This year’s list of Santa Claus photo locations is brought to you by Christmasville in Emeryville.
Santa Claus is coming to town alright, but where? And when? Here are a gazillion wonderful opportunities (not to mention if you find Santa on a train or boat). Sensitive Santa and Black Santa Claus are also checking their lists twice. Our list will grow throughout the Christmas season as we discover Santa Claus in new places. There are also a few very clever virtual Santa options.
We try to indicate whether events are BYO cameras or with photographers on hand. Prices vary. Hop to Santa’s Calendar. Please note that many locations require advance reservations.
Where to see Santa Claus in the East Bay
Christmasville Santa Claus Photos, Emeryville
Christmasville is a magical photoshoot experience with Santa in the friendly neighborhood of Emeryville. Your family will be guided in a memorable, private, covid-safe, and contact-less encounter with the Jolly One — and wind up with beautiful, professional photographs. Let’s celebrate the Holidays like never before.
Every Christmasville session includes a private visit for your family to the North Pole through Santa’s busy workshop. You will join him in his living room while he checks his list twice and asks you what you want for Christmas. The photographer, Leah Marie Studio, will capture the whole story as you and your family star in your own scene of the childhood magic of Santa. Your session fees include your favorite photo from the shoot.
Optional upgrades: Add Christmas cards, photo albums, framed canvas prints, additional images, and local-themed gift boxes to your shoot. There is also an Acts of Kindness program to share this special experience with others who may need some assistance this year (apply here).
Book now for available sessions Nov 14 – Dec 19. ** These sessions are extremely limited so make sure you BOOK ahead of time to secure your spot and get your photos back in time for the holidays. ** As of right now, Santa Steve (above) is available Fridays and Saturdays and Santa Sola (below) is available on Sundays. Book now >>
Christmasville is dedicated to keeping the magic of Christmas alive. Let’s cherish the tradition of Christmas and encourage our children to get excited about the holidays. Give them an experience they will never forget and something to talk about all season long.
Lots more places to see Santa Claus in the East Bay
Ho ho ho! Santa Claus will be setting up shop here, too
Count on some regular appearances by Santa Claus in the following places throughout November and December.
Santa on Broadway Plaza, Walnut Creek
From November 18 to Christmas Eve (closed for Thanksgiving), Santa Claus is offering photos near True Food Kitchen. Reservations are strongly suggested. There will be 3 pet nights. Photo packages run from $20 to $50.
Location: Broadway Plaza near 120 Broadway, Walnut Creek
Website for details >
Black Santa at Westfield Shopping Center, San Francisco
November 26-28 only. NBA all-star, Baron Davis’ Black Santa (larger than life mascot-style characters) will make a limited appearance for Thanksgiving weekend only. The Selfie Market has many photo opportunities and merchandise for sale. BYO camera. Book tickets in advance.
Location: The Selfie Market, Westfield Shopping Center 3rd Floor (next to Bloomingdale’s), San Francisco
Website for reservations >
Alameda South Shore Center, Alameda
From November 26 to December 24, Santa Claus has a set-up for daily photos with free gifts for children while supplies last. Appointments are strongly recommended. Photo packages are available with pets, too. Prices are approximately $25 to $50 for photo packages.
Location: Alameda South Shore Center, 523 Mulberry Street, Alameda
Check schedule and details on website >
Santa Photos at Southland Mall, Hayward
From November 26 to December 21, Santa Claus is ho-ho-hoping to see you. Photo packages run from $20 to $50.
Location: Southland Mall, One Southland Mall Drive, Hayward
Reserve a spot >
Tilden Park Merry-Go-Round Breakfast with Santa, Berkeley
December 4, 11, and 18 from 8:30 to 11:30 am, families can enjoy unlimited carousel rides, buffet-style breakfast, photos with Santa and his elf while a classic Christmas movie plays on the screens. Capacity will be limited to advanced ticket holders. Santa Claus also stops by the holiday carousel other times, too. Kids pay $35 for the breakfast event, adults $55. Take your own photos.
Location: Tilden Park Merry-Go-Round, Central Park Drive &, Lake Anza Rd, Berkeley
Reservations required >
Visit Santa at a petting zoo, Brentwood
December 5, Reserve your spot for a “lovely personal experience with Santa” at Prancing Princess Pony. Your 45 minute session includes one pose with Santa Claus, meet and greet Frozen friends, time in the petting zoo. $100 per group, single photo included (BYO camera). For an extra fee, register for a CUTARTS silhouette. Hot chocolate is available for sale.
Location: Rafter D Ranch, 8400 Byron Hwy, Brentwood, CA 94513
Website to reserve >
Visit To the North Pole @ Lesher Center, Walnut Creek
From December 11 to 23, Santa and Mrs. Claus are greeting families with ten-minute reservation times for a personalized experience. You and your family will get a private visit to their kitchen and workshop. $40 per family of up to five.
Location: George and Sonja Vukasin Theatre, 1601 Civic Center, Walnut Creek
Website to reserve >
Fairy Winterland, Oakland
From December 17 to 30, children can visit Santa Claus as he leads the nightly parade. Find out more about Santa Claus at Children’s Fairyland. Plan to take your own photos.
Santa at City Center Bishop Ranch, San Ramon
Weekends from November 27 to December 19, Have the kids’ photos taken with Santa while maintaining a safe distance, as stilt holiday characters and the Bubble Lady roam the Center. Rest assured, Santa and his helpers will be fully vaccinated. No reservation is required. Stop by the ice rink while you’re there.
Location: City Center Bishop Ranch, 6000 Bollinger Canyon Road, San Ramon
Website for details.
Woodland Garden Santa Weekends @ Filoli, Woodside
Weekends from December 4-19, guests at Filoli are invited to snap a selfie with Santa Claus on his festive golden throne at Woodland Court. Santa visits are included with admission on select dates. Book now >
Virtual ways to see Santa Claus
- Macy’s Santaland at Home is a festive, online experience for families running Friday, Nov. 26 through Thursday, Dec. 24. Up to three children can take part in the customized experience at a time. Visit Santaland >>
- Picture Me Santa allows parents to digitally create a Santa photo with a willing child using the magic of photo editing. See more on their website >>
- NORAD Santa Tracker is an annual Christmas-themed program that starts on Dec. 1, but the actual Santa tracking starts on midnight of Dec. 23. You can watch Santa and his sleigh tour the entire world, digitally on NORADSanta.org.
Find more places to go this Christmas in our East Bay Holiday Activities Guide.
Thanks to Christmasville in Emeryville for getting super creative to make holiday magic for families and for sponsoring this post. Ho ho ho!