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Our Top Winter Activities for Kids in San Francisco
December 26, 2023

When colder temperatures arrive, so does the winter fun. Check out our top winter activities and holiday events for kids in San Francisco!

When it’s chilly and snowy outside, you know that wintertime is here! It is tempting to plunge into idleness with its hibernating weather, like spending long hours sitting on a couch with eyes glued on gadgets or television. It may be uncomfortable to roam outside, but kids always love to explore the outdoors to dust off their boredom. As parents, finding things to do during the winter season in San Francisco can be challenging. Fortunately, San Francisco has plenty of top fun-filled and exciting winter activities and holiday events for kids guaranteed to keep them from saying, “I’m bored!”

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San Francisco has tons of beautiful spots and attractions, epic playgrounds, and kid-friendly holiday activities and events that you can add to your family’s winter holiday itinerary. Why not check out San Francisco’s remarkable skateparks or nearest ski resort slopes for snow tubing or sledding? Perhaps take them to museums or SF zoos for fun and educational experience? Or bring them to festive shows or holiday events? With the winter activities in San Francisco, wintertime will no longer be dull but will be the kind of holiday that kids look forward to each year! 

While staying indoors in the winter season can be tempting, it is always best to preoccupy your kids with activities to keep them physically active and healthy. So, check out below our top winter activities and events in San Francisco for kids and add them to your kid’s holiday bucket list!

Our Top Winter Activities for Kids in San Francisco

Top winter activities for kids in San Francisco - Holiday Ice Rink at Union Square
Photo by: Union Square

Holiday Ice Rink at Union Square

Union Square
333 Post St., San Francisco, CA 94108
Phone number: (415) 781-2606

November 1, 2023 – Jan 15, 2024
Daily | 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM

Skating at the Safeway Holiday Ice Rink is one of the top winter activities for kids and the entire family in San Francisco. The favorite outdoor rink in San Francisco is back, with daily ice skating for all ages and special holiday events scheduled for this winter season.

General admission is $20, and children 8 and under are $15, including skate rental. Purchase tickets in advance and online.

Top winter activities for kids in San Francisco - Glow
Photo by: Exploratorium

Glow: Discover the Art of Light

Exploratorium at Pier 15
Embarcadero at Green St., San Francisco, CA 94111
Phone Number: (415) 528-4444

November 16, 2023 – January 28, 2024
Sunday (Daytime Members/Donors Only until Noon, Open to All after Noon) | 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Tuesday — Saturday | 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Thursday (Ages 18+) | 6:00 pm—10:00 pm
(Closed on Mondays)

Get curious about light this winter! Explore Exploratorium’s galleries for luminous artworks, big and small, including U.S. premieres. Touch quantum physics and play experimental LED dungeon crawlers (Robin Baumgarten). Immerse yourself in kinetic light concerts (Collectif Scale). Unveil hidden crystals and explore surprising visual landscapes (Maria Constanza Ferreira). Find your bliss beneath a vast glowing moon (Luke Jerram).

Meditate on color in motion (Chaco Kato). Compose and create large-scale sound and light experiences (Masary Studios). See yourself in mechanical mirrors (Daniel Rozin). Still light-curious? Explore color and shadows in Bechtel Gallery 3, and check out eye-opening programs for both adults and kids. Glow is one of the top winter activities and events for kids in San Francisco that you must add to your holiday season bucket list.

Iceless Skating
Photo by: Bay Area Discovery Museum

Iceless Skating

Fort Baker
557 McReynolds Rd., Sausalito, CA 94965
Phone Number: (415) 339-3900

Opens on November 18, 2023
Wednesday – Sunday | 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Special Winter Break Dates:
Sunday, December 24 (Closed Christmas Eve)
Monday, December 25 (Closed Christmas Day)
Tuesday, December 26 (Open Winter Break)
Sunday, December 31 (Open New Year’s Eve, Closing at 2 p.m. after Noon Year’s Celebration)
The museum will close early at 3 p.m. on Thursday, January 11, for staff training.

Experience a winter wonderland in the Bay Area! Glide, twirl, and wobble across an iceless pond as you take in the breathtaking sights of the Northern Lights. Enjoy all the ice skating fun without the cold or fear of falling. Help your child put on their “skates” (double-edged Velcro clip-ons that go over their shoes), slip on some shoe covers yourself, and go gliding together around the small rink – a great and very safe way for them to practice their balance and gliding technique.

Stretch your imagination and discover more this winter under the Golden Gate Bridge. Share meaningful moments with your loved ones and explore Bay Area Discovery Museum’s 7.5 acres of interactive exhibits designed for children ages 6 months-8 years old. The Bay Area Discovery Museum’s iceless skating rink is a great novelty for little ones visiting the museum.

Winter events in San Francisco this holiday season - Fairmont Gingerbread House
Photo by: Fairmont

Fairmont Gingerbread House

Fairmont San Francisco
950 Mason St., San Francisco, CA 94108
Phone Number: (415) 772-5000

November 24, 2023 – January 1, 2024
Monday — Tuesday | 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Wednesday – Sunday | 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM

The holidays wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the two-story-high Victorian Gingerbread House built in the lobby of the Fairmont San Francisco. Decorated with beautiful lights, piped in white icing, and finished with far too many sweets to count, your little one will be amazed by the life-sized structure that dazzles everyone who sees it. 

A visit to the Fairmount will soon become a family tradition, with adults enjoying a glass of bubbles and the familiar smell of the festive treat. However, we do advise resisting the temptation to eat gingerbread.

Holiday events in San Francisco this winter season - Illuminate SF Festival of Lights
Photo by: Illuminate SF Festival of Lights

Illuminate SF Festival of Lights

San Francisco, CA 94118
Phone Number: (415) 824-0386

November 25, 2023 – January 31, 2024

This urban lights festival is in its ninth year and offers 44 eco-friendly displays that are all accessible by public transportation within San Francisco’s 49 square miles. Pick from 17 neighborhoods to explore and take the free guided tour to learn more about the artists who have brought these installations to life. 

You can also find these glowing works of art in well-known museums such as the Contemporary Jewish Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Salesforce Transit Center, and even the San Francisco International Airport. The bustling art scene in San Francisco means there’s creativity in every corner of the city.

Winter events in San Francisco this holiday season - Panto in the Presidio
Photo by: Presidio Theatre Performing Arts Center

Panto in the Presidio

Presidio Theatre Performing Arts Center
99 Moraga Ave., San Francisco, CA 94129
Phone Number: (415) 960-3949

November 25 – December 30, 2023
Select Days | 1:00 PM | 6:00 PM

“Do you need a new annual holiday tradition? Look no further than Presidio Theatre’s pantomime production of Sleeping Beauty.” Sleeping Beauty returns to Panto in the Presidio this holiday season after a sold-out final week last year. Directed by Liam Vincent, choreography by Stacey Printz, and musical direction by Bill Keck. Now in its third year, Panto in the Presidio has delighted over 15,000 audience members, young and old.

Panto in the Presidio is a uniquely San Franciscan twist on the most popular form of theatre in the world. British holiday pantomimes, more commonly known as pantos, are live performances featuring parodies of popular children’s stories and folklore. Although panto started in England, today millions of people flock to them across the globe. If this is your first time, you’re in for a treat!

Winter activities for kids in San Francisco - Entwined
Photo by: Charles Gadeken

Entwined: Elder Mother

Peacock Meadow, Golden Gate Park
240 John F Kennedy Dr., San Francisco, CA 94117
Phone Number: (415) 831-5500

December 7, 2023 – April 28, 2024
Viewing is free and open to the public day and night. Illumination takes place from sunset to park closing.

Entwined’s forest of illuminated color has lit up Peacock Meadow in Golden Gate Park every winter since 2020, immersing park visitors in a realm of art, technology, and nature. In 2023, the installation returns as Entwined: Elder Mother, a new iteration of the art installation that features a monumental shade-bearing tree that moves in the wind.

Inspired by nature, this interactive art installation will connect and enchant visitors of all ages. The trees range from 12 to 20 feet tall, with illuminated canopies as large as 30 feet, filling the meadow with changing light. Sculptures of 2,000 LED lights cluster into small flowering bushes at varying heights, filling the green space with peaks and valleys of radiating light.

Winter activities for kids - San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker
Photo by: San Francisco Ballet

San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker

War Memorial Opera House
301 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone Number: (415) 861-5600

December 13-30, 2023
Daily (Time Varies) | 11:00 AM | 2:00 PM | 4:00 PM | 7:00 PM

Experience the magical winter wonderland of toy soldiers, King of the Mice, Sugar Plum Fairy, and so much more. This dazzling production is a kaleidoscope of over 150 dancers accompanied by the SF Ballet Orchestra performing Tchaikovsky’s beloved score. Create everlasting memories with loved ones.

The 2004 premiere of Helgi Tomasson’s Nutcracker was made possible by Lead Sponsors The Herbert Family and The Swanson Foundation and Sponsors Yurie and Carl Pascarella, Kathleen Scutchfield, and The Smelick Family.

Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze
Photo by: Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze

Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze

Pier 39
0-11 Beach St, San Francisco, CA 94111
Phone Number: (415) 835-0019

All-Year-Round
Monday – Sunday | 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Can you find your way out of the infinite mirror maze? Whether you are visiting San Francisco or live here, Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze is an attraction you must experience. Step inside the endless rows of glowing arches and get ready to lose track of time as you wander (or run around after your preschooler) through the psychedelic maze. Perfect for all the family, you’ll enjoy the challenge of escape as the 70 mirrors and fluorescent lights try to disorient you.

It’s a great and low-cost way to spend the afternoon and children under 5 enter for free! But remember to keep your little ones close as you enter the maze! SF Weekly says Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze “is possibly the most psychedelic place one can legally reach within the city limits. Black lights set this labyrinth of mirrors a glow, making you completely lose track of where you are and where you are trying to go. Plus, they let you stay and trip out as long as you want.”

Museum of 3D Illusions
Photo by: Museum of 3D Illusions

Museum of 3D Illusions

55-61 Jefferson St., San Francisco, CA 94133
Phone number: (888) 386-5585

All-Year-Round
Monday – Friday | 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Saturday | 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Sunday | 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM

This winter season, the newest fun-filled place to enjoy lots of activities for kids has finally arrived in San Francisco! Museums in the Bay City are known for their inspiring, world-class art, but nowhere will you have as much fun exploring the art world as at the Museum of Illusions. This museum is designed to let visitors’ imaginations soar, surfing epic waves, flying through the sky like Mary Poppins, or living like a Lilliputian in a dollhouse.

Anything is possible in our lavish dreamscape, making the Museum of Illusions the most fun museum in San Francisco. Don’t miss out on this fantastic experience for an amazing deal! Bring your families, friends, and loved ones and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Winter Activities for Kids in San Francisco

The winter season in San Francisco is always something to look forward to in the Bay Area. Since most of the year is sunny, the cold season provides a break from high temperatures and a chance to look for some chilly things to do outdoors. It doesn’t get better than having some time off to have fun and enjoy quality time with family.

It’s a good thing that San Francisco has an endless supply of fun-filled winter activities and holiday events for kids who are just a short drive away from home. From ice skating to winter wonderlands and everything in between, a San Francisco winter season is something to embrace!

San Francisco offers so many opportunities for kids to enjoy and have fun all year round! Check out our list of resources, or browse through our things to do in San Francisco with kids. Still looking for more activities for kids in San Francisco? No problem! Check out our comprehensive listing of places to go in the region and our highly recommended seasonal blog posts.

Parents Love Browsing Our Kid’s Events

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