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Opening Up To San Francisco’s Holiday Celebrations

Students at the Academy of Art University come from many different states and over 110 countries. Some will be headed home for the holidays while others will stay in the Bay Area. Whether you call San Francisco home or just a temporary stay, there will be plenty to do on December 25th. While most of the city slows and closes its doors, there will be museums, adventures and food to enjoy (and likely with a much smaller crowd!) Check out this list of things to do on December 25th!


The Botanical Gardens Free Day
7:30am – 9:00am
Cost: Free

Early to bed, early to rise! After the gifts are unwrapped and the coffee is flowing, you can head over to the 55 acres of The Botanical Gardens to see over 8,000 different kinds of plants from around the world. They are ranked as one of the most diverse gardens in the world.  The coveted and unique “Black Bearded Sugarbush” is in bloom and can be seen in the South African garden bed. And the red and green color combination of Christmas comes to life in fabulous ways in the Cornish Lily. Enjoy this gift of beautiful sights from the Botanical Gardens for free. with few people around!

Contemporary Jewish Museum Free Day
Time: 11:00am – 4:00pm
Cost: Free

Closed for traditional Jewish holidays, the CJM gives the perfect gift on this holiday weekend with free entry to the museum. See The Yud Video Project and From Generation to Generation: Inherited Memory and Contemporary Art, new installations exploring the theme of memory. Watch In That Case, an exhibit with partners Kota Ezawa, local visual artist, and James Rogers, dancer with Houston Ballet, exploring the boundaries of digital animation. Enjoy another great gift of a free, uncrowded museums day!


Food Tours
Cost: $35

Not craving turkey and dressing this holiday day? San Francisco offers a Food Tour of Chinatown, one of its most historic neighborhoods. See a fortune cookie factory, experience a Buddhist temple, and watch as paper lanterns and medical herbs are made. Stay for the full 3-hour tour (and pay an extra $20) for a 10 course Dim Sum Holiday lunch!

Ice Skating at the Embarcadero, Union Square and Yerba Buena Gardens
Time: Varied
Cost: Varied

Inside or out, decked halls or not, San Francisco has plenty of options to enjoy an afternoon of ice skating. Skate inside at the Yerba Buena Gardens Ice Rink from noon to 5:00pm. General admission is $12 and skate rental is $4. If you’d rather experience the holiday spirit with trees and lights, head over to the Embarcadero or Union Square. Skating sessions begin at 10:00am and run every 90 minutes until 11:30pm. Experience the frozen joy of the season on Christmas Day!

Reindeer selfie❣❣❣

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SF Zoo
Time: 10:00am – 4:00pm
Cost: $19

If you’re missing reindeer sightings on holiday day, check out the more than 1,000 exotic animals that call the SF Zoo home. Zebras will roam, the largest outdoor lemur habitat in the country will awe, and farm animals will wait to be petted! Or if you’re feeling global, explore the zoo by continent as you see koalas from the Outback region, African gorillas and South American anteaters. Enjoy the zoo without the crazy crowds on this holiday weekend.


Festival Holiday Dining
Time: Varied
Cost: Varied

Our halls are officially decked. Have you seen our holiday decorations yet? ?: @fluxi. #TopOfTheMark

A photo posted by Top Of The Mark (@topofthemarksf) on

Dress to impress and remember pinkies up at these holiday day restaurants. The Grill at St. Regis San Francisco will serve a special holiday menu for December 25th. Feast on a holiday Persimmons Salad, a hearty steak or lobster plate, and a delicious chocolate and raspberry Yule Log. Or head over to Top of the Mark to enjoy a brunch or dinner complete with a Raw Bar, Breakfast Station and Dessert Station. These meals come with a price tag and are selling out fast; reserve your spot today!

Yank Sing
Time: 11:00am – 3:00pm
Cost: Varied

We offer individual servings of our succulent house-roasted Peking Duck! #YankSing #Deemsum #PekingDuck

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Adjacent to the Academy of Art University, Yank Sing, a traditional and contemporary “Deem Sum” restaurant will be open this holiday weekend. Winner of the SF Chronicle’s Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants and listed in the Michelin Guide in 2014, this dinner will be one to remember! Passing carts of dim sum filled with freshly made treats, drink in the beautifully decorated tables as you enjoy the open and energetic atmosphere of a cultural dinner. Spaces are filling up quickly; make your reservation on OpenTable, today!

Fog Harbor Fish House
Time: 11:00am – 11:00pm
Cost: Varied

Experience a true San Franciscan holiday at tourist central- Pier 39! Select shops and attractions will remain open on December 25th for locals and visitors alike. The ever-crowded Fog Harbor Fish House will be open to feast on 100% sustainable seafood. Enjoy the 30-year history at one of San Francisco’s most scenic restaurant views. And keep your eyes peeled- you’ll likely see a Simmons family member turning this holiday dinner into a true family-style meal.