Believe it or not, the holidays are nearly here. That means it’s time for Santa to hold court across Portland for a wide range of photo opportunities and fun. When your kids are little enough to believe in the magic of the Santa Claus story, there are plenty of ways to get in the holiday spirit as a family. Here are some of the best spots to meet Saint Nick.

Photo: by Jaime Valdez.

Santa HQ at Washington Square
This festive tradition includes a “Naughty-or-Nice ‘O Meter” and plenty of special events—from Grandparents’ Night and Mrs. Claus Storytime (complete with cookies and cocoa), to carolers and photo sessions with pets. Santa is available seven days a week, Nov. 10 through Christmas Eve. Reservations (available online) are recommended but not required.

9585 SW Washington Square Rd.
Portland, Or
503-639-8860
Online: shopwashingtonsquare.com

Pioneer Place Mall
This mall boasts the most variety by far, with several unique takes on pictures with Santa. You can reserve a traditional photo session with a classic Santa for $40, or plan for an especially Portland-ish portrait with Hipster Santa (most likely Thursdays; Pioneer Place management said details would be available soon). There’s also a chance for Fido to photo bomb your family picture during Pet Nights (Mondays 5 p.m.-8 p.m.) And check the events page for special events like Ugly Sweater Night and Holiday Pajama Night. Tip: Take your photos off-peak and early (Mon.-Wed before Dec. 9) and save $5.

Pioneer Place
700 SW 5th Ave.
Portland, Or
503-228-5800
Online: pioneerplace.com

Lloyd Center
Across the river, the Lloyd Center mall is holding a special Sensory Santa event for children with autism or other sensory-processing disorders, with low lights and music and a less distracting environment during off-hours at the mall (Sun. Nov. 19, 8-10 a.m.). Regular visits to Santa’s Toy Factory begin Wed. Nov. 22 and last right up until Christmas Eve. Check the website for hours.

2201 Lloyd Center
Portland, Or
503-282-2511
Online: lloydcenter.com

Oregon Humane Society “Santa Paws” at Fred Meyer
Coming up this weekend, bring your kids AND your fur babies to these two special portrait sessions benefitting the Oregon Humane Society. For $20, get two 5 x 7 professional prints of your kids and pets with Santa, plus a digital copy of your portrait. All family members welcome. Bring pets in a carrier or on a leash.

Sat. Nov 11 & Sun. Nov 12, 11 a.m.-3p.m.
Various Fred Meyer locations (in the Garden Center)
503-285-7722
Online: oregonhumane.org

Photo: Jaime Valdez

Santa’s Toy Factory at Clackamas Town Center
This mall experience allows children to test new toys and even digitally design their own as part of the toy factory theme. Check the events calendar for additional events, featuring some of your kids’ favorite characters. Photo sessions are held downstairs just outside Macy’s Home, and are available by online reservation Nov. 11 through Christmas Eve. 

12000 SE 82nd Ave.
Happy Valley, Or
503-653-6913
Online: clackamastowncenter.com

Christmas in Dairyville
A standing tradition at Alpenrose Dairy farm since 1961, this carefully-curated event includes 300 trees, carolers and choirs, dance performances, live animals, movie screenings, train displays and more. Oh, and photos with Santa. Weekends beginning Dec. 1, enjoy hot cider and treats as you stroll the grounds. Admission is free, but you can bring an unwrapped toy to donate to local children in need. Proceeds from various sales throughout the event benefit local 4-H programs and Oregon-based charities.

Alpenrose Dairy
6149 SW Shattuck Rd.
Portland, Or
503-244-1133
Online: alpenrose.com

Before you go

A long-standing Portland tradition, Macy’s Santaland, took its last bow in 2016, when the downtown Macy’s closed. From Nov. 30-Dec. 31, you can visit the Oregon Historical Society for their Meier & Frank Santaland exhibit, with classic items from Santaland on display, like the 8-foot-tall snowman, Santa’s throne, Rudolph, and the animatronic elves.

What’s your family’s Santa photo tradition? Join us in the comments.

-Melissa Poulin