Where to See Santa

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Picture with Santa for 7-month-old

Nov 2009

This is my daughters first Christmas and I want to have her picture taken with Santa. Does anyone have any suggestions on where we should go? She will be 7 months old in December and it sometimes takes her a little while to warm up to people, is it a good idea to even have these pictures taken or should we wait until she is a little older? Excited about Santa

If your daughter has any stranger anxiety at all, I'd avoid it till next year. She won't really ''get it'' that a stranger with a strange beard who booms HO HO HO is actually a kind and safe friend. Think of how she reacts when handed over to a friend she knows; the novelty wears off after about ___ seconds and then she wants to go back to you or her other close caregiver. Now, cut that ___ in seconds and add a look of stark terror, and that's a preview of Baby's First Santa Photo. Edvard Munch would have had a field day with it.

Cuter photo: doing tummy-time on a soft white fake-fur rug, looking at a snow globe or playing with a stuffed reindeer or wearing an elf hat or even popping up out of a ''stocking''. .... Santa's wrangler

Looking for Santa for home party

Oct 2007

We're starting a new tradition this year with our four year old and 1 year old...to bring the magic of Santa to our home for all their friends and family. Have you rented a Santa and really enjoyed him? What was the estimated cost? How long was your visit? I am open for all feedback, comments and suggestions. Thank you!

I might suggest that you invest in a great suit and have a friend or family member do the job. Your question brought back WONDERFUL memories of annual Christmas celebrations at a Nebraska farmhouse where my grandmother and nine siblings were raised. One of my great-uncles would don a ratty old Santa suit each year (with something like a flat piece of white flannel for a beard!), knock on the window at some point in the evening and come in for 20 minutes or so to distribute the gifts that were under the tree. Of course, we kids figured out after a certain age that it was Uncle Bart - but it was still magical to hear that knock on the window! I can't imagine there being the same love involved with a hired person - or how I would feel as an adult (or even an older kid) telling this story if I knew that Santa had been PAID. I'm ''only'' 51, so this was not centuries ago. Here's a thank-you to my late Uncle Bart, and to my family for those memories. Nostalgic

Have you thought about buying a Santa Costume and having someone in your family be Santa? My husband is from Sweden and many families do this. Every year my husband ''excuses'' himself from the party (on Christmas eve) and then Santa magically appears! He usually sits the kids on his lap, asks a few questions, then gives them a special present like a bell from his reindeer. He says goodbye, then daddy comes back in from the ''store'', ''bathroom'' etc. and asks why everyone is so excited. Works like a charm and the kids are so excited. Even when they're a little older and figure out that daddy always disappears at just that same time, they don't tell. you can buy a Santa suit online. cheaper and more fun than renting a Santa

Looking for a more gregarious Santa

December 2006

I just took my son for his santa picture and was disappointed in our local Santa. He didn't smile in the photos and had to ask for a re-take. Then, when I wished him Merry Christmas, he didn't respond. I tried four times to wish him a Merry Christmas and literally got no response. Next year i'd like to take my son to a santa who is a little more gregarious and plays the part. Is there a santa around you could recommend? Thank you - and Merry Christmas!

The past couple of years we have driven to Walnut Creek's Broadway Plaza where there is a wonderful Santa with a real beard and just the nicest man. We got some great pictures with him and I'd definitely recommend that place. It is near the back entrance (i.e. plaza entrance) of Build-A-Bear. JOJ

I live in El Cerrito and have driven to the Broadway Plaza Shopping center in Walnut Creek for the past 3 years. Santa seems to be quite happy there (same one the past 2 years) and will interract gently w/ little ones, if needed. He even took cues from me about how to talk to my young kids. The photo staff seem capable and willing to re- shoot. It was probably almost $20 for 4- 3x5s. Also want that JOLLY old elf!

Where to See a Black Santa

Dec. 2005

Has anyone been to a mall that they may have seen an African American Santa? Or if there is any place where my kids can take a picture with an African American Santa?

There was a wonderful santa at the evening puppet performances of A Nutcracker in the Children's Fairyland last year. He also happened to be African American. You could call them to see if he is there again this year. lou

I don't know about this year, but last year at Fairyland they had an African American Santa. You could call. Annie

Last year we went to Children's Fairyland at Christmas, and the Santa there was African American. He was great...and the park was decorated for the holidays. Call them and ask if he'll be doing it again. Katie

Hilltop Mall, Richmond chris

Try Children's Fairyland---my friend Ron is an African-American Santa there this time of year. But call to find out which days/which times Santa's there! Kristine

Children's Fairyland has the most wonderful Santa every year who happens to be African American. They also have special week called, ''Fairy Winterland'' where the park is open into the evening with special activities celebrating diverse holiday celebrations and it's magical to see the lights in the park at night. Very special for the little ones. Check out www.fairyland.org and click on the schedule to find out exactly when Santa will be there.

Dec. 2004

My son is wanting very much to visit Santa this Christmas and is specifically asking to see a Black Santa. Can anyone help me in letting me know where (in a mall, church, community center, etc) in the Bay Area we can find a Black Santa? Thank you!

I don't know about this year because we haven't been yet, but I remember there being a Black Santa at Fairyland. Call First!

We saw a black Santa Claus at Hilltop Mall. Laura

We were at Fairyland this weekend and there is a Black Santa there. HTH, Annie

Dec. 2003

Where to find Black Santa in Oakland/Berkeley? m

There was an African-American Santa at Bay Street in Emeryville when we were there a couple of weeks ago.

I was just at Bay Street Emeryville last weekend, and the Santa was a man of (dark) color. Black? Or perhaps Pac Islander? Don't know. I didn't like the set-up, though...the area where he sat was small, very bland (not enough Christmas decor), and seemed all about getting a good picture rather than introducing the child to Santa. Santa was nice enough, but could have done more to engage my very shy child.

Also, Hilltop Richmond sometimes has Black Santa's. They did in 2000, but not in 2002--maybe you could call? Maybe they have different guys, depending on the day. It's a bit further than Oakland/Berkeley, but they have a great Xmas area. They even have a fun talking moose. We'll go back there rather than do Emery Bay again. Christine

Hilltop Mall has a big Santa house (castle?)in the middle of the mall with a santa you can sit with or get a picture with (they charge for the picture only). Most of the time the Santa is Black or Latino. We just went and my kids loved it. rebecca

Where to See Santa

Nov. 2003

Where's a good place to see Santa during the holidays? The last posting I could find on the subjuect was from 1996, so I'm hoping there are some new Santa options. Searching for Santa

We are going to Smith Family Farm, http://www.smithfamilyfarm.com/, in Brentwood. We have never been there to see Santa, but we had soooo much fun there for their Harvest Festival and pumpkin patch that we believe the planned ''Santa's Village'' will be fun too. LC

I took my little one to the Macy's in downtown San Francisco last year. Cute picture, nice setup...They have a whole floor filled with Xmas decorations that's fun for kids to wander around as well. love Xmas! anonymous

Corte Madera Village mall is great for seeing Santa. I'm definately going back this year. Santa is in a little decorated house in the middle of the mall, and they are very nice (each Santa there has their own beard and good costumes). Santa's helpers are nice too- you can buy the standard computer pic they take, OR they also let me use my own camera (so I didn't spend any money!).

I hear that the City of Albany Community Center will be having a Holiday Extravaganza on December 19th 2:00-5:00. Santa will be there and your child can get a picture taken with him. Crafts for kids. cp

I saw while driving by on the freeway that the newish Emerybay shopping area (the one near Ikea with a big Barnes and Noble right there) is having Santa. Couldn't really read the sign as I was actually trying to drive, so I don't have details. So drive by and check it out. Hilary

Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek has a popular and beautiful Santa every year. Look for him after Thanksgiving. anon

It's been several years since our kids have wanted to visit Santa, but for a very low-key, mellow Santa visit, I'd recommend McAlau's department store in Montclair (Oakland). He hangs out on a plush ''throne'' in the kids' department with an elf assistant who will take a picture and give a balloon. It's very sweet but rarely crowded.

For more of a production, there's a Santa at Bayfair Mall, surrounded by many elves, a little house-thing, reindeer, etc etc. There's generally a lot more excitement, long lines, etc. It feels like more of a big deal. Personally, we liked the very low key McAlau's version. It's good for a shy kid.

Then there are fancier, more upscale Santa productions at Walnut Creek's Broadway Plaza or the malls in Marin. Ho ho ho

We go to the Broadway Mall in Walnut Creek, where they have a pretty authentic, traditional Santa. Laurel Coates

You can find Santa in about any mall, but in our opinion, our favorite Santa is at Newpark Mall; he wears Birkenstocks, stockings, has a real beard and is a nice guy. Kathy

Dec. 1996

From: Ken
Subject: Santa at Fairlyand

We saw Santa at Fairyland last weekend. It was very low key. He's set up in the little chapel, and I think the posted hours are 12-2 and 2:30-4:30, but as with everything else there he wasn't right on time. They'll take a picture for $4.00 I think. Last Saturday at 12:20 we had to wait for one person. There has been some publicity since then, but I'm sure the lines will be far shorter than those at a mall. Each kid gets issued a medium-sized candy cane.

The puppet show is not holday-themed (Gulliver's Travels) but the kids performance is a version of scrooge where scrooge gets shown Hannakuh, Kwanza, Los Pasados (spellings approximate) and Christmas celebrations.


From: Trish
Another Santa to visit is at McCoulou's department store in Montclair. He's quite a likable, low-key guy and the kids get a coloring book and a balloon. Pictures with Santa are $4.00.

While you're in Montclair, head south on Rt 13 to Lincoln Avenue and check out the amazing lights, music, and views at the Mormon Temple. It's an incredible display.

Happy Holidays!