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Illustration of Santa Claus taking a selfie
(Micah Fluellen / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images)

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.

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A woman and a child take a selfie in a colorful holiday sleigh
(Beverly Center)

Beverly Center

Beverly Grove Shopping Center
There are plenty of holiday-themed photo opportunities on tap this season, including a 35-foot Christmas tree and mirrored-gift-box installation in the center’s Grand Court, a 45-minute-long walk-through immersive nutcracker ballet experience on Level 8 ($39 for kids, $49 for adults) and a winter wonderland backdrop (complete with Santa’s sleigh) at the Third Street valet entrance, all three of which will be in place through Dec. 31.

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).
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Santa's house at Citadel Outlets in 2019
(Kait McKay Photography)

Citadel Outlets

Commerce Shopping Center
Santa is in residence here in the run-up to Christmas — literally since his house has been shipped in pieces from the North Pole and reassembled onsite for your holiday photo opportunities. If you prefer to snap your Santa selfie in der Kringle’s sleigh, that’s an option too. He’s a busy man, though, and his schedule is as tight as a squeeze down the chimney.

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.
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Santa waves from a boat at Dana Wharf

Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching

Boat Charter
Just as he has every holiday season since 1974, Santa will temporarily swap out his sleigh for the whale-watching boat the Dana Pride for 20-minute cruises around Dana Harbor, during which the jolly one and his helpers will interact with the children on board and listen to their Christmas wishes. (The kids will have no direct contact with him, though.) Reservations (capped at six per party) are required, and all proceeds from the $5-per-person tickets will benefit Soroptomist International of Capistrano Bay. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 4 and Dec. 5 only.
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Interior view of the Del Amo Fashion Center showing benches and escalators
(Simon Properties)

Del Amo Fashion Center

Torrance Shopping Center
Saint Nick is all over the Del Amo Fashion Center this holiday season. First, he’ll post up in the Macy’s women’s court for photo opportunities (reservations are encouraged, walk-ups accommodated based on availability) where face time with Father Christmas will cost anywhere from $39.99 to $49.99 (depending on the photo package you pick) until 5 p.m. Christmas Eve. (Hours vary. See the center’s website for a day-by-day schedule.)

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.
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A computer rendering of Santa Claus meeting families at Dodger Stadium
(Los Angeles Dodgers)

Dodger Stadium

Echo Park Sports Venue
Is St. Nick a Dodgers fan? It could be true because this year’s Dodgers Holiday Festival, which unspools nightly at Dodger Stadium through Dec. 31 (but for Dec. 6, 7 and 25), includes photo opportunities with the bearded one (that’d be Santa Claus, not Justin Turner). Tickets for one of the five nightly, one-hour professional photo sessions with Santa and the kids are $40 (that’s on top of the cost of of the holiday festival tickets themselves, which start at $16).

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.)
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Santa Claus and an elf in front of a Christmas tree
(Hollywood & Highland)

Hollywood & Highland

Hollywood Shopping Center
“California Cool Santa Claus” (yup, he’s wearing sunnies) and his magical elf assistant return to the heart of Hollywood this year for the first three weekends in December for first-come, first-served, socially distanced holiday photo opportunities. You’ll find the rad dude in red on the central courtyard stage in front of the big Christmas tree from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. each of those Saturdays and Sundays.

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.
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Santa Monica Place

Santa Monica Shopping Center
Santa Claus parks his sleigh at Santa Monica Place (hopefully for free because they share a name) through Christmas Eve, taking his rightful place under the 50-foot Christmas tree in Center Plaza, where he’ll be available for your holiday photo-taking desires (his daily hours can be found on the center’s website).

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.
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A mall interior filled with festive wintertime decorations
(Jeri Koegel for South Coast Plaza)

South Coast Plaza

Costa Mesa Shopping Center
Visitors to South Coast Plaza have two options for a Santa sit-down. Families can find him at the alpine-themed winter wonderland known as Santa’s Village in the shopping center’s Carousel Court on Level 1. Or they can pop by his North Pole cottage, which has been magically transported to the Crate & Barrel/Macy’s Home Store wing on Level 1.

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).
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Santa stands atop a trolley decorated with holiday lights in the middle of the Grove shopping center

The Grove

Fairfax Shopping Center
If you want to document Der Kringle’s visit to the Grove this holiday season, you’ve got two options — and one of them’s going to be pricey. The less expensive option is to catch him from afar as he’s ferried down the center’s main drag on a twice-nightly trolley ride (at 7 and 8 through Dec. 23 and at 5 and 6 on Christmas Eve), accompanied by a festive flurry of manmade snow. (A similar Santa scene will also unfold nightly at the Americana at Brand sister property in Glendale.)

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.
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A small, holiday-decorated bungalow inside a mall atrium
(Westfield Century City)

Westfield Century City

Century City Shopping Center
The interactive, socially distanced 10-minute-long Santa experience the center rolled out last holiday season is back this year through Christmas Eve. (Starting in Santa’s cozy bungalow, it involves solving a riddle, fixing a navigation system, spinning a wheel and trekking through a pine forest to find the bearded one kicking it in his magical carriage.)

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.
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