Winter Activities » San Francisco, CA

Winter Activities in San Francisco, CA

From whale watching to New Year's events, you can warm up with the hottest winter activities in San Francisco, CA during the coldest time of the year.
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Yerba Buena Gardens Ice Skating

Whether you’re looking for time on the ice or to take in the stunning views of the city, the Yerba Buena Gardens Ice Skating and Bowling Center offers year-round access to ice skating, regardless of the season. It’s free to watch ice skaters, figure skaters, and hockey players take the ice, but, skate rentals are available for those wanting to get in on the fun. If you’re a beginner and are worried about getting stuck on the ice, plenty of openings allow you to take a break when you need it. The Gardens also feature bowling, a performing arts center, a playground, a carousel, and a water park.

City Lights Cruise

The Red and White Fleet offers cruises around the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and more during the winter season, dubbed the City Lights Cruise. This two-hour cruise offers spectacular views of the city skyline at night, while a hearty buffet, drinks, and live music keep the ambiance enjoyable. You can cozy up indoors to take advantage of the heat and still scope out the view through large windows, but if you plan to venture out to outdoor viewing decks, be sure to dress warm. There are also plenty of discounts on the web, so do some surfing before you purchase your tickets.

Wattle Creek Winery Tasting Room

When the weather is chilly outside, warm up your insides with a wine tasting session at Wattle Creek Winery, located in Ghirardelli Square. Although not a must, doing a little research about the winery and their selections before you head in will help you customize your tasting. And, even if you don’t join the Wattle Creek Winery Wine Club, ask to try the Reserve Sparkling Syrah; it is usually only sold to members, but it is a wine you won’t want to leave without! From the friendly staff to the convenient location, the Wattle Creek Winery Tasting Room is a stop every local and tourist alike is sure to love.

Alcatraz Annual Winter Swim

If you are a strong swimmer and love the idea of taking a dip in San Francisco’s 50-degree winter waters, then sign up for the next Alcatraz Annual Winter Swim. This non-competitive swim event offers no guarantees, as conditions can be calm with perfect visibility or stormy with high winds. In addition, this event is limited to 35 swimmers, so you’ll need to register in advance because no same day registrations will be accepted. And, regardless of whether you finish first or last, the sense of accomplishment for yourself and the comradery with the other swimmers is an award in itself.

Point Reyes Whale Watching

Grab your coat and some stable walking shoes for some of the best views of Gray Whales in the Bay Area. San Francisco is known for its fog during the summer, but during the winter, the clear views at Point Reyes around Chimney Rock and the Lighthouse are hot spots for whale watching. You’ll need to watch your step, but the views make it worth the anxiety of the cliffs you’ll have to walk along. The roads are closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays as the shuttle is in service during the winter months, and shuttle tickets must be purchased at the Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center at Drakes Beach. Also note that the trails to Chimney Rock and the Lighthouse are not wheelchair accessible.