If you’re looking for a scenic spot to take a winter getaway and you want all of the activities, culture and cuisine that a big city has to offer, think about a trip to San Francisco.
The winter months are fairly mild and perfect traveling weather if you don’t mind a sweater or extra layer of clothing while exploring the City by the Bay. You’ll be rewarded with fewer crowds and views of iconic sights like the Golden Gate Bridge without the fog that shrouds them at other times of the year.
One of the best places to see the 81-year-old bridge is from the Presidio, a 1,500-acre site on the northern tip of the San Francisco peninsula that was once a Spanish fort and later a U.S. Army post. It is now a national park. In addition to businesses, the sprawling complex is home to hiking trails, a golf course, restaurants and the Walt Disney Family Museum. The museum traces Mr. Disney’s life and legacy through family photographs and other memorabilia, including early drawings of Mickey Mouse and a model of Disneyland.
Wintertime events include SF Sketchfest, a comedy festival that mixes national headliners with local favorites, as well as up-and-coming comedy troupes from throughout North America.
In 2019, the festival takes place from Jan. 10-27. Restaurant Week returns in January, with more than 100 establishments around the city offering fixed-price menus for lunch and dinner. A highlight of the winter season in San Francisco is the Chinese New Year Festival, one of the world’s largest.
Numerous events are planned for February and March, including the Grand Parade, with its 28-foot-long Golden Dragon, on Feb. 23.
Of course you’ll want to do all of the things that make a trip to San Francisco unique, like taking a thrilling ride up and down the city’s hills on a cable car, and seeing the sea lions that spend their days lounging at Fisherman’s Wharf. Visit the shops and, of course, sample some chocolate in nearby Ghirardelli Square. Be sure to try some sourdough bread, a staple during the California Gold Rush of 1849.
Connoisseurs of Irish coffee should head to the Buena Vista Café, which brought the drink to America in the 1950s. And fans of literature will want to make a pilgrimage to the Italian-American North Beach neighborhood, home to the storied City Lights Bookstore, a meeting place since 1953.
There’s also much to see outside of San Francisco. To enjoy the northern California scenery, rent a car and take a drive to Monterey, immortalized in the novels of John Steinbeck and home of the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Fisherman’s Wharf and the area around the aquarium are filled with shops and restaurants and are great for browsing. The Dungeness crab season begins in mid-November, and you can enjoy the regional specialty prized for its sweet and delicate flavor at one of Monterey’s many seafood restaurants.