What to Do in San Francisco This Winter

(Updated for 2016-2017) One of the best things about living in a big cosmopolitan city like San Francisco is the array of events always at one’s fingertips: world-class art exhibitions, cultural festivals, new restaurant openings, conventions, and so much more. I don’t call San Francisco home, but it’s close enough that I can visit frequently–when my budget allows.

Visiting San Francisco in the winter is a good idea because there are fewer tourists than in the summer, and the weather can be nicer–chilly, for sure, but it can be sunny and not as cold as it gets inland. There will be days of rain but also many days of sun.

First, make a list of the outdoor activities and indoor activities that you want to do, and plan which activities to do according to the weather. See more in this post: 30 things to do in San Francisco.

Second, make a list of special events you’d like to attend. From theater productions to festivals, there’s always something exciting happening in the City. These are the events that I have my eye on:

Zinfandel Experience at Pier 27 and Bently Reserve

February 23-25. More information here.

California’s most famous grape will be celebrated with three days of wine tasting showcasing different styles from both well known producers and emerging wineries. The events include wine and food pairing, a wine seminar, and wine tasting of Zinfandel from about 100 different wineries. However, the events are not just about wine tasting; the mission of the organization is “to advance public knowledge of and appreciation for American Zinfandel and its unique place in our culture and history.” As a huge fan of Zinfandel, I plan to be there.

The Nutcracker and Swan Lake by the San Francisco Ballet

The Nutcracker runs December 10-29, several other productions run through the winter, and then Swan Lake will show March 31-April 12. Info. and tickets here.

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk on Flickr.

Last year my mom gave me an experience gift–a night in San Francisco to see the San Francisco Ballet perform the classic ballet Giselle. The show transported me to my childhood experiences watching ballets in New York City. It was a grand night and a magical show. The Nutcracker is a holiday favorite, of course, but any these ballets would make a memorable winter evening out.

Chinese New Year in San Francisco’s Chinatown

Chinese New Year will start with the Fresh Flower Fair in Chinatown on Sat., Jan. 21 and Sun., Jan. 22. The festivities will end with the Grand Parade through Chinatown on Saturday, February 11. More details here.

Photo credit: David Yu on Flickr.

San Francisco’s Gingerbread Houses

What to do in San Francisco in Winter: Gingerbread Houses

Find out where and when to see the gingerbread houses here.

Museum Exhibitions:

The Art of Pinocchio at the Walt Disney Family Museum though Jan. 9, 2017.

Check out the new SFMOMA if you haven’t yet and see these master works of modern art or the special exhibitions.

Modern art fans can see a retrospective of Frank Stella’s work at the de Young Museum through Feb. 26, 2017.

“The Future of the Past: Mummies and Medicine” at the Legion of Honor through 2018.

Where to stay in San Francisco:


The 100-year-old boutique luxury hotel CLIFT, conveniently located just minutes from Union Square. And if you’re going to the City for a romantic getaway, consider their Valentine’s Day special.

The Kensington Park Hotel just off Union Square is a boutique luxury hotel. I like this hotel for its historic architecture, comfortable rooms, and location, but keep in mind that breakfast is not served at the hotel.

photo (23)

This is my favorite vacation rental in San Francisco. The apartment is gorgeous–it has everything that a vacation rental should have, plus the location is quiet and within walking distance to parks and shopping. Get a $25 credit toward your first booking on Airbnb right here!

P.S. Much more about San Francisco here and here.

What winter travel experiences do you enjoy? What would you recommend doing in San Francisco in the winter? 

Photo credits: 3: Thomas Hawk on Flickr., 4: David Yu on Flickr, 5: Shubert Ciencia on Flickr


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