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Our Holiday Favorites

San Francisco stockEvery December, when my daughters were young, they dressed up in their holiday finery – red velvet hair ribbons and patten leather shoes — and we  left the suburbs behind and crossed  the Golden Gate Bridge for a memorable  “overnight” in San Francisco.For two days we traipsed through the most elegant hotels to admire their glimmering trees, sparkling decorations, and mouth-watering gingerbread houses between ice skating and window shopping.

We never missed a visit to the Hyatt Regency to see the dramatic atrium lights and the unforgettable 1,000-piece Snow Village.  We’d walk around the model pointing out moving parts such as skiers swooshing down a snowy slope, the train ride, or Santa’s Sleigh slicing through the sky.This year it’s going to snow in San Francisco, well, kind of.

The Hyatt Regency is predicting snowfall throughout the holiday season in its dramatic, Guinness Book of World Records’ Largest Atrium Lobby in the world.   In the hotel lobby there are  thousands of cascading lights and a dramatic 45-foot tree.   Snow will fall three times a day in the hotel’s lobby, from Nov. 22 through Dec. 31, 2013. It’s free.

San Francisco stockThe “Fog City’s” vibrant spirit embraces tradition, surprises and the offbeat. Here are additional holiday ideas.

For tradition, there’s the San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker, the American Conservatory Theater’s A Christmas Carol and the vocal virtuosity of Chanticleer ( in decorated churches, cathedrals and missions,  plus outdoor ice skating, holiday teas, gingerbread houses and shopping galore.

For the offbeat, my recommendations are Beach Blanket Babylon, Kung Pao Kosher Comedy (at the New Asia Restaurant Dec. 24-26, and Dance-Along Nutcracker® Goes Hollywood!

Thirty-eight years ago the Menorah was lit in Union Square for the first time in any outside, public area celebrated outside of Israel. This year the traditional celebration continues in Union Square where a candle will be lit each day for eight days starting Nov. 27.

Celebrate in festive Filipino style and join this amazing event. More than 25 local organizations will march through Yerba Buena Lane with traditional Christmas lanterns, or parols, lighting up the neighborhood. Following the parade there will be music, games and entertainment. It’s free.

For more ideas, a guide to events, itineraries and hotel deals, go to San Francisco Travel’s special holiday website