Photos with Santa are a big part of our family’s Christmas tradition. My son is anxiously awaiting Snowflake’s return (aka Elf on the Shelf) and my daughter is brainstorming recipes for Christmas Eve cookies. At 6 and 9, my kids still get wide-eyed with hope and joy during Christmas. This season, we’ll spend lots of time in the kitchen whipping up our favorite dishes, enjoying all of the Christmas celebrations in our city, revisiting the real meaning of Christmas and watching our favorite holiday movies. All of those are great but the big winner around here is photos with Santa.
Every year since my children were babies, we’ve set aside an afternoon for a visit with Santa. Sometimes the location has been our local mall…other times we’ve trekked all the way to the North Pole! With so many places to see Old Saint Nick, I thought I’d share my favorite spots for photos with Santa.
Best Places to Take Photos With Santa
- Santa HQ by HGTV: Santa’s workshop has gone digital, and this interactive experience begins with a “scan” to see if you’ve been naughty or nice. Kids can then enter the observatory where they can see Santa’s magical world, including the night sky and the elves at work using a special tablet. Be sure to take an Elfie before meeting with Santa.
- Adventure to Santa: Go on a brand new adventure with Po from Kung Fu Panda to meet Santa Claus this season. This experience, which occurs at select DreamWorks DreamPlace locations across the country, features interactive games, a cinematic journey to the North Pole and a private meeting with Santa.
- Simon Malls: Experience the magical world of Santa with a brand new set at Ontario Mills. This season, children will enter the World of Wishes where they will be greeted by Nutcracker figures and festive trees. The experience also features holiday cheer throughout the center with new garland arrangements and holiday trees. After a visit and a photos with Santa, children can celebrate the release of The Secret Life of Pets on Blu-ray/DVD with activity sheets, a holiday headband and clips from the film. And through Simon’s The Joy of Giving program, Guest Services will provide treats to shoppers through Random Acts of Giving.
- Knott’s Merry Farm: This year, you’ll find Santa at Santa’s Christmas Cabin. Share your wish list, take a photo, then enjoy gourmet treats including fresh, poured-to-order maple lollipops, homemade holiday churros, Santa’s Milk and Cookie Shakes and more.
- Disneyland: Join Santa and his elves for an exciting outdoor adventure where you’ll discover decorations and toys to find out what type of elf you are. You can find Santa AND Santa Goofy at Ahwahnee Camp Circle near the entrance of Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.
- Universal CityWalk: Join Santa Claus at the 5 Towers for photo opportunities each night during the Holiday Season. You’ll also want to stay for the lighting of the 40-foot tall Christmas tree adorned with 200,000 LED icicles choreographed to the lights and sounds of the season.
- LEGOLAND California Resort: Meet LEGO Santa and his reindeer in front of the LEGO Christmas Tree at LEGOLAND. Once you’ve gotten your photos with Santa, be sure to watch the nightly tree lighting.
- Irvine Park Railroad: Take a magical ride through Irvine Regional Park on the Christmas Train to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus at the North Pole. Share your wish list, take a photo, and enjoy treats before heading back to Santa’s Village through the Tunnel of Lights.
- Catal Restaurant at Downtown Disney: Join Santa and his elves for a festive, family-style breakfast featuring a hot cocoa station, carolers, activities, a photo and meet ‘n greet with Santa, and more.
- Chill at The Queen Mary: Join Santa for story-time, cookie-decorating, music, and more during Breakfast With Santa. After enjoying a festive breakfast, meet Santa, Mrs. Claus, Ginny Gingerbread, Miss Kandi Kayne, Captain Teddy and the CHILL family for photos.
- Winter Wonderfest at Discovery Cube: After learning about the science behind sledding and sliding down the 75 foot long ramp on an inner tube, take photos with Santa at the Discovery Cube during Winter Wonderfest. Don’t miss the Annual Science of Gingerbread, cookie decorating, snow play and A Matter of Taste stage show.
- Winterfest: Once again, the OC Fair & Event Center will transform into a winder wonderland complete with ice skating, crafts at Santa’s Workshop, largest rocking horse, and nightly snowfall. Don’t miss taking a photo with Santa at his workshop before he heads back to the North Pole.
- Pretend City: Members can enjoy an exclusive breakfast with Ol’ Saint Nick at Pretend City Children’s Museum 3 different times this holiday season. After enjoying a continental breakfast, kids can enjoy holiday crafts, music and a meet and greet/photos with Santa.
- Fashion Island: Santa makes his debut at Fashion Island on November 18th during the center’s annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. Visit Santa, share your wishes and take a photos with Santa inside his custom-designed house through December 24th.
- South Coast Plaza: Visit Santa’s Village, located at Carousel Court this holiday season for crafts and activities. Kids can also take Santa’s Express Train for free after taking and purchasing a photo with Santa. Don’t miss the Reindeer Carousel and the carolers spreading joy this holiday season.
- Dana Point Harbor: In true Southern California style, families can take a boat ride with Santa and his helpers. Tell him your wishes and take a photo. You can also visit Santa with your pet throughout the Harbor. Be sure to enjoy all of the Harbor’s festivities including the annual Boat Parade of Lights.
What is your favorite place to see Santa? Let us know if we’ve missed one and we’ll add it to the list.