Holiday Tips for a Festive Season
Whether the shimmering holiday lights beckon you to stuff stockings or splurge on yourself, today we're offering a host of tips and tools to maximize your holiday shopping experience.
Muni’s 24 hours of service, round-the-clock taxi’s, expanded bicycle lanes and car-free streets mean people can stroll shops and not be consumed with the frustration of circling the blocks seeking parking. But if a car does bring you into San Francisco, go directly to a city garage where rates are often lower than street meters.
This Friday, the second annual Winter Walk, hosted by the Union Square Business Improvement District, with a little help from the Central Subway team, will create an inviting open plaza near Union Square. An evening light show on Stockton and O’Farrell streets will transform the Macy’s Men’s building into a holiday spectacular. Illuminated benches in the pop-up space on Stockton Street from Ellis to O’Farrell add the perfect touch to the two blocks of open space where shoppers and visitors alike can pause and enjoy a variety of sights.
Tree Lighting Ceremony
The Macy's 26th Annual Great Tree Lighting ceremony will take place on Friday, November 27 at 6 p.m. Please be aware, that large crowds of people viewing the ceremony are expected in the vicinity. To enhance pedestrian safety, there will be a variety of street closures in and around Union Square.
Black Friday Special at St. Mary’s Square Garage
Check out our own Black Friday special. Park just a short walk from Union Square and receive a special, all-day flat rate of $15 at St. Mary’s Square Garage, 433 Kearny Street, between Pine and California streets on Friday, November 27. Enter any time between 8:30 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., and exit by midnight the same day to redeem the special flat rate.
Construction and Traffic Regulations Update
To keep everyone moving merrily, no street or sidewalk closures on business area streets between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, other than for emergencies, will be allowed. Central Subway construction in the Union Square area will be temporarily suspended.
A few other traffic changes are in place this holiday season:
- With the halt to construction on Stockton, Ellis Street will be temporarily reopened. This means that drivers will not be permitted to turn onto Market Street from 5th Street. A handy flier and map show all of the restrictions now in place (.pdf). This turn restriction is part of the Safer Market Street project, a Vision Zero project aimed to eliminate conflicts and make Market Street safer for everyone. This turn restriction is one of 15 turn restrictions between 3rd and 8th streets. Muni, taxis, bikes, emergency and commercial vehicles are exempt from the restrictions.
- Similarly, as part of the Powell Street Safety Pilot project, cars will not be permitted to turn onto Powell Street, and all through traffic will be prohibited from using Powell Street between Ellis and Geary streets, as indicated in the turn restriction flyer. The Powell Street Safety Pilot project is a Muni Forward project, targeted to improve the safety and efficiency of San Francisco’s iconic Cable Cars.
Please follow the instructions of traffic control officers patrolling these areas during the holiday season.
Muni Metro and BART offer the two best ways to and from Union Square and downtown San Francisco during the holidays, especially on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving November 27). The Powell Street stop for Muni Metro and BART will transport you to both the foot of Union Square, directly beneath the Westfield San Francisco Center, and one block from the Metreon at 4th and Mission streets.
The following Muni lines and routes will take you to Union Square:
- Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde Cable Car lines
- 2 Clement
- 3 Jackson
- 8X Bayshore
- 30 Stockton
- 38 Geary
- 38R Geary Rapid
- 45 Union/Stockton
- F Market & Wharves
- Muni Metro lines to Powell Station
The historic Cable Car and F Market & Wharves lines make holiday shopping a fun excursion for the entire family.
Four routes will operate the day after Thanksgiving:
Details can be found at 511.org or by calling 511.
Transit Safety Reminders
- Muni customers and shoppers should be careful of pick-pockets, especially during the holiday season.
- Carry wallets in front pockets, close handbags and carry them in front of you in crowds.
- If you believe you have experienced a theft on a Muni vehicle please alert the operator, if possible, and call the SFPD non-emergency at 553-0123. Please note the bus or train number as well as the date and time. Call 911 for emergencies or crimes in progress.
- Due to heightened security measures, do not leave bags or parcels unattended at any time.
Customers using Bay Area public transportation systems are strongly encouraged to purchase their fares in advance or use Clipper® Card to attend holiday events. Customers using a Clipper Card receive 50 cents off an adult single ride when transferring to Muni from BART, Golden Gate Ferry and Transit, and San Francisco Bay Ferry routes (Oakland-Alameda, Harbor Bay and Vallejo). Golden Gate Ferry and Transit and San Francisco Bay Ferry provide the same discount on return trips.
For more information on using Clipper on Muni, please visit clippercard.com/muni.
The adult fare is $2.25 and is good for 90 minutes of travel, whether it be on a single route or a trip with multiple transfers across buses and light rail. Children ages 5-17, seniors and persons with disabilities pay a discount fare of $1.00 with a 90-minute transfer. Children four and under ride free. These fares are good on all Muni vehicles, except Cable Cars. For further information, please visit Muni’s Fare Details web page.
One-way cable car fare is $7 for all ages.
Visitors may also be interested in our 1, 3 and 7 Day Visitor Passes. For further information, please visit Muni Visitor Passports and San Francisco CityPASS web page.
In this season of giving don’t forget to give your friends, family and for that matter yourself – the gift of quick and easy travel. Download MuniMobile – SFMTA’S new mobile ticketing app. The app is free to the public. MuniMobile allows users to purchase Muni bus, rail, Cable Car and SF Access tickets ahead of time with the click of a button. Traveling with multiple people? Multiple riders can use the same phone. With MuniMobile, your phone is your fare.
SFpark makes finding a spot in San Francisco easier than ever. Garages near downtown and Union Square include: Union Square (985 spaces), Ellis-O’Farrell (950 spaces); 5th/Mission (2,585 spaces); Moscone Center (732 spaces) and Sutter Stockton (1,865 spaces).
The SFMTA encourages holiday shoppers to go straight to SFpark garages rather than circle for parking on streets filled with traffic and pedestrians.
Benefits of the SFpark garages include:
- Many hourly rates have dropped due to demand-responsive pricing, often below on-street meter rates.
- SFpark garages charge in 30-minute increments instead of one hour.
- Ability to pay by cash or credit card without worrying about getting a citation
Other parking garages near Union Square that do not fill up on Saturdays or the day after Thanksgiving: Hearst Garage on 3rd Street between Mission and Market streets and the Jessie Square Garage on Stevenson Street west of 3rd Street.
Read all parking signs carefully before parking. Many downtown parking spaces are designated for commercial-vehicle parking, and many spaces become tow-away zones after 3 p.m. or 4 p.m.
If a parking garage is full, garage attendants will provide maps to nearby garages that have space available. Do not wait outside full garages.
Help avoid vehicle break-ins by leaving nothing visible inside your car. Shoppers are encouraged to keep packages locked in the car trunk. San Francisco Police recommend that you move your vehicle to a different location each time you load packages into the trunk.
Customers can find locations, rates and parking space availability for SFpark garages throughout San Francisco at SFpark.org, iPhone and Android apps or by texting “SFpark” to 877877.
Bikes and BikeShare
Best bicycle parking near Union Square and downtown:
- Union Square
- 5th/Mission garages
BikeShare is an efficient and inexpensive travel option during the holiday shopping season. Riders have access to 350 bicycles conveniently located at 35 stations. In addition to annual memberships, riders may purchase a 24-hour or three-day membership from any station kiosk using a credit card.
- Annual membership: $88
- 24-hour access: $9
- 3-day membership: $22
Once a 24-hour or three-day membership is purchased, riders are issued a code to enter on the keypad next to any available bicycle. Wait for the green light, pull the bike out of its dock while lifting the seat, and ride. The bike may be returned to any BikeShare station. Return by pushing the bicycle firmly into any available dock.
Available BikeShare locations can be found at:
Taxi stands are situated throughout downtown San Francisco, usually near hotels. For a full list, please visit SFMTA’s Taxi Stands web page. To ensure you choose a legitimate San Francisco taxi, please visit SFMTA’s Always Hire a Real San Francisco Taxi web page. SFMTA has made it easier to hail a cab by using your smartphone.