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Where to Find Santa Photos in San Diego (2021)

Santa is everywhere this year just waiting for your visit and to take photos with you. You'll find him at hotels, theme parks, malls and he's popping up at a few other surprising places too. Some require advanced reservations to be made online, where noted. Some of these fill up quickly so make your plans and get it on the calendar before it fills up with other Christmas fun!

Make sure you read through the Santa at Shopping Centers info below because you'll find more than just regular Santa Photos. There are Sensory Friendly Santa Photos, Santa Paws Photos, Breakfast with Santa, Fairytale story times and even find the hidden elf for prizes.

Jump to Santa Photos:

Quick List! Click the name for details!

FREE Santa Photos! Nov. 27 & 28 from 1-5 only

Nov. 27 - Dec. 24

Santa photos, Surfin' Santa, Breakfast with Santa

Nov 29 - Dec. 24

Reservations required, fills up quickly! (SOLD OUT!)

Dec. 4 from 12-3

Free Santa Photos! BYO Camera

Dec. 4 from 1-4:30. Tree lighting, Santa, crafts & activities.

Dec. 10 at 1pm & Dec. 17 at 10am only

Dec. 10-12, 17-19; for KOA guests only

Dec. 11 only

*not sure if they're doing photos this year. I'll update this when I find out.

Santa Photos, Ice skating, Light Show, Holiday Festival, Jingle S'mores, Christmas Tea & Gingerbread Houses

*not sure if they're doing Santa photos this year. I'll update this when I can confirm. But Belmont Park is still having their annual Winter Wonder, details are linked here.

Santa Photos, Christmas Celebration: Santa Cirque Show, Snowfall, Elmo's Christmas Wish Show, Sesame Street Christmas Village, Holiday Animal Shows, a walk-through musical light tunnel, Rudolphs' scavenger hunt & more!

starting Dec. 10

Nov. 26-28; Dec. 4-5, 11-2, 18-19, 20-25

Nov. 20 - Jan. 9, select nights

Santa Photos: Nov. 18 - Dec. 24

Santa's Mailbox, Winter Nights, Find Jingle the Elf, Santa Paws Photos, Gift Wrapping

Nov. 18 - Dec. 24

Nov. 11 - Dec. 24; Sensory Photos: Dec. 5 from 9-11; & Pet Photos

Free Santa Photos! BYO Camera

Nov. 28, Dec. *2, 5, 8, 12, 19, 22 & *23

Nov. 26 - Dec. 24; Sensory Photos: DEc. 5 & 12

Drive-in Movie, Winter Event, Gift Wrapping

Free! BYO Camera, Winter WonderLights

Dec. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 & 19 from 1-4

Nov. 12 - Dec. 24; Sensory Photos: Dec. 5 & 12; & Pet Photos

Nov. 18 - Dec. 24; Sensory Photos: Dec. 5 & 12; & Pet Photos

Nov. 26 - Dec. 24

Free GRINCH Photos! BYO Camera. Dec. 11 from 3-5 only!

Nov. 26 - Dec. 19



FREE SANTA PHOTOS: Nov. 27 & 28 from 1-5 only

One of our favorite parts of the Annual Tree Lighting is hosting ol' St. Nick himself for photos with the kiddos! Santa's elves have been hard at work creating a very merry backdrop & we can't wait to see all the littles on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 27 & 28. Santa will be here from 1-5pm, so get your lists ready and stay for the 6pm tree lighting both days. More info

Peltzer Winery

40275 Calle Contento, Temecula



SEAPORT VILLAGE (Downtown/Embarcadero)

SANTA PHOTOS: Nov. 20 - Dec. 24

No appointment needed for these Santa Photos! But you just might want to if you're planning to go on a weekend evening or as it gets closer to Christmas. TIP: You can choose the Santa you want to have in your photo if you go to the Santa Lady's Schedule, look for Santa A, B, C, etc. with their photos. This is helpful if you want to make this an annual tradition and try to have the same Santa in your photos every year.

835 W. Harbor Dr., Seaport Village

Santa is located next to Geppetto’s

SURFIN' SANTA: Nov. 27 from 1-5

Surfin’ Santa will ditch his red suit and reindeer to spread his holiday cheer in true SoCal fashion as he makes his annual arrival at Seaport Village. He'll Parade down the boardwalk at 1:45pm and stop for photos 2-3pm on his giant wave. Live Music & Entertainment until 5pm. More info

BREAKFAST WITH SANTA (outside): Dec. 11 from 9-11am

Join us for breakfast with Surfin' Santa in Seaport Village! Breakfast and holiday beverages (get it spiked!), live music, photos with Santa, and holiday goodie bags and activities. More info

COST: $25/person for reserved table and includes a socially distanced photo with Santa. Ticket sales end December 8 at 5pm.

MENU: Choice of Avocado Toast, Breakfast Sandwich, Chicken Biscuit or Kid's Meal. Choice of orange juice, apple cider, hot chocolate, mimosa, bloody mary, or water (must be 21+ with proof of ID for alcoholic beverage). Side of Breakfast Potatoes or Fruit. Holiday Goodie bag.

807 W Harbor Dr., Seaport Village




Nov 29 - Dec. 24 from 4-9:30


Find Santa at this fun 2nd Annual Holiday Market at Petco Park. The Market will feature local and European artisan shops, magical lighting displays, seasonal food and beverage, a carousel ($3), Santa and other holiday characters! Buy your timed tickets online. Parking: Padres Parkade at 10th Ave. + J St. Event info

TIP: Tickets are about $4 cheaper on weekdays $10/kids; $16/adults (VS. weekends $16/kids; $20/adults)

Gallagher Square: 840 K St., Downtown; 619-795-5000



select dates between Nov. 28 - Dec. 20

(reservations fill up fast!)

At Santa's Treehouse you get to enjoy your time with Santa. No long lines, no rushed photos. This is one of the cutest set ups I've seen and you'd never know there's plexiglass between you and Santa (2020)! Kids get extra time to talk with Santa and tell him their Christmas wishes. After your time with Santa, take a tour of his Treehouse (featured on

Animal Planet's Treehouse Masters). Hang out by the fireplace, Sit in Santa's Chair, take photos, etc. You might even get a surprise visit with Mrs. Claus. They have lots of cute holiday displays all around that make the cutest selfie spots: a Little Red Truck with the Christmas Tree Farm stand, The Hot Cocoa Stand Photo booth & a Gingerbread Family House. Pick up a free goody bag before you leave!

COST: $60/family. Part of this cost will help sponsor a family in need for Christmas.

PHOTO TYPE: digital image emailed later that night

RESERVATIONS: Required, NO same-day or walk-ups

619-368-8751, call or text



Dec. 4 from 12-3

Free Santa Photos! BYO Camera

Bring the kids and your camera and snap a photo of your child with Santa in his sleigh. Pick up a free coloring book from Santa’s elf and then take a free train ride around the shopping center. Children ages 12 and under are invited to make a free holiday craft. Special afternoon snowfalls take place at 1, 2 and 3 pm. Enjoy a leisurely lunch or a quick bite to eat at one of our delicious restaurants or eateries and then spend the rest of the afternoon shopping and enjoying one of our many free activities. Event info

Village Walk at Eastlake: 884 Eastlake Parkway, Chula Vista



Dec. 4 from 1-4:30

Free Santa Photos! BYO Camera

Santa will join us for photos (1-4:30) at our annual Tree Lighting event (at 5:35); complete with free festive crafts and activities, as well as vendors selling their wares and snacks. Entertainment will be featured in the courtyard. Don’t miss the ‘snow’ right after the tree lighting! Sat Dec. 4 from 1-7 Event info

San Marcos Civic Center: 1 Civic Center Dr., San Marcos



Dec. 10 at 1pm & Dec. 17 at 10am only

Join Santa Claus at this fun location with gorgeous views of Mission Bay. This newly renovated and recently opened (Sept 2021) gathering place is the old Mission Bay Visitor's Center. Now you'll find a coffee + juice bar, ice cream sandwiches, bike rentals, outside table seating, newly planted vineyard, bocce ball and a kid's playground just a few running steps away. Parking is plenty here and they added some festive holiday drinks to their menu! Event info

Mission Bay Beach Club

2688 E Mission Bay Dr., Mission Bay




Dec. 10-12, 17-19 for KOA resort guests only

Your Christmas wish has come true, Santa Claus is coming to the San Diego KOA! Santa will be looking for you during breakfast to hear if you've been naughty or nice. He'll be available for photos and he may even have a Christmas treat for you! See all the events happening over the weekend here! Event info

111 North 2nd Ave., Chula Vista




Dec. 11 at 10:45 or 12

Sail with Santa on this unique outdoor one-hour excursion on the calm waters of the San Diego Bay. You'll enjoy holiday tunes, hot chocolate and photos with Santa onboard this 60' luxury sailing catamaran. It has a full exterior wrap-around deck to sit or stand safely outdoors. 2 restrooms are onboard, as well as a Captain and Crew. Limited to 40 guests per sailing. A portion of ticket proceeds will benefit the US Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. Event info

COST: $55/child; $75/adult

WHERE: Coronado


*SUGAR PLUM ZOO (Temecula)


SANTA PHOTOS: every Sat & Sun in December from 12-3pm

ELF PHOTOS: His elf will sub in on Dec. 12 & 13

We'll have yummy baked goods and socially distanced visits with Santa! Regular admission is required. Note: Santa will be busy wrapping presents on Dec. 12th & 13th so he will be subbing in his helper elf on those days. Their retail gift shop is open for artisanal chocolates, honey from their hives & handmade bath soaps all made on site.

COST: $10/adults 13; $5/kids 3-12; Free 2 & under

39695 Berenda Rd., Temecula




SANTA PHOTOS: Dec 1, 3, *6, 9-11, 16-18 & 22-24

(reservations go fast!)

Celebrate coming Home for the Holidays with a Photo with Santa on the beachfront Paseo Lawn. Guests of all ages will delight with holiday cheer as they’re greeted by jolly Old St. Nick and receive a professionally printed 5×7 photograph.

*On December 6, Santa will be skydiving onto the beach for our annual Holiday Festival. On this date only, Santa times will be assigned in-person on a first-come, first-served basis (no advance reservations). Get your Santa Pass at Vista Terrace starting at 3:30pm, where you will be assigned a 15-minute window to return for your photo between 5pm to 8pm. Photos will be purchased onsite.

ICE-SKATING RINK: Nov. 22 - Jan. 2 More info

LIGHT SHOW "AT FIRST LIGHT": Nov. 22 - Jan. 2 from 5-9 every 30 min More info


12/4 How the Grinch Stole Christmas

12/11 A Christmas Story

12/18 Elf

12/31 BIG + New Year's Eve Ball Drop at 9pm!

HOLIDAY FESTIVAL: Dec. 6 at 3:45 More info

JINGLE S'MORES ROAST: select dates More info

VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS TEA: Dec. 17, 19, 20 & 21 from 1-4 More info

GINGERBREAD HOUSE DECORATING: Dec. 17, 19, 20 & 21 More info

1500 Orange Ave., Coronado




*BELMONT PARK (Mission Beach)

*No mention if Santa Photos will be part of their Winter Wonder this year. I'll update this when I find out.

*SANTA PHOTOS (this is last year's info 2020, I'll update if Santa Photos will be avail this year for 2021):

All December - Saturdays & Sundays 2-5pm, next to the Sweet Shoppe

On weekends in December, Belmont Park will transform into a day-and-night experience, featuring 15-foot-tall holiday-themed sculptures, Christmas Tree Farm, Seasonal Character appearances, Holiday Movie Nights, face painting and balloon art; plus, Illuminated Winter Nights when the sun goes down. More info

Belmont Park

3146 Mission Blvd, Mission Beach




SEAWORLD'S Christmas Celebration (Mission Bay)

SANTA PHOTOS: Fri-Sun in December, and Dec. 17-31

This is one of the best Santa Photos set-ups in all of San Diego; the background and experience is magical. Santa Photos will be in the Christmas Village, admission to SeaWorld is separate & required to see Santa. Reservations are required. (The main photo at the top of this page was from SeaWorld's 2020 Christmas cookies & story time with Santa; which is different than Santa Photos in Santa's Village. They don't have that event this year, instead they have a Cookies & Photos with Cookie Monster for 2021.)

There are lots of other fun and magical moments at SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration. New this year is Santa Cirque Show, Snowfall at Jingle Square, Elmo's Christmas Wish Show, Sesame Street Christmas Village, Animal Shows with a fun Holiday Twist, a walk-through musical light tunnel, Rudolphs' scavenger hunt and fireworks on select nights.

SeaWorld San Diego

500 SeaWorld Dr., Mission Bay



SAN DIEGO ZOO (Balboa Park)

starting Dec. 10

Jungle Bells at the Zoo is a locals' holiday bucket-list so capture the moment with a Santa photo make it even more special. Santa Photos will be at the Gingerbread Landing. Details aren't yet available online, but they will be soon and this will updated when that's available. Event info (coming soon)

San Diego Zoo

2920 Zoo Dr., Balboa Park




Nov. 26-28; Dec. 4-5, 11-2, 18-19, 20-25

Take a photo and visit with the jolly old elf himself before he travels back to the North Pole. You'll find him at the Village Market. There's no mention of making reservations so it might be a walk-up event?

As long as you're there, stay for the Wild Holidays and see the Safari Park in a whole new light! Take a holiday expedition of light and travel through places that glow and twinkle with holiday cheer. Holiday tunes set the mood, and seasonal food treats tempt you throughout your journey.

COST: Park admission

San Diego Safari Park

15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd., Escondido



LEGOLAND (Carlsbad)

Nov. 20 - Jan. 9, select nights

Holidays at LEGOLAND is a locals' favorite and finding the LEGO Santa for a photo is a must! You'll find other LEGO holiday characters to take photos with too like the Toy Solider, The Gingerbread Man and others. After you snap your LEGO Santa Selfie, head over to Fun Town to see the 30-foot, fully decorated LEGO® Christmas tree with over 400 LEGO ornaments. As the day winds down, the tree gets a-twinklin to holiday tunes at the Holiday Light Show and enjoy falling “snow”. More info


One Legoland Dr., Carlsbad




You'll find more than just Santa photos at these malls and shopping centers. Some of them have Sensory Friendly Santa Photos (very limited dates, see below) and some have Santa Paws Pet photos. But read even further and you'll discover Breakfast with Santa, Fairytale story times and even find the hidden elf for prizes.

UTC MALL (La Jolla)

SANTA PHOTOS: Nov. 18 - Dec. 24

This year, Santa will be located near Macy’s and the Children’s play space. Families are encouraged to make a reservation. Safety measures will be in place throughout the experience. Guests will be given the option to have children stand next to Santa or be socially distanced by sitting on a bench in front of Santa. More info

SANTA'S MAILBOX: Nov. 18 - Dec. 24

Westfield UTC has been deemed an official drop-off location to ensure all wishlists make it up north to Santa and his elves while they are hard at work making this holiday season extra special. Find letter templates at the Concierge Cabana, or download the letter template and drop it off at the Concierge Cabana in Palm Plaza. More info

WINTER NIGHTS: Dec. 3, 4, 10 & 11 from 5-8p

Winter Nights returns to celebrate the season with live entertainment, whimsical storybook reading and sing-along events (at 6pm rsvp online). Event will be hosted by AJ & Sara of “All In San Diego” on the main stage in Palm Plaza. Find all four snow globes, each with stunning characters amidst snowfall and glistening lights. PSST: First few families to register for the 6PM Winter Fairy events will receive a special gift! More info


Find the Westfield Elf to win exciting prizes during the first 12 days of December. Jingle the Elf will be hiding in a new spot each day, either inside a store or a common area. For hints follow @WestfieldUTC. Snap a photo of Jingle the Elf in his hiding spot, post to your Instagram story, tagging @WestfieldUTC and be one of the first 25 people each day to show your post to Concierge in Palm Plaza (make sure you're following @WestifeldUTC!) to win a special prize! More info

SANTA PAWS PHOTOS: Dec 6, 4-8PM; Dec 13, 4-8pm. More Info


26 holiday elves from Rady Children’s Hospital will be available to gift-wrap all packages, with all proceeds benefiting the hospital. More info

4545 La Jolla Village Dr., La Jolla/UTC




Nov. 18 - Dec. 24

The Holiday Village is a magical place featuring photo moments the entire family will enjoy. Spend time posing at Santa's HUGE Sleigh, The Magical Menorah, Ornament Photo Frame, and more! You'll find Santa and his elves in the Holiday Village near Daniel's Jewelers.

1640 Camino Del Rio North, Mission Valley




SANTA PHOTOS: Nov. 11 - Dec. 24


BREAKFAST WITH SANTA at Neiman Marcus: Dec. 5 at 8:30am

Neiman Marcus San Diego has a festive morning feast featuring a very special visitor all the way from the North Pole! Enjoy a delicious breakfast set to holiday music, drop your wish list in our North Pole Express mailbox, & take home a complimentary photo of your family with the guest of honor: SANTA CLAUS! All local COVID protocols will be followed.

COST: $65

Your ticket includes Breakfast, Service Charge & Tax. Eventbrite Fees will be added on to final cost.

Children ages 2 1/2 & under do NOT require a ticket.

MENU: Buttermilk Pancakes, Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Vegetable + Potato Hash, Fruit, Mini Pastries on the table, Coffee/Tea/Juice, Additional specialty beverages available for purchase.

Fashion Valley Mall: 7007 Friars Rd., Mission Valley; 619-297-3381

Neiman Marcus: 7027 Friars Rd., Mission Valley; 619-692-9100



FREE SANTA PHOTOS!: select dates below from 11-2

Nov. 28, Dec. *2, 5, 8, 12, 19, 22 & *23

Bring your own camera and get into the holiday spirit with a family photo with Santa at the Del Mar Highlands Town Center this Christmas. Santa + Mrs. Claus will be here all throughout the holiday season, with their friend Delmer the penguin! Bring your kids, take a family photo in front of Tillys throughout the holidays. (It doesn't look like reservations are needed and I think it's a DIY with your own camera. Once I confirm these details I'll update it here.) More info

*HULLABALOO famed local children's rock concerts are held here on these dates so it might be fun to line them up with your Santa photos! Dec. 2, 9, 16 & 23 at 10am in the Upper Plaza between Panini Kabob & Cineopolis. More info

You'll find plenty of larger-than-life beach-themed Christmas decor and lights to drive-by or walk-through. You should probably plan on walking through so you can grab some amazing cookies from Batch & Box, ice cream from Handel's or the best doughnuts from Sidecar. Oh, and there's also an in-ground trampoline! and a splash pad (I'm not certain but it's probably off right now.)

12925 El Camino Real, Del Mar Highlands




SANTA PHOTOS: Nov. 26 - Dec. 24


You’re invited! Children within all spectrums of special needs and their families are welcome to join us before the mall opens for our sensory-friendly event to experience the time-honored tradition of a visit and photos with Santa.

SANTA PAWS PHOTOS: Mondays thru Dec. 20

DRIVE-IN MOVIE (Elf): Dec. 3 from 5:45-8:45pm

WINTER EVENT: Dec. 11 from 1-4pm; Location: Carlsbad Wall on lower level

GIFT WRAPPING: Dec. 17-23 from 11-8; Dec. 24 from 10-4; Location: Lower Level, Suite 132

2525 El Camino Real, Carlsbad




FREE SANTA PHOTOS!: Dec. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 & 19 from 1-4

Bring your cameras when you visit Santa in his Secret Garden with The Winter Fairy to greet you. You'll find him located behind the Christmas tree next to Paper Source. More info

Safety measures will be in place throughout the visit. Guests will have the option to have children stand next to Santa or be socially distanced by sitting on a bench in front of Santa. We encourage pre-booking your Visit With Santa. Walk-up visits are available as space permits. The health and well-being of our guests, staff and Santa is a top priority.

WINTER WONDERLIGHTS: Dec. 3, 4, 10 & 11; hourly from 5-7

Enjoy Winter WonderLights, a magical holiday light show, will be choreographed to your favorite holiday music and we’ll have Magical Snowfall throughout the center. We’ve expanded the area where the light show will be performed, so no matter where you are in The Forum, you can enjoy the show.

1923 Calle Barcelona, Carlsbad




SANTA PHOTOS: Nov. 12 - Dec. 24


"Cherry Hill Productions is collaborating with Autism Speaks to provide sensory friendly events to bring the magic to everyone- individuals of all ages and abilities. Westfield will have our common area music turned off, lights dimmed, and notify all of our retailers with ongoing construction, to kindly halt noise during these times." Only on 12/5 and 12/12 from 9:30am-10:30am.

PET PHOTOS WITH SANTA: Nov. 29, Dec. 6, 13 & 20

"Bring your furry four-legged friend for their close-up with Santa! Pet Photos are available on 11/29, 12/6, 12/13, and 12/20 from 4pm-8pm. Pets must be leashed and/or caged, dogs or cats, with the exception of emotional support animals."

272 East Via Rancho Parkway, Escondido




SANTA PHOTOS: Nov. 18 - Dec. 24


"Cherry Hill Productions is collaborating with Autism Speaks to provide sensory friendly events to bring the magic to everyone- individuals of all ages and abilities. Westfield will have our common area music turned off, lights dimmed, and notify all of our retailers with ongoing construction, to kindly halt noise during these times." Only on 12/5 and 12/12 from 9:30am-10:30am.

PET PHOTOS WITH SANTA: Nov. 29, Dec. 6, 13 & 20

"Bring your furry four-legged friend for their close-up with Santa! Pet Photos are available on 11/29, 12/6, 12/13, and 12/20 from 4pm-8pm. Pets must be leashed and/or caged, dogs or cats, with the exception of emotional support animals."

3030 Plaza Bonita Road, National City




Nov. 26 - Dec. 24

Have your photo taken in Santa’s Candy Hut at Grossmont Center! The Santa Photo Booth by Boffo Entertainment will be open Friday, November 26th through Christmas Eve, December 24th. You'll find Santa in the Courtyard gazebo by the fountains. Appointments are encouraged. More info

Grossmont Center

5500 Grossmont Center Dr., La Mesa




Dec. 11 from 3-5 only


BYO Camera so you can pose for a photo with characters from Dr. Suess' How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Located in front of the Christmas Tree. This is a Free event! Snap a pic with your cell phone or personal camera. More info

Las Americas Premium Outlets

4211 Camino De La Plaza,




Nov. 26 - Dec. 19, Fri-Sun from 5-8pm

The Viejas Outlets is your Holiday Headquarters this season. Lace up those skates and glide across Southern California’s Largest Outdoor Ice Rink. Visit Santa to learn who’s been naughty and nice. Take a spin and enjoy the view atop the Ferris Wheel. Experience the sights, sounds and snow, during the magical fountain shows. Wander the pathways featuring thousands of lights for that perfect family photo. More info

Viejas Casino & Resort

5000 Willows Rd., Alpine



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