102

The next location is on the opposite side of the city but requires no transfers from campus. The Union Square ice skating rink is the largest in the city and can be easily recognized by the iconic Christmas tree provided by Macy’s. For those missing the fun of skating outdoors with loved ones, it’s a cheap and all-ages-friendly way to engage in one of the holiday season’s most anticipated activities. It is required to make an online booking in advance, but the rink is open from 10 a.m.-11 p.m. daily until Jan. 15. General admission is $20 and children aged 8 and under are $15. Admission prices include skate rental.

To get to the rink, just take the M from campus straight to Powell Station, walk through Market Street-Union Station, and exit.

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Macy’s Holiday Windows

170 O’Farrell St, San Francisco

Right across the street from the skating rink is Macy’s. Macy’s is known for its extravagant holiday storefront display — and for a little something special that only happens during the holiday season. Until Dec. 31st, on Thursdays-Sundays from noon-5 p.m., you can check out some of the SF SFPCA’s adoptable puppies and kittens.

Adoption is free for all adult animals. For puppies and kittens, adoption fees have been reduced to $100 until Dec. 31st. Senior communications manager Nicole Weisenberg says that since its establishment almost 37 years ago, over 10,000 animals have been adopted through the Holiday Windows program. The SFPCA website also has livestreams of the cat and puppy kennels. On select dates, you can even snuggle with their therapy animals. If you’ve been looking into adopting a new furry friend, now’s your chance!

To get there, simply take the M train headed towards Embarcadero and depart at Powell station. Macy’s is a three-minute walk from the station.

For more information about the SFPCA and its different programs, click here.

6 miles from campus, ~43 minutes

Fairmont Hotel

950 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94108

Next up is the Fairmont San Francisco, located in Nob Hill. Opened in 1907, the hotel was named after U.S. Senator James Graham Fair. Although the Fairmont has since expanded to a hotel chain, this is the original location and remains an icon to many today. Among the hotel’s most iconic features are its holiday decorations. Members of the public are welcome to explore the lobby of the hotel during the holidays, which features a floor-to-ceiling Christmas tree, extravagant decorations inside and out, and a lifesize gingerbread house.

To get there from campus, take the M towards Embarcadero and disembark at Powell station. From Powell station, it’s a 15-minute walk uphill. If you’re willing to spend $8, you can hop on a decorated cable car from the station to the hotel.

For more information, click here.

6.2 miles away, ~52 minutes

Palace Hotel

2 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA

Our final location is the Palace Hotel, a designated historic landmark. It opened in 1909 after the demolition of its predecessor due to the 1906 earthquake. The hotel is a member of Historic Hotels of America, which is affiliated with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The inside of the hotel is lavishly decorated for the holiday season and also houses the Pied Piper, a restaurant and bar that offers seasonal drinks.

To get there, take the M towards Embarcadero to Montgomery station. When you exit, it’s a two-minute walk to your destination.

For more information, click here.

6.6 miles, 32 minutes

Golden Gate Park Entwined

Dec. 7, 2023 – April 28, 2024

Peacock Meadow

Last but not least is the Entwined: Elder Mother art exhibition in Golden Gate Park. The exhibit was first installed in 2020 during the pandemic as a way to connect people during an isolating time, according to artist Charles Gadeken. The exhibition has since been revamped, and the newest iteration includes a 30-ft tall metal tree that moves in the wind; the leaves also include six QR codes that can be scanned to control the lighting.

Gadeken said that certain elements of the piece were specifically built to bring people closer together, to reflect a changing world in the pandemic’s aftermath.

“I wanted to keep the piece of art like, dynamic and exciting and get it to a place where people were, even though they had seen it for four years, will be super excited to come back and experience it in a new way,” Gadeken said.

Entwined: Elder Mother is open for viewing in Peacock Meadow in Golden Park and is active daily from 5 p.m.-10 p.m. To get there, take the 28 bus heading to Fisherman’s Wharf and get off at Park Presidio and Fulton. From there, walk 18 minutes to Peacock Meadow

For more information, click here.

And that’s it! If none of these events or attractions were on your to-do list this holiday season, hopefully, they are now. As always Gators, congrats on finishing out the semester strong, and stay healthy and safe this holiday season. Signing off, this is Golden Gate Xpress.

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About the Contributors
Sunthi Jong
Sunthi Jong, Co-Copy Editor
Sunthi Jong (she/her) is a copy editor for the Golden Gate Xpress and is a member of the editorial team. She is majoring in journalism and minoring in Asian American Studies. She was born in the East Bay and grew up both there and in Sacramento. Jong currently lives in San Francisco and is in the final year of her degree. In her free time, Jong enjoys reading, baking and exploring the city.
Ryosuke Kojima
Ryosuke Kojima, Photographer
Ryosuke Kojima (he/him) is a photographer for the Golden Gate Xpress and Xpress Magazine, majoring in photojournalism and minoring in sociology. Growing up in southern California and Japan, Ryo is an avid fan of various sports, the outdoors, backpacking, film photography, and more. In his free time, you can catch him hanging out with friends, skating, shooting film, or on the golf course.

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