Getting a photo taken with Santa is a rite of passage for kids, as well as a tradition for many families. That being said, you certainly hope that your child will have a better experience visiting Santa than Ralphie in “A Christmas Story.” Orange County offers some great options, whether you want to take your kids to a mall, or you want to stay far away from malls during the holiday season. Try these places for a great experience getting photos of your kids with Santa Claus.
Irvine Regional Park
1 Irvine Park Road
Orange, CA 92869
Every year at Irvine Regional Park, you’ll find the Christmas train, which takes children through the park, and drops them off at the North Pole to visit Santa. This is a great option because it gives kids a memorable experience. Also, it means that you don’t have to go to a mall. Let’s face it: avoiding a mall at Christmastime is always welcome. Tickets are available at the Irvine Park Railroad website. The Christmas train runs through Dec. 23.
South Coast Plaza
3333 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
This year, head to South Coast Plaza where you’ll find Santa’s Village. A charming area of the mall that looks like something you would see in a movie, you’ll be able to have your photo taken with Santa (available as long as the mall is open through Christmas Eve) and kids can enjoy the train, the reindeer carousel and the craft center as well. This area will definitely keep your kids occupied while waiting for a photo with Santa.
401 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Fashion Island is known for its festive decorations – particularly its giant Christmas tree. It is also known for Santa House. This is a charming setup where your kids can visit the jolly man and get a photo with him in a great setting on the Atrium lawn. Photos with Santa are not available every day at Fashion Island, so make sure you consult the schedule and plan accordingly.
2301 San Joaquin Hills Road
Corona del Mar, CA 92625
If avoiding malls is something you want to do when it comes to getting photos of your children with Santa, then Roger’s Gardens is a great place to visit. While there is something magical about avoiding malls, that’s not the only magical thing about this experience. Photos with Santa are taken in the original Disneyland bandstand gazebo. Photos here are available until Dec. 20, so make sure to plan your visit before then.
1065 Brea Mall
Brea, CA 92821
Children can often be overwhelmed by the experience of meeting with Santa. It’s understandable. At a lot of places, there is a lot for a child to absorb in the whole scene surrounding Santa. At Brea Mall, the setup is charmingly simple. Here, you’ll find Santa in a chair big enough to accommodate him and a couple siblings that have come to visit him. Photos are available until Christmas Eve. Appointments are available here too, which is nice because then your kids won’t have to wait in a long line to meet Santa.