Although we live only 38 miles south of San Francisco, there is one time a year we book a hotel room in the city and stay the night — during the holiday season. For almost a decade now, Hilton San Francisco Union Square has been part of our family slumber party. Here’s why we go back again and again and again:

VISIONS OF SUGAR PLUMS DANCE IN OUR HEADS

From the moment we arrive, it is clear that we are in for a treat; the hotel’s lobby is bedecked in holiday decorations including an elaborate gingerbread village with a train traveling through it. My son looks forward to seeing it and noting any additions or changes to it every year.

WALK TO A MAGICAL HOLIDAY SCENE

San Francisco’s upscale shopping district of Union Square is just a five-minute walk from the hotel. It is filled with extravagant window displays trimmed in holiday themes and shoppers toting bags filled with gifts. Should your visit coincide with Hanukkah, a stunning 25-foot tall mahogany menorah built by the late Bill Graham, a well-known Bay Area concert promoter, is lit each night of the eight-day Jewish festival of light.

In the center of the square, a more than 80-foot Christmas tree is loaded with 1,500 ornaments and 33,000 twinkling LED lights which sparkle upon the Holiday Ice Rink. In true San Francisco fashion, there are all sorts of characters around the square. We have run into the Angel of Christmas, a rather ragged looking Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, and Santa himself!

We have also been lucky enough to continue enjoying a view of the festival holiday lights from this scene while tucked into our beds in our Hilton hotel room, a moment that inspired many holiday stories before saying good night.

THE THEATER DISTRICT IS CLOSE BY

The Geary Theater is a two-minute walk from the Hilton’s front door, the Marines’ Memorial Theateris four minutes, and the Orpheum is 11 minutes away. We have enjoyed stage productions of classics like A Christmas Carol and How the Grinch Stole Christmas in these splendid theaters. These venues once featured vaudeville, silent films, musical comedy, and theatrical entertainment that starred actors like Clark Gable and Marlene Dietrich.

A VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS TRADITION IS JUST A CAB RIDE AWAY

Head to San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House for the Nutcracker. Audiences have made the San Francisco Ballet’s sparkling production featuring young Clara and a cast of characters from the Kingdom of Sweets a holiday tradition dating back to 1944. There are also opportunities afterwards to capture Kodak moments with the cast and enjoy gingerbread and hot cocoa. All of it is just a five-minute cab ride away.

THERE ARE SO MANY GREAT PLACES TO EAT

Hit up the Urban Tavern for breakfast. Located just off the lobby of Hilton Union Square, the breakfast buffet includes an assortment of dim sum, a luscious salad bar, and specialty items like baked Greek yogurt.

Check out the Restaurant Collection Under the Dome at Westfield San Francisco Centre. This assortment of award-winning cuisine surrounds the Centre’s iconic 102-foot wide glass dome. A one-of-a kind animated 3D visual experience inspired by the San Francisco Ballet and featuring sugar plum fairies and toy soldiers comes to life each night from November 19 to December 31 for Nutcracker Under the Dome.

So book a holiday sleepover for your family in or near your hometown and enjoy all the local holiday hoopla the area has to offer. My family will tell you from our experiences in doing so that the memories created are well worth it! We’ll see you soon, Hilton Union Square!

This article was originally published by Hilton Mom Voyage.

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