Big City Holiday Nostalgia

San Francisco has plenty of old-fashioned touches for this year's Christmas season
Big City

While much of the country thaws out its holiday spirit in the fierce face of Old Man Winter, the challenge on the Left Coast is somewhat different: How do you stimulate such spirit when the streets are a sunny 64 degrees and devoid of the charms of a Country Christmas?

Why not turn that idea on its head with a City Christmas? You don't need snowplows in the street to get nostalgic in December, and they don't say San Francisco "knows how" for nothing.

Outdoor ice skating, a gingerbread mansion, dozens of noteworthy lighting displays and, yes, even snow are some of attractions of the season to see and enjoy in the City by the Bay.

The various lighting ceremonies and spectacles are too numerous to mention, but one particularly significant one is the Bill Graham Menorah in Union Square. Lit nightly for the eight days of Hannukah starting December 16, the site is where the late concert promoter built and helped sponsor the first public menorah lighting in the U.S. in 1975. For more, click here.

And what could be a more nostalgic way to tour the holiday lights of San Francisco than by cable car? Classic Cable Car Charters offers a 70-minute tour by reservation in their fleet of motorized, restored, and holiday-decorated old cable cars, including Santa hats and Boudin's hot chocolate! For more, click here.

If more vigorous nostalgia is what you seek—and you need to mix in some shopping—try ice skating at either Union Square or Embarcadero Center. For more, click here and here.

Of course, San Francisco's grandest hotels are not to be outdone in putting on their holiday cheer. Many are decorated to the nines, with two of the most notable efforts being a life-size, two-story gingerbread house in the Grand Lobby of the Fairmont, and snowfall at least twice every day in the atrium of the Hyatt Regency. For more, click here and here.

See? We got your winter right here!