I love a big city Christmas just as much the charm of a small town Christmas. We are having the most amazing weather this week in Northern California which makes for a spectacular day spent in downtown San Francisco. With out-of-town family staying with us again over the Thanksgiving holiday, we couldn’t resist playing tour guide in the City by the Bay.
Amidst blue skies, the bustling Union Square was aglow with window displays, holiday decorations, and lights from all the big retailers and the grand hotels.
We even had a celebrity sighting – we caught Mrs. Claus as she was hailing a cab.
Come on along on our tour through Union Square and Chinatown.
Anytime we travel to the City, we cross the Golden Gate Bridge. In summer, there is always a guarantee of heavy fog, but in spring and fall, you can get very lucky with clear blue skies.
We always take a spin around the Palace of Fine Arts – it’s a must see for any tourist.
Next we parked across from Macy’s and headed out for some lunch at a famous spot for hot carved meats and cold brews: Lefty O’Douls.
Fully fueled, we headed out onto Union Square, to check out the three story Christmas tree and watch the skaters on the downtown rink.
All the grand hotels, like the Sir Francis Drake, are decked out for the season.
In the lobby of the Westin is the famous spinning castle made entirely of sugar that mesmerizes children young and old. It was created with 70 pounds of gingerbread, 300 pounds of icing, and 100 pounds of candy.
Outside the grand hotels, there is never a shortage of cable cars waiting to take you to your next tourist destination.
But then there’s the legendary retail shops that keep you on the Square.
The window shopping is worth the stroll.
Dear Santa, I’ll take these.
Wait, never mind Santa, I’ll take this La Cornue oven on display at Williams Sonoma.
And Santa, don’t forget to bring me the spice and storage drawers.
As I ogled the other silver La Cornue masterpiece, I couldn’t help but notice my three year old, amid all the bustling shoppers, surviving their elbows and clinging to his complimentary hot chocolate. He is dressed in his typical outfit: mismatched sweat pants hiked up to his knees, tattered layered shirts, mismatched socks and a worn out plastic fireman’s hat, clinging to his transformer ‘orange airplane guy’.
Let me go on the record and say this is not my choice of attire. It is completely his. If I had my way, he’d be wearing a charming rugby shirt from Baby Gap with matching cords and displaying a perfectly coiffed haircut. I know how to pick my battles, and this is not one of them. Sigh. But it sure makes for a great memory.
The good news is he is learning young to give something back.
We hadn’t been to Chinatown for ten years, so we agreed to walk the two blocks over to this famous district.
Chinatown is a unique stop, full of Asian influenced architecture and decor.
The vendors sell mostly Chinese imports. If you fancy Asian decor, this is a great place to visit.
This room within a room of a bed makes for quite a focal point
Perusing all of these imported goods, I couldn’t help but think that some of them might make really great gifts. How about this vast selection of blue and white dishes ?
These lotus flower lamps
Longevity tea pots
Beautiful silk boxes
Tea strainer mugs
River rocks with symbols for tranquility, wisdom, prosperity, etc.
Cozy slippers for grown ups
And for little girls
Tons of jewelry vendors
Jeweled lobster, anyone ?
From Chinatown there’s a great view of the Transamerica Building.
And you can always catch another cable car in Chinatown to take you to to another famous district.
Before we headed home, we stopped by the posh Harry Denton Starlight Room at the top of the Sir Francis Drake hotel.
There, we caught the twilight view of the skyline.
With small children in tow, we had to leave early to return to our suburban town, but Mr. CG and I vowed to come back soon for some more holiday shopping and big city lights.
Especially with all the stores like Macy’s decked out from top to bottom.
A splendid time is guaranteed for all during the Christmas season in San Francisco.