10 places in and around L.A. to get your photo taken with Santa Claus
Sit-downs with Santa Claus are back in full force this year. And, while the sheets of plexiglass between Kris Kringle and your kids that characterized several of 2020’s versions of the time-honored ritual are nowhere to be seen, the socially distanced, mask-wearing parts seem pretty much here to stay.
Below are some of the places around the Southland that you’ll be able to snap a selfie with the jolly one — or pay a professional photographer to do the honors for you.
There are also opportunities to break bread with the big man, join him aboard a whale-watching boat and even have your furry, four-legged friend photographed with him. Before dashing through the snow (or L.A. traffic) to give Father Christmas your wish list, you’re encouraged to brush up on your venue’s COVID-19 protocols and make a reservation (where appropriate) to ensure the holiday season’s busiest fellow hasn’t had to duck out for an elf emergency.
There’s also a snowman show with live holiday music (and real snow) taking place in the Grand Court on the first three Saturdays of December (Dec. 4,11 and 18). And the bearded one himself plans to be in the house.
Rumor has it he’s carved time out of his busy schedule to pop by Dec. 19-23 for strolls through the center and hourly visits to the Grand Court, where he’ll stop and pose for pictures (but only if you’re on the nice list, we presume).
Expect him to be happily ho-ho-ho-ing here through Dec. 19 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and noon to 8 p.m. Sundays and Mondays through Thursdays. Dec. 20-23 (Dec. 23 being his last day on property before heading north to prepare for the big night), he’ll be available 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. There will also be snow shows every hour on the hour from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching
Del Amo Fashion Center
Families may choose to sit with Santa or maintain social distance, and Santa’s helpers will wear masks through the duration of each visit. Second, Santa will be on tap from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Dec. 12 as part of the sensory-friendly Caring Santa program (specifically designed for kids acutely sensitive to the regular hustle and bustle of a holiday mall setting).
Also, if your parenting skills tend to be focused on the furry and four-legged, that’s OK too. Dec. 5 (from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.) is pet photo night with Santa. (He’s an animal lover — what with those eight tiny reindeer and all.) And finally, there’s a one-day-only opportunity to belly up to breakfast with Santa from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Dec. 4 at the center’s Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar.
That gets you digital access to pictures with an option to receive printed photos or keepsakes by mail. That’s not the only Instagrammable option in play, either, thanks to festive backdrops that include snowmen, outsize wrapped gifts and a 40-foot Christmas tree. Those add up to practically make it a holiday home run. (Proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours are required for admittance.)
Hollywood & Highland
There will also be a mix of holiday-themed entertainment unfolding around the center, which has been renovated and and rebranded as Ovation Hollywood, from Dec. 3-26, including live music from a holiday jazz band, candy-cane stilt walkers, appearances by the toy soldier and ballerina characters from “The Nutcracker” and twice-weekly Christmas carol performances (from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays through Dec. 23) by the L.A.-based pop a cappella group Jingle 5.
Santa Monica Place
There is no charge to visit with the red-suited man from up north. Walk-ups are available as space permit, but reservations for a $39.99 to $49.99 photo package are encouraged. And if you’ve got a four-legged loved one, consider popping by — with leash or carrier in hand — for them to meet Santa during the Dec. 15 and 16 pet nights (from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.). Along the way, you might well encounter other festive happenings including performances by the Santa Monica Beach Belles or a ballerina dancing inside a 14-foot-tall snow globe.
South Coast Plaza
The first-come, first-served photo experiences (open center hours through Christmas Eve) are designed to be socially distanced and contactless, and photo packages range from $17 to $53. Even if you don’t want face time with the jolly one (perhaps because you’re perennially on the naughty list, we don’t judge), there are plenty of other ways to get in the holiday spirit, including three Christmas trees and a seasonal revamp of the carousel that temporarily swaps in reindeer for horses ($2 per ride).
The other option is to book one of two types of private trolley rides with the man of the hour. The 30-minute Silver Bells package (cocktails and/or hot chocolate, sweets and a meet-and-greet) starts at $500 and can be booked any day of the week. The 90-minute Golden Sleigh package, available Mondays through Thursdays, truly takes things to the next level with a four-course dinner, cocktails and refreshments, a live brass band and a meet-and-greet with Santa. More information on both can be found at at the Winterland by Caruso website.
Westfield Century City
Tickets for group reservations of up to six are $55 (Monday through Wednesday) or $65 (Thursday through Sunday), and although there’s no professional photography option, there are plenty of self-snapping opportunities throughout. Other L.A.-area Westfield properties are offering different twists on the Santa sit-down, including Westfield Topanga, where you can have an 8 a.m. breakfast feast at the Neiman Marcus Café with the red-suited one (we’re guessing he’s a flapjack kind of guy) from Dec. 11-18 for $65 per ticket.
It's a date
Get our L.A. Goes Out newsletter, with the week's best events, to help you explore and experience our city.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.