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, and at any number of holiday shopping events. 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 17-18, 2018
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 23-December 23, 2018
Hey Santa, wait, let me take a selfie! Santa Claus hangs out, dude-like, at FIGat7th's TASTE Food Hall, and is joined this year by his better half. Visitors are welcome to snap selfies, no matter how long their arms, or to use the free photo booth. FREE
Santa at the Paley Center
November 24-December 23, 2018
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
Photo courtesy of Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau
Fashion Santa on Rodeo Drive
November 23-December 14, 2018
Santa takes time out of his schedule to bring some down-home holiday cheer to the nice folks on Rodeo Drive in this only-in-LA experience. FREE
North Pole Express
November 24-December 26, 2018
Fillmore and Western Railway offers two different train ride experiences with Santa - either to visit his polar workshop, or to ride the Sugar Plum Express to a holiday village.
Shogun Santa (Courtesy of Go Little Tokyo Holiday Marketplace)
December 15, 16, 22, 23, 2018
Snap a selfie with Shogun Santa as his sleigh lands in Little Tokyo on select weekends this December. FREE
December 8-9, 2018
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 8-23, 2018
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 8, 2018
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
St. Nick is at Disney's California Adventure for Santa's Holiday Visit. Photo by Scott Brinegar/Disneyland Resort
Ski with Santa
December 16, 2018
Mountain High's annual Santa Sunday offers two equally great options: come to the resort dressed as Santa Claus and get a free lift ticket (with a $20 donation to a climate change advocacy group) or just come to the resort to ski with 100 or so Santas all day. Either way, it's a great photo op, with the bonus of a great day on the slopes.
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, 2018-January 6, 2019.
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