If your kid has started making a list and checking it twice, it might be time to start thinking about a visit with good ol’ Santa Claus. Whether you want to head to the mall for a traditional childhood photo, grab some flapjacks with Santa’s helpers (we promise it’s worth it) or even hop on a train and ride the rails with the big guy, we’ve rounded up some of the best places to grab a frame worthy pic (while whispering Christmas Lists) with jolly old Saint Nick.

Photo: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

College Park Aviation Museum
If your child happens to prefer planes over trains, we’ve got you covered: head over to the historic College Park Airport to watch Santa fly in with some help from the Prince George’s County Police Aviation Unit! All ages are welcome to make holiday arts and crafts before having their picture taken with Santa. Admission is $5.

1985 Corporal Frank Scott Dr. (College Park, Md)

When: Dec. 2, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Online: collegeparkaviationmuseum.com


Tysons Galleria
The great thing about visiting Santa at Tyson’s II (aside from indulging your window shopping at Neiman Marcus, Gucci, and Ferragamo) is that you can reserve your space in line…online! Now your little ones will shine bright like the Christmas star instead of acting like wild stallions who’ve been waiting for hours. When you book your spot to see Santa, you can also save up to 30% off your photo package. Reserve before December 9th and save an extra $5! It’s a Merry Christmas indeed.

2001 International Dr. (McLean, Va)
Online: tysonsgalleria.com

Breakfast with Santa
Families looking for an extra special visit with Santa should check out Breakfast with Santa at the Del Ray United Methodist Church in Alexandria. The whole fam can munch on French toast casserole and a delicious egg bake (this church has amazing cooks) with friends and neighbors while waiting on the big guy himself. Candy canes, Christmas carols, and a few surprises or two await little ones anxious to tell Santa their hopes and dreams (or maybe just about their favorite toys!). When you hear the reindeer tap, tap, tap on the roof you’ll know Santa’s about to light up the room. Tip: The event is free, but a canned good donation for Rising Hope Food Bank is encouraged.

100 E. Windsor Ave. (Alexandria, Va)
Online: delrayumc.org

Mazza Gallerie
Mini-fashionistas will adore Mazza’s own version of a Winter Wonderland with its fancy Santa chair, perfect for holding multiple siblings who’ve waited patiently for their turn to whisper their dreams into Santa’s ear, oodles of snow (!) and Santa’s elves who busy themselves entertaining kiddos and working hard making toys for the big day.

5300 Wisconsin Ave., NW
Online: mazzagallerie.com

Holley TrolleyFest
Train crazy kids will go bananas for the National Capital Trolley Museum’s annual Holly TrolleyFest where they can ride the rails with Santa Claus, and check out a trolley themed holiday village. Mini-conductors will get a charge out of the marriage between Christmas and trains, and will probably beg to go ‘round and ‘round again.

1313 Bonifant Rd. (Colesville, Md)
When: Dec. 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18 at 12:30 p.m.
Online: dctrolley.org

Cox Farms
The fun at Cox Farms doesn’t end in the fall—Santa visits Cox Farms’ Corner Market a few times a year. The staff (or “friendly elves”) will even take photos and email them to you, free of charge!

15621 Braddock Rd. (Centreville, Va)
Online: coxfarms.com

Mall at Prince Georges
If you’re eager for a traditional visit with Santa at the mall, but you want every member of the family in the shot – woof, woof – the Mall at Prince Georges is perfect for you. Every Monday the big guy himself will wrap your family in his arms – with your furbaby on his lap – and smile for the camera. You can reserve the perfect time slot, so Rufus doesn’t have to interrupt his midday snooze. And, who knows, maybe the guy with a bowl full of jelly in a red suit will put an extra large bone in Rufus’ stocking.

3500 East West Hwy (Hyattsville, Md)
Online: mallatprincegeorges.com

Where do you take your kid to see Santa? Tell us in the comments section below. 

–Katie Brown

For more holiday season events and activities near Washington DC, click here!