By Laurie Jo Miller Farr

November always seems to fly past and by December, urgency sets in around the topic of holiday shopping. If you missed some of San Francisco’s popular Christmas shopping markets last month, there are still terrific opportunities to find some unique and special items with a personal touch.

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair
Cow Palace Exhibition Halls
2600 Geneva Ave.
Daly City, CA 94014
(800) 510-1558

Date: Nov. 18 through Dec. 17, 2017

Imagine you’re in the midst of a Victorian Christmas in the heart of London. Come in costume and share in the revelry as you shop, dine, drink, dance, and stroll the space that’s been transformed into a Charles Dickens’ world of Christmas past. Unique holiday gifts are sold by craftspeople skilled at the art of making their wares: soap, candles, leather goods, wooden items, jewelry, clothing, toys, holiday decorations, tree ornaments, and much more. Take a free shuttle bus every 30 minutes from the Glen Park BART station on weekend fair days. Admission tickets are available online.

SF Bazaar Holiday Nightlife
California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Drive
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA 94118

Date: Dec. 14, 2017 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

In the run up to Christmas, the popular museum after hours Nightlife at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park turns into a Christmas market. SF Bazaar hosts 40 local, curated vendors of handmade items at this 21-plus event where cocktails are served while shoppers browse. Music and science-related exhibit interactive happenings take place throughout the evening.

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Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 291-3276
Dates: All season long
No matter the season, this is the place to find something fresh for the hostess’s holiday dinner table. Head to the Ferry Building on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Remember to have a look indoors as well, where dozens of shops and stalls have everything from great wines to exotic dried mushrooms and divine chocolate. You’ll also find handmade ceramics and top of the line kitchen gadgets. It’s a great place to tick off some of the names on your holiday shopping list while enjoying a lovely few hours for yourself, without the stress of big box shopping. Remember there are vendors across the street from the Ferry Building as well.


Fine Art Museums of San Francisco
de Young Museum and Legion of Honor
Golden Gate Park and Lincoln Park
San Francisco, CA

Museum gift shops are holiday emporiums where you’ll find an ever-changing array of truly unique gift items. Some are themed to current exhibitions, some are themed to San Francisco or the festive season, and yet others reflect the talents of local designers. Best of all, very little of what you browse through can be found in department stores. Personal items, such as custom jewelry and scarves are a sure-fire bet, and the housewares gift section is usually robust as well. This is paradise for art book lovers, so if in doubt, a gift certificate works, too. Note that at the de Young Museum, admission is free to its two-level store, while at the Legion of Honor, the store can only be accessed with a museum admission.  If you like the experience of museum shopping, head for the Asian Art Museum and SFMOMA for more great finds.

Dates: All season long

SF Etsy Holiday Pop-Up Event
The Marker
501 Geary St.
San Francisco, CA 94102

Date: Dec. 14, 2017 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Shop local handmade gifts this season when The Marker and Tratto host San Francisco artists at a pop-up event in the hotel lobby. Admission is free. Mingle with the artists and enjoy a holiday glass of complimentary wine from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. provided by Tratto, the Italian trattoria adjacent to the hotel. Vendors include Modern Shibori, Sharon Z Jewelry, Shop Viscera, Bird of Virtue, Reclamation Etchworks, and more. Stay for drinks or dinner as Tratto is extending a “two-for-one” glass of wine or beer for those who show a receipt for any gift item purchased at the SF Etsy event.

Related: Best Museum Gift Shops In San Francisco