The Best Places to See Santa in the DMV

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Santa is back in town and if you missed him IRL last year, now is the time to jump on one (or all) of these photo-worthy events. From a pizza party that features Santa AND superheroes to letters from the North Pole delivered by the Big Guy himself, we’ve rounded up some of the best places to mingle with Kris Kringle

Epic Santa Events

Waterskiing Santa

For over thirty years, Santa has skied the open waters of the Potomac River. This year, Santa, his elves, and Frosty the Snowman will make a special appearance on Christmas Eve (right before they hop in the sleigh!). After the show, mingle with Santa, Mrs. Clause and his merry helpers by the Christmas tree in Waterfront Park. Want to skip the crowds this year? You can view past performances online here.

Date: Dec. 24 at 1 p.m.
Cost: FREE
Where: Old Town Alexandria Waterfront Park
Online: tinybeans.com

photo: HIller Aviation Museum

Fly-In Santa

Watch Ol' St. Nick touch down at the historic College Park Airport at 10:30 a.m. After, kids can participate in hands-on crafts and tour the museum. Take-home crafts are also available. If you want to share your Christmas Wish List with the Big Guy himself (and pose for a photo op), you'll need a separate reservation. 

Date: Dec. 4, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. 
Cost: $5
Where:  College Park Airport, 1985 Corporal Frank Scott Dr., College Park, MD
Online: tinybeans.com 

Santa, Superheroes & Ice Queens

What is more amazing than a visit with Santa? A holiday party with all of your superhero and princess favorites; Elsa, Anna, Batman and more join Santa and Mrs. Clause at this pizza party. Guests receive a cooking decorating kit, an ornament craft kit and a $5 play card. 

Dates: Sundays, Now-Dec. 19
Cost: $25
Where: Fun Land Fairfax, 5111 Westfields Blvd, Centreville, VA
Online: tinybeans.com 

 

photo: The Capital Wheel

Take a Spin with St. Nick

Before you board The Capital Wheel, snap a pic with Ol' St. Nick in a specially themed holiday booth. Santa will be behind a plexiglass shield so guests can safely take photos sans masks. This special photo op is available on Saturdays and Sundays from 2-4 p.m. Dec. 4-19.

Dates: Sat.-Sun, Dec. 4-19, 2-4 p.m.
Cost: $10 & up
Where: The Capital Wheel , 141 American Way, National Harbor, MD
Online: tinybeans.com 

photo: Wheatland Spring Farm & Brewery

Hand Delivered Letters from Santa

This special annual event lets your child receive a personalized letter from Kris Kringle himself! Have your child write a letter to Santa and pop it in the Red Mailbox on this farm (or email it ahead of the event). On Dec. 19, Santa will make the rounds to guest tables handing each child a letter straight from the North Pole. Cookies and hot chocolate will be served; food and beverage can also be purchased.

Date: Dec. 19
Cost: $14/child
Where: Wheatland Spring Farm & Brewery, 38506 John Wolford Road, Waterford, VA
Online: tinybeans.com 

Noteworthy Mall Santas

Tysons Galleria

Beat Tysons Corner Center crowds by ducking into its near-by neighbor, Tysons Galleria. This mall has always offered a convenient reservation system for a hassle-free Santa visit; this year it isn't mandatory, but it is recommended. Santa is located on the lower level near the old Macy's. If you want your pooch in the pic, nab a reservation on a Mon. between the hours of 4-8 p.m.

Dates: Now-Dec. 25, Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun., 12-6 p.m., Dec. 24., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $19.99 & up
Where: Tysons Galleria, 2001 International Dr., McLean, VA
Online: tysonsgalleria.com

Westfield Montgomery

If you're looking for a free sit-down with Ol' St. Nick, you'll find that here as a walk-up. But if you rather not roll the dice, you can secure a 15 minute slot with Father Christmas for $19.99; this fee is non-refundable, but you can apply it towards the photo package of your choice. Get ready to say "cheese!"

Dates: Now-Dec. 24
Cost: FREE
Where: Westfield Montgomery, 7101 Democracy Blvd., Bethesda, MD 20817
Online: westfield.com

Mall at Prince Georges

Santa comes in all colors. Having trouble finding one that looks like your family? Check out this app. Or you can simply head to Prince Georges, which hosts the closest Black Santa to the DMV. The Mall of PG has been celebrating Christmas with a Black Santa for over a decade. Reservations are required, so act fast; people travel 100's of miles to visit with this St. Nick and there are limited spots available this season. Want to include your four-legged friends in the pic? Be sure to visit on a Monday when your pets are part of the picture!

Dates: Now-Dec. 24
Cost: $19.99 & up
Where: Mall at Prince Georges, 3500 East West Hwy., Hyattsville, MD
Online: mallatprincegeorges.com

photo: Shelley Massey

Dulles Town Center

Visits with Santa are always free at this mall! You don't have to purchase a photo package to chat with the Big guy. Children can maintain a safe distance from St. Nick while they share their wish list or they can drop off a letter in the onsite mailbox.

Dates: Now-Dec. 24. Hours vary.
Cost: FREE
Where: Dulles Town Center, 21100 Dulles Town Cir., Dulles, VA
Online: shopdullestowncenter.com

A Virtual Visit

photo: Children's Museum of Richmond

Zoom with a Legend

A Richmond tradition since 1936, Legendary Santa and the lovely Snow Queen have been delighting families for 85 years. You don't have to make the drive to Richmond to get in on this tradition. Invite up to six of your friends for a magical Zoom where Santa hints that he knows just a little bit more about you and your fam than the run-of-the-mill mall Santa. After all, he is a Legend! 

Dates: Dec. 10, 13, 14, 20-24
Cost: $35/10 minutes
Online: childrensmuseumofrichmond.org

—Meghan Yudes Meyers

featured photo: KrakenImages via Unsplash

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