Mall Santas have a special place in many of our hearts (and in most Southland shopping centers), and the holidays really aren't complete without a round of Miracle on 34th Street. Still, we're not raising little Manhattanites; we're raising Southern California babies, and that calls for an outside-the-box kind of Santa Claus photo. If you're in search of quantity, Santa can be found in every mall, at every Christmas tree lighting, at any number of holiday shopping events, and even at one or two Nutcracker performances. But for some real Angeleno quality, snap a photo with Santa at one of these fun, funky, and totally LA Father Christmas experiences.
Surfing Santa Competition
November 18-19, 2017
If Santa in a rip curl is what you want on your Christmas card, this pre-Thanksgiving event in Orange County is the one to hit. Dress like Santa and enter the charitable competition, or just hang on the beach and watch Father Christmas hang ten. FREE to view
Selfies with Santa
November 24-December 24, 2017
Hey Santa, wait, let me take a selfie! Santa Claus hangs out, dude-like, in the Food Court of Figat7th. Visitors are welcome to snap free selfies, no matter how long their arms. FREE
Santa at the Paley Center
November 25 - December 24, 2017
As if he weren't busy enough, Santa is spending his weekends through Christmas Eve at the Paley Center (how does he do it?), while holiday television classics screen for free all day Wednesday through Sunday. FREE
North Pole Express
November 25-December 26, 2017
Fillmore and Western Railway offers three different train ride experiences with Santa - either to visit his polar workshop, buy a Christmas tree, or have dinner with him right on the train.
Photo courtesy of Beverly Hills
Fashion Santa on Rodeo Drive
December 1-19, 2017
Santa and Mrs. Claus take time out of their schedules to bring some down-home holiday cheer to the nice folks on Rodeo Drive in this only-in-LA experience. FREE
Shogun Santa (Courtesy of Go Little Tokyo Holiday Marketplace)
December 2-25, 2017
The third annual Go Little Tokyo Holiday Marketplace offers a variety of ways to celebrate all things Santa with Japanese flavor—including a full-on Shogun Santa photo op (on select weekends). FREE
December 2-3, 2017
Santa dives in among the underwater critters at the Aquarium of the Pacific to bring them some Christmas treats, and guests can pose for photos from the dry side of the glass.
Look out behind you, Santa! (Photo credit: prweb)
Candy Cane Lane
December 9-23, 2017
Nothing succeeds like excess, right? Candy Cane Lane offers an excess of holiday lights, with Santa's sleigh parked in the middle of it all, for photo ops during certain hours. FREE
December 9, 2017
Too obvious? Even if it is, our LA kids need to be photographed with Santa and his surfboard at least once in their lifetimes. Redondo Pier offers its annual opportunity. FREE
Holly Jolly Day
December 16, 2017
Continuing the theme of excess, how about putting on the Ritz? Santa has his own 1,300-pound gingerbread suite at the JW Marriott (the Ritz Carlton's face at LA Live), and there he sits, larger than LA life, taking photos with the kids who survive the bottomless feast of sweets (and open hot chocolate bar) at the third annual Holly Jolly Day.
St. Nick is at Disney's California Adventure for Santa's Holiday Visit. Photo by Scott Brinegar/Disneyland Resort
Santa at Disneyland
This is a pretty traditional Santa Claus, and the visit is not remotely free, but what could be more SoCal than hanging with the happiest dude on earth at the happiest place on earth? The King of Christmas can be found at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail in California Adventure, where his elves have some outdoor games set up, and he takes photos with fans, through Christmas Eve. If your preference is for something more uniquely Disney, Santa Goofy is at Ahwahnee Camp Circle posing for photos and signing autographs from December 25 - January 7, 2018.
You can find more holiday activities in our Holiday Fun Guide; and subscribing to our weekly newsletter will help make sure you don't miss a thing!
Originally published November 28, 2013
Top photo via Bigstock