Any time of year is a good time to visit the area around Union Square in San Francisco to go shopping but Christmas in Union Square is particularly enjoyable.
Getting to Union Square
There is a parking garage directly under Union Square which often has space, but I would actually recommend parking in the 5th and Mission Street Garage which I have never seen fill up and is easier to get in and out of.
This neighborhood is also easily accessible from BART via the Powell Street Bart Station which runs down Market street.
Starting at the 5th and Mission Garage your first stop will be across Mission Street at the Westfield Center which is an upscale shopping center anchored by Nordstrom and Bloomingdales.
Our next stop is right down the street from Bloomies and that is Old Navy which is a 3 story version of this popular clothing store.
By this point the shopping has barely started but my son Mike and I are already worn out so we usually get dropped off at the Apple Store (me) and Virgin Records (Mike) as my wife and daughter continue up the street towards Union Square.
Saks 5th Avenue and Neiman Marcus border Union Square but it s Macys that is the real anchor store of this neighborhood. Even with 7 floors of shopping space the mens department is located across Stockton street in a separate building. In my experience, my wife and daughter can shop here until dinner time.
More upscale shoppers will also find boutique shops like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dior, Versace, Chanel, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Hugo Boss, and Tiffanys.
Places to Eat
This trip is about shopping so we are looking for a fast place to get lunch and I will recommend 3:
Westfield Center The upscale food court in the Westfield Center features some surprisingly good food like Andale Mexican Restaurant and Asqew Grill.
Macys The food court in the Macys basement features Wolfgang Puck Express (try the wood oven fired pizza) as well as a good place for soup in a sour dough bread bowl. (My daughter also says that Toms cookies alone is worth a trip to the city).
Mels Drive-In In the same block as the 5th and Mission Garage is a popular diner which is a throw back to a 1950s diner. The food here is classic diner fare. I recommend the Reuben sandwich.
The Cheesecake factory On the top floor of Macys is the popular Cheesecake Factory. Split an order with two people because:
the portions are huge
you need to leave room for dessert
Allow at least an hour to wait when the area is busy. So when you are an hour from being ready to eat send your version of Mike or I up to the top of Macys to put in your reservation.