Best Places to See Santa in San Diego This Holiday Season
December 12, 2023

Take a sneak peek at the best places and events to see Santa, have a jolly breakfast, take a photo, and make the most of your holiday season in San Diego like no other!

Christmas in San Diego is a wonderful time of the year, brimming with a festive spirit. It’s the perfect time to plan some holiday outings with your kids to share the joys of the yuletide season and experience the magical adventure for the whole family. And, of course, it’s time to get that face-to-face encounter with the father of Christmas — the jolly ol’ Saint Nick. Whether it be a photo opportunity or a jolly breakfast with the man in the red suit, there are a lot of holiday events and the best places to see Santa in San Diego that will keep you busy this Christmas season!

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During the holiday season, San Diego comes alive with massive Christmas decorations and dazzling twinkling light displays all over town that brings out a special kind of magic. Though it might not have that cozy “white Christmas” weather, San Diego defies the 60-degree forecast and conducts festive events outdoors that will still make you feel like you’re at the North Pole with Santa. And for many local families, it just doesn’t feel like the holidays without taking your kids to see Santa Claus. The sun might be out, but Santa Claus is coming to town with many appearances and surprise visits all over the city.

Kids everywhere want to visit with Santa this holiday season. And if you’re looking for the best places to see Santa in San Diego, we’ve got you covered! From malls and parks to an entire Christmas village and drive-worthy experiences, we’ve made a list of events and activities around San Diego where you can snag a holiday photo for the album (some will even pose with your pet) have a sumptuous breakfast with Santa, or even a close encounter where kids can crawl up on his lap and deliver their Christmas wishes to the big man in person!

Best Places and Events to See Santa in San Diego This Holiday Season

Best places to see Santa events in San Diego this holiday season - Celebrate Christmas at SeaWorld
Photo by: SeaWorld San Diego

Celebrate Christmas at SeaWorld

SeaWorld San Diego
500 SeaWorld Dr., San Diego, CA, 92109
Phone Number: (619) 222-4732

November 17, 2023 – January 7, 2024
Monday – Sunday | 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Bring your family together for the eye-catching spectacle, priceless traditions, and fun-filled surprises of SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas Celebration. The holidays are meant to be merry and bright, and that’s precisely what you’ll find as this particular event returns with more wondrous moments than ever. See dazzling new Christmas shows or meet Santa and Rudolph. Feel the snow falling and watch the sky light up with holiday fireworks.

Find photo-perfect moments across acres of beautiful decorations, including a towering 30-foot sparkling Christmas tree and a music-activated tunnel of lights. Savor delicious candy-topped hot chocolate and other treats for all ages. It’s also a chance to experience the wonders of SeaWorld in a spectacular new way, from thrilling rides against a sparkling backdrop to animal presentations with a festive twist.

Breakfast and photo with Santa in San Diego - Photos with Santa at Parkway Plaza
Photo by: Parkway Plaza

Photos with Santa at Parkway Plaza

Parkway Plaza
415 Fletcher Parkway, El Cajon, CA 92020
Phone Number: (619) 579-9932

November 18 – December 24, 2023
Monday – Sunday | 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM (Time Varies)
(Closed on Christmas Day)

Make magical holiday memories with your family as you visit Santa! Reservations are strongly recommended – walk-ins are allowed as schedule permits but cannot be guaranteed.

Best places to see Santa events in San Diego this holiday season - The Forum
Photo by: The Forum Carlsbad

Santa Visits The Forum

The Forum Carlsbad
1905 Calle Barcelons, Ste. 200, Carlsbad, CA 92009
Phone Number: (760) 479-0166

December 2 – 23, 2022
Saturday – Sunday | 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM

One of the best places to see Santa in San Diego this holiday season is at The Forum. Each Saturday and Sunday through December 23, families can visit Santa in the Garden Area near YETI from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Visits with Santa are complimentary but don’t forget your camera to capture the memories. In addition, guests can enjoy holiday characters on Saturdays and strolling carolers on Sundays.

Selfies with Santa at Santa’s Workshop
Photo by: Seaport Village

Selfies with Santa at Santa’s Workshop

Seaport Village
849 West Harbor Dr., San Diego, CA, 92101
Phone Number: (619) 530-0704

December 16-17, 2023 
Saturday – Sunday | 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Santa will be hanging up his wetsuit, putting on his boots and fur and bringing his most entertaining Elf back to the Village for some traditional holiday fun and photos. Snap a selfie with Santa during the first three weekends in December at Seaport Village. Stroll on over to Santa’s Workshop located behind Geppetto’s Toys and capture your own photos to share with friends and family.

Breakfast and photo with Santa in San Diego - Santa’s Treehouse
Photo by: Santa’s Treehouse

Santa’s Treehouse

Santa’s Treehouse
15263 Lawson Valley Rd., Jamul, CA 91935
Phone Number: (619) 873 5411

November 25 – December 23, 2023
Saturday – Sunday | 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Skip the lines and spend quality time with Mr. and Mrs. Claus in their treehouse. In addition to the professional photo session with Santa, kids will have time to chat about what’s on their wish lists, tour the tree house, sit by the fireplace, and even sit in the big man’s chair.

After your time with Santa, take a tour of his Treehouse. Hang out by the fireplace, Sit in Santa’s Chair, take photos, etc. You might even get a surprise visit from Mrs. Claus. Claim your spot at this popular event—offered by reservation only.

Places and events to see Santa in San Diego - Holiday by the Bay
Photo by: Hilton San Diego Bayfront

Holiday by the Bay

1 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101
Phone Number: (619) 564-3333

November 25 – December 31, 2023 
Friday – Saturday | 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Sunday | 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Hilton San Diego Bayfront is excited to continue its memorable family activities and events, outdoor holiday movies, daily trips to Coronado Island on the Coronado Beach Bus, places to see Santa, and more will be available for hotel guests this Christmas season in San Diego. Holiday happenings include 12 Days of Bliss Spa Special, Holiday Cookies in the Hotel Lobby, and Life-Sized Gingerbread House.

They will also have a series of events every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, including Write a Letter to Santa, Photos with Santa, Breakfast with Santa, Storytime with Mrs. Claus, Stocking and Ornament Decorating, Naughty or Nice Happy Hour, and more.

Coastal Christmas Del Mar
Photo by: Coastal Christmas Del Mar

Coastal Christmas Del Mar

Del Mar Fairgrounds
2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar, CA, 92014
Phone Number: (858) 755-1161

December 14-17, 21-26, & 29-30, 2023
Thursday – Sunday | 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Get ready to embark on a festive journey as Del Mar Fairgrounds transforms this iconic venue into a winter wonderland by the sea. With twinkling lights, holiday cheer, and delicious snacks and drinks, Coastal Christmas promises to be your new favorite holiday tradition. Join everyone for the warmth of the season, the joy of community, and the beauty of the coast, all wrapped up in one enchanting festival.

Coastal Christmas Holiday Light Spectacular also hosts a special holiday skating night with Santa and Peppermint Polly! Glide around the rink and snap photos with the big guy himself and his good friend Peppermint Polly. So, bring your kids for a night of frosty fun and sparkling lights.

Photo by: San Diego Zoo

Santa’s Factory at San Diego Zoo

Price Education Center
2920 Zoo Dr., San Diego, CA 92101
Phone Number: (619) 231-1515

November 24-26, December 2-3, & 24, 2023
Friday Sunday | 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM
December 8–23 & 25, 2023
Daily | 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM

One of the best places to see Santa is the Jungle Bells events at San Diego Zoo, which has all the Christmas fixings you might be looking for. Experience the magic and spirit of the holiday season at the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Join everyone for Jungle Bells as they light up the night until 8 pm. (*except December 24) with amazing entertainment—including the end-of-the-evening spectacular, Aurora.

Bring the whole family, and enjoy all the fun and warmth of this joyous annual celebration. Guests of all ages will love stopping by Santa’s Factory for a visit—and getting a photo with the jolly old elf himself. Specifically, you’ll find Santa (and his factory) in the Lost Forest—at the Price Education Center.

Santa’s Workshop

César Chávez Community Center
455 Sycamore Rd., San Diego, CA 92173
Phone Number: (619) 424-0464

December 21, 2023
Thursday | 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM

San Diego has many fun events to spend your holiday and see Santa, whether for a breakfast session or photo ops, and César Chávez Community Center is one of the best places to visit. This free event includes arts and crafts, a cupcake walk, face painting, carnival games and prizes, a photo booth, a balloon artist, and a holiday family magic show!

Breakfast and photo with Santa in San Diego - Malibu Farm
Photo by: Seaport Village

Malibu Farm Breakfast with Santa

Malibu Farm Seaport Village – San Diego
831 W Harbor Dr., San Diego, CA 92101
Phone Number: (619) 695-2300

December 24, 2023
Sunday | 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Come see Santa one last time before he takes flight on Christmas Eve. Start a new holiday tradition and bring the whole family to Breakfast with Santa at Malibu Farm on Sunday, December 24th, from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. No reservation is accepted; seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Finding Santa This Holiday Season in San Diego

Visits with Santa are at the heart of every family’s holiday traditions. And if you haven’t brought the kids to see Santa yet, there’s still plenty of time leading to Christmas day. The Big Man will be available at locations across San Diego, waiting for your little ones who hope to give him the lowdown on their Christmas wish list. Whether it’s your child’s first time seeing Santa or they have been several times, these events and places to see Santa in San Diego are perfect for everyone to take a photo, have breakfast, or chill with the man in the red suit!

San Diego offers so many opportunities for kids to enjoy and have fun all year round! Check out our list of resources, or browse through our things to do in San Diego with kids. Still looking for more activities for kids in San Diego? No problem! Check out our comprehensive listing of places to go in the region and our highly recommended seasonal blog posts.

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