santa sightings in miami

It’s that time of year when we must take the obligatory Santa photo. To help you get the best shots and make the most of the experience we have put together this guide filled with tips. Plus, we also include a list of places in Miami where you can get your shots done.


Plan: The most important thing is to schedule your trip. Plan ahead according to nap schedules, lunchtimes, etc. Rested kids with full bellies are happier!

Schedule your Santa visit early in the season and early in the day if you can.

Prepare your little ones by familiarizing them with Santabefore seeing him in person for the first time. Talk about him, read books, watch movies.

Dress the kids in coordinating outfits, make sure everything is comfy.

Bring a distraction: It can be your child’s favorite toy or their favorite snack; make sure you have something that you whip out if needed right by the photographer’s head when they are ready to snap a photo. Bonus points if it makes noise to really get their attention like an empty plastic water bottle, keys, etc.

Bribe: There’s no harm in a bit of bribery here. Talk about how there will be hot chocolate after the Santa photo, or bring candy canes or other treats. Rewards work especially well with older kids who may be over the whole thing. Give them a reason to smile instead of rolling their eyes in the photo.

Relax: The kids pick up on your energy. If you are annoyed or rushed, they will be too. Parents should have all smiles while waiting in line.

Snap away: Start taking your photos as soon as possible and take lots of photos; the perfect photo is sure to be among those shots.

Go with the flow: Your kid may be one of the ones that is scared of the big guy. Just go with the flow, some of the best photos actually involve a few tears and are hilarious!

What to wear

The key is to pick two or three colors as your main colors so that your outfits are not distracting. Choose red, green, and navy if you fancy traditional holiday hues. Santa will obviously be wearing red, so you’ll want to choose colors that work with his suit.

For the littlest ones, consider a Christmas-themed onesie. Choose elastic pants with a soft button-up or a loose-fitting dress for the older ones. If you purchase something new for the photos, have them wear it around the house for an hour or so a few days before; that way, you can avoid issues caused by potentially uncomfortable clothing or shoes.

How to get a good photo

Some photo ops have a photo you can purchase, but if you are taking your own pics, here are some tips.

  1. Avoid flash – use natural light
  2. Get close
  3. Use fun and silly poses
  4. Stay active and ready for great reactions
  5. Snap often and keep snapping until the very end; you never know when that perfect shot will be.
  6. Try putting the baby on the couch and take a couple of shots while Santa sneaks behind and gets in the picture unbeknownst to the baby.
  7. Move the camera angle around; you might have to get low to the floor to get the best perspective

Places to find the big guy

Dadeland Mall Santa Photo Experience

  • 7535 N Kendall Dr
  • Open daily, now through December 24th: Mondays-Thursdays from 11:00am-8:00pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00am-8:00pm, and Sundays from 12:00pm-6:00pm
  • Reservations are encouraged

The Falls Shopping Center Santa Photo Experience

  • 8888 SW 136th St
  • Open daily, now through December 24th
  • Reservations are encouraged

Holiday Magic Village

  • CityPlace Doral, Space #150 in between Suviche and Kings Bowl Miami
  • Features encounters with Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch as well as Santa Claus
  • Open now through December 24th during the following dates/times:
    • Tuesday, December 7th – CLOSED
    • Wednesday, December 8th – Sunday, December 12th – 11am – 7pm
    • Monday, December 13th – CLOSED
    • Tuesday, December 14th – CLOSED
    • Wednesday, December 15th – Tuesday, December 21st – 11am – 7pm
    • Wednesday, December 22nd – Thursday, December 23rd – 10am – 8pm
    • Friday, December 24th – 10am – 5pm
  • To reduce wait times, book and pay for their photo session in advance

Holiday Park Hours and Pictures with Santa

  • Merrick Park in front of City Hall, 405 Biltmore Way
  • Following the Tree Lighting Spectacular, the Holiday Park play area will be open for general use, Monday through Sunday from sunrise to 10:00pm until Sunday, January 2, 2022
  • Santa will return to the Holiday Park for photo opportunities starting Saturday, December 4 at 5:00pm through December 23, on the following days:
    • Thursdays and Fridays from 5:00pm-10:00pm
    • Weekends from Noon-10:00pm
    • Starting Monday, December 20 through Thursday, December 23 from Noon-10:00pm
  • Photos are $8 each (cash only), full color, and framed in a postcard

Holidays on the Green

  • Shops at Merrick Park
  • Now through Thursday, December 23 from 6:00pm – 9:00pm, on Thursdays only
  • ‘Tis the season to meet Santa and stroll, shop and dine the property with the sounds of festive music
  • Enjoy Live Music:
    • Dec. 2 – Streetlight Band
    • Dec. 9 – Remix Band
    • Dec. 16 Vinyl Band
    • Dec. 23 Khemistry Band
  • No cost for photos with Santa

Meet and Greet with Santa at Sandrell Rivers Theater

  • 6103 NW 7th Ave.
  • Meet Santa for free, but be sure to get your tickets for Pictures and Holiday Treats
  • December 10th-12th and 17th-19th

Pinecrest Gardens

  • 11000 S Red Rd
  • Pinecrest Gardens transform into a winter wonderland dotted by thousands of twinkling lights that go up, through and around the whimsical botanical landscape.
  • Eat yummy treats, have a signature Pinecrest Gardens cocktail and enjoy magical Story Time with Mrs. Claus
  • Santa Claus will make special appearances
  • On select evenings, admission includes a holiday concert performance in the historic Banyan Bowl
  • Open from December 10th through January 2nd from 6:00pm-9:00pm (Closed on December 18th)

Santa’s Enchanted Forest

  • Hialeah Park Racing and Casino, 2200 E 4th Ave
  • There are the many live shows, games, magic acts, mazes, all sorts of rides, from carrousels to roller coasters and drop towers and of course, the carnival food
  • Open every day from now until January 2nd
  • 5:00pm – midnight
  • Early Elf Season Passes: Adults (9-64) $48.84, Children (3-8) $39.26 and Seniors 65+ $36.64, general admission TBA

Santa’s Flight Academy

  • Dolphin Mall, 11401 NW 12th St
  • Step inside Santa’s 22-foot tall sleigh and experience the magical snowfall
  • Open daily now through December 24th: Mondays-Saturdays from 12:00pm-8:00pm, and Sundays from 12:00pm-6:00pm (Santa takes breaks from 3:00pm-4:00pm)
  • Reservations are strongly recommended for all photo sessions

Santa’s Wonderland

  • Bass Pro Shops Miami, 11551 NW 12th Street
  • Experience the Magic of Christmas at Santa’s Wonderland Advance reservations are required

Sip Hot Chocolate with Santa

  • Merrick Park in front of City Hall, 405 Biltmore Way
  • Saturday, December 11 and Saturday, December 18 at 10:00am
  • Warm-up for the holidays while sipping Hot Chocolate with Santa and get exclusive access to the Holiday Park play area.
  • Includes a photo opportunity with Santa, hot beverage and children’s activity
  • Exclusively for Coral Gables residents
  • Advanced ticket registration is required to participate
  • $20 for a group of four

Winterland at the Farm

  • Pinto Farm, 14890 SW 216 Street
  • Holiday treats, hay rides, paddleboat rides, Santa, pony rides, and many more activities for kids
  • Thursdays and Fridays from 3:00pm-8:30pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00am-9:00pm, now through January 9th
  • $34.99, children under one free

Zoo Lights Miami

  • 12400 SW 152nd Street
  • More than one million bright and dazzling tree lights, with appearances from Santa until December 23rd
  • Select dates: December 10th, 11th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 22nd, 23rd, 26th, 27th, and 30th
  • 6:30pm – 10:00pm

*Please check with these places directly to confirm times and for possible closures.