‘Tis the season for exploring! With crackling fires by the ocean, dazzling light displays, and local farms growing Christmas trees, the holidays are a special time here in San Mateo County and Silicon Valley. Read on for ten festive activities to add to your holiday bucket list!
1. EXPLORE HOLIDAYS AT FILOLI
Take a stroll through thousands of twinkling lights during Holidays at Filoli. From November 20 to January 2, explore the extensive gardens, shop for unique gifts, and relax by the fire while enjoying spiced cider or mulled wine. Whether you attend during the daytime, evening, or on a themed night, each offers a unique experience. During the daytime, you can experience all of the beautiful lights with the perks of a coffee bar and the Estate Trail open to exploring. For groups of 15 or more, Filoli has a special package that includes discounted rates, a group welcome and orientation, a visitor guide, and a Filoli ornament to take home.
2. EXPERIENCE APRES VILLAGE
Each year, the Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley transforms its restaurant, Quattro, into an outdoor winter wonderland at their Apres Village! The venue goes all out with festive decorations to replicate a picturesque mountainside retreat, including a sleigh and life-sized snow globe. Guests can indulge in a winter-themed menu with warming cocktails and delicious treats like cheese fondue and family-style s’mores. For groups of four, consider reserving your own semi-private, wooden chalet for the ultimate cozy experience. On Sunday evenings, enjoy fireside movies featuring holiday favorites and recent releases. Reserve your tickets for weekend evenings from 4:00 - 9:00 PM or book a private event from Monday through Thursday.
3. SKATE AT SAN MATEO ON ICE
Grab your skates and head over to San Mateo’s Central Park through January 9 for outdoor ice skating. For those looking to throw a private party, you can even book out the rink all to yourself! In addition, there will be free, community skate days on December 1, December 7, and December 15.
4. VISIT A LOCAL FARM
The beginning of the holiday season is a great time to see the bounty produced in San Mateo County, and some of our coastal farms offer unique behind-the-scenes tours. See the goats at Harley Farms Goat Dairy in Pescadero and purchase fresh cheese for your holiday spread.
5. CUT YOUR OWN CHRISTMAS TREE
Choose and cut your own Christmas tree at one of our local tree farms. In Half Moon Bay, Santa’s Tree Farm & Village has been operating for almost 50 years and grows six different types of lush trees. Running from November 20 - December 23, you can expect a unique holiday experience featuring train rides and festive activities. Nearby in Pescadero, visit Rancho Siempre Verde (RSV Trees) where you can find your perfect tree, make a fragrant wreath, and take a tractor ride.
6. TASTE WINE AT SF WINE SCHOOL
If you equate the holidays with wine, you may be interested in taking a wine class. The San Francisco Wine School has multiple in-person and virtual courses for complete beginners or more experienced wine connoisseurs. Learn how to taste and talk about wine at your next party!
7. SEE THE FESTIVAL OF TREES
The second annual Festival of Trees at Gamble Garden is a sight for all ages. On December 4 and 5, experience a wonderland of holiday trees festively decorated by Bay Area individuals, designers, and local businesses. There will also be arts & crafts, free ice cream, and other holiday treats!
8. ATTEND THE DICKENS FAIR
Drive through 1800s London at the Cow Palace! Enjoy street scenes, lively music, English foods, and handcrafted holiday gifts at the Drive-Thru Dickens Fair. You’ll also be able to purchase one-of-a-kind treasures online directly from Dickens Fair artisans.
9. COZY UP BY THE FIRE
Cozy up next to a crackling fire while sipping on spiced cider or hot chocolate. Many restaurants and hotels in the area feature fire pit for you to enjoy. Half Moon Bay Brewing Company and La Costanera are great choices for a warm fire and delicious food. Nearby, The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay also has outdoor fire pits overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
10. BLOW YOUR OWN GLASS ORNAMENT
Learn how to create two, one-of-a-kind glass ornaments to take home at Half Moon Bay Art Glass. Their classes are taught by skilled instructors and are perfect for adults and children ages 6 and up. Be sure to mention Lemon40 for a 40% discount.