- Union Square: The traditional Macy's tree is lit for the first time on Thanksgiving1 weekend. Placed in the middle of Union Square, the tree is 80 feet tall (nearly 7 stories) and covered in 21,000 twinkling LED lights. The best place to watch the ceremonies is in the square, but you can also make a reservation at Burger Bar in Macy's Union Square, where you can see it all from the windows.
- Pier 39 :Pier 39's tree-lighting happens the weekend before Thanksgiving, with a 60-foot-tall tree located near the entrance to the pier shopping area. Afternoon concerts are followed by the tree's first lighting in the early evening.
- Ghirardelli Square: Ghirardelli's 50-foot-tall Christmas tree is decorated with oversized Ghirardelli Chocolate bars and it's first lit during Thanksgiving weekend. Musical performances, puppet shows and stilt walkers lead up the first lighting.
- Golden Gate Park: The tree in Golden Gate Park is a live one, a 100-plus-year-old Monterey cypress at McLaren Lodge, 501 Stanyan St. (and Fell). This event takes places on the first Thursday of December.
1 Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.