Where to Take Pictures with Santa For Free in San Diego

There are so many community events around San Diego to get into the holiday spirit. Did you know that many of these events are free and even include the opportunity to meet and visit with Santa Claus himself at no charge?

Here is a round up of places and events where you can take your kids to see Santa Claus for free. But don’t forget to bring your own camera! This list focuses on events occurring along or near the 56 Freeway in Northern San Diego.

*Note: while we try to keep this information as current as possible, please confirm the dates and times before you go. *

Visits with Santa at Del Mar Highlands Town Center

Date: November 16, 21, 30 and December 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 19 and 21

Time: Hours vary by day

Location: Del Mar Highlands Town Center, 12925 El Camino Real, San Diego, CA 92130

Visits with Santa at Del Mar Highlands Town Center

Pop over to Del Mar Highlands Town Center to do some shopping and visit with Santa.

Olde Fashioned Christmas at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe

Date: Friday, December 6, 2019

Time: 5 to 10 pm

Location: Front Lawns of The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, 5951 Linea Del Cielo, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067

Marking its 6th anniversary, Olde Fashioned Christmas at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe will include a tree lighting at 6 pm and free pictures with Santa Claus at 6:30 pm. Plus, all evening long, guests can enjoy arts and crafts, live music and a bounce house. There will also be a Soup Challenge from 5 to 8 pm benefiting Shelter to Soldier.

6th Annual Cookies and Cocoa with Santa

Date: Sunday, December 8, 2019

Time: 1 to 3 pm

Location: Hotel Karlan San Diego, 14455 Penasquitos Drive, San Diego, CA 92129

Hosted by the Rancho Penasquitos Town Council, the free 6th Annual Cookies & Cocoa with Santa event will give guests the opportunity to enjoy sweet treats and take free photos with Santa Claus. Additionally, you can make arts and crafts, enjoy holiday music and face painting. Consider bringing a gift that will go to a foster child with Voices for Children San Diego.

Santa by the Sea at Del Mar Village

Date: Sunday, December 8, 2019

Time: 3 to 5 pm

Location: NW Corner of Camino Del Mar and 15th Street in Del Mar

The holidays are here and Santa is making a stop in Del Mar Village! Come celebrate the holiday season as Santa joins us for an afternoon of jolly activities leading up to an annual Tree Lighting at 5pm. Holiday treats and refreshments will be available as well as fun-filled holiday crafts for all to enjoy. Design your own rad hat and write a letter to Santa’s workshop. Take free pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Enjoy live holiday music and visits from special holiday characters. 

Plus, bring unwrapped gift donations to the L’Auberge Del mar to benefit children in need.

Meet Santa at Flower Hill Promenade

Dates and Times: December 6 from 1 to 5 pm, December 7 from 10 to 4 pm, December 8 from 10 to 4 pm, December 14 from 9 to 11 am, 12 to 2 pm and 3 to 4 pm, December 15 from 10 to 4 pm

Location: Flower Hill Promenade, 2720 Via De La Valle, Del Mar, CA 92014

Say hello to the Big Man himself at Flower Hill Promenade.

Holidays at One Paseo

Date: December 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22

Time: 11 am to 3 pm

Location: One Paseo, 3725 Paseo Place, San Diego, CA 92130

Visit with Santa, whisper your wishes and snap a photo

Tree Lighting at the Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch

Date: Saturday, November 30, 2019

Time: 5 to 7:30 pm

Location: The Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch, 13490 Pacific Highlands Ranch Parkway, San Diego, CA 92130

The Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch will be hosting its annual tree lighting along with live music, treats and, of course, visits with Santa Claus.

Guide to San Diego Theme Park Holiday Events 2019

Pin Me – 2019 Guide to San Diego Theme Park Holiday Events

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and San Diego’s world famous theme parks are gearing up for the holidays. Today, I am presenting a round up of all of the holiday celebration happenings at SeaWorld San Diego, LEGOLAND California, the San Diego Zoo, and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

There will be plenty of chances to see the amusement parks decorated for the holidays, visit with Santa and enjoy the holidays in a way you can only do in Southern California!

San Diego Zoo

Jungle Bells, the San Diego Zoo’s annual holiday celebration will take place from December 13, 2019 to January 5, 2020. Jungle Bells will feature musical performances, entertainers and animal encounters in locations around the Zoo, as well as holiday treats and dining, gift shopping and holiday photo opportunities. Visits with Santa will take place until December 25.

New this year, is Aurora, a magical and spectcular experience with lights, projections, music and more, which will take place every evening, except December 24.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Wild Holidays at the Park runs on select days from November 29, 2019 to January 5, 2020. The scheduled days are:

  • November 29 to December 1
  • December 7-8, 14-15 and 20-23
  • December 26 – January 5

From 4 to 8 pm the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is transformed into a winter wonderland where park guests can enjoy stilt walkers, acrobats, a shadow puppet theatre and black light show. There will be live music and holiday food specials and visitors can meet Santa, costumed characters and animal ambassadors.

The Safari Park will also be hosting two special events for an additional charge:

  • Breakfast with Santa – Saturday, December 7 and Sunday, December 8: 9 AM to 10:30 AM
    • Enjoy a breakfast buffet at Kilima Point with jolly ole Santa Claus.
    • $32.95 for adults; $19.95 for children ages 3 to 11
  • Wild Holidays Express – Saturdays, December 7 and December 14: 5 to 8 PM
    • Meet animal ambassadors up close and enjoy special holiday activities including hot cocoa by the fire, cookie decorating, and making holiday gifts for your favorite animals. Enjoy a storytelling session with Shari Lyon, author of Paws, Hoofs, and Wings: Animal Heroes of the San Diego Zoo, followed by a delicious “breakfast for dinner.” Then, embark on a decked-out holiday Africa Tram for a special nighttime song and story tour!
    • $64.95 per person for adults, $44.95 per person for children ages 3 to 11

SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego Christmas Celebration – Photo from seaworld.com

SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas Celebration runs from November 23, 2019 to January 5, 2020. Along with some old favorites, this year’s celebration will include plenty of new attractions including:

  • Cirque Christmas – See the Nutcracker come to life with acrobatic displays from NextGen of Cirque Du Soleil. (Note – Cirque Christmas will only be performed Wednesday – Monday).
  • Winter Wonderland on Ice – Enjoy Christmas songs and beautiful choreography with this magical ice skating show. (Note – Winter Wonderland on Ice will only be performed Tuesday – Sunday).
  • Sesame Street Christmas Village – Experience the twinkling lights on Sesame Street, snow fall, dancing with your favorite furry friends and story time with Mrs. Claus.
  • Dolphin Island Christmas – Celebrate the Christmas season Island-style with dolphins and pilot whales in this tropical holiday show.
  • Christmas Light Tunnel – Walk inside the new 140-foot tunnel of lights that dance to Christmas music.

Plus, seasonal favorites will be returning this year, such as Clyde and Seamore’s Christmas Special, featuring the beloved sea lions, meet Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and friends while watching the 40-foot Christmas tree light up nightly.

LEGOLAND California

LEGO Christmas Tree at LEGOLAND California – Photo from LEGOLAND California

Holidays at LEGOLAND runs from November 23 to December 31, 2019, and the entire resort will be decked out in festive decor to celebrate the season.

Along with favorite holiday characters like Santa Claus and the Toy Soldier, this year LEGOLAND is welcoming The Gingerbread Man for hugs and photographs!

Fun Town will host a 30-foot, LEGO Christmas tree with over 400 LEGO ornaments. The tree will twinkle to holidays songs during the Holiday Light Show.

Plus, LEGOLAND has an all-new seasonal show called Santa’s Top Elf. At night, The Yule Tides will serenade guests with merry music.

For guests attending Kids’ New Year’s Eve, there will be kids’ bands, party favors and a giant brick drop at 6 pm to ring in the new year!