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Food & Drink

Christmas Day in San Francisco: What’s open and things to do

A christmas tree in front of city hall.
Civic Center’s Christmas Tree stands in front of City Hall. | Source: Benjamin Fanjoy/The Standard

San Francisco is known for being a ghost town during Christmastime, as much of its population leaves for the holidays. 

For those who stay in town, however, the holiday exodus offers a chance to appreciate some of the best restaurants, theaters and other attractions the city has to offer in the company of real San Franciscans.

From historic theaters, storied Chinese food spots and celebrated parks, there’s still plenty to do on a Christmas Day jaunt.

Chinese Food

A tradition for some, particularly among Jewish Americans, is to eat out at Chinese restaurants on Christmas Day. Luckily, many of San Francisco’s premiere Chinese food spots remain open for business.

Chinatown’s House of Dim Sum, Hon’s Wun-tun House and the Mission’s Big Lantern all confirmed to The Standard they will be open for dining in and takeout. 

San Francisco Zoo

The San Francisco Zoo is open to visitors every single day of the year, including on Christmas. In fact, the zoo was so open on Christmas Day in 2007 that a tiger escaped and mauled three people, killing one. The zoo has taken extra precautions since the incident to reinforce its tiger enclosures. 

A hippo eating lettuce.
Udo is a two-year-old male pygmy hippopotamus who lives at San Francisco Zoo. | Source: May Woon/SF Zoo via Bay City News

Big Waves at Ocean Beach

If the fog permits, beachgoers may be able to witness near-20-foot waves rolling into Ocean Beach, according to the surf forecasting website Surfline. Often overlooked for its world-class surf, the Sunset neighborhood invites pro surfers from across the world during the winter months to wrangle Ocean Beach’s large swells. 

A silhouette of a man and woman.
People look toward incoming waves as heavy surf pounds Ocean Beach in October. | Source: Loren Elliott for The Standard

The Roxie Theater

One of San Francisco’s oldest movie theaters, The Roxie, is hosting a not-so-seasonal showing of the western thriller There Will Be Blood at 6:40 p.m. on Christmas Day, according to its website. A bold choice, not for the faint of heart.

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Patrons at the Roxie Theatre watch a movie. The theater will be showing There Will Be Blood on Christmas Day. | Source: Justin Katigbak for The Standard

Drink Beer and Watch the 49ers 

While many of the city’s sports pubs are set to close for Christmas Day, Blackthorn Bar on Irving Street confirmed to The Standard that it intends to open its doors at 4:30 p.m. for the San Francisco 49ers game against the Baltimore Ravens. The Hyde Out on Hyde at California will also be open for the game, starting at 2 p.m. The teams currently share the best record in the NFL, so it should make for a raucous affair.