Forget about elves on shelves: Every kid knows that if you really want to get a wish list into the right hands, you need to go straight to the big guy in the red suit.
Seeing Santa is one of the highlights of the holiday season for little ones everywhere. For parents, a trip to see Mr. Claus is just part of making beautiful family memories.
So, where is Kris Kringle hanging out when he’s not at the North Pole? We’ve got your guide.
Why just sit on Santa’s lap when you can enjoy breakfast with him, instead? Breakfast with Santa is a Connor Prairie tradition, and there are several dates still available before Santa has to get his sleigh packed. Tickets vary from $14 to $25, but you also get to experience storytime with Santa and an in-person visit. (Santa will be wearing a mask and social distancing.)
The Indianapolis Zoo
We’ve heard that the Jolly Old Elf is pretty fond of Indy’s Zoo – so much so that he even has an enchanted village tucked inside where you can help Mrs. Claus decorate cookies in her kitchen, visit with Santa’s reindeer before their big trip and see the spectacular display of lights along the Polar Pathway. Tickets range from $21.75 to $29.75 and it’s heavily encouraged that you buy in advance.
Castleton Square Mall
If you’re looking for a beautiful photo opportunity with the Jolly Old Elf, Castleton Square Mall is the place to go. Santa will be visiting in a special location just outside of Macy’s at various times throughout the season, so you would be wise to book ahead. (Walk-up visits are only available as space permits.) Photo packages cost between $19 and $49, and you can remain socially distanced or sit with Santa, at your choice.
Indianapolis Children’s Museum
If your child wants to hand-deliver their letter to Santa, this is the place to do it. Santa will be at Indy’s Children Museum – with his sleigh – and kids and families are invited to attend a Jolly Days Breakfast, get a peek into the mechanics of Santa’s Workshop, make it snow in the Giant Snow Globe, practice “ice skating” in socks and (of course) pose for photos. (Santa will be staying in his sleigh and practicing social distancing, however.) Photo packages cost between $15 and $63. (If you can’t make the museum in person, your kids can send a letter to Santa directly through the museum’s website.)
Hamilton Town Center
Santa will be posing for pictures with all the good little boys and girls (and their families) at Hamilton Town Center, too – until he disappears like magic on Christmas Eve. Photos with the Big Guy run $19 to $49, depending on the package you choose – but you need to plan your trip in advance to be sure your visit goes off without a hitch.
Greenwood Park Mall
Santa sure is a busy fellow, isn’t he? He’ll also be making regular stops at Greenwood Park mall up until Christmas Eve – and photo opportunities (socially distanced and not) are available. You do need to book ahead, however. Photo packages for your visit range from $19 to $49.
Indiana State Museum
Celebration Crossing is back! That means that you can come to check out the decorated trees, have breakfast or photos with Santa, check out the holiday music, ride the Santa Claus express and come for storytime. There’s even an interactive Reindeer Barn that will let the kids learn more about these magnificent creatures! Tickets range from free (for children three years of age and under) to $33.
The Shops at Perry Crossing
Again, it’s catch-as-catch-can when it comes to nailing down the exact time that St. Nick will be around for photos at The Shops at Perry Crossing – and visits are walk-in only. However, a kindly elf slipped the mall a schedule so that you know when Santa will be taking visitors. (Please note that Santa will be socially distanced and masks are required for this event.)
Santa Claus, IN
While not in Indy proper, no list of this nature would be complete without mentioning that there’s a whole town in this state that’s dedicated to Christmas cheer. Experience the magic of the Land of Lights with its wild displays of animated lights, check out Santa’s Candy Castle or Frosty’s Fun Center – and don’t forget to check the community calendar for special events that vary by the day. The kids can also drop a letter off to Santa at the Santa Claus Museum & Village while you’re there.
The Festival of Trees
Technically, this isn’t a visit with Santa – but it’s still worth visiting if you happen to think that the lights and decorated trees are some of the best parts of the year. This year, the Indiana Historical Society has 75 amazing trees, each with its own unique style and theme. Plus, there’s storytime and a scavenger hunt for that impish little Elf on the Shelf. Tickets are free for children under five years of age and up to $13 for adults. Reservations required.
If you can’t squeeze the time into your busy schedule for a visit to the mall or you just aren’t comfortable (masked or not) with the lack of social distancing, there’s still a good way to help your kids get their wish list to Santa. The Big Man in red has a personal hotline (605-313-4000) where kids of all ages can hear a recorded message and leave a message. (This is perfect, too, if time gets away from you but your child still wants to be sure Santa gets their wish list!)
This really is the most wonderful time of the year, when everything seems possible – so we encourage parents and children alike to make the most of everything Indy has to offer.