8 places to take photos with Santa in San Diego

It’s time to get that face time in with jolly ol’ Saint Nick.

Seaport Village Santa Claus Garske SD

Photos with Santa at Seaport Village are a family tradition for editor Monica’s daughters; this pic is from 2021.

Photo via Monica Garske + Photos with Santa

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Of all the festive photo opportunities around our city this season, a classic snapshot with Santa may be of highest importance for little ones and adults alike.

We’ve made a list — and you can check it twice — of places around town where you can visit Saint Nick and snag that holiday pic for the album. Now, say “nice list.” 📸

🌊 Seaport Village, 855 W. Harbor Dr., Embarcadero

Photos with Santa are available starting at 11 a.m. on select dates through Christmas Eve at the waterfront landmark — in the Lighthouse District next to Ben and Jerry’s. You don’t need an appointment and for $42, you’ll get your photos on a USB drive within minutes.

🎅 Parkway Plaza, 415 Fletcher Pkwy., El Cajon

Kris Kringle has arrived. He’ll be at this East County mall daily through Christmas Eve, with most photo sessions starting at 11 a.m. Check the online calendar for special photo opportunities for pets and scan the QR code to book a reservation. Prices start at $39.95.

The Forum Carsbad Santa SD

Santa and his elves at The Forum Carlsbad.

Photo via Northwood Retail

🎄 The Forum Carlsbad, 1923 Calle Barcelona, Carlsbad

Starting Saturday, Dec. 3 — and running Saturdays and Sundays, 1-5 p.m., through Dec. 18 — families can visit with Santa in the garden area between the YETI and Allbirds stores. It’s free, but bring your own camera to capture photos.

❄️ Westfield Mission Valley, 1640 Camino Del Rio N., Mission Valley

This Santa photo zone is next to AMC Theatre and runs daily, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., through Saturday, Dec. 24. Don’t miss pet photo nights on Monday, Dec. 12, and Monday, Dec. 19, and Pajama Party Tuesdays, where kids wearing PJs get a free crafting kit and a portion of photo sales benefits St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Reservations are encouraged; prices vary.

🌟 Fashion Valley, 7007 Friars Rd., Mission Valley

This experience is available daily at 11 a.m. through Christmas Eve, and you can reserve a spot ahead of time. There’s a sensory-friendly session on Sunday, Dec. 4, 8:30-10:30 a.m. — by reservation only — and a Pet Night on Sunday, Dec. 11, 6-8 p.m. Prices vary.

☃️ Westfield Plaza Bonita, 3030 Plaza Bonita Rd., Ste. 2075, National City

Photos are available daily through Christmas Eve at this spot on the mall’s first level, at Center Court near JCPenney. Ugly Sweater Days are on Thursdays, and pajamas are encouraged on Tuesdays. Make a reservation; prices vary.

🎁 Otay Ranch Town Center, 2015 Birch Rd., Chula Vista

Santa Claus is smiling daily at this shopping center through Saturday, Dec. 24. There’s a sensory-friendly photo session on Sunday, Dec. 4, 9-10 a.m. Make reservations; prices vary.

🔔 Grossmont Center, 5500 Grossmont Center Dr., La Mesa

Visit Santa on Christmas Eve only, 12-3 p.m, at the gazebo in the courtyard. This event is first come, first serve — with no appointments — and it’s free, but you have to take your own photos.

This is just a sampling of Santa photo options around San Diego County. Many seasonal events and local theme parks also feature Santa zones, so there are plenty of ways to see jolly old Saint Nicholas.

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