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Luckily for us, Santa really likes visiting Atlanta. Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s the rhyme. But regardless the reason, we have ample opportunities to get the kiddos front-and-center before Santa takes off on Christmas Eve. Even if you missed the summer sign-up for his visit to Phipps or got word about the appointments at Baby Braithwaite a month too late—you still have plenty of time to load up your sleigh and head out for your one-on-one with The Big Guy.
The Swan Coach House
Poor Mrs. Claus puts up with a lot during the holidays. Santa’s out late, always checking his tablet, never fully engaged, and she’s left to keep the household in order, the bills paid, and the elves fed. However, during two Sundays, December 8th and 15th from 11:00 am. to 3:00 p.m., she gets to enjoy some of the glory with Santa during the Swan Coach House’s luncheons with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Join the Clauses for a special holiday menu (that she didn’t have to cook and isn’t going to clean up after), and bring your camera for your own photo opportunities. Reservations should be made by calling 404-261-0636, extension 221, and the lunch with Santa is $39 for adults or $22 for children.
Mandarin Oriental Atlanta
Join Santa on Sunday, December 15 for hot cocoa, story time, face painting, and, pay attention now, cocktails for adults! From 3:00 – 4:30 p.m., Santa will make himself available to read a Christmas story to your kiddos while you enjoy your adult beverage in one of Atlanta’s newest and swankiest hotels. Bring your cameras, as no official photographer will be on hand, but you’re welcome to snap away. Call 404-995-7500 for pricing (to be determined) and reservations.
Westside Provisions District
On December 7th and 14th, head to Atlanta’s coolest neighborhood to celebrate the season during Tinsel and Twine, and keep your camera ready for a photo op with Santa. In addition to The Big Guy, you’ll find “stocking bars” where you can create the world’s most tasteful stockings in the history of the universe, and the littles will love the carolers, decorations, and seasonal goodies (think gourmet hot chocolate and gingerbread from Star Provisions, yum). Admission is free.
Another option for the snap-your-own crowd, the Breakfast with Santa on Saturday, December 7 from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. is an excellent option to skirt the lines at the malls and make a morning of holiday cheer. Catered kid-friendly Chick-fil-a breakfast with your coffee and caroling, anyone? Click here for reservations (tickets are $20).
Reserve a private appointment with Santa at Rhodes Hall, “the castle on Peachtree Street” between December 7th and 21st, and enjoy the live entertainment, holiday treats, and activities, as well. Best of all? The price is only $38 per family, and you’ll receive a photo session and a custom 5×7 portrait as part of the package. BYO-camera for an additional $20, and make reservations in advance by clicking here.
The St. Regis, Atlanta
Another place to take your own pictures of the short stacks with Santa is during an oh-so-elegant Tea with Santa at The St. Regis. In addition to the tea and Santa himself, your kids will be amazed by the life-sized gingerbread house in the lobby, and you can also make same-day reservations for the ice skating rink in the hotel. Reservations are made by calling 404-563-7797 beginning October 21; however, you can call-ahead now and leave a message for your very own Holiday Butler to return your call when the books open. Tea with Santa is on November 29th and 30th, December 1st, 6th-8th, and 12th-24th from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (tickets are $42).
The Georgia Aquarium
During the Festival of the SEAsons, Santa makes several appearances at the Georgia Aquarium, and the opportunity to have your child’s photo made is free with the price of admission. No appointment is necessary, and while the Aquarium photographers may be on hand to take photos, guests are welcome to bring their own cameras and snap away. Find him every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in December, beginning at 11:00 a.m., and every day from December 15th until December 23rd. Looking for something a little different? Nab a photo with the aquarium’s underwater Santa, SCUBA Claus, through the Ocean Voyager tank window. SCUBA Claus dives Thursdays through Sundays in December during the 12:00 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. dive shows.
With a little luck, you may call just as someone who made reservations in September cancels their appointment with Santa this year. That doesn’t pan out? You can still ask to be notified when this beautiful store plans to open the calendar for 2014. We know. Your to-do list is a mile long, and you don’t have time to call for a Santa appointment for 2014. But really, do. For $50, you’ll have a nightmare free appointment with a well-groomed Santa and you’ll leave with a zip drive of your images. Plus, consider this: if the blow-out of all blow-outs happens (like it probably will) before your turn, you’ll be smack in the middle of the best curated children’s store in the country. Santa will be at the store November 23, December 7, 13 and 14. Cross your fingers (and toes) and call 404-869-8665 for reservations.
The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead
The Tea Room at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead has always been on the map for purveyors of good taste. This holiday season, why not add your littles’ names to the list by taking them there for the annual Tea with Santa? Ample snap-your-own picture opportunities and live caroling accompany a traditional tea service on Fridays through Sundays from November 29th to December 22nd at 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30 p.m.. For the younger set, the Teddy Bear Tea on December 1st, 8th, 15th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. is an excellent option for shorter attention spans, with its cookie decorating station, Santa appearance, and “candy store,” where kids can fill a small bag with take-home treats. Reservations are required (tickets are $52 for adults, $47 for children for Tea with Santa, and $47 per adult, $52 per child for the Teddy Bear Tea) and can be made by calling 404-237-2700.
Santa knows where most of us are during this time of year, and you can still find him patiently sifting through gift requests at Lenox Square, Atlantic Station, and Cumberland Mall with no appointment necessary. Visiting him at Phipps? Keep in mind that reservations for his time at this location are required and booked well in advance.
Where will you go to see santa this year? Whisper it in the comments section below!
Photos courtesy of Creative Commons via Flickr, Baby Braithwaite via Facebook, West Side Provisions District via Facebook, Swan Coach House via Facebook, Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation via Facebook, Callanwolde Center for Fine Arts, The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead, and the author.
Check out other Christmas events and activities in Atlanta here.