Holiday Shopping (credit: David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

With the holiday season encroaching, it’s once again the time of year when shoppers hit the streets searching for the perfect gift for everyone on their list. While the Bay Area has no shortage of places to shop, many of them are spread out or packed full of big-box stores. Here are five ideal areas around the Bay to wrap up some early holiday shopping.

Union Square (credit: California Travel and Tourism Commission)

Union Square
San Francisco

San Francisco’s Union Square is often a top Bay Area destination for holiday shoppers. Area stores range from high-end to affordable, and everywhere in between. Holiday shoppers will enjoy getting into the spirit of the season, as most of the area goes all-out with decorations. Weary shoppers will appreciate refueling at a variety of local restaurants which specialize in everything from burgers to Thai food. For those looking to finish up all the gift-giving work in one day, many of the major stores around Union Square also offer gift-wrapping services.

(credit: iStockPhoto)

Santana Row
377 Santana Row
San Jose, CA 95128
(408) 551-4611

San Jose’s upscale Santana Row makes it easy to get into the holiday spirit with plenty of seasonal happenings. Shoppers will enjoy strolling along the spritely decorated streets, browsing storefronts ranging from Anthropologie and Kate Spade to Urban Outfitters and Sephora. Kids who drop off their letters to Santa at the Santana Row’s concierge will receive a reply letter from the man in red. Make a day of it with a break at one of the Row’s several spas, or grab a bite to eat or quick drink before resuming the shopping frenzy.

Downtown Berkeley
Shattuck Ave. and University Ave.

Head on over to downtown Berkeley to find a little bit of everything inside all manner of shops ranging from independent bookstores to antiques and collectibles. With several area parking garages and easy BART access, holiday gift hunters will have fun ferreting out the perfect gifts from diverse shops. Try a unique gift with a customizable essential oil body product from Shattuck Avenue’s Body Time, or head over to Games Of Berkeley to find the board, card or role-playing game. Area restaurant options include Japanese, Mexican, Indian, Vegetarian, Burgers and everything in between.

Blackhawk Plaza
3380 Blackhawk Plaza Circle
Danville, CA 94506
(925) 736-2751

Danville’s Blackhawk Plaza offers a one-stop spot for early East Bay holiday shoppers. Shops include the independent G.R. Doodlebug toy store, furniture and lifestyle store California Living and the apparel and accessories-filled Apricot Lane. Beyond stores, this shopping center is also home to the Blackhawk Auto Museum and a seven-screen movie theater. After the shopping is done, grab a meal at the Blackhawk Grille or Ferrari’s Cucina Italiana.

(credit: Randy Yagi)

The Ferry Building Marketplace
One Ferry Buildling
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 983-8030

Perfect for the foodies on the list, San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace is always a must-stop for those who like to eat. While many specialty food items here are perishable, those looking to get holiday shopping done early will still find non-perishable gifts to please the palette. Head on over to Blue Bottle Coffee to snap up some of the shop’s small batch artisanal roast coffee beans, Far West Fungi for a DIY home-grown mushroom kit, or to McEvoy Ranch’s storefront for a bottle of olive oil made from Marin-grown olives. For the non-foodies, check out Heath Ceramics to score some of their highly sought-after dinnerware or glassybaby for a beautifully handcrafted tea light holder.

Joanna Metheny is a freelance writer covering all things South Bay. Her work can be found on