Passengers wait in line at San Francisco International Airport. (AP)

The holidays are upon us! It’s a time where things speed up and people come and go in a revolving door of holiday dinners, family fetes and office celebrations. This festive time of year is also a source of stress for those who have to host out-of-town guests or maneuver unfamiliar streets for the sake of spending quality time with loved ones. And whether we want to or not, many of us will get stuck in the middle of a holiday crowd, so get prepared.

If you’re going out of town and need to find a place to park your car in the interim, here are two local favorites for long-term parking:

Park SFO
195 N. Access Road
South San Francisco, CA 94080
(650) 871-5571

Anza Parking

615 Airport Blvd.
Burlingame, CA 94010
(650) 348-8800

The main benefit of both these options compared to parking at a BART lot are the hours. Both parking services often have coupons and run specials if you check on their websites. There is also the posh option of arranging long-term parking at a local hotel but the prices will be much steeper. This is a good option for people driving from out of town to leave their cars entirely and experience the city on foot and by using public transportation.

If you’re away from home and want to generate a little holiday spending or just good karma, consider opening up your home:


This local company has changed the scope of travel by bringing the concept of “informal travel” into the mainstream. No longer bound to the typical big-budget hotel or humble hostel, travelers can experience cities more as a local with the familiar comfort of a real home. Or, they can adventure in tree houses, converted airplanes and bohemian artist studios. This is also a great option for those traveling out of San Francisco who want to avoid the routine and premium rates of traditional hotels during one of the busiest times of year.

If you’re hosting a guest from chillier climates who bemoans the lack of snow and “traditional winter,” perk them up with the familiar:

Yerba Buena Ice Skating and Bowling Center
750 Folsom St.
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 820-3521

Not only do kids and adults love ice skating, but zipping by on skates with the chilly air nipping at their ears will no doubt make your nieces from Wisconsin feel less homesick. Plus, you can work up an appetite for eggnog and holiday treats.

Related: Best Bets for Winter Outdoor Fun in the Bay Area

Great Dickens Christmas Fair
Cow Palace
2600 Geneva Ave.
Daly City, CA 94014

Dates: November 23, 24, 25 and December 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23

It’s true that not everyone celebrates Christmas or attends historical recreation events. However, it will be hard not to smile in a sea of actors in period costumes spreading holiday cheer at this uniquely San Franciscan event. Transport yourself to a Dickens novel and roam around this reproduction of Victorian-age London with your out-of-town guests.

Related: 2012 San Francisco Holiday Preview

If you’re playing host to guests and trekking into unfamiliar neighborhoods, save face and your walking soles by downloading helpful apps:


So a tech company partially based in San Francisco pairs up with Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and comes up with the first and only official augmented reality app for local metro users. What does that mean? It means you not only get real-time train schedules and estimated arrival times when you point your smart phone at a station, but you can also get recommendations to nearby businesses.


The first and only official app by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is still in its beta phase. It needs commuters to download the app and provide feedback. The app promises to make commuting easier and includes services such as live NextBus Muni information, Clipper card balance updates and trip planning.

Lollie Hopper loves to drink deeply from the well of culture. If it’s beautiful, interesting or timely, this Bay Area native wants to cover it. Her work can be found on