American Culture International Student Life San Francisco

5 SF Christmas Trees to See + Christmas Tree Vocabulary

November 27, 2016

Paris is known as the “City of Lights,” but during the holidays, San Francisco glows with beautiful decorations! Hotels, plazas, and public spaces are turned into “winter wonderlands” that make the City by the Bay stunningly bright during the holidays. While you are studying English at IEC@DVC, be sure to check out some of the most beautiful Christmas decorations in San Francisco.

5 SF Christmas Trees to See

Macy’s Christmas Tree, Union Square


Union Square is beautiful all year, but it is exceptionally breathtaking at Christmas!

Beautiful Union Square becomes even more gorgeous with the addition of the Macy’s Christmas Tree, which is located next to the ice skating rink. The huge tree is decorated with 33,000 lights and more than 1,000 ornaments! Day or night, the square is a great place to sit and people-watch: grab a coffee and enjoy the view from the square, or go to a restaurant like Cheesecake Factory for a great view of the tree (and ice skaters).

Neiman Marcus, Union Square


The Neiman Marcus tree is elegant . . .and gigantic!

The Neiman Marcus tree is not just one of the most famous in the city: at more than four stories, it’s also one of the tallest! Shoppers stop to take a look at this beautiful tree, which is located in the rotunda of the department store, or they enjoy the decorations from the Neiman Marcus restaurant, Rotunda.

Fairmont Hotel Christmas Tree (and Gingerbread House!)


Tea time next to a giant gingerbread house? Yes, please!

In addition to having a stunningly decorated tree, The Fairmont also has something unique: a giant gingerbread house! This two-story house and 23′ tall Christmas tree are located in the hotel lobby, where guests often enjoy the Fairmont’s traditional Holiday Tea.

Palace Hotel Christmas Tree


The Palace hotel is stunning sight with its beautiful Christmas decor.

The Palace Hotel is a wonderful place for events throughout the year (it hosts the most impressive weddings!) but it is also home to classically gorgeous Christmas decorations during December.  As with the Fairmont, guests can enjoy tea in the Garden Room and take in the many decorations.

Pier 39’s Outdoor Christmas Tree


Check out the huge candy canes on the Pier 39 Christmas tree!

The 60-foot tree at Pier 39 is beautifully decorated with lights, ribbons, and bows: it’s a must-see when exploring this iconic part of San Francisco! After viewing the tree, check out some of the local shops on the Pier: a few sell ornaments if you want to buy the ultimate SF Christmas souvenir.

Christmas Tree Vocabulary


Do you know these words associated with Christmas trees and Christmas tree decorations? Use them to describe the beautiful trees that you see this holiday season!


Definition: The branches of the tree.
Example: “The boughs are decorated with ornaments from our childhood.”


Definition: A type of tree often decorated during Christmastime.
Example: “We got a 6 foot tall fir this year.”

(Pine) Needles

Definition: The “leaves” of pine-like trees (such as fir trees).
Example: “The tree needles are all over the house!”


Definition: The small figures or balls hung on the tree as decoration.
Example: “We always made ornaments for our parents when we were young. My parents still have many of theirs.”


Definition: Small strands of shiny (often silver) metallic material that is hung on trees to mimic icicles.
Example: “We used gold tinsel this year and my mom really liked it. Normally we use silver tinsel.”

Tree skirt

Definition: The cloth that goes around the bottom of the Christmas tree to catch the falling pine needles.
Example: “We have been using this tree skirt since 1960!”


Definition: A general term for the decorations on the tree.
Example: “Look at the tree with all the trimmings. How beautiful!”

To trim (a tree)

Definition: To decorate the Christmas tree.
Example: “We trimmed the tree on Sunday evening.”

If you see a beautiful tree this holiday season, take a pic and post it on the IEC@DVC Facebook page for everyone to enjoy! Happy Holidays to our students and staff!

Hotel and Union Square photos from Union Square, The Palace, and Fairmont on Facebook; all other photos licensed through Creative Commons. 

You Might Also Like