Holiday Shopping in SF's Union Square

Holiday Shopping in SF's Union Square
Why not make your holiday shopping a vacation? San Francisco’s Union Square offers beauty, character, and fantastic stores for gift item perusal. During the month of December, there is the added bonus of holiday events and decorations to enjoy. Plan on at least one meal in the area, and be sure to slow yourself down to enjoy every second of your visit.

If you’re coming in on a day trip, you’ll need to decide if you want to drive or BART into the city. If the former, you’ll want to arrive by mid-morning to increase your chances of finding a place to leave the car. Depending on your parking karma, you might luck into one of the metered street spaces to be found on surrounding streets, or you may end up in one of the parking garages. Keep in mind that you can spend up to forty dollars a day on parking alone; for reasons of economy, it might make more sense to take BART to the city and walk the few blocks from the Powell Street station. You will have to decide how far you’re willing to carry your purchases.

If you decide to come for the weekend, there are many hotels close by to consider. This might be the weekend to splurge at one of the beautiful historic properties, or a time to seek out a more affordable choice. If you use a service such as Expedia, be sure to map out your lodging pick and estimate the amount of walking you’ll need to do (or take the time to research your transportation choices.) If you’re driving to San Francisco, be sure to add the parking prices to your budget.

To celebrate the holidays, Macy’s sponsors an outdoor Christmas tree in Union Square Park. This behemoth features seven hundred ornaments and more than 43,000 energy-saving lights, and will be shining throughout the holiday season. The first public menorah outside of Israel happened here in 1975, and the tradition has continued every Chanukah ever since. All of the department stores -- and all of the big names are here - will be decorated to make the shopping experience festive. All of this is icing on the cake; Union Square offers some of the prettiest architecture in the country, and if there isn’t an organized holiday activity going on when you are there, you may luck into a plein air art show, an ad hoc performance, or simply the chance to enjoy a seat with a view for people-watching.

When you’re ready to shop, Union Square features many specialty stores catering to those with designer tastes. Jewelry and watches? Eyewear? Shoes? Designer jeans? Just about every big name you can imagine, and a few you’ve never heard of, is here for your browsing please. If you’re wallet’s less gilded, the old stalwarts are all well-represented. Cosmetics, clothing, shoes… no matter where you shop, you’ll have that San Francisco salt air in your nostrils and a spring in your step, because the area is merry and bright for the season.

Save some energy for ice skating! The rink will be open through January 15th, offering ninety minute sessions that begin on each even hour. Admission is twelve dollars, and skate rental six more. When was the last time you skated outdoors in California? And when you are ready to re-charge, turn your attention to the wonderful culinary offerings of the area. Restaurants abound, so why not be adventurous? Wander the square and the surrounding area and pick something that sounds interesting. If you’re not that hungry, have juice, a coffee, or a drink. Breathe deep, take a moment to regenerate, and thank yourself for your time in Union Square!

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Content copyright © 2023 by Korie Beth Brown, Ph.D. . All rights reserved.
This content was written by Korie Beth Brown, Ph.D. . If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Korie Beth Brown, Ph.D. for details.