San Francisco is Filled With Holiday Cheer

City filled with things to do this holiday season

Take a few spins on an ice rink within view of San Francisco Bay as part of your holiday celebrations this year, then warm up by shopping for presents, sampling restaurants, riding the cable cars and soaking up the scenery. Take your skates out of your luggage and head for the ice rink at the Embarcadero Center——the business, shopping and entertainment center between the city's Waterfront and Financial districts. After the rink and the shops, take in some of the things listed under "Attractions" and "In The Neighborhood" such as Pier 39 and the Ferry Building Farmers market. Pick up a little more holiday spirit at the brightly lit Christmas Tree in Union Square——plus another skating rink. Then you can head indoors to look for more gifts in the glass-ceilinged Crocker Galleria. The San Francisco Visitors Bureau has more ideas for you. For the kids in your entourage, the city's Home for the Holidays——suggests taking them to the Reindeer Romp at the Zoo. And the San Francisco Zoo——has yet another skating rink. Kids think they're too old for reindeer? Take them to the American Conservatory Theater's production of "A Christmas Carol." There's plenty more to fill your visit. Head back to the Visitors Bureau's main page——and click on "Activities" under the "What To Do" heading. The "Must See Attractions" range from the Presidio——the former Army post turned into a park, to the Scharffen Berger Chocolate factory tour——across the Bay in Berkeley. There's more for the kids at the Cow Palace arena, where the Great Dickens Christmas Fair——is advertised as a "holiday adventure into Victorian London." See where some of America's most notorious criminals were held on Alcatraz Island——which you can reach via Alcatraz Cruises——whose ferries sail from Fisherman's Wharf. Before or after your trip to Alcatraz, take a touristy stroll around Fisherman's Wharf——to take in the atmosphere, eat and spend a few dollars in the shops. You'll need to click on "Plan a Visit" to reach "Things to Do" and essential "Visitor Information" to learn about restaurants and entertainment. In that same neighborhood, the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park——gives you a taste of the city's nautical past. The Fisherman's Wharf Web site points out that three of the city's three cable car lines stop there. See where else they go by studying the route maps at San Francisco Cable Cars——and be sure to read the "Rider's Guide" to see where and when you can jump on a car. The city's Municipal Transportation Agency——has more route information, schedules and tips for the whole transit system, plus parking and biking info. It's a big city and streets go in all directions. You'll need the maps of the streets and transit system at StaySF——along with detailed maps of Union Square, downtown, Golden Gate Park and the surrounding region. If you ever feel the need for a break from city streets, take a stroll through Golden Gate Park——home of the De Young Museum——and the California Academy of Sciences——where you can see butterflies, a T Rex skeleton and much, much more. And for some of the area's trademark scenery, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area——includes the Presidio at the mouth of the Bay and places up and down the coast. Look under "Plan Your Visit" for things to do.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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