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Winter Wonderland: Holiday Magic in San Francisco

The Westin St. Francis

If you’re looking for a big city escape to get you in the holiday spirit, look no further than San Francisco. The City by the Bay definitely dazzles this time of year, and The Westin St. Francis is particularly pleasing—thanks to holiday happenings and festive décor aplenty, like their magnificent Sugar Castle, POP! Lounge, and Sweet Boutique. Add to that a Union Square location that’s just steps away from the Safeway Holiday Ice Rink and all the city’s top shops, plus a plethora of festive hotel packages, and it’s the perfect place to celebrate the season. Here’s a roundup of all the fun festivities.


Sugar Castle


Through January 2

Sugar Castle

San Francisco’s largest Sugar Castle, created by Executive Pastry Chef Jean-Francois Houdré, is a magnificent 12-foot-tall rotating masterpiece that grows larger and more spectacular each year. Resembling a French chateau from Chef Houdré’s hometown of Bordeaux, the castle weighs more than 1,200 pounds and features over 20 grand circular towers, approximately 30 rooms, illuminated windows, and is surrounded by a quaint village and running train.


Through December 18

Sweet Boutique

Visions of sugarplums come to life at this beloved Sweet Boutique. Located in the Landmark Lobby, Executive Pastry Chef Jean-Francois Houdré and his team satisfy sweet tooths Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. with a selection of freshly baked decorative cookies, orange-scented shortbread, gingerbread men, holiday Parisian macarons, and other items. For those who want to take home a piece of the sugar castle, gingerbread “castle bites” are available for purchase.


POP! Lounge


Through December 18

POP! Lounge 

Those seeking a luxurious respite from Union Square shopping can toast to the holidays at POP! Lounge, a glamorous pop-up champagne bar tucked away just off the Landmark Lobby. This sophisticated space—open from 1-7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and noon-6 p.m. on Sundays—boasts expansive windows overlooking the Macy’s holiday tree, the ice rink, and the iconic cable cars. The menu offers champagne, beer, non-alcoholic drinks, and small bites. Guests can order at the bar and then settle into one of the cozy communal areas or social tables. Rotating DJs add to the lively atmosphere. 


December 10

Breakfast with Santa

Bring the family for a special visit with Santa from 9 a.m.-noon overlooking the San Francisco skyline. Enjoy keepsake photos with St. Nick, a delicious breakfast buffet (mimosas included for adults) and a holiday-themed craft. $90 for adults and $65 for children. Click here for reservations. 


December 10-11 & 17-18

St. Francis Holiday Tea

The elegant St. Francis Holiday Tea, served from 1:30-3:30 p.m., includes a choice of fine artisan teas accompanied by a selection of tea sandwiches, assorted petit fours, and freshly baked scones with seasonal berries, Devonshire-blend cream, and preserves. Guests may also choose the Royal Tea, which includes a glass of Gloria Ferrer or the Elite Tea with a 375 ml. bottle. Prices start at $85 per person. Click here for reservations. 


Dollie + Me Holiday Tea


December 17 & 18

Dollie + Me Holiday Tea

Get all “dolled” up and join Kit & Sis for a mother-daughter afternoon of tea, crafting, and fa-la-la-la fun from noon-2 p.m.! This special experience includes a lively holiday dollie crafting event accompanied by assorted teas, hot chocolate, sweet treats, and tea sandwiches (plus a glass of champagne for adults). Recommended for children ages 5+. Children must bring their own doll or stuffed animal. $90 per person. Click here for reservations. 

By Megan Wiskus