The holidays are often a time when parents will get everyone dressed up and take their children to see Santa Claus to capture the memories of the season. The great news is that there’s plenty of places in Orange County to get photos that will be cherished memories for many Christmases to come.
You’ll find all the best places to take Santa photos and activities to enjoy with your family afterwards below!
Note: reservations or tickets are required for some of these experiences while some are free experiences.
Address: 3333 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Located at South Coast Plaza, Santa’s Village is one of the most popular places to take pictures with Santa since there is so much to see and do there. There are multiple packages for pictures that include both digital files and print outs.
After pictures, there are plenty of things you can do at the mall. While the kids ride the reindeer carousel or create their very own Christmas craft in the craft shop, you can get the last bit of holiday shopping done at one of the many stores.
Additionally, the Segerstrom Center for the Arts is also located near South Coast Plaza and often hosts a variety of Christmas programs throughout the holiday season for the whole family to enjoy.
Whether you’re looking for a fine dining experience or something casual, there are plenty of places to eat at South Coast Plaza. One highlight that I recommend to everyone is Din Tai Fung – an elevated take on authentic dumplings and potstickers, including their signature soup dumplings.
Address: 8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620
Knott’s Berry Farm offers an excellent place to spend the day and take pictures with Santa Claus as part of their Knott’s Merry Farm event. Located in Santa’s Christmas Cabin, you can take your pictures before spending the rest of the day at the park. Don’t forget to visit Camp Snoopy to get pictures with your favorite Peanuts characters dressed in their holiday best!
Once you get your pictures with Santa, you can spend the day riding some of the many rides at Knott’s Berry Farms, or indulge yourself in one of the many Christmas shows or attractions they have for Knott’s Merry Farm, like their Christmas craft village.
While Knott’s has a restaurant right near the entrance and many walk-ups throughout the park, their Christmas offerings around the park that cannot be missed out on, which include turkey, bacon, and alfredo bites, a happy tidings turkey burger, and a delicious pot pie stromboli!
Address: 1065 Brea Mall, Brea, CA 92821
The Brea Mall offers a wonderful mall Santa experience for the whole family to enjoy during the holiday season. As a matter of fact, one of the most memorable experiences here is their Caring Santa program, which provides a more calm and sensory-friendly environment for kids with special needs.
There are a number of fun places to shop for both kids and adults in the area, including a Build-A-Bear Workshop where you can get one of the many holiday releases they have on hand after Santa Pictures are taken.
Brea Mall is home to many incredible restaurants, but I would like to highlight one in particular, Kura Revolving Sushi Bar, which offers a truly futuristic dining experience where the food comes by on a conveyor belt right to your table.
Address: 21010 E Pacific Coast Hwy, Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Santa has brought his airstream from The North Pole to Pacific City to stop by for pictures! As you will be located directly across from the ocean, you will be able to take some amazing pictures for your christmas cards that everyone will envy.
A highlight of Pacific City is Open Market OC – a curated selection of many local businesses in a single location. Whether you’re looking for some stylish winter wear, or a truly unique gift, Open Market OC is the ideal place to find them!
The wonderful thing about Christmas in Orange County is that the weather is still perfect for ice cream! Hans’ Homemade Ice Cream offers delicious ice cream that is slow churned on site, along with shakes, sundaes, and more!
Address: 2800 N Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92705
The MainPlace Mall is offering a truly unique experience for pictures with Santa. Hosted by Elf On A Shelf, this experience lets you walk through a winter wonderland with plenty of spots for photos on your way to meet Santa. It’s an experience that will delight both the young and young at heart!
Whether you’re looking to spend some quality time with family at an attraction like Galactic Challenge, an interactive airsoft target experience, or getting Christmas shopping done at one of their many shops while the kids head to the movie theater, there’s plenty to do and see at MainPlace Mall.
There are some great restaurants to choose from at MainPlace Mall, including 3 Roots Mexican Cocina. The menu includes appetizers such as fresh guacamole, bacon wrapped jalapenos, and ahi tostadas, as well as entrees like a delicious seafood rellenos stuffed with lobster and shrimp.
Address: 1313 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802
You can get a picture with Santa Claus at Disneyland at a variety of places, both in the parks and in the three hotels on property. While the parks still require reservations alongside your ticket, the resorts give you an opportunity to get pictures with Santa and explore the gorgeous decorations and gingerbread displays without a ticket.
If you’re meeting Santa in Disneyland Park or California Adventure, there’s plenty of rides and shows to enjoy, but I want to highlight what to do if you opt for the hotel meet and greet. Whether you spend some time at Downtown Disney and shop, or make your way over to the Anaheim Garden Walk, you’re sure to find some incredible activities.
There are some incredible restaurants at the Disneyland Resort, but I want to highlight Black Tap – a restaurant that first gained fame in New York City, before opening its Disneyland Resort location, Black Tap is well known for their incredible burgers and deliciously indulgent milkshakes! And it is located in Downtown Disney, so you won’t need tickets to the park to try it.
Address: 670 Spectrum Center Dr, Irvine, CA 92618
During the Christmas season, Irvine Spectrum plays host to many Christmas activities, including photos with Santa! Like Brea mall, they also offer the opportunity for special needs Santa photos, and pet photos as well!
There are many fun things to do at Irvine Spectrum, but one of the highlights is the giant wheel at the center of everything! Once you’re at the top, you can get a fantastic view of all the decorations and the tree right across the way.
At Irvine Spectrum, there are an endless amount of restaurants to choose from, but Silverlake Ramen takes the cake as one of the best. The classic ramen with a creamy pork broth is one of the most popular dishes at their restaurant and there’s no question as to why! Silverlake cannot be missed out on.
Bonus: Aquarium of the Pacific
Address: 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802
Aquarium Holidays at Aquarium of the Pacific offers a unique opportunity to see and take pictures with submerged Santa. On weekends, December 3 through 18 the Aquarium has photo opportunities with diver Santa, a real snow play area on the front lawn plus festive décor, shopping and snowfall in the Great Hall.
More Photos With Santa
Malls & Shopping Centers Offering Photos With Santa
Most malls and shopping centers offer photos with Santa during the holiday season. Some have ongoing photo opportunities, while others will have select dates to celebrate with a special visit with the man from the North Pole.
- Bella Terra: 7777 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach
- Brea Downtown: 330 W Birch St, Brea (weekends only)
- Fashion Island: 401 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach
- Kaleidoscope Center: 27741 Crown Valley Parkway, Mission Viejo (select dates)
- Laguna Hills Mall: 24155 Laguna Hills Mall, Laguna Hills
- The Marketplace Tustin: 2961 El Camino Real, Tustin (select dates)
- Metro Pointe At South Coast: 901 S Coast Drive, Costa Mesa
- Outlets At an Clemente: 101 W Avenida Vista Hermosa, San Clemente
- The Shops At Mission Viejo: 555 The Shops at Mission Viejo, Mission Viejo
- The Village At Orange: 1500 East Village Way, Orange
- Westminster Mall: 1025 Westminster Mall, Westminster
Events Featuring Photos With Santa
Keep an eye on your community calendar! Lots of cities host holiday festivals, tree lightings, and other seasonal celebrations with a visit from Santa.
- Aliso Viejo All Is Bright Celebration: December 1, 2022 5PM – 8PM
- Anaheim Downtown Holiday Village: December 3, 2022 3PM – 5PM
- Anaheim Hills Festival: December 17, 2022 11AM – 1PM
- Anaheim Plaza Holiday Event: December 10, 2022 11AM – 1PM
- Brea Tree Lighting: December 1, 2022 6:30PM
- Buena Park Downtown Event: December 10, 2022 2PM – 6PM
- Buena Park Tree Lighting: December 2, 2022 6PM
- Corona Del Mar Christmas Walk: December 4, 2022 11AM – 5PM
- Corona Del Mar Night of 1000 Lights: Select dates & times
- Costa Mesa Snoopy House: Dec. 16-18, 2022 5:30 – 8:30PM
- Cypress Holiday Sing: December 6, 2022 at 6PM
- Dana Point Holidays At The Harbor: Nov. 16 January 2023 (select dates and times)
- Fountain Valley Tree Lighting: December 3, 2022 4:30PM – 8:30PM
- Fullerton Winter Market: December 3, 2022 2PM – 6PM
- Garden Grove Winter In The Grove: December 3, 2022 3PM – 7PM
- Irvine Great Park Holidayz at the Park: Nov. 19 – Jan. 1 (select dates and times)
- Irvine Regional Park’s Santa’s Village: Nov. 25 – Dec. 23, 2022
- Irvine’s Hikari Festival at Tanaka Farms: Nov. 25 – Dec. 30, 2022 (select dates and times)
- Ladera Ranch Miracle on Mercantile Way: Dec. 3, 2022 2PM – 5PM
- Laguna Beach Hospitality Night: Dec. 2, 2022 5PM
- Laguna Beach Winter Fantasy at Sawdust Festival: Select dates and Times
- Laguna Niguel Tree Lighting: Dec. 3, 2022 4PM – 9PM
- Lake Forest’s Holiday Lights at Heritage Hill: Dec. 9-11, 2022 5PM – 9PM
- La Palma Central Park Tree Lighting: December 7, 2022 4-6PM
- Mission Viejo Santa’s Workshop: Saturdays & Sundays Dec. 3-Dec. 18, 2022
- Newport Beach’s Once Upon A Christmas: Now through Dec. 24, 2022
- Orange Tree Lighting: December 4, 2022 3:30 -7PM
- Orange’s Christmas At The OC Zoo: December 10, 2022 10AM – 3PM
- Placentia Tree Lighting: December 1, 2022 6-8PM
- Rossmoor Winter Festival: December 10, 2022 4PM – 9PM
- San Clemente Santa’s Village By The Sea: December 3, 2022 4-9PM
- San Clemente Sunsets With Santa: Dec. 10, 11, 17, & 18, 2022
- Santa Ana Winter Village: Select dates & times
- Stanton Tree Lighting: December 1, 2022 6:30-8:30PM
- Westminster Santa On The Go: Select dates & Times
- WinterFest OC: Nov. 25 – Jan. 1 (Meet and greets at select times)
- Yorba Linda Holiday on Main Street: December 3, 2022 5-9PM
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Morgan Mulac is a freelance writer who has spent years on the road as a nomad and now has settled back in California with her family. Some of her favorite spots to travel to in California are in Orange County and the many beaches along the coast. She’s an avid writer about her journeys and enjoys sharing the beauty California has to offer.