Holiday Experiences in San Francisco & D.C.

by  Blane Bachelor | Nov 9, 2012
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco, CA / iStock / bluejayphoto

Looking for a unique, off-the-wall (or, more accurately, on the bridge) setting for this year’s holiday photo? The Golden Gate Bridge, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in May, has added a seasonal twist to its green screen Photo Experience, which lets visitors pose for a photo that appears to be from atop the bridge’s mighty cables or a 746-foot-high tower.

In other words, a holiday photo that's anything but ho-ho-hum.

The Photo Experience, which is offered in the Round House building at the southern entrance of the bridge, provides a variety of props, including Santa Hats for the little ones, strands of lights, and, my personal favorite, that swirly topper as shown on the lovely lady in the photo to the left. Visitors can bring their own props too but are encouraged not to wear green, as they’ll become invisible in the green screen.

I experienced the Photo Experience when it was first launched, and though the $20 fee for two 5x7 photos ($10 each for extras) seems a tad steep, it pretty much guarantees a memorable photo that will be talked about long after the holidays are over.

On the East Coast, another early-opening holiday experience (with perhaps some more original photo opps) gets underway in Washington, D.C., at the Gaylord National Resort, as part of the Christmas on the Potomac celebration. On Friday, Nov. 16, the property will unveil its impressive seasonal transformation, with two million twinkling lights, a nightly indoor snowfall in its 19-story atrium, massive dancing fountains set to the holiday tunes, and a 60-foot, suspended glass tree.

But the real star of the show is the Ice! attraction, which features a winter wonderland carved from 2 million pounds of ice. This year’s theme is Shrek the Halls, with life-size sculptures of DreamWorks’ popular green ogre, his family, and his smart-alecky donkey friend, as well as huge ice slides and other walk-through elements. Dress warmly, as the attraction is kept at a chilling 9 degrees.

Adult rates for the Ice! attraction are $22.99 during non-peak days (including the opening day), and $29.99 on peak days, most weekends and days leading up to Christmas. Gaylord National hotel is offering a $249 package that includes a double-occupancy room and one ticket to the attraction.

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