San Francisco is celebrating winter and the holiday season in style. If you can't think of one reason to visit, try 100 reasons instead.
The San Francisco Holiday Fest (tel. 888/330-6739; www.sfholidayfest.com) which is put on by The San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau is a program that includes 100 festive events, sports, exhibitions, family favorites and cultural activities taking place in the city during the month of December plus a series of other incentives to get you to the Golden Gate city this winter.
Book two nights accommodation at any of a long list of hotels in San Francisco and receive a complimentary VIP Holiday Gift Kit worth over $50 (plus additional discounts if you purchase using your Visa card -- the sponsor of the program). With 237 hotels to choose from, starting as low as $49 a night, you are sure to find accommodation or an accommodation and attractions package that suits your taste and budget.
For example, during the month of December stay at the historic The Andrews Hotel, an ornate Queen Anne Victorian building originally designed as the opulent Sultan Turkish Baths from $79 per night. Or bed down at the Argonaut Hotel located on the waterfront near Fisherman's Wharf, for only $129 a night.
An accommodation package at the Bay Bridge Inn, a budget hotel that offers free parking, free coffee and pastries and free wireless Internet is only $62 per night. As a bonus, the package also includes two Adult Wax Museum and Bay Cruise Combo passes. The Museum at Fisherman's Wharf is also a state-of-the-art retail, dining and entertainment venue, with a unique themed restaurant featuring giant aquariums and a two-story indoor waterfall. This deal is available until December 31, 2005.
Two night packages at the Grant Hotel include accommodation and two San Francisco CityPass tickets for $102 per person or get two-nights accommodation and a Gray Line San Francisco Deluxe City tour for two adults for $96 per person. These deals are available until December 21, 2005.
For $118 per person enjoy two-nights at the Cartwright Hotel on Union Square plus two adult tickets on the Red and White Fleet Golden Gate one-hour Bay Cruise. Valid for stays until December 31, 2005.
Some Holiday Fest cultural highlights include:
Holiday Mochi (Rice) Pounding Ceremony (tel. 415/922-9300; www.jtowntaskforce.org). The echoing sounds of Mochi pounding ceremonies will resonate in the Japantown Peace Plaza, near the Japan Center at 1pm and 4.30pm on December 18, 2005. Mochi symbolizes happiness and good fortune and is key element of Japanese New Year festivities. Taiko drum beats set the pace while Mochi pounders demonstrate their skills, strength and quick footwork wielding long-handled wooden mallets and pounding large quantities of steaming rice into a thick paste. This event is free.
For a different take on Christmas, try the 13th Annual Kung Pao Kosher Comedy at the New Asia Restaurant (tel. 415/522-3737; www.koshercomedy.com), an "Only in San Francisco" tradition, a Jewish comedy on Christmas in a Chinese restaurant. A hilarious (and delicious) alternative to "Jingle Bells" and "The Nutcracker." Performances are nightly between December 22 and 25, 2005 and costs approximately $40 to $60 per person.
Or how about going ice-skating under a million stars and 17,000 lights at the Embarcadero Center (tel. 415/956-2688; www.embarcaderocenter.com)? San Francisco's version of Rockefeller Center, skate till late (10pm or 11.30pm on weekends) surrounded by the illumination of San Francisco's office towers and skyline. Cost is $7 on weekdays and $7.50 on weekends for adults and $3.50 / $4 for children. The Kristi Yamaguchi Ice Rink is open daily until January 1, 2006.
From now until December 30 (except December 24 and 25) experience the quintessential San Francisco tour with the Holiday Lights cable Car Tour (tel. 800/562-7383; www.cablecarfuntours.com/holiday.htm). Enjoy the holiday highlights of the city from a festive motorized cable car and visit such notable sites as Fisherman's Wharf, Nob Hill, Ghirardelli Square, Embarcadero Center, Union Square, Broadway Street and the holiday lights of the Pacific Heights mansions. The 90-minute tours costs $23 for adults, $21 for children over 11 and seniors, or $12 for kids under 11.
And as a grand finale to the month of December ring in 2006 with the annual spectacular fireworks display on the waterfront at Fisherman's Wharf (tel. 415/674-7503; www.fishermanswharf.org).
For more information to help you plan your San Francisco getaway, visit www.frommers.com/destinations/sanfrancisco.
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