Window display at Macy's

Window display at Macy’s in Union Square

Union Square is the heart of the holidays in San Francisco. Perfect as a meeting place for families to gather for a stay at one of the grand hotels on the square, Union Square is also a great place to shop for presents or ice skate on the open-air rink. With its giant Christmas tree (and so many smaller ones), a huge menorah and the decorated Cable Cars passing by, there’s a whole lot of holiday spirit to go around.

San Francisco may not offer a White Christmas, but it does offer events and activities for everyone and plenty of places to take care of Christmas shopping all in one trip, making it a good place to usher in the holiday season.

Holiday Window Displays and SF SPCA Adoption

The window displays around the shopping district are a major draw to Union Square. One notable window display is found at Tiffany & Co., across the square from Macy’s, that feature sweet and romantic scenes and wreaths made up of those blue boxes.

At Macy’s, the windows are filled with scenes of A Magical City, which in 2014 featured an ice rink with twirling skaters, assorted animals in winter clothing, and a sleigh driven by a pug flying around the Christmas tree.

Kittens at the adoption pop-up by SF ASPCA and Macy's

The adoption pop-up by SF ASPCA and Macy’s

In addition to the holiday-themed works of art displayed in the Macy’s windows each year, there are pop-up adoption windows from the SF SPCA. Each year, puppies and kittens in need of a home hang out in the windows of Macy’s on the corner of Stockton and O’Farrell each day until 8 pm (in shifts, of course). Volunteers stand by to facilitate adoptions and take donations for the charity. The tiny animals were on display between November 21st and January 4th, and found homes for 267 animals and raised over $83,000.

The unveiling of these window displays was an event in itself. In 2014, at the unveiling of the 28th Annual Macy’s Holiday Windows on November 21, there was a special guest: The most famous cat on the internet, Grumpy Cat, posed for photos to promote the event and her Lifetime movie.

It’s a great Christmas tradition that allows a lot of pets to find homes – and is a great chance for anyone who has been thinking of adopting a pet for a while (and understands the commitment and responsibility that comes with that decision)!

Ice Skating at Union Square

Ice skating at Union Square

Ice skating at Union Square

One of the biggest attractions at Union Square during the holidays is the outdoor ice skating rink. Situated right out in the square, the rink is open daily from November 5, 2014 through January 19, 2015 (10 am to 11:30 pm).

For people from cold climates, it may seem strange to visit an outdoor ice skating rink on a warm, sunny day, and it was strange to me too, watching the ice melt into slush in the sunshine, and the skates splashing through puddles.

The ice skating sessions last 90 minutes and often sell out in advance, but even if you don’t get tickets for a session, it’s fun to watch the skaters whiz past (or, let’s be real, fall).

The cost is $11 or $7 for children 8 and under and there’s an additional $6 skate rental fee unless you’re one of the rare people who lives in the Bay Area and actually owns a pair of ice skates.

Throughout the season, there are special events held at the rink, including Glitz and Glamour Drag Queens on Ice, visits from Santa Con, and on New Year’s Day, a very California contest. The ice rink hosts a Polar Bear Skate, inviting ice skaters to wear their most festive swimsuits on ice and compete for a sweet prize package that might be worth freezing your buns off.

Here is a Map showing location of Union Square, San Francisco :

Map of Union Square, San Francisco

Union Square Map


Published On: Tuesday, December 9th, 2014