Looking for that perfect Santa Claus meet-in-greet experience in New York City? Make the most of your child’s St. Nick visit at one of these special stops
It’s that time of year again, when frost hits the air and everyone in your family is getting into the holiday spirit. That might mean getting out and about around New York City to see holiday and Christmas lights, or getting your hands dirty and cutting down your own local Christmas tree. For some, taking in a festive performance in the area is a must. But for others, it’s all about Santa Claus. That’s where we come in—from St. Nick on horseback to brunches with the jolly ol’ elf himself, we’ve got the details on Santa experiences in the New York City area that’ll keep your family merry and bright all season long.
Santa Visit Experiences in Manhattan
Macy's Santaland at Herald Square: Santa is back in person at Macy's Santaland at 34th Street. You must make a reservation in advance, which you can do up to five days ahead of time. Can't make it to the store? No worries: Macy's offers a cool virtual visit with Santa. And don't forget—you can still go see Macy's holiday windows at 34th Street.
Dates: Nov. 25-Dec. 24; Times vary
151 W. 34th St., 8th Fl.
Santa at Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park: Details have yet to be announced about when Santa will stop by the Winter Village at Bryant Park, but watch this space for when he'll appear. Winter Village is a great place to see St. Nick, as you can also skate, shop, take in the tree, and get a cup of cocoa and a snack.
41 W. 40th St.
Santaland at Bloomingdale's: Details for Santaland at Bloomingdale's are not yet available but in the past he's been there on weekends through Dec. 24, and visitors can snap a photo with Santa Claus in a private 20-minute meet and greet. Select a traditional "North Pole" setting or a special "South Pole" setting, the latter of which is a bit more modern, pink and Instagram-friendly. All appointments will receive a complimentary digital and print photo, as well as a sweet treat.
Bloomingdale's Fifth Floor
59th St. & Lexington Ave.
Upper East Side
Santa at PaleyLand: The Paley Center for Media has an almost month-long classic holiday extravaganza, PaleyLand. Beginning Wednesday, Dec. 16, visitors will be able to enjoy all kinds of holiday events and programming throughout the center's four floors. That includes (among many other fun things) Instagrammable photo opportunities with Santa Claus as well as a 7-foot-tall menorah.
Dates: Dec. 16 to Jan. 8; times vary
The Paley Center for Media
25 W. 52nd St.
Big Apple Portraits: Want Santa all to yourself? Book a private photo session with Santa Lonnie from Big Apple Portraits. You can have your shoot with Santa at the Upper West studio or outdoors in Central Park, which makes for a great time to show off your cute winter wear. This Santa is high energy and playful—you can even tie him up in Christmas lights if you want. Sessions are a quick 10 minutes, must be booked in advance, and book up quickly.
Dates: Nov. 12-13 and Dec. 4; 8:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
143 W. 72nd St. , 2nd Fl.
Upper West Side
Santa Visit Experiences in Brooklyn
Town Square's Cookies with Santa: Traditionally a brunch affair, this event has gone sweets and treats. Enjoy delicious, homemade cookies, hot chocolate, coffee, music, and, of course, precious moments with Santa. Plus: yummy-delicious holiday drinks at a cash bar for moms and dads. Take your own photo, or a pro photographer will be on hand to take pictures for purchase, and Elsa from Frozen often shows up as well. Buy now—tickets go fast. Proceeds benefit Town Square and local Boy Scouts Pack 7 and Troop 26.
Date: Dec. 3; 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.
199 Richardson St.
St. Nicholas Day Celebration: At this free holiday event at the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum, St. Nicholas arrives on horseback (look for him around 2:30 p.m.). He will tell the traditional tale of "The Bakers Dozen" and children are invited to sign the Red Book. Sip hot cider, try your hand at colonial games, create a holiday pomander, decorate a Dutch clog for Sinterklaas, and dress the tree for the tree lighting that will close the day as the sun goes down. While St. Nicholas might not be posing for photos with kids this year there will definitely be a holiday photo booth available where you can snap your shot as a family.
Date: Dec. 3; 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum
5816 Clarendon Road
Santa Visit Experiences in Queens
Santa at Queens Center Mall: Santa will be at the Queens Center Mall for Winter Wonderland visits late November through Christmas Eve. Meeting with Santa is always free (photos are not), and it's highly recommended that you make a reservation.
Dates: Nov. 27 to Dec. 24; times vary
Queens Center, Level 3
90-15 Queens Blvd.
Nicholas Day Celebration: Come out to The Vander-Ende Onderdonk House to sing carols and enjoy a hot cup of apple cider and a cookie. The indoors will be decorated seasonally, so you can get that great, festive photo with St. Nicholas. Kids also take home a goody bag. Tickets are by reservation for timed entry.
Date: Dec. 3; 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The Vander-Ende Onderdonk House
1820 Flushing Ave.
Dining with Santa Experiences throughout New York City
Breakfast with Santa at Macy's: You can also have breakfast with Santa (complete with photo op) at Macy's Stella 34 Trattoria. Enjoy a festive breakfast with exclusive Empire State Building views, take-home treats for children, plus a mimosa for adults. Kids will meet Santa Claus and his elves and take a keepsake photo.
Dates: Nov. 25-Dec. 19 on weekends and Dec. 20-24 daily; 8:30 a.m., 9 a.m., and 10 a.m. seatings
Macy's Herald Square, 6th Fl.
Enter at 35th St. & Broadway
Sunday Brunches With Santa: Take your little elves to meet Santa, snap some photos and eat a festive Sunday brunch, complete with breakfast and lunch buffet stations, at the Historic Old Bermuda Inn. There's also a special Brunch Party with Santa coming up on Dec. 17. Housed in a charming Victorian setting circa 1840s, this spot is great for photos ops with a vintage holiday atmosphere.
Dates: Dec. 4, 11 and 18; 11 a.m. and Dec. 17; 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The Historic Old Bermuda Inn
301 Veterans Rd.
West Staten Island
Breakfast with Santa Live from Times Square: If you're looking for Santa and a meal with a side of entertainment, this event is for you. Meet and snap photos with the big guy himself while a continental breakfast is served, then sit back and enjoy an interactive musical comedy show staring Mr. and Mrs. Claus and the elves. Finish the festivities with a holiday sing-a-long before you go. How fun is that?
Dates: Dec. 10 and 17; 11 a.m.
Broadway Comedy Club
318 West 53rd St.
Santa Brunch Cruise 2022: Want to meet Santa on a boat? Hop on this two hour Christmas brunch cruise with Event Cruises NYC and take amazing photos with Old St. Nick with New York's most iconic landmarks as your backdrop. A three-course brunch will be served to the tune of festive holiday DJ music, and you might even get up and dance.
Dates: Saturdays and Sundays, Nov. 19 to Dec. 30; 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.
299 South St.
Lower East Side
Related: Christmas in NYC 2021 Bucket List
Sensory-Friendly Santa Experiences throughout New York City
Sensory Friendly Santa: Many malls with Santa picture setups in the New York City area have scheduled sensory-friendly Santa days in partnership with Autism Speaks, but make sure to reserve your spot in advance. These are more private sessions where the light and sound will be turned down lower to make things more comfortable for those with sensory, physical, and developmental needs. This year the majority of Sensory Friendly Santa visits will be on Dec. 4 (see below), although times vary throughout the morning.
The Mall at Short Hills: Dec. 4; 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Staten Island Mall: Dec. 4; 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
The Shops at Atlas Park: Dec. 4; 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Queens Center Dec. 4; 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Green Acres Mall: Dec. 4; 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Bergen Town Center: Dec. 5; 8:45 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.
You can also visit with a Sensitive Santa at one of our favorite Christmas Tree spots, Santa's Christmas Tree Farm on Long Island. The exact time and date of this event is not yet established, so keep an eye on the website.