If the thought of exploring San Francisco puts you in a sunny state of mind, consider the options waiting in its bustling shopping district, Union Square. The downtown destination has something for everyone this winter, starting with these five can’t-miss activities.
1. Ice skating at Holiday Ice Rink
The public ice rink, open through mid-January, is the perfect place to work on those double axels and salchows. Or, hey, just glide along and take in views of adjacent Macy’s department store, which is lit up and decked out with wreaths for the holiday. Skating sessions last 90 minutes and begin at the start of every even hour.
2. Brunch at Postrio Café and Bar
The classic restaurant became even more iconic when it began serving brunch this fall. Every Sunday, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., settle in for live jazz music and a buffet crowned with favorites like Wagyu top round roast beef, brioche French toast, and Loch Duart salmon. The price of $40/person includes champagne, coffee, and juice; kids (ages 12 and under) eat for $20 and get unlimited sparkling cider. For reservations, call 415-776-7825
3. Tea at Sir Francis Drake Hotel
The landmark hotel’s 20-foot-tall Christmas tree makes spirits bright. And sparking your appetite is its afternoon tea service, with a menu created by Scala’s Bistro chefs (and Top Chef contestants) Jen Biesty and Tim Nugent. It’s offered on limited days (Dec. 11, 12 18, & 19) from 1-4 p.m., so make reservations now. Adults, $40; children, $20. For reservations, call 415-395-8555.
4. Window displays at Barneys New York
Linger outside the designer shop for a peek at its artistically decorated windows tied into the theme “Have a Foodie Holiday.” Even non-gourmets will love the caricatures (some of them 3-D) of more than 60 of the country’s best-known chefs, including Ina Garten, Anthony Bourdain, Sir Thomas Keller, and Paula Deen.
5. Gift shopping at Gump’s
What started in 1861 as a mirror and frame shop is now San Francisco’s world-renown source for high-end gifts, jewelry, and home décor. While you can browse their catalog online (warning: addiction alert), nothing beats roaming the flagship store, where wooden Buddha statues cozy up with architectural prints of Golden Gate Bridge, and silk scarves keep company with glass wine jugs.
For more info on happenings in Union Square and beyond, visit the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau at sfcvb.org.
Photo of Union Square: Jerry Jasmine / Courtesy of San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau