Like all things 2020, this year’s Santa pictures will be different but memorable. If an annual photo is what you’re after, we’ve got what you need to know about in-person visits and virtual options too. So dress the kids in their holiday best and bring your matching masks to one of these nearby Seattle spots. It’s time to see the Man in Red!

In-Person Santa Photos

photo: The Bellevue Collection

Snowflake Lane Factory
There are more than a few ways to celebrate the holidays on the Eastside this year, and Bellevue Square Santa pictures are just the beginning. Schedule your socially-distanced sit down with the Big Guy (there are five to choose from) in the evening to enjoy the twinkling lights, jolly music and occasional snow showers that add a touch of magic to the season. Although the parade is on hold this year, families can relive the experience with a VR selfie when they visit the ZARA corridor in Bellesquare. Don’t forget to order your Gingerbread house from KidsQuest then stop by the Gingerbread Candy Shoppe to pick out your favorite sweet treats for decorating while you’re there.

Find COVID guidelines here.

Dates: Nov. 27-Dec. 24, 2020
Times: Nov. 27, Dec. 18 & 19 and 21-23, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Nov. 28 & Dec. 20, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Nov. 29-Dec. 17, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Dec. 24, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost:
$42-$75, digital images available
Event details

Redmond Town Center
Your mask won’t hide your smile when your kids get to meet Santa at this favorite spot on the Eastside. You'll find this jolly old elf at Redmond Town Center where he sets up shop in the Center Street Plaza. There are five Santas to choose from this year, each with a belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly and a twinkle in his eyes. So pick the Santa (and day) that works best for your family and make your reservation soon. Psst.. schedule later at night and catch the Redmond Lights 2020 while you're there.

Find COVID guidelines here.

Dates: Nov. 27-Dec. 24, 2020
Times: Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Dec. 24, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $42-$75, digital images available
Event details

photo: iStock

University Village
In his own cozy cabin near CB2, the University Village Santa is a Seattle favorite for a reason. Not only do families get to visit him in a private, cozy cabin that makes kids feel extra special, but parents can sneak off to do some covert holiday shopping while they're there. Schedule time to visit online and plan to arrive with about five minutes to spare before your appointment. While you’re there (and if you’re able) families can give a Winter Wish to a child in need. How? Just pull a tag from a Winter Wish tree (outside of Ben Bridge Jeweler). Then return your purchased, unwrapped gift (with the tag) to the house before December 18. Psst… you can probably find what you need (for this or your kids) when you shop the Kids Club retirement sale.

Find COVID guidelines here.

Dates: Nov. 27-Dec. 24, 2020
Times: Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Dec. 24, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $42-$75, digital images available
Event details

Swanson’s Nursery
While we’ll all miss Swanson’s amazingly sweet reindeer who love to pose for pictures, families can still find St. Nick at a nearby cabin this year. He’ll be waiting to meet your little elves and have a quick convo with your crew before snapping that holiday photo you came for. Schedule your ten-minute window then decide if you want one pose or two. To reduce touched surfaces, all photos will be digital this year and are emailed to excited parents by 10 a.m. the morning after your big meet and greet.

Find COVID guidelines here.

Dates: Nov. 27-29 and Dec. 1-23, 2020
Times: Daily, 9 a.m.-noon and 1 p.m.-5 p.m.; closed Wednesdays
Cost: $49/one pose; $69/two poses; digital pictures only
Event details

photo: Cougar Mountain Zoo

Issaquah Reindeer Festival
If meeting Santa and seeing his reindeer sounds good to you, reserve your spot to do both at the annual Issaquah Reindeer Festival at Cougar Mountain Zoo. Safety measures are in place at this outdoor activity so families can have face time with the Big Guy in 2020. Picture this: Santa (or Rudolph) sitting atop his festive sleigh while your cute kiddos, dressed in their holiday best, perfect that winning smile. Sounds like a holiday card in the making to us. Be sure to visit with the other animals while you're there too!

Dates: Dec. 1-23 & 26-30, 2020
Times: Dec. 1-23, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Dec. 26-30, 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Cost: $13.50-$16.50
Event details

Kirkland Urban
If a casual, socially-distanced Santa photo sounds like the perfect 2020 option, then head to Kirkland Urban on a Saturday afternoon. That’s when families will find Santa perched on the bleachers in the North Lobby at Kirkland Urban. He’ll sit at the top, the kids can take a seat 10 feet away at the bottom. Parents, you stand back and snap the photo (don't forget the perfect frame). It’s totally free, but reservations are required. Get your tickets online to save a spot. Remember to pick up your free winter accessory craft kit (available starting Dec. 9 at noon, while supplies last) and then tune into the online workshop to build it.

Dates: Nov. 28; Dec. 5, 12, & 19, 2020
Times: noon-3 p.m.
Cost: Free
Event details

photo: Westfield Southcenter Mall

Westfield Southcenter Mall
Santa with a real beard and lots of holiday cheer will arrive at his beautiful Santa set (designed by Westfield and brought to life by Warner Brothers Studios) at Westfield Southcenter on Nov. 27, 2020. Conveniently located on the main level in Macy’s Court this Santa pulls out all the stops to bring his biggest fans special memories throughout the holiday season, even during coronavirus. They take the picture, you find the frame.

Find COVID guidelines here.

Dates: Nov. 27-Dec. 24, 2020
Times: Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun, noon-6 p.m.; Dec. 24, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $39.99-$49.99
Event details

Alderwood Mall
According to local parents, the Alderwood Mall Santa wins for "most authentic” and we couldn't agree more. They’ve had the same Santa here year after year, which is really convenient for taking those holiday photos as the kids get older (and wiser). And who can resist Santa's awesome and adorable outfits? Book time with this popular Santa online.

Find COVID guidelines here.

Good to know: Alderwood Mall is offering virtual Santa visits, too through January 7, 2021. Schedule yours while you still can.

Dates: Nov. 20-Dec. 23, 2020
Times: Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun., noon-6 p.m.; Dec. 24, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost:
$39.99-$49.99
Event details

A few more spots...
Arthur & Associates, the local photographers behind santaphotos.com are working hard to make Santa photos safe this year. In addition to spots listed above, you can find them at the Commons at Federal Way, Lake Forest Park Town Center and the Everett Mall. The best part? You can check out photos and schedules of all of the Santas online. Just like online dating, but better! So if you really like the look of Santa Bob, you can book accordingly. And here’s a special note for nostalgic natives: the original Frederick & Nelson Santa displays can be found at Town Center at Lake Forest Park, so if you were one of those kids who had a series of F&N photos lined up at Grandma’s house, here’s your shot at keeping that holiday tradition alive.

Dates: Nov. 27-Dec. 24, 2020
Cost: $42 & up (view package prices online)

Online: santaphotos.com

Virtual Santa Visits

photo: iStock

Nordstrom Santa
We’re looking at the bright side with this one. Although families won’t get to spend time in Santa’s elaborate downtown Nordstrom workshop in 2020, parents won’t have to entertain their Littles in line either. But your kids can still meet with a Nordstrom Santa during a special video call this year. They can also write a letter to Santa then email it, or drop it off curbside at Nordstrom, before December 20.

Macy’s Santaland
Seattle’s Macy’s is no longer, but families can still explore Macy’s virtual Santaland from home. Starting November 27, kids can embark on a virtual journey through Macy’s Santaland at Herald Square in New York City. The interactive experience will include elf time, games and a chance to take a selfie with Santa. The best part? It’s a free experience for kids of all ages.

Portable North Pole
Has the tree been chosen and decorated, the stockings hung, the presents purchased and the cookies baked (and eaten), and you just plain ran out of time to talk with St. Nick? No need to pout or cry, because the folks at Portable North Pole have created a festive and fun way to customize a personal message from Santa to your kiddos, including their name, age and what they’ve been especially good (or bad!) at in the past year. Blow their little minds when they see photos of themselves in the video—a guaranteed way to keep them nice for the whole next year. Parents can create a basic video for their little elves for free or upgrade to a premium video for $5.99. And if you want to go all in, you can get a Magic Pass starting at $14.99.

When it’s safe to travel…

In light of the Governor’s recent health and safety guidelines, it’s best to stay close to home (or at home) when you plan your Santa visit. But if travel is in the mix after December 14, you can’t go wrong visiting Santa at the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm, where kids can meet his friendly reindeer (and feed them by hand, too!). Reserve your Farm Tour with a side of Santa through December 29.

Kids can also climb aboard a vintage train car to visit with Old St. Nick. It's a clickety-clack excursion they won't soon forget. Book your ticket on the Yuletide Express that departs weekends from Snoqualmie, November 28 through December 19 (plus Friday, December 18 too!). It’s an abbreviated train ride (just 25 minutes), but kids will get to see Santa and receive a little gift too. It's ho ho ho awesome!

—Allison Sutcliffe, Kristina Moy & Erin Cranston

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