Shopping and gourmet dining is fun for you, but boring for them. The Embarcadero is the ideal spot to do a little of both, and with the bright lights and delicious smells of the season, there’s enough excitement here to keep the little ones entertained while you indulge in some of your favorite pastimes. Hit up one or all of the following things to do at the Embarcadero this winter:

  1. Skate on ice. The outdoor holiday rink is back in business at the Justin Herman Plaza. Open daily through January 6. Admission prices are $6 to $10 and skate rentals are $3.50.
  2. Pick up some stocking stuffers at Ambassador Toys. Nominated one of the five best specialty toy stores in the United States, Ambassador Toys is chock full of educational toys, art supplies, and classic games that bring back memories.
  3. Catch a flick at the Embarcadero Center Cinema. Head to the corner of Battery and Clay to see if your animation of choice is playing.
  4. Grab farm-fresh persimmons and winter squash, as well as other seasonal produce across the street at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.
  5. Find locally made holiday gifts at the Arts and Crafts Market, open every day of the week. Handmade puppets, pendants made from Scrabble pieces, and mugs with silly inscriptions are just the beginning of what you and the kids can dig up here.
  6. Come by for a Hot Chocolate Sunday on Dec. 18, when food artisans at the Ferry Building Marketplace will create flights of five traditional hot chocolates from around the world. Think peppermint or cinnamon, dark chocolate pistoles or bittersweet ganache. Yumm! (If they prefer whipped cream and milk chocolate, The Boudin Bakery and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at Four Embarcadero Center are always a go-to.)
  7. Hunt for sculptures. A self-guided sculpture tour will lead your clan to masterpieces scattered throughout the Embarcadero. Print out the map and make it a scavenger hunt.
  8. Fill up on a few slices. Pizza Orgasmica is sure to be a hit with the little ones, as are sandwiches at Breaking Bread, crepes with chocolate and bananas at Crepe & Curry, or California rolls at Sushi Kinta.
  9. Select your sweets. Macarons at Miette? Gelato at Ciao Bella? Confections at Godiva Chocolatier? Dessert is an event in and of itself for sugar-loving families.
  10. Pose by the biggest bow and arrow in the city, Cupid’s Span, across the way at Rincon Park. Holiday card, anyone?
  11. While you’re at Rincon Park, the kids may romp the grass and pathway along the water’s edge, with a close-up view of the Bay Bridge.
  12. Catch a bike taxi. Let your hair down and someone else’s feet do the work. Catch a lift all the way to Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf or the Aquarium By the Bay.
  13. Visit the Vaillancourt Fountain. Kids love this iconic statue, with its intricate columns and water rushing out in several directions.
  14. Check out the bright lights and holiday displays at the Hyatt Regency. The hotel’s 17-story atrium lobby will be lit with 300,000 lights and a 30-foot tree.
  15. Purchase a copy of your favorite winter-themed picture book at Book Passage in theMarket Plaza.
  16. Stay into the night, when the building lights go on around the edge of the city’s tallest skyscrapers, illuminating over 17,000 bulbs.

What are your favorite winter activities along the Embarcadero? Share it with us in a comment below. 

— Renee Macalino Rutledge

Photos courtesy of  ingridtaylar via Flickr and the Embarcadero Center Facebook page.