Kids longing for more than a quick snapshot with Santa? We’ve got the scoop on where to go to mingle with Kris Kringle for longer than a flash. Have breakfast with the big guy or enjoy extended festivities in his company at these fun events where Santa is the centerpiece. From the beach to the winery to the nut farm and the lake, read on for where to catch up with jolly Old Saint Nicholas all over San Diego this holiday season.

photo: Hotel del Coronado

Santa Brunch & Holiday Festival at Hotel del Coronado

Join The Del for a merry start to the holiday season! Spend time in Santa’s Village and enjoy a professional ice skating show, carnival games and prizes, s’mores on the beach, fireworks, a holiday performance by Coronado's schools, visits and photos with Santa and much more.

Date: Nov. 28
Time: 4-7 p.m.
Cost: Varies based on activities; photos with Santa are $15/photo

The Del also offers a Sunday Brunch with Santa! Kids of all ages are invited to meet St. Nick in the Crown Room during this festive brunch. Parents, be sure to bring your cameras to take photos of your little ones catching up with Mr. Claus.

Date: Dec. 2, 9, 16, 23
Cost: Adults/$105; Kids 6-12/$40; Kids under 5/free

1500 Orange Ave.
Coronado, CA 92118


photo: Del Mar Village

Santa by the Sea, Del Mar

Santa Claus is coming to Del Mar Village! Before the big meet and greet, kids can create holiday crafts including Rad Hatter Holiday hats and write notes to be delivered to Santa's workshop while enjoying cookies and hearty soups. Dr. Seuss’s The Grinch and Candy Land’s Mr. Mint will join in the fun. Revelers are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to benefit children in need.

Date: Sat., Dec. 2
Time: 3-5 p.m. (tree lighting is at 5 p.m.)
Cost: Free

L'Auberge Amphitheater
Camino Del Mar & 15th St.
Del Mar, CA

Santa Breakfast, Bernardo Winery

Wake up, smell the coffee and enjoy a mimosa and brunch while the kids mingle with Kris Kringle at Bernardo Winery. In addition to face-time with Santa, kids will also enjoy face painting, balloon animals, cookie decorating and ornament making and animal encounters with creatures from Wild Wonders. Book your reservation soon because the tickets go fast.

Dates: Dec. 17-22
Time: 9:30 a.m.-noon
Cost: Presale only––no tickets day of event

13330 Paseo Del Verano Norte
San Diego, CA



Do you have a LEGO fanatic in your house? If so, a photo op with the LEGOLAND brick Santa and the reindeer pulling his sleigh will be a super fun option this year. Plus, you're at LEGOLAND! Check out the 30-foot tall LEGO Christmas tree, then head to Heartlake City for the LEGO Friends holiday show and the new show in Fun Town: The Yule Tides. Don't miss the yummy seasonal holiday treats including peppermint milkshakes and holiday cookies

Dates: Nov. 17-Dec. 31
Cost: Admission to park

1 Legoland Dr.
Carlsbad, CA
Online: legoland/holidays

photo: Bates Nut Farm Facebook page

Christmas in the Valley, Bates Nut Farm

Your little helpers will be amazed as Santa arrives by fire truck. Then they get to take a Polar Express ride to visit Old Saint Nick himself. There are also crafts, carols and plenty of holiday fun. Bonus: you can check a few people off your holiday gift list at the cute shops. And if you have a little singing dove in your fam there will be a singing contest called "The Christmas Voice!"

Dates: Dec. 7 & 8
Time: Fri., 3-8 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

15954 Woods Valley Rd.
Valley Center, CA

photo: San Diego KOA

Santa Breakfast, San Diego KOA

Make your reservations today for a camping trip and full breakfast buffet with Santa (additional cost) at the San Diego KOA. Santa will be looking for your pixies to hear their wish lists and for the whole crew to take a happy camper Santa pic. The day before Santa's visit, little elves can decorate cookies and eat them with hot cocoa while watching the evening entertainment. This event sells out, so book now.

Dates: Dec. 7-9
Time: All weekend
Cost: $41-$75/day per campsite

San Diego KOA
111 N. 2nd Ave.
Chula Vista, CA
Online: sandiegoKOA/events

Santa at Santee Lakes

This amazingly festive winter event is not to be missed! Santa will be at 'snow hill' at Santee Lakes and look-out––there may even be a snowball fight! Your little helpers can get their face painted, ride a pony, make crafts and enjoy character meet and greets with some awesome guests. Snap a shot with the big guy before the merrymaking begins. Good to know: the line for Santa can be a long wait.

Date: Dec. 9
Time: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: Parking is $10/Tickets are $1 each and activities & rides range between 1-7 tickets

Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve
9310 Fanita Pkwy
Santee, CA

photo: San Diego Zoo

Jungle Bells, San Diego Zoo

What's cooler than seeing wild animals at nighttime? Head out to Jungle Bells fun at the San Diego Zoo. Find a seat next to Santa for that holiday photo op. Little revelers will love seeing the seasonal decorations, costumed characters, lighted displays and live entertainment including the Zoo's zany Dr. Zoolittle and Santa himself. Kids can also watch as animals enjoy unique enrichment treats, while sampling delicious indulgences of their own from the Zoo’s many restaurants and food stands. Don’t miss out on holiday shopping at the Zoo’s retail locations, or the holiday happy hour at Albert’s Restaurant—Happy Holidays Happens—with discounted drinks and appetizers available from 3 to 5 p.m. each day of Jungle Bells.

Dates: Dec. 14-Jan. 6
Cost: Jungle Bells activities and attractions are free with Zoo admission or membership. Parking is free. (Santa photos cost extra).

San Diego Zoo
2920 Zoo Dr.
San Diego, CA

Santa Breakfast, Safari Park

Santa Claus is coming for breakfast at the Safari Park and would love to take a picture with the whole family. After the snapshot, gather together at the scenic Kilima Point for a hearty breakfast buffet with Santa himself. Stay for the winter festivities and wild animals at the park.

Call 619-718-3000 to reserve your spot.

Dates: Dec. 8 &; Dec. 9
Time: 9-11 a.m.
Cost: $29.95/adult; $18.95/kids ages 3-11; Plus Safari Park admission

San Diego Zoo Safari Park
The Grove
15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd.
Escondido, CA

photo: Mirna E. via Yelp

Holiday in the Village, La Mesa

Santa is waiting at this charming festival, so grab your camera and be ready to get that perfect picture for holiday memories. Walk downtown and warm your hands by the fire pit, let little ones create some festive crafts, explore the kids' area, watch holiday movies and enjoy the sights and sounds of caroling and merriment.

Date: Dec. 7 & 8
Cost: Free

La Mesa Blvd.
La Mesa, CA
Online: lamesa/christmasinthevillage

Santa's Village in San Marcos

Head to Santa's Village and Tree Lighting at San Marcos Civic Center. This free event includes all-day fun for the whole family, from spending some quality time at breakfast with Santa and his helpers ($5/person) at 9 a.m. to the holiday parade, Santa's Village merriment including crafts and activities, vendors selling wares and entertainment in the courtyard, to the tree lighting at 5:30 p.m., your little elves will be tuckered out in the best way from all the festive fun!

Breakfast with Santa runs from 9-11 a.m. and tickets may be purchased here.

Date: Dec. 1,
Time: 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Cost: Breakfast $5/person

San Marcos Civic Center
40 W. San Marcos Blvd.
San Marcos, CA

––Nikki Walsh & Beth Shea


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