Maybe you don’t celebrate Christmas or you have no idea what you’re going to do with the kids once all the presents have been opened (that would be around 7 a.m.). Maybe you’re getting cabin fever at the thought of all that togetherness in a living room strewn with candy canes and gift wrap. Whatever the case, here’s your Christmas miracle: a list of places around the Bay Area that are open on December 25. From ice rinks to science museums to holiday light shows, the Bay Area has a surprising number of ways to spread good cheer on Christmas Day.

photo: SF Zoo

Visit the Animals at the SF Zoo
The San Francisco Zoo & Gardens is open all day on Christmas Day, so your little elves can see how the animals celebrate Christmas. Don’t miss some very special visitors at the Playfield Lawn: Santa’s reindeer! After a long holiday season, Santa has sent his favorite reindeer, “Belle”, “Holly” and “Peppermint” to the zoo for some hard-earned R&R. The SF Zoo’s Reindeer Romp is open until January 1. The zoo is open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Christmas Day; regular admission applies.

See the Holly and the Ivy
Create a new holiday tradition wandering through the landscaped gardens and open spaces of the SF Botanical Gardens. With 8,000 plants and flowers to discover and 55 acres to explore, you’ll walk off that Christmas ham in no time. The garden is open from 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Bonus: admission is free on Christmas and New Year’s Day.

photo: Bowlero

Go Bowling
We may not be able to throw snowballs in the Bay Area, but we can still knock down pins. Take the family bowling at Presidio Bowl, open noon till midnight on Christmas Day. Your little ones will be delighted to find food favorites like hot dogs, burgers and PB&J, while parents will appreciate the wine and beer selection after a long day of holiday merriment. If you live further south, head over to Bowlero, also open noon till midnight on Christmas Day. Their neon-lit lanes and 1950’s vibe are sure to get the good times rolling.

Find Your Zen
Enjoy a moment of tranquility on a crazy day at San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden. Located in Golden Gate Park, this beautifully landscaped Japanese-style garden features an arched drum bridge, pagodas, stone lanterns, stepping stone paths, native Japanese plants, serene koi ponds and a zen garden. Their Tea House serves soothing cups of tea (perfect after all that rich Christmas food) and light Japanese-style snacks. The garden is open every day of the year, 9 a.m.–4:45 p.m. in the winter. Bonus: admission is free on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays if you enter the garden by 10 a.m. Christmas falls on a Monday this year, so arrive early!

photo: The Palace Hotel

Have some Figgy Pudding
Turn those visions of sugarplums into reality (and skip all the cooking) by heading to a fancy hotel for brunch. The Palace Hotel in San Francisco serves a Christmas Day Brunch featuring crepes, a carving station and an amazing array of cuisines (10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., call 415-546-5089 to make reservations). Don’t want to drive up to SF? Treat your family to Christmas Brunch at the Fairmont San Jose. This San Jose institution will be serving up a Christmas Brunch at the Fountain Restaurant (10 a.m.–3 p.m.) as well as a Christmas Feast in the Imperial Ballroom (10 a.m.–2 p.m.). Also, the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay offers a family holiday brunch complete with Santa Claus and where kids under 4 eat free, from noon–2:30 p.m.

Learn about life in the Polar Regions
The CA Academy of Science stays open 365 days a year because learning doesn’t stop, even on Christmas Day. Don’t miss their annual holiday exhibit, ‘Tis the Season for Science. Visitors will learn about snowflake geometry, the northern lights and reindeer. You can even meet Velvet and Tinsel, two of Santa’s reindeer! New this year, the Academy has an outdoor ice rink, so book a skating session with your admission tickets and enjoy a twirl or two on the ice.

photo: Madame Tussauds

Snap a selfie with Taylor Swift
Hang out with the stars at Madame Tussauds. Their hand-sculpted wax figures are so lifelile, your little ones may not be able to tell the difference. Their newest resident, Taylor Swift, is donning a cat sweater to celebrate the season, making this the perfect photo opp for your young Tay-Tay fans. Come pose, “play DJ” and celebrate “Swiftmas” in style! Madame Tussauds is located in Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco. The museum is open 10 a.m.–7 p.m on Christmas Day.

See the Bright Lights
From the famous Tom & Jerry House to a cemetery lights display, the Bay Area has plenty of bulbs burning brightly throughout Christmas night. Click here for our guide to the best and the brightest in the Bay.

photo: David Yu

Work That Figure 8
Make Christmas Day cool with a turn on the ice. There are a handful of ice rinks up and down the Bay Area open on Christmas Day, so take your pick! Skate in the heart of Union Square or with a view of the Ferry Building, or head south and show off your double axels in San Jose at Downtown Ice, the South Bay’s largest seasonal outdoor skating rink. It’s open on Christmas Day from 2 p.m. to midnight.

Rock Out at the Contemporary Jewish Museum
The Contemporary Jewish Museum‘s free annual Community Day has become an annual tradition for Bay Area families. Where else can families view contemporary art, explore Jewish culture, create art and dance to live music on Christmas Day? Make sure you get tickets to Alison Faith Levy and her Big Time Tot Rock Band. They play at 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., and tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The CJM is open on December 25 from 11 a.m.–4 p.m..

photo credit, Ana Picazophoto: Ana Picazo 

Visit Christmas in the Park, On Christmas
San Jose’s beloved annual holiday extravaganza is open on Christmas Day from 9 a.m. to midnight. Cesar Chavez Park transforms into a winter wonderland filled with animated holiday-themed exhibits, decorated trees and a holiday train. Don’t miss the trees and tiny houses decorated by local school groups, community members and businesses. The whole park is bursting with Christmas Spirit, so don your gay apparel and see why Bay Area families have been enjoying Christmas in the Park for over 35 years. Christmas in the Park is open from 9 a.m. to midnight through January 7, 2018, and admission is free.

Laugh Your Socks Off
San Francisco’s longest-running comedy show answers the age-old question, “What are Jews supposed to do on Christmas?” The Kung Pao Kosher Comedy is celebrating its 25th year with performances featuring top Jewish comedians. The show is held at, where else, a Chinese restaurant, with dinner or cocktails preceding the 90-minute show. Choose from a 5 p.m. seven-course dinner seating for $72/person or 8:30 p.m. cocktail show with veggie Dim Sum for $52. “Jewish comedy on Xmas” runs on December 24, 25 & 26 at the New Asia Restaurant in San Francisco’s Chinatown. The show is geared toward adults, but children 6 and up are allowed

Do you know of any other places open on December 25? Share the 411 in a comment!


—Ana Picazo




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