Ho, Ho, Ho: 7 Places to Snap a Photo with Mr. Claus

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That Elf on the Shelf might be lurking around, assessing your home’s naughty and nice quotient, but now it’s time to take it straight to the top…to S. Claus himself. For this picture-worthy, remember-forever moment, you don’t want to take your list to just any ol’ red-suited, white-bearded fellow. While almost every mall has a Santa, here are some of the Portland-area standouts. Be sure to check individual websites for hours, which vary throughout the holiday season!

Washington Square
OK, this Santa is so going to be on your “nice” list. That looooong line that brings out the worst in all of us? Gone the way of Frosty, my friend. This mall has a “Santa Fly By” program that lets you wait in a “virtual line,” registering via web, text, phone or in person at “Santa’s Lodge” (click here for details). You receive an approximate wait time and then can go grab a Cinnabon or knock a few items off your OWN Santa list instead of standing in line. One of those helpful elves will text you as your time draws nigh. Gotta love Elves that text, right? Photo packages start at $24.99.

Santa landed Nov.  9. Check here for hours.

9585 Southwest Washington Square Road
Portland, Or 97223
Online: shopwashingtonsquare.com

Downtown Portland Macy’s
A little history lesson for the newbies to make you seem like a native…If you grew up in Portland, chances are good that when you were just a wee elf, you shared your list with the “real” Santa at the downtown Meier and Frank. Known for his “real beard,” this Santa presided over a 10th floor winter wonderland that even included a monorail. When Macy’s bought Meier and Frank, the 10th floor was converted into a hotel and the monorail was no more. Cue the pouting.

But yes, Virginia, there is still a Santa Claus at Macy’s, so if your shopping expedition takes you downtown, treat your child to the Christmas tradition of Santa at Macy’s. He’s relocated to the first floor, but there’s even a vintage monorail car available for photos!

Santa landed Nov. 29. Click here for hours.

621 Southwest 5th Avenue
Portland, Or 97204
Online: macys.com

Pioneer Place
Line at Macy’s too long? Scurry across the street to this jolly guy in the downstairs Rotunda of Pioneer Place. But what’s particularly cool about this Santa scene is the chance to walk through a winter wonderland every evening at 6:00 pm. Yes, whether there’s snow outside or not, experience a “snow fall” of white flakes in the Atrium area – no mittens required! Let it snow! This Santa offers some cool special events, including pet photos with Santa, a pajama party with Santa and “Baby’s First Christmas,” which includes a certificate signed by Santa and Rudolph!

Santa landed Nov. 16. Click here for hours.

700 Southwest Fifth Avenue
Portland, Or 97204-2018
Online: pioneerplace.com

Woodburn Company Stores
This Santa is a little out of the way, but he’s worth the trip. Lines are usually minimal, and Santa’s House is nestled right next to the largest decorated tree in the state, a live fir tree that is 90-feet tall! Totally worth the drive!

Santa landed Nov. 24. Click here for hours.

1001 Arney Road
Woodburn, Or 97071
Online: woodburncompanystores.com

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Bridgeport Village
All aboard! Why should kids have all the fun? Hop on the Bridgeport Express, a 35-passenger, solar-operated trackless holiday train that transports shoppers of all ages around the Village. And, yes, there is a great Santa here. New this year is a musical light snow show on the hour from 5 to 9 pm daily.

Santa landed Nov. 29. Click here for hours.

7455 Southwest Bridgeport Road
Tigard, Or 97224
Online: Bridgeport-village.com

Santa “On The Bricks” at Pioneer Courthouse Square
For an unforgettable Santa visit with all the bells and whistles, cozy up to the jolly guy at Pioneer Courthouse Square, also known as Portland’s ‘living room.’ Santa will be appropriately located next to Portland’s lighted Christmas tree, and in addition to meeting him, kids and families may enjoy chestnuts on the fire, hot cocoa, hot cider and candy canes. They totally get the whole “line” thing and offer you options for texting or calling to reserve your spot. For all that awesome techy line stuff, Santa’s website didn’t have any updated schedule information as of this writing, but a little elf told us that Santa will be there Dec. 12 to 24 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. (only till 5:00 pm on Dec. 24 — he’s got places to be!)

Corner of Morrison & Broadway
Downtown Portland
Online: portlandsanta.com

Grasshopper Toy Store
Santa Claus will be visiting Grasshopper toy store for one special evening of fun on December 2 at 5:00 pm! If you’re looking for an intimate (and free!!), living room type setting in which to meet Santa, come to Grasshopper, where kids may gather round, and take turns talking and taking photos with him. Another great reason to visit Santa in a toy store: you can get some holiday shopping done as well!

The Grasshopper staff also shares the following tips to make the most of your experience:

  1. Bring your camera
  2. Due to the informal setting, be prepared to wait a while to talk to Santa.
  3. If you have little ones who are not very patient or who are shy, arrive a bit later in the evening when there is less of a crowd.
  4. Little elves will be around to help with shopping and wrapping gifts while kids are distracted by Santa Claus.
  5. If you have little kids, arrive a bit later around 6:00pm after Santa has made his big entry. All of his ho-ho-ho-ing and bell ringing may overwhelm the tiniest of tots.

1816 N.E. Alberta Street
Portland, Or 97211
Online: grasshopperstore.com

Where do you plan to take your Santa photos this year? Share with us in the comment section below!

– Cathie Ericson

For more Christmas events and activities in Portland click here!