The Christmas season has arrived in New York City, and that means in many places, Santa has too! But where’s the best place in NYC to get a photo with Santa? Choices include the classic Macy’s snap, at the Rockefeller Rink with brunch, in stores and shopping malls like Bloomingdale’s and Brookfield Place, and even even a very special Santa rescue with FDNY. Read on for more than a dozen places in NYC to get a stellar photo with Santa Claus himself. and for a list of things to do with kids in NYC during the holidays, head here!


photo: Macy's John Mincillo

Macy's Herald Square

Macy's Santa is the quintessential Santa and he arrives in town via enormous sled in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. (This year he's beginning his visit to Macy's Santaland a little earlier because Thanksgiving falls so late.) Guests can see Santa starting on Nov. 23 and can do so by making a reservation in advance. Day-of reservations can also be made via kiosks at Santaland. If you're not in the mood to wait, take advantage of the Santa Express Lane, which allows guest to skip the amble through a holiday wonderland, and high-tail to St. Nick himself. The experience, as always, is free, you just have to pay for pictures, should you so choose. Santa will be visiting Macy's from Nov. 23-Dec. 24.

8th Floor
151 West 34th St.
Herald Square

photo: Bloomingdale's


If you want to avoid the madness and crowds of Herald Square, Santa will be greeting guests on the Upper East Side at Bloomingdales. Starting November 23 and running through Dec. 23, you can see Santa at the Holiday Shop on the 6th floor of the famous department store. Please note that Santa "takes lunch" daily between 1-2pm, so be sure to avoid those times as you will be out of luck. Monday-Saturday the hours are 10am-1pm, 2-5pm and Sundays 11am-1pm, 2-5pm.

Holiday Shop on 6
1000 Third Ave. at 59th St.
Upper East Side

photo: Angelito Jusay

Santa's Corner at Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is back for another season! The iconic winter experience features the only free admission skating rink in NYC, as well as 170+ Holiday Shops curated by Urbanspace. But don’t miss your chance to stop by Santa’s Corner for a free holiday photo with Santa and his helpers from December 14 - 22.

Winter Village at Bryant Park
Sixth Ave. & W 42nd St.

The Apollo

Coca-Cola Winter Wonderland at The Apollo will happen on Saturday Dec. 14, this year. Starting at 2pm kids and their families stop for pictures with Santa as well as hear some music from local choirs. It's a great family event and donations of books and toys will be accepted. The event is free.

The Apollo
253 West 125th Street

photo: Brookfield Place

Brookfield Place

You can make it a fun-filled day of holiday activities at Brookfield Place. Before or after your visit with Santa, you can go ice skating, do some shopping, or grab a bite to eat. New this year is a special activity center just for kids. Also, it should be noted that Brookfield Place has partnered with Autism Speaks to provide a Sensory Friendly Santa on Dec. 15 from 8:30-10am. Also, dogs can get in on the action too, with the special Santa Paws event. 
Photo packages start at $29 and Santa will be at 230 Vesey St, Level 2.

Brookfield Place
230 Vesey St.
Battery Park City

American Girl Cafe

Kids can bring their American Girl dolls for a very special picture with Santa. This year Santa will be stopping by the store starting Dec. 1. Tickets are $30/person and include a meet and greet with Santa as well as breakfast. Be sure to bring your own camera (cell phones will due) as pictures aren't provided. Check the website for date and times and to book your reservation.

American Girl Store
75 Rockefeller Plaza


photo: The Plaza Hotel

Santa at The Plaza Hotel

You can meet Santa a couple of ways at the famed Plaza Hotel, home to the irrepressible young New Yorker, Eloise. Book a photo session with Santa (prices range from $40-$60) throughout the season; he's at the hotel everyday, but appointments are filling up fast! Click here to make a reservation.

Or, treat your child to a Rawther Fancy Tea with Santa in Eloise's fabulous pink party pad, that includes a proper tea, Eloise-related activities, story time with Santa, and photos—plus a special Eloise favor bag. Click here for dates and times. Call 212-546-5457 for reservations. 

The Plaza Hotel 
768 Fifth Ave. 

photo: Big Apple Portraits

Big Apple Portraits

If you are looking for an extra special way to celebrate Christmas this year, you can schedule your very own photo session with Santa at Big Apple Portraits. And this Santa won't just sit there for a traditional picture, he will run and play and pose with your family, making for some really fun and memorable photos. Families can choose from Mini or Deluxe Sessions which start at $135. The next session is on Nov. 3 & Nov. 17 and must be booked in advance. Be sure to check out the website for some really awesome Santa shots.

143 W. 72nd St. , 2nd Fl.
Upper West Side
Online: newyorksanta

Instax Photos with Santa

Bring your kids and even pets to meet Santa at the Wonder Photo Shop on December 7th. Walk-ins are welcomed, but if you don't want to miss your chance, you can register in advance for this popular event. Pet inclusive photos are from 11 a.m. – noon, and for pet – exclusive photos/child only are from noon – 3 p.m.

FUJI FILM Wonder Photo Shop
176 5th Ave.


Santa at the Museum

Get your lists ready! Santa is stopping by the Museum of the City of New York on Saturdays from November 30 through December 21, 10 a.m.– 6 p.m. Want to make sure you secure your spot? Register in advance, and remember to bring your own camera or phone.

Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Ave

photo: fotohunter/iStock

Tea with Santa at The Pierre

Kids can indulge in a classic afternoon tea party with a holiday twist featuring the guest of honor on December 13 & 20 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Themed treats, eggnog for grownups, and a Nutcracker costume display are just some of what you can expect. Plus, it wouldn't be complete if there weren't milk and cookies! Price of admission is $75 for adults, and $50 for kids. 

The Pierre Hotel
2 East 61st St
212 838 8000

FDNY Santa Rescue

When Santa gets stuck on the roof, it's time to call New York's Bravest! This annual "rescue" of Old St. Nick on December 15 starts with a dramatic rescue from the roof of the New York City Fire Museum. Once the firefighters do their thing and Santa is safely inside, kids can meet him and pose for pictures. While the rescue at 11:30 a.m. is free to watch, it's $10 to get inside to the big man. This event is super popular, so be prepared to wait. 

New York City Fire Museum
278 Spring St


photo: Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum

Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum

Starting at 1pm kids and families can enjoy music, food, games, and of course pictures with Santa who arrives on horseback. After his grand entrance, Santa will read a story to the children, followed by pictures and some one-on-one time. Children can also decorate a tree and feed the horses. Tickets cost $28.

Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum
5816 Clarendon Rd.

Aviator Sports

Enjoy a full buffet and more, during this special brunch with Santa at Aviator Sports on Sunday Dec. 15 at 9am or 12pm. Promising to be "bigger than ever this year," the menu includes eggs, pancakes, and muffins, and Southern delicacy's and an oatmeal bar. Included with your ticket is one photo, and kids can decorate cupcakes and take part in various craft projects. And parents, you're going to want to take note, there will be a DJ and a bar serving $15 bottomless mimosas. The event does sell out, so be sure to book in advance.

Tickets: $34/adults; $32/kids 3 -12, free, kids 2 and under

Aviator Sports
3159 Flatbush Ave.
Floyd Bennett Field

Santa at Items of Interest

Santa will be stopping for pictures at Items of Interest in Brooklyn for the 6th year in a row. Photo packages start at $35.95 and range to $44.95. You’ll leave with a flash drive with your child’s best images for easy card-making, online sharing, and printing. Be sure to reserve your spot – weekends fill up quickly.

Nov. 23-Dec. 22
Items of Interest
60 Fifth Ave

Town Square's Santa Brunch

This annual community event keeps growing year after year. Don't miss your chance (you'll have your choice of three timed seatings) to brunch with Santa on December 8. For $20 per person in advance or $30 at the door, you'll get to enjoy pancakes, ham, arts & crafts, and most importantly, face time with Santa himself. And rumor has it, Elsa might make an appearance, too. 

Polish & Slavic Center
176 Java St


Queens Center Mall

If mall Santas are your thing, head over to Queens Center Mall for a photo and a free gift. This year Santa HQ’s new Elf Academy invites guests to come and stand in front of the Magic Mirror to be transformed into Santa’s Elf, kids can also create a customized Elf-ID card using the new Elf-ID app and a selfie! And don’t forget to try Elf-Ray Vision and the Naughty or Nice Meter too. You are able to make reservations in advance, although they are not required.

You can see Santa now through Dec. 24, check the website for times.

Queens Center
90-15 Queens Blvd
Elmhurst, Queens

Staten Island

Santa at Empire Outlets

The youngest shoppers will be able to personally request their wish list requests to St. Nick throughout the month of December with photo ops and even a seasonal keepsake to take home. Empire Outlets will also officially collect letters to Santa starting on December 3 until Christmas Eve, so tiny tots (along with their parents) can drop off their list anytime during operating hours.

Dec. 3 - Dec. 24
Empire Outlets
55 Richmond Terrace 
Staten Island


Ridge Hill Mall

Just about a 40 min drive north, is the Ridge Hill Mall, and this year kids and families can visit old St. Nick at Santa's Cottage, located centrally in the Town Square. The cottage features several interactive elements and pictures with Santa in his library. From Nov. 16 until Christmas Eve, from 10am-9pm Mon-Sat and 10am-7pm on Sundays you can lineup to see Santa. It can get pretty packed, so Ridge Hill offers a FastPass option to be able to skip the line, which you can reserve in advance.

Ridge Hill
1 Ridge Hill Blvd.

Across NYC

photo: Courtesy of Petco

Santa at Petco

Don't forget your furry kids when it comes to getting face time with the big man himself this holiday season. Santa will be in Petco stores across the city and the boroughs just waiting to meet and take pictures with your pets on December 7th and 14th from 1 p.m.-4p.m. He'll also make an appearance in select stores on December 15th. Check with your local store to see if it's on his list.  

Petco Stores
Across NYC, Staten Island, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx


— Jesseca Stenson


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