image copyright Wayne Holden, courtesy of Monterey CVB
Best Christmas Lights and Sights in San Francisco Area article and images by Carole Terwilliger Meyers
I’ve always enjoyed all the wonderful Christmas sights and events in the Bay Area and have written about them since my very first book, which was actually a booklet, titled “Getting in the Spirit: A Guide to Bay Area Christmas Events.” This page is inspired by that and by my past guest appearances on John Hamilton’s On-The-Go talk show on KGO. Here are some of the best seasonal lights, sights, and events for you to get out there and enjoy!
listen to Carole talk about Bay Area seasonal events with John Hamilton
see some spectacular light displays ●in San Francisco Illuminate SF Festival of Light This lighting extravaganza takes place all around the town. It consists of 37 eco-friendly light installations (27 are permanent) in 17 San Francisco neighborhoods.
●in two small neighborhoods in Pleasanton Christmas Cane Lane 4000 block of Walnut Dr./Ray St. 5:30-10pm, through Jan. 1. Free. Almost every house on this cul-de-sac goes way overboard with lights and decorations. Cars move slowly around the entire perimeter. A delight.
Widmer World 3671 Chelsea Court. 6-9pm, through Dec. 31. Free. 34th year! You can walk through this home's computer-controlled acre of back yard musical and moving holiday scenes. The display includes an electronic light show, snowy penguin scene, Mrs. Claus house, Santa's golf land, and a train town. Santa sometimes shows up on the last weekend before Christmas.
●at the zoo ZooLights at Oakland Zoo (510) 632-9525. ZooLights is not included in regular Zoo admission; additional fee. Visit the zoo at night to see this holiday light display featuring hundreds of thousands of sparkling lights illuminating the evening sky. Video.
●at a San Francisco hotel Hyatt Regency San Francisco
view a live Nativity Oakland Mormon Temple 4766 Lincoln Ave., (510) 531-1475. Free. A spectacular bay view is included.
frolic at a Christmas fair Great Dickens Christmas Fair In South San Francisco, adjacent to Cow Palace, (800) 510-1558. Fee. No pets. See “A Christmas Carol” brought to life at this re-creation of Christmas in Victorian London. After playing spirited parlour games, purchasing some fine yuletide gifts, and feasting on period food and drink, even the grumpiest Scrooge will capture the season’s spirit. Entertainment is continuous and includes parades, theatrical performances, and caroling--even dancing with Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig and guests at their celebrated party. And as if this isn't enough, Her Majesty Queen Victoria and consort Prince Albert always attend. Visitors are encouraged to dress in period costume. More description and images.
visit the San Francisco legacy hotels for some spectacular events
●stroll through a gingerbread house Fairmont Hotel 950 Mason St./California St.. Free. You can actually walk through this two-story gingerbread house in the hotel’s lobby, and it smells as delicious as it looks! The hotel also schedules a Holiday Gingerbread Tea and a Tonga Room New Year’s Eve Luau.
●drink the 12 cocktails of Christmas and take time for tea InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco 999 California St./Mason St., at the Top of the Mark. Fee. Each cocktail comes with a keepsake charm. Holiday Teas featuring individual 3-tiered trays holding tea sandwiches, scones, and sweets are also scheduled.