Grab your holiday wish list and head to these spots for meet and greets with The Big Guy and Santa pictures

There is no better time to make a family memory than the holidays—from heading out to see Christmas lights around the city, to finding that just-right tree to decorate before you’ve even finished up those Thanksgiving leftovers. While a photo in front of the tree or around the table is a way to preserve those memories, nothing says “Christmas” quite like Santa pictures. When you have the kids in tow, figuring out where Mr. Christmas himself will be is not a simple job. That’s why we’ve rounded up the best places in Portland to snap a pic with Old Saint Nick. Dress the kiddos in whatever means Christmas to you, and head out to one of these spots to make a memory that will last a lifetime (and be a spectacle in any photo album).

a kid stands in front of Santa during Santa pictures
__drz__ via unsplash

1. Santa Photos at Washington Square

Santa’s traditional visit to Washington Square includes all sorts of fun. This year, the new Elf Academy will allow your sweet children to be transformed into elves in the Magic Mirror, with some magic Santa Dust (i.e. Augmented Reality). Oh, and there’s Elf-Ray Vision, and a Naughty or Nice Meter, Storytime with Mrs. Claus, and more. Spend less time in line by making a reservation before your visit, or just swing by for holiday cheer anytime.

Dates: Nov. 10–22 & Dec. 24, 2022

9585 S.W. Washington Square Rd.

2. Santa’s Toy Factory: Clackamas Town Center

Santa’s Workshop is geared up for fun at Clackamas Town Center. The Toy Factory is an experience to behold—kids can test new toys and even help digitally design their own while they wait to see Santa. Special Events include PJ Day, Ugly Sweater Day, and lots of chances for Pet Nights. Reserve online to save some time, and go home with very special memories.

Dates: Nov. 17-Dec. 24, 2022

12000 S.E. 82nd Ave.
Happy Valley, OR

Related: Slide into Winter at These Tubing & Sledding Spots

Mike Amey via unsplash

3. Pioneer Place Mall

The Christmas Tree in downtown Portland isn’t the only reason to venture to Pioneer Place this holiday season. Saint Nick will be eagerly awaiting present requests at the lower level of the Rotunda building December 1st through the 24th. Take a flick with Santa and then pal around the mall to finish any Christmas shopping—a 2-in-1 occasion, for sure. Head online to reserve your spot for a photo op today.

Dates: Dec. 1-24, 2022

700 S.W. 5th Ave.
Portland, OR

4. Lloyd Center Mall

Santa rarely misses an opportunity to greet kids at Lloyd Center, and this year is no different. He is looking forward to hearing about all the goodies he can load onto his sleigh, and this year he is accompanied by guests. Plan an awesome photo extravaganza with Nightmare Before Christmas’ Jack and Sally or the Grinch himself. You can also catch the Grinch on the famous Lloyd Center ice rink if you’re feeling like strapping on some skates. Head to the Lloyd Center this Christmas season for loads of fun and awesome photo opportunities. 

Dates: Dec. 10, 11, 17-24

2201 Lloyd Center

Related: Portland's Coolest Spots to Go Ice Skating This Season

A child and Santa touch hands at Black Santa PDX when they take pictures with Santa in portland
Black Santa PDX

5.  Pictures with Black Santa

After enclosing himself in a snowglobe to greet children during the holidays, Black Santa has emerged and is excited to meet all the kids of Portland. He is a busy man, so he will be at multiple locations throughout Portland this year. Never fear! He has a website chock full of events he’ll be attending. So no matter your schedule, you can make time to see him (without the snowglobe, this time.).


a lighted train with smoke coming out of its stack is one of the places to take pictures with Santa in Portland
Oregon Rail Heritage Center

6. Oregon Rail Heritage Center Holiday Express

From November 25th to December 18th, you can join Santa Claus and his elves for a magical ride behind Portland’s famous steam locomotives. Vintage rail cars transport you along the Willamette River in the heart of the city. Trains travel on the Oregon Pacific Railroad along the Willamette River in SE Portland and he interiors of the passenger cars are decorated with garland, ornaments, and lights that will dazzle both little and big holiday lovers. Of course, the big treat is getting to share a ride with Santa on board. What a great opportunity to get lots of pics! Book your tickets now.

Dates: Nov. 25-Dec. 18, 2022
Cost: $28/adult; $23/child; $98/family of 4

2250 S.E. Water Ave.

7. Festival of Trees

The Festival of Trees is a long-standing holiday event that benefits Providence Foundations of Oregon. On December 2nd and 3rd, you can enjoy a magical holiday wonderland with more than 100 beautifully decorated themed trees, dance and music performances, face painting, and cookie decorating. Attend Elf Academy where kids have a chance to learn what it’s like to be one of Santa’s elves. The whole family can explore the magical winter wonderland featuring amazing trees, crafts, LEGO displays, a chance to get a photo with Santa, and more. And once they complete the required coursework, studious kids will even earn their elf ears.

Good to Know: For the adults, there is a Gala dinner and auction on Thursday, December 1st.

Dates: Dec. 1-3, 2022

Oregon Convention Center
777 N.E. MLK Jr. Blvd.

a lighted train at the Oregon Zoo is part of Zoo Lights and a chance for kids to take Santa pictures in Portland
Oregon Zoo, Michael Durham

8. ZooLights: Washington Park and Zoo Railway

While you can take this train ride all year long, it turns into something special during the holiday season. The holidays just wouldn’t be the holidays in Portland with out a spin on the ZooLights run. This ride gives you the best view of the dazzling display of more than 1.5 million lights in the zoo. In addition to visiting elephants, mountain goats and other wildlife, you can ride the popular lighted train and carousel, and enjoy hot drinks and local food carts. Photos with Santa will be available for the little ones every evening through December 24 starting November 29.

Dates: Nov. 23, 2022–Jan. 5, 2023

Oregon Zoo
4001 S.W. Canyon Rd.

9. Hood River Railroad

Book a very special Santa visit with this magical train ride on the Hood River Railroad. Join the cheery elves in singing festive songs, enjoy hot chocolate, and be whisked out to Christmas Town with a woo-woo whistle. Santa will give every child their very own special gift. Wear something fun like pj's or a fancy outfit to join in the fun. Book your ride today.

Dates: Nov. 18-Dec. 28, 2022

Hood River Rail Station
110 Railroad St.
Hood River, OR

Related: All Aboard! Holiday Train Rides to Book Now

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