Is that the real Santa? How can he be in so many places at once? How does he fit in a chimney? Why does he like to hang out at the mall? Yep, the season of wonder is back (get your answers ready!) and it isn’t complete without a visit with Mr. Claus. Whether you want to sit down for a meal with him or just get a few quick photos and hear a token ho-ho-ho, there’s something for you.
photo: City of Chicago
PLACES FOR QUICK SITS
Santa Claus House Millennium Park
Santa’s Midwest headquarters is open to children of all ages. Your little elves can inquire whether they have made his “nice” list, make gift requests and take photos. There is no charge to visit Santa, but you must take your own photos with your camera or smartphone.
Thru December 18; times vary
201 E. Randolph St.
Water Tower Place
Let your little elves share their hopes and dreams for the perfect Christmas present at Michigan Avenue’s shopping Mecca. Santa is all ears and will sit for a memorable photo that will look great on holiday cards or your Facebook wall. While you’re there, hit American Girl Place for shopping or tea.
Thru December 24; times vary and reservations are recommended
835 N. Michigan Ave.
Reserve online: www.shopwatertower.com
Take a trip to find Santa Claus in his cozy North Pole cottage during Adventure to Santa. On your path to see the big guy you’ll be led by Po and his Kung Fu Panda friends who make the journey just as fun as the destination. Santa will be waiting for you at the end of the trip, and you’ll be able to take a photo with him to remember this special day. Make reservations and save $5 when you visit by December 8.
Thru December 24; times vary and reservations are recommended
100 Oakbrook Center
Reserve online: www.oakbrookcenter.com
photo: Bass Pro Shops
Bass Pro Shops
This is a biggie because at Bass Pro Shops’ Santa’s Wonderland, photos are free and at busy times there’s a waiting system that allows you to roam the store instead of standing in line. Chances are they’ll want to stay and play in this holiday paradise even after you get your winning shot. It features craft and activity tables, laser arcade, remote control trucks and more!
Thru December 24
112 W. Grand Ave.
709 Janes Ave.,
Go back in time to the Gilded Age to celebrate the traditions of storytelling and sing-a-longs that spread Christmas magic. The little ones can share their wishes with Santa, and everyone can get together for a family photo in the festive grand ballroom. During your visit, you can also check out the rest of the museum, which hosts an impressive collection of Fine and Decorative Arts, including important works by Herter Brothers and Louis Comfort Tiffany.
December 10 & 17, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
40 E. Erie St.
Westfield Old Orchard
Break out those skates; it’s time to go Skating with Santa. Well, more like skating and then Santa. Enjoy 30 minutes of gliding on the ice rink at Old Orchard, and visit Santa from 5:30 -6:30 p.m. to make some memories with free photos.
December 3 & 10, 3 p.m.-6:30 p.m.
4999 Old Orchard Center
Reserve online: www.westfield.com/oldorchard
photo: Swissôtel Chicago
Hotel guests and the general public alike can tour the 41st-floor Santa Suite, featuring a Christmas trees, a table set for Santa Claus and his reindeer, and a gift for the children on his “nice list.” Every child who visits the Swissôtel Chicago Santa Suite will receive a keepsake gift.
December 3 (11 a.m.-5 p.m.), 10 (11 a.m.-4 p.m.) & 17 (1 p.m.-4 p.m.)
323 W. Upper Wacker Dr.
SANTA BRUNCHES & DINNERS
Drury Lane Theatre and Conference Center
This venue has a few different options for Santa sit-downs.
Saturdays thru December 17, 11 a.m.
Get into the holiday spirit when you munch on a pancakes at the Children’s Theatre Breakfast Buffet with Santa before you see the annual production of “A Christmas Carol.”
December 14, 5 p.m.
Experience the magic of Christmas with the Children’s Theatre Dinner Buffet with Santa and a special performance of “A Christmas Carol.” The fam can enjoy a traditional holiday meal with succulent roast turkey, creamy macaroni and cheese and, as a special treat for the kiddos, an ice cream station.
Sundays, November 27-December 18, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.,
Extravagant decorations will transport you to a holiday wonderland during Brunch with Santa. Nibble on everything from green bean casserole, to sweets, child-friendly options and much more. Of course, your extravagant holiday experience wouldn’t be complete without a chat with Santa Claus between bites.
100 Drury Ln.
photo: Macy’s on State Street
Macy’s on State Street
Choose your feast — breakfast, lunch or dinner — and grab Santa’s ear. The merriment takes place in Macy’s historic Walnut Room, near the Great Tree.
Santa’s Bringing Holiday Cheer to LYFE
The toys are made, the sleigh is packed and Santa is leaving the North Pole — but before Christmas arrives, he’s stopping by LYFE Kitchen Lincoln Park to spread some holiday cheer. In addition to meeting Santa, families can feast on a great-tasting, good-for-you special brunch menu in the fun, vibrant ambiance of the family-friendly restaurant. Jingle, jingle, Chicago! Don’t forget your camera for great holiday family photos!
December 3, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
1538 N. Clybourn Ave.
Spirit of Chicago
Visit Santa on the high seas when you climb aboard the Spirit of Chicago. The Chicago Santa Lunch Cruise will give the kiddos a chance to meet jolly old Saint Nick while the fam enjoys views of the skyline and a buffet lunch. Don’t worry; no one is going to get too frosty, the ship is climate controlled.
December 10 & 11, 12:30 p.m.-3:15 p.m.
600 E. Grand Ave.
Reservations: 866-273-2469 or online at spiritcruises.com
Everyone can munch on a breakfast buffet overflowing with fluffy French toast, crispy bacon, muffins, pastries and so much more. The little ones can strike a pose with Mr. and Mrs. Claus while they boogie to the live music.
December 10, 11, 17 & 18, 9 & 11 a.m.
8400 W 31st St.
photo: Chicago Park District
Chicago Park District
Sip cocoa, munch on cookies, jump on the inflatables, get crafty and snap a few pics with Santa during Cookies and Coco with Santa at Armour Square.
December 9, 4 p.m.-6 p.m.
Armour Square Park
3309 S. Shields Ave.
Secure your spot on the nice list by attending Breakfast with Santa. The gang can sit down for a holiday breakfast and decorate cookies, and you can even check out the “pocket-carnival” group. If you have creative ones in the family, they can create their own handmade ornaments. They will get the chance to see their ornaments on the Stadium Holiday Tree, and the top three winners get special prizes.
December 10, 10 a.m.
1410 S. Museum Campus Dr.
Reservations: 312-235-7063 or email SoldierFieldBistro@aramark.com
Munch on brunch, and give a big smile to the camera when your kiddo takes photos with Mr. Claus. After the kids have eaten their weight in holiday treats, they can relax with crafts and activities. And don’t forget the important mission of this non-profit: It provides a safe and caring living environment for people with disabilities.
December 10, 11, 17 & 18, seatings at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. & noon
4245 W. Rockland Rd.
Tavern on Rush
Grab the camera and get ready to snap some pics with Santa. The little ones can have anything from French toast, to pancakes, macaroni and cheese, pizza and even burgers to celebrate the holiday season with Mr. Claus.
December 11, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
1031 N. Rush St.
Where will you visit Santa this year? Let us know in the Comments!
— Maria Chambers & Natasha Davis