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 brunch with Santa Claus or just get a few quick insta-worthy photos and hear a token ho-ho-ho, find out where Santa’s sleigh will be parked this Christmas.

photo: Fashion Outlets of Chicago

Santa HQ at Fashion Outlets of Chicago
This modern version of a visit with Santa utilizes digital tools to offer a uniquely magical experience. Kids will love using the magic mirror to transform into one of Santa’s elves and find out where they land on Santa’s list.

They will also hold a sensory-friendly Santa HQ event prior to the mall opening on Nov. 24.

Nov. 8-Dec. 24; Daily, check website for varying times; 5220 Fashion Outlets Way, Rosemont. Event details. 

Santa’s Vintage Airstream at Oakbrook Center
Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa’s playing it old school, inviting families to take photos inside his vintage Airstream. On Nov. 24, he invites families for Santa Cares Day, where children with special needs are welcome for a sensory-friendly event to experience the time-honored tradition of a visit and photos with Santa.

Through Dec. 24; 100 Oakbrook Center, Oak Brook. Event details

photo: Water Tower Place

Sleigh It at Water Tower Place
“Fly” Santa’s sleigh and discover a virtual reality experience that captures the holiday spirit. While you’re there, hit American Girl Place for shopping or a meal.

Nov. 15-Dec. 24; 835 N. Michigan Ave. (level 7), Mag Mile. Event details

Santa at Bass Pro Shops
This is a biggie because at Bass Pro Shops’ dazzling Santa’s Wonderland, photos are free and there’s a waiting system that allows you to roam the store instead of standing in line.

Nov. 16-Dec. 24; Locations in Gurnee, Bolingbrook & Hoffman Estates. Event details

photo: InterContinental Chicago

Santa’s Workshop at InterContinental Chicago
InterContinental Chicago will transform its two-story lobby into a Santa’s Workshop complete with a toy building area and a “Letters to Santa” station. For those looking to chat with Santa directly, Mr. & Mrs. Claus will be available every Saturday through December 21.

Nov. 21-Dec. 31; 505 N. Michigan Ave., Mag Mile. Event details

Santa’s Workshop at Gallagher Way
Excite your young Cubs fan by planning a visit with Santa in his workshop, as part of Gallagher Way’s Winterland programming—which even includes a mini Christkindlmarket!

Nov. 29-Dec. 22; Fri.-Sun.; Gallagher Way, 3635 N. Clark St., Wrigleyville. Event details

photo: Santa’s Village

Magical Christmas Days at Santa’s Village
Santa’s Village will host Magical Christmas Days filled with holiday cheer, entertainment, shopping, festive treats, rides, and of course, visits with the Man in Red.

Nov. 29, 30 & Saturdays and Sundays in December; 601 Dundee Ave., West Dundee. Event details

Holiday Tea with Mrs. Claus at The Peninsula
The fun really begins when kids get special attention with their very own Holiday Children’s Tea with Mrs. Claus. Activities include cookie decorating, storytelling, a visit from Peter Bear and Santa Claus.

Nov. 30 & Dec. 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 20, 21 & 22; 108 E. Superior. Event details

photo: Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm

Christmas at Cottonwood
Take a breather after a long morning of Black Friday shopping and kick off the holidays the right way—with fun on the farm. Siegel’s will host Cottonwood Christmas with activities, food and fun, including Santa meet-and-greets.

Nov. 30; Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm, 17250 Weber Rd., Lockport. Event details

Breakfast with Santa at Pheasant Run Resort
Pheasant Run Resort is excited to spread Christmas cheer leading up to the big holiday with Sunday brunches, all with special guest Santa Claus! Enjoy cookie decorating, gingerbread-house making, popcorn tinsel and other family-friendly crafts.

Dec. 1, 8, 15 & 22; 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles. Event details

Blackberry Farm Holiday Express
Experience a winter wonderland amid thousands of twinkling lights, festive holiday decorations and merry holiday music. In the historic pioneer village, you’ll find crafts, a reindeer food bar, readings of holiday classics in the one-room schoolhouse and a special visit with Santa. They’re also offering a Special Needs Night on Dec. 6.

Dec. 5-22; 100 S. Barnes Rd., Aurora. Event details

photo: Homewood Holiday Lights

Homewood Holiday Lights
This annual holiday lights celebration offers all the holiday traditions in one evening. Santa and his friends will even arrive on a fire engine to flip the switch for the grand tree lighting.

Dec. 6; Irwin Park, 18120 Highland Ave, Homewood. Event details

Santa’s Workshop at Wilder Mansion
A holiday store just for kids! Santa’s Secret Workshop is a special place just for children where they can purchase inexpensive holiday gifts for those they love.

Dec. 7; 211 S. Prospect Ave, Elmhurst. Event details

Pictures with Santa at Chopin Park
Join the Chicago Park District for FREE pictures with Santa! There will be popcorn, candy canes, crafts, and pictures. First-come, first-served.

Dec. 7; 3420 N. Long St., Portage Park. Event details

photo: Driehaus Museum

Driehaus Museum
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, enjoy live music and performances and play holiday games.

Dec. 7, 8, 14 & 15; 40 E. Erie St., Downtown. Event details

photo: Langham Hotel

Santa Visits the Langham Hotel
Old St. Nick is setting up shop in Flavours of Langham for the holidays. Good boys and girls are invited to drop off holiday letters or visit the jolly old fellow.

Dec. 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 & 25; 330 N. Wabash, River North. Event details.

swissotelphoto: Swissôtel Chicago

Santa Suite at Swissôtel Chicago
Swissôtel’s Santa Suite on the 41st floor, will be transformed into a stunningly whimsical display only suitable for a visit from Mr. Claus. This over-the-top space is decorated in the spirit and magic of the season.

Dec. 7; 323 W. Upper Wacker Dr., Loop. Event details.

photo: Hyde Park Holly-Day, credit Christopher Andrew

Hyde Park Holly-Day at the Promontory
This FREE event includes a holiday movie, ice carving demo and sculpture stroll, pictures with Soul Santa & Mrs. Claus, Buddy the Elf, holiday crafts, dance performances, meet-and-greets and live reindeer.

Dec. 7; 5311 S. Lake Park Ave., Hyde Park. Event details

Holiday Gingerbread Decorating with Chicago Dogs
Chicago Dogs invites families to their Holiday Gingerbread Decorating and Cookie Party! Santa Claus and the Chicago Dogs mascots Squeeze and Ketchup will make special appearances for holiday photos with fans.

Dec. 8, 1 p.m.-4 p.m.; 9850 Balmoral Ave., Rosemont. Event details

See a Firefighting Santa at Firezone
For their favorite event of the year, Firezone will have a firefighter gear demo, pics with a firefighting Santa, holiday treats, crafts and a free Christmas fire helmet.

Dec. 14, 10 a.m.1 p.m.; 1100 National Pkwy, Schaumburg. Event details

Scale with Santa at Brooklyn Boulders
Brooklyn Boulders invites families to scale the climbing walls alongside Santa Claus (literally!). Santa Claus will be available for photo opportunities, along with gifting candy canes to children with a few lucky takers receiving a free Kid’s Academy class.

Dec. 14, 1 p.m.-4 p.m.; Brooklyn Boulders, 100 S. Morgan St., West Loop. Event details

photo: Miracle on Martin

Miracle on Martin in Homewood
Cozy up to enjoy a bonfire with s’mores and beverages that will take the chill away. Santa will be at the Homewood Science Center, where you’ll find a sensory-friendly holiday scene that sets the perfect backdrop for a quiet visit with the big guy himself.

Dec. 14; Homewood Science Center, 18022 Dixie Hwy, Homewood. Event details

Have Your Head in the Clouds with Santa at 360 Chicago
Have a Sunday Funday with Santa that includes a free TILT ride for kids, a magic show, musical performances, and pics with Old St. Nick.

Dec. 15 & 22; 875 N. Michigan Ave., Mag Mile. Event details

Figure 8 with Santa at Maggie Daley
The Maggie Daley Park ice skating ribbon is one of the best spots in the city to skate a figure eight. The railing that lines the loop is the perfect pick-me-up for wobbly skaters. Make the outing extra special with a Skate with Santa on Dec. 14.

Dec. 15; 337 E. Randolph, Loop. Event details

Character Skate at Parkway Bank Park
The Chicago Wolves Ice Rink at Parkway Bank Park offers open skate, Nov. 29-Feb. 23. But, Sundays in December are extra special with the Character Skate, with the stars of the show being Santa and Mrs. Claus on Dec. 22.

Dec. 22; Parkway Bank Park, 5501 Park Pl., Rosemont. Event details

photo: Signature Room


Santa at the Signature Room
The 95th-floor Signature Room transforms into a winter wonderland, complete with a gourmet brunch spread, festive holiday décor, a variety of children’s activities, and photo opportunities with Santa Claus and his elves.

Nov. 30; 875 N. Michigan Ave., Mag Mile. Event details

Breakfast with Santa at Hotel Zachary at Gallagher Way
Start a new holiday tradition right next door to where the Cubs fly the W. Enjoy a special holiday-inspired breakfast while Jolly Old Saint Nick relaxes near the fireplace, waiting for a visit with good boys and girls.

Nov. 30-Dec. 22; Sat. & Sun., 8 a.m.-11 a.m.; Hotel Zachary, 3630 N. Clark St., Wrigleyville. Event details

photo: jill111 via pixabay

Macy’s on State Street
Choose your feast — breakfast, lunch or dinner — and grab Santa’s ear. The merriment takes place in Macy’s Narcissus Room.

Nov. 30-Dec. 22; 111 N. State St., Loop. Event details.

Hot Cocoa with Santa at Armour Square Park
Admission to this very special event hosted by the Chicago Park District includes arts & crafts, cookie decorating, hot cocoa, inflatables, a holiday movie and a visit with Santa. Be ready to snap pics!

Dec. 7; 3309 S. Shields Ave., Bridgeport; Event details

photo: Brookfield Zoo

Breakfast with Santa at Brookfield Zoo
Take the family to Brookfield Zoo for a festive all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet. Santa and Mrs. Claus will make an appearance for photo opportunities and to visit with children. The zoo will be all decked out for their Holiday Magic programming, so be sure to go back in the evening to see it all lit up!

Dec. 7, 8 & 14; 8400 W 31st St., Brookfield. Event details.

Cookies with Santa at Vittum Park
Warm your heart on a chilly day with cookies with Santa.

Dec. 7, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; 5010 W. 50th St., Garfield Ridge. Event details

Lunch with Santa at Lawry’s
Take a break from shopping Michigan Ave. and take kids wishing to chat with Santa to pass along Christmas wishes, take a photo, enjoy a three-course lunch and be entertained by carolers.

Dec. 7, 14 & 21; 100 E. Ontario, Near North Side. Event details

photo: Bruce Mars via

Brunch with Santa at Tavern on Rush
The little ones will be treated to a range of food from silver dollar pancakes to cheesy scrambled eggs to celebrate the holiday season with Mr. Claus. While kids are mugging for the camera, parents can indulge in the crab cake Benedict, stuffed french bread or breakfast pizza.

Dec. 8 & 15, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; 1031 N. Rush St., Gold Coast. Event details

Santa and a River View at River Roast
Stop in for brunch and get a picturesque photo with the man in red. The veranda will be decked out for the holidays and Santa will be set up with the backdrop of sweet views of the city’s river, buildings and bridges.

Dec. 8, 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m.; 315 N. LaSalle, River North. Event details

daley-plaza-santaphoto: City of Chicago

Breakfast at Lambs Farm
Munch on breakfast, 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 and make a craft. And don’t forget the important mission of this non-profit: It provides a safe and caring living environment for people with disabilities.

Dec. 14, 15, 21 & 22; 4245 W. Rockland Rd., Libertyville. Event details.

Brunch with Santa at Centre Street Kitchen
Centre Street Kitchen, Lincoln Park’s new positivity-focused restaurant with a goal to raise money for pediatric cancer, will host a ticketed Santa Brunch with four seatings available. Kids are $9.99, which includes one kid’s meal and a photo with Santa and adults are $14.99 which includes one entree, one non-alcoholic beverage and photo with Santa.

Dec. 14; 1224 W. Webster, Ave., Lincoln Park. Event details.

Santa Lunch Cruise with Spirit of Chicago
Visit Santa on the high seas! 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.

Dec. 14; 600 E. Grand Ave., Navy Pier; Event details

photo: Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel

Brunch with Santa at Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been naughty or nice — Santa Claus is bringing holiday cheer to the Radisson Blu for a special pre-Christmas brunch! Enjoy specialty buffets, choo-choo train rides, bouncy houses and arts & crafts for the kids, a hot chocolate bar and more.

Dec. 14, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; 221 N. Columbus, Loop. Event details

Holiday Kinderfest at Hofbräuhaus Chicago
Kinderfest offers seasonal fun for the whole family. Be treated to $7 meals for kids, in addition to free activities including face painting, ornament decorating, magic acts, visits with Santa and more.

Dec. 15; 5500 Park Pl., Rosemont. Event details

photo: Pennyville Station

Brunch for a Cause at Pennyville Station
Pennyville Station invites families to brunch and have a hang session with the Big Man in Red. Santa will be there, ready to take photos with diners, while 10% of brunch proceeds will go to benefit Operation North Pole Chicago, which fundraises throughout the year to bring magical holiday experiences to local children battling life-threatening illnesses.

Dec. 15, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; 112 Main St., Park Ridge. Event details

— Maria Chambers

Featured photo: TerriC via Pixabay


Pinkies Up! Holiday Teas to Plan Now

Holiday Train & Sleigh Rides to Jump Aboard Now

On the Top of Your Holiday Must-Dos: Christkindlmarket