rose colored sunset over the golden gate bridge

The holidays are a magical time in San Francisco. The city is decorated with lights, trees, and festive decorations. There is a sense of excitement in the air as people prepare for parties and gatherings. So, if you are in San Francisco during the holidays and you’re looking for the ultimate San Francisco Experiences Gift Guide, we’ve got you covered!

In this article, we’ll take a look at what to expect during the holiday season, the top gift ideas for all types of people, as well as some of the most common questions about visiting The Golden City.

What to expect during the holidays in San Francisco

Woman looking across the bay at Alcatraz

There are many benefits to visiting San Francisco during the holidays, you’ve got fewer crowds, cheaper accommodation, and stunning festive lights and displays. That said, there are a few things you might want to take note of if you’re coming to San Francisco in the winter.

Firstly, while San Francisco is in sunny California and boasts lovely weather most of the year, December to January can be unpredictable. It is best to pack a coat and scarf, just in case. Next, San Francisco isn’t a big city, so many people tend to walk or use public transport, however, the city does have many hills, so comfortable shoes are a must.Finally, there are a ton of popular sights and attractions in San Francisco to see and experience, so make sure you plan ahead as they can get busy in the festive season. Also, do a little research ahead of time. Knowing where to get the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge will help save you time while you get the perfect Instagram shot!

That said, the holidays also mean a time of giving and sharing, and that’s why experiences make the best gifts because they are memorable and unique. If you are looking for experience gift ideas for your friends or family, look no further! Here is your guide to the best experience gifts in San Francisco.

Top 5 San Francisco Experiences for the Adrenaline Junkie

We kick off our list of gift experiences with the most exciting ones. For the thrill seeker in your life, why not give the gift of an adrenaline-pumping experience in San Francisco? From Helicopter rides over the Golden Gate Bridge to racing down Market Street in a GoCar, there are plenty of ways to get the heart racing in The City by the Bay.

GoCar Tour

Explore San Francisco at your own pace in a GoCar, a unique three-wheeled vehicle that is part car and part scooter. With a GPS-guided audio tour, you can choose your own adventure and see all the sights of San Francisco while learning interesting facts along the way. Get the GoCar Tour for your corporate group or family members as the perfect San Francisco Gift Experience!

Helicopter Ride

Helicopter Ride arial view over the bay of San Francisco

Soar above San Francisco in a helicopter and take in the stunning views of this truly unique city. This is an unforgettable experience for any thrill seeker.

Hot Air Ballooning

Helicopter Ride arial view over the bay of San Francisco

Float gently above some of the most beautiful areas in the Bay area in a hot air balloon. Take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding scenery and get the best views of Napa Valley. 

Indoor Skydiving

A indoor skydiver and their guide at iFly

Experience the thrill of skydiving without having to jump out of a plane! Indoor skydiving is perfect for those who want to experience the adrenaline rush of skydiving without the fear of heights. If you know a friend or family member who would love to try skydiving, but they’re too scared, this is the perfect introduction.

Go Paragliding in San Francisco

Paragliding is a great way to see the city of San Francisco from a new vantage point. The bay area has so many beautiful landscapes and sights, and paragliding is an adrenaline rush that will leave anyone breathless.

San Francisco Experience Gift Guide for the Foodie

For the foodie in your life, San Francisco is the perfect place to indulge in all kinds of culinary delights. From gourmet pizzas to fresh seafood, there are plenty of delicious options to choose from.

Gourmet Pizza Tour

San Francisco is home to some of the best pizzas in the country. The tour is generally around 2 hours long and you’ll visit some of the best pizzerias in the Bay to sample a variety of local favorites.

Seafood Cooking Class

hand brushing seafood with butter

Learn how to cook fresh seafood like a pro with this hands-on cooking class. You’ll learn how to prepare and cook a variety of seafood dishes, as well as how to select the freshest seafood at the market. Where better to do this than at the best seafood spot on the West Coast?

Farm-to-Table Dinner

Experience the freshest and tastiest food in San Francisco with this farm-to-table dinner. You’ll enjoy a seasonal meal made with ingredients sourced from local farms and purveyors.

Chocolate Tasting

Ghirardelli sign and tall peak of building

San Francisco has a rich history when it comes to chocolates and boasts the oldest continuously run chocolate factory in the United States. If you know someone who loves a good piece of chocolate, buying them a gift voucher from Ghirardelli will definitely get you in their good books! There are several great chocolatiers in the city to explore.

Wine Tasting Tour

image of building at Napa Valley Wineries

Explore San Francisco’s wine country on a guided tour. You’ll visit some of the top Napa Valley wineries to sample a variety of reds, whites, and sparkling wines. Tours are great because you can relax, enjoy and leave the driving to someone else.

Experience Gift Guide for The Special Woman in your Life

Chocolate and Wine Pairing Class

Who doesn’t love wine and chocolate – now learn how to pair the two like a pro with this hands-on class. You’ll learn how to select the right wines to complement different types of chocolate, as well as how to create your own unique pairings.

Spa Day

Treat the special woman in your life to a day of relaxation at one of San Francisco’s luxurious spas. Book a variety of treatments, a bit of bubble, and a light lunch to make it a day she won’t easily forget.

Shopping Spree

San Francisco must be one of the top shopping destinations in the country. It has a variety of local artisan designers mixed with high-end brand retailers. What’s more, because locals tend to layer, you really get a variety of items and outfits.

Gourmet Dinner for Two

A romantic dinner for two at a top-rated restaurant is always a winner – especially in the Golden City. There are a number of rooftop bars and restaurants to help set the mood.

High Tea at Son and Garden

women enjoying a tea party

Want to spoil your mom, wife, and sisters? Then a not-so-traditional high tea at Son and Garden will definitely do the trick. They’ll love being spoiled to a beautiful setting and a delicious pot of tea paired with a variety of specially made delicacies to tickle any fancy!

San Francisco Experience Gift Guide for Men

If you’re looking for a gift for the man in your life that has to do with San Francisco, we’ve got you covered. Whether he was born and raised here or he just loves the city, here are some ideas that will suit any occasion.

Explore San Francisco with an Electric Moped

Two men sitting on electric mopeds near Fisherman's Wharf in SF

Maybe one of the coolest ways to explore the city, the San Francisco electric mopeds are a classic. They’re not only fun but also practical. They’re small enough to go places others can’t, you won’t get stuck in traffic, and parking will never be an issue. With this tour, he’ll get to see Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Fort Mason, Crissy Field, Fort Point, Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard “Crookedest Street”

Beer or Whiskey Tasting Tour

Explore San Francisco’s vibrant beer scene or try some of the best local whiskeys. He’ll love this unique experience. Brewery tours typically last for around 4 hours and with the whiskey tour, he’ll get to sample a variety of whiskies, from single malt to blended, and learn about the different flavor profiles of each type.

Golf lesson

Whether he’s a beginner or a seasoned pro, the special man in your life will love getting a golf lesson from a PGA instructor. He’ll learn all the basics, from proper grip and stance to swing mechanics.

Cigar Rolling Demonstration

San Francisco has a long history of cigar making and if your man loves a good cigar, he’ll love a professional demonstration of how they are rolled. Best of all, he can have the cigars as a gift, he’ll get to choose his own tobacco and customize his cigars to his taste.

Overnight Yosemite Tour 

This two-day tour takes the special man in your life on an adventure to one of America’s most iconic national parks, Yosemite. He’ll enjoy breathtaking views of the Merced River, Half Dome, and El Capitan, as well as overnight lodging at a comfortable hotel near the park. Do it together for the perfect gift experience.

Gift experiences San Francisco for Couples

San Francisco’s natural beauty, rich history, and contemporary allure make it a perfect place to enjoy each other’s company. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a fun activity to share and make memories, this city offers plenty of options that center on your loved ones.

Dinner at The French Laundry

The French Laundry Gift cards in gift boxes

Treat yourselves to a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience at The French Laundry, one of the world’s most acclaimed restaurants. They’ll enjoy a multi-course meal prepared by Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller. They also have dining gift experiences you can purchase for others.

 

SF Symphony Concert

First Violin in the SF symphony

Enjoy an evening of classical music at a San Francisco Symphony concert. Enjoy some of the world’s greatest orchestral works performed live while you sip on a glass of bubbly.

Napa Valley Wine Tour

Explore California’s wine country with the special couple in your life on this guided tour. They’ll visit three different wineries to sample a variety of reds, whites, and sparkling wines.

Private Boat Cruise

Cruise around San Francisco Bay on a private boat tour. You’ll be able to enjoy the stunning views of the city skyline and other sights like the Golden Gate Bridge. You can also opt for lunch or dinner on the boat and enjoy some drinks as the sun sets.

Salsa Dancing Lesson

There is nothing sexier than Salsa and now you can learn how to salsa dance as a couple through this fun and interactive lesson. You’ll learn all the basic steps, as well as how to lead and follow. Enjoy a fun night of dancing and then go practice in the clubs!

San Francisco Experiences for Friends and Groups

With its gorgeous bay, its lively neighborhoods, and its proximity to Silicon Valley and wine country, it’s not hard to understand why it’s a popular destination for corporate events or weekends away with friends. Here are our top ideas for bigger groups.

Dandelion Chocolate Tour

People touring inside Dandelion Chocolate

Explore the best of San Francisco’s chocolatiers on a guided tour. Your group will visit an active Chocolate Factory and learn about the history and process of making chocolate. At the end of the tour, you’ll get to sample some of Dandelion’s delicious products.

Explore Muir Woods

Discover the beauty of Muir Woods, an ancient redwood forest, with a guided tour. Your group will learn about the history and ecology of these magnificent trees, as well as enjoy the fresh air and peaceful surroundings.

Visit Alcatraz 

A must if you haven’t been there yet – take a tour of one of San Francisco’s most popular attractions, Alcatraz Island. You will learn about the history of the island and its infamous prison, as well as enjoy stunning views of the Bay Area.

Boat Cruise Around The Golden Gate Bridge

See one of San Francisco’s most iconic landmarks, the Golden Gate Bridge, from a different perspective on this boat cruise. You and your friends will enjoy stunning views of the bridge and the city skyline as you cruise around the bay. Choose between a sailboat for your more adventurous groups or a catamaran for a relaxing cruise.

Electric Moped Tour of Golden Gate Park

Explore one of San Francisco’s largest parks, Golden Gate Park, by bike with this guided tour. You and your friends will learn about the history and ecology of the park, as well as enjoy the beautiful scenery. Want an easy ride? Get electric mopeds to help a bit with the ride!

San Francisco with Kids

San Francisco is the perfect destination for a family vacation, with a rich history and tons of things to do in and around the city. As one of the most beautiful cities in America, there are countless opportunities to take advantage of the natural beauty that surrounds you. 

The city has plenty of museums to explore and parks that kids will love to play in, but it’s also an ideal place to just walk and explore together as a family. To help you get started on your trip planning, we’ve put together this list of family-friendly activities to get started with. 

Cable Car Ride

SF Cable Car with Mountain and bay in the background

Take a ride on one of San Francisco’s iconic cable cars with your kids and enjoy the views of the city. This is a great way to get around and see some of the city’s most popular sights.

California Academy of Sciences

Explore the natural world with your kids at the California Academy of Sciences, one of San Francisco’s top museums. They’ll be able to learn about animals, plants, and ecology while having fun at the same time.

Aquarium of the Bay

See all kinds of marine life up close at the Aquarium of the Bay. Your kids will be amazed by the sharks, jellyfish, and other sea creatures. They’ll also learn about the importance of ocean conservation

Golden Gate Park Children’s Garden

Take your kids to the Golden Gate Park Children’s Garden where they can explore and play in a safe and fun environment. They’ll be able to see all kinds of plants and animals and learn about gardening and ecology. There are often family days held at the park, so make sure you check out their planned events.

Cartoon Art Museum

Introduce your kids to the world of cartoons at the Cartoon Art Museum. They’ll be able to see all kinds of artwork, from classic comics to modern animation, and learn about the history of cartooning. Great for older children with an interest in creative stories and drawing.

Experience the history of San Francisco

San Francisco has a rich history, one that’s experienced and learned best through visiting its many landmarks. These are some of the top experiences to get a sense for San Francisco’s diverse culture and history.

Golden Gate Bridge Tour

Explore one of San Francisco’s most iconic landmarks, the Golden Gate Bridge, on a guided tour. You’ll learn about the history and construction of the bridge, as well as enjoy stunning views of the Bay Area

Alcatraz Tour

Take a tour of one of San Francisco’s most popular attractions, Alcatraz Island. You’ll learn about the history of the island and its infamous prison and get a unique view of the city.

Chinatown Walking Tour

Explore San Francisco’s Chinatown with a guided walking tour. You’ll learn about the culture and history of this significant community, and explore some of the neighborhood’s most iconic landmarks.

Victorian Home Tour

San Francisco is home to many beautiful Victorian-style homes. On this guided tour, you’ll see some of the city’s most well-preserved homes and learn about their history and architecture. Make sure you go to The Haas-Lilienthal House for a special look inside one of SF’s most famous Victorian homes.

Mission Dolores Tour

Mission Dolores is an iconic landmark for religious, civic, and cultural events in San Francisco. Learning about the history of San Francisco’s Mission District has to be on your to-do list if you are a history buff. You’ll visit Mission Dolores, the city’s oldest mission, and learn about the people and events that shaped this vibrant neighborhood.

San Francisco experiences are Gifts that will be remembered

In closing, the holidays are the perfect time to visit San Francisco. There is so much to see and do in this beautiful city. From exploring iconic landmarks to indulging in delicious food, there is something for everyone to enjoy.  And, when you shop for experiences instead of things, you are supporting local businesses and contributing to the community. So, this holiday season, give the gift of an experience and create memories that will last a lifetime. If you’re not sure what sort of San Francisco Experiences are right for your recipient – Check out a San Francisco GoCar Gift Card!