This time of year crowds flock to San Franciscos downtown neighborhood. The shops from Market Street to Union Square take on a particularly festive holiday air.

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Every street corner seems to have someone from a local charity who want to tap into the goodwill that flows through the streets.

Union Square in Downtown San Francisco

Most of Union Square has been converted into an ice rink for the Christmas season with a long line of skaters looking to take advantage of this temporary wonderland.

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The Holiday Ice Rink will be open from November 12, 2017 to January 4, 2018
Sunday Thursday 10am 10pm :: Friday Saturday 10am 11:30pm
Admission Monday to Friday 10am 6pm $8 Adults, $4 Children Eight & Under

The scene is dominated again this year by the huge Christmas tree that joins the statue of Alma Spreckels as the focal point of the square.

How Much is that Doggy in the Window?

The Macys windows are filled not with sale items but with puppies and kittens from the local SPCA which drew crowds of kids pressing their noses against the windows in eager expectation. Last year this San Francisco tradition helped in the adoption of 277 animals and generated $37,000 in donations to the SF/SPCA.

Visa Card Holders Christmas Benefits

Even Visa was feeling in a giving mood as they were giving away parking last week at the 5th and Mission Street Garage. This promotion will last until December 26th, 2017. You need to show your Visa card to someone wearing a Visa shirt near the cashier to take advantage of this offer. They have a certain amount budgeted each day and when they reach that amount they go home. On a busy day that might be as early as 2pm so this will benefit early shoppers the most.

Visa also has discounts available so pick up a booklet from them before you start you shopping for a free StarBucks coffee, a treat from Godiva chocolate, etc. One of their benefits is a Visa card holder only section in the busy food court of the Westfield Center. Visa holders will enjoy the VIP treatment but at least a few non-Visa holders were a bit miffed.

5th and Mission Street Garage

The 5th and Mission Street Garage also has a deal through February 2009 where if you have a carpool of 3 or more people when you pay for your parking at the cashier on the way out you get the first hour for free.