Our favorite places to find the jolly old elf

With warm temperatures and a relaxed resort setting, spending the winter holidays in Palm Desert is pretty idyllic. What we lack in frost and snow is more than made up for by being able to roast chestnuts over an open fire—in this case, a fire pit on a sun-drenched patio.

But one thing doesn’t change. Kids need Santa. Lists and wishes need to be conveyed, and parents need to snap photos to preserve precious memories. And we’ve got Santa here in Palm Desert, in all the usual ways you might expect, plus a few unexpected twists. Here are a few places where you can reliably spot Santa on your holiday season trip to the desert.


Visits with Santa
Westfield Mall
Daily, November 22 – December 24
Hours vary; check website

There’s something very comforting about taking a trip to the local mall and seeing kids—young and young at heart—lined up for a visit with Santa. You can find Santa on a daily basis at Westfield Palm Desert now through the holidays. His new Winter Wonderland is located on Level 1, Main Court, across from World Gym. On Saturday, December 7, you’re even invited to bring your dog in from 8am-9:30am for a photo with Santa.

Another opportunity to spend time with Jolly Old St. Nick is at the annual Breakfast with Santa at Westfield Mall on Saturday, December 14 from 8:00am–9:30am. You’ll enjoy a delicious breakfast featuring Cinnabon rolls and fresh fruit, plus an exclusive Santa meet-and-greet, reindeer games and crafts, and a mini holiday tree farm. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids and help support YMCA of the Desert.

Celebrate the Season
The Gardens on El Paseo
Friday, December 6
5:30 – 7:30pm

Palm Desert’s “Celebrate the Season” returns to The Gardens on El Paseo this year and delivers Santa and so much more. The highlight of the evening is “A Rockin’ Holiday Tribute to The King!” starring Scot Bruce as Elvis Presley. The event also offers free pictures with Santa Claus, and entertainment by strolling carolers. Refreshments will be served, and “snowfall” adds to the festive spirit. The event is free to all and is guaranteed to light up the holidays for you and your family.

The Living Desert
Select Nights, November 27 – December 28
6:00 – 9:00pm

WildLights, the desert’s favorite holiday tradition, will have your family marveling at over a million twinkling lights as you stroll about through The Living Desert. And yes, you can enjoy visits with Santa, too, along with live entertainment, arts and crafts, carousel rides, and more! Santa will be on hand every night before Christmas from 6-9pm in the Palm Garden.

Playtime with Santa
The Gardens on El Paseo
Saturday, December 7

Photos with Santa, face painting, balloon creations and lawn games are on tap when The Gardens on El Paseo and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Desert host Playtime with Santa. “Snowfall” at 5pm and 6pm add to the festive feel of the event. A $15 donation to participate benefits Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Desert. Santa will also be on hand at The Gardens on December 13, 20 and 21 at their “Jingle & M

Santa Fly-In and Santa’s Snow World
Palm Springs Air Museum
Saturday, December 14 – Sunday, December 15

For a truly splashy arrival, it’s hard to beat the Santa Fly-In at the Palm Springs Air Museum. Santa Claus arrives in a helicopter at 11am, greeting all the good girls and boys who have come to see him. In addition to sitting for photographs and having a little gift for each child, Santa will preside over his Snow World with snow direct from the North Pole!

Jingle & Mingle
The Gardens on El Paseo
December 13, 20, 21

Mix and mingle with Santa and his elves at these fun-filled events. Enjoy visits with Santa, hot chocolate, lawn games, and 10-minute snowfall shows at 5pm and 6pm. A $15 donation benefits the YMCA of the Desert.

Paws ‘n Claus
The Gardens on El Paseo
Saturday, December 14

Are your pets your “babies”? No problem! Paws ‘n Claus at The Gardens on El Paseo is the place to be. Bring your canine pals to be photographed Santa, and enjoy fun pet activities and treats for you and your dog. Your $15 donation benefits the Bianca Rae Foundation.

Santa Paws 5K
Temple Isaiah, Palm Springs
Saturday, December 21

You’ll be able to spot a slew of Santas at the annual Santa Paws 5K because each participant receives a Santa suit complete with jacket, pants, belt, hat and beard that can be worn during the event and is then yours to keep! This is a dog-loving fun run/walk benefitting Guide Dogs of the Desert, so strap the reindeer antlers on Rover, and bring him along, too.

Updated November 2019

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