With so many things closed due to the pandemic, it's hard not to get in the holiday spirit like we usually do. Travel has been halted and the only way we can see our family safely is through video conferencing apps like Facetime or Zoom. Many families will have to celebrate within their own household instead of large gatherings to prevent the risk of COVID-19. Nonetheless, there are a few festivities in the Bay Area to get your spirits up and warm up your holiday spirit to prepare for the upcoming year.
Tom and Jerry House (San Francisco)
If you are a native of San Francisco, you definitely heard of the infamous Tom & Jerry Victorian House located at Dolores Heights. Featuring a 65 feet Christmas tree (which is actually real!) and decorated head to toe with huge presents and ornaments, this is a house you do not want to miss. Jam-packed with decorations, you'll see Nutcracker soldiers, life-sized stuffed animals, lego made roller coasters, and especially two gigantic stockings for Tom and Jerry in the front. Make sure to wear a mask as you approach the house and observe all the decorations. Everything is decorated over the top and brings in the feeling of a lifesized "ugly Christmas' sweater. This house is the definition of holiday spirit and something we can all use during this hard time. Tom and Jerry have done this for almost 30 years but unfortunately, Tom passed away earlier this October, and Jerry is still keeping the tradition alive.
Entwined (San Francisco)
Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be in the middle of an enchanted forest and be surrounded by lights? Well, you're in luck since Entwined, an art installation, recently opened up in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park designed by Charles Gadeken to celebrate the park's 150th anniversary. Filled with trees towering over you and entwined with LED lights, you'll be whisk into the magical world of a whimsical wonderland. The installation will be here until February 28 and is free to the public so there is still plenty of time to visit for an evening stroll.
Illuminate SF (San Francisco)
Sprinkled throughout San Francisco, you can find over 40 light art installations from 30+ different artists in the city. The installations will be up until January 23rd and are completely free for you to discover. Lights starting from the Bay Bridge to the Salesforce Transit Center and Tower to the side of Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, you can find these installations in different neighborhoods and popular landmarks. This map shows where they are all located and a fun idea is to make it a game to see how many you can spot before the time is up! You'll fall in love with all the different sayings and lovely lights all around the city. My favorite installation is the 'Love Over Rules' in the Yerba Buena neighborhood.
Christmas in the Park (San Jose)
If you visited Christmas in the Park throughout the years, it used to be located in downtown San Jose at the Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park filled with trees decorated from different communities and organizations. One of my favorite things to do is go ice skating at the rink across the street or grab a cup of hot chocolate with a melting snowman on top. Due to COVID-19, it has been converted to a drive-thru holiday experience at History Park and you will have to reserve a $10 - $20 ticket before you attend. While things have changed, this offers a safer way to see all the hundreds of Christmas trees and lights. This is a different experience from the past years but you still get to experience the festivity and enjoy all the lights while in the comfort and safety of your own car. This will last until January 3rd so make sure to get tickets ahead of time.
Crippsmas Place (Fremont)
In Fremont, there is a neighborhood where many houses are decorated with lights and cutouts to create a light display for a self-walking tour. With all the COVID-19 regulations, drive through where you can go through five streets and check out over 80 homes in the Crippsmas neighborhood. This event has been going on ever since 1967 and will be raising money for these six charities so if you can, please try to donate and support them. You can find more information on their website.
- Leukemia-Lymphoma Society
- SAVE (Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments)
- HERS Breast Cancer Foundation
- Adopt an Angel (for children in Alameda County’s Child Protective Services)
- Ohlone Humane Society’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
- Fremont Family Resource Center
Christmas Tree Lane (Alameda)
Alameda's most popular street during the holiday season is at 3200 Thompson Ave. As you slowly drive by the neighborhood, keep your eyes out for all the character cutouts and see who you recognized. You can choose to look at the houses from afar - just make sure to wear a mask and stay six feet from another group. There is usually a Santa Claus at Christmas Tree Lane however they added a mailbox so kids can drop off their letters and get a response which is a fun holiday idea. The lights will be on until New Year's Eve so make sure to stop by and play some holiday music and set the tone before the new year comes right around the corner.
Make sure to follow the city's guidelines and regulations to prevent the risk of COVID-19. Keep in mind that the entire Bay Area is still in lockdown until January 4th so please abide by the local rules. If you can, attend the events that have drive-thru options and avoid the ones where you have to be outside. Wishing everyone a festive holiday season and I hope you enjoy these recommendations where you can still reign in the holiday spirit while doing it safely before they are gone.
Am I missing any places that should've been on this list? I would love to read more recommendations and see if I can also attend if they are still happening. Follow my page for more articles about food, travel, and lifestyle in the Bay Area. #nbholidaycheer