Well, here we are, again: Time to dress the kids up and head to one of the many area Santas to snap a pic and immortalize that magical “Child Screaming His Face Off on Santa’s Lap” moment. Don’t know which Big Guy (or Guys) you want to visit yet? Here’s a list of spots you might choose from this year. Some of the set-ups have photographers; some don’t. Best to BYO camera and/or have your phone at the ready. (As if you wouldn’t.)
Where: Market at Fareway and Laurel Hill Gardens, Chestnut Hill
When: Saturdays throughout December (3, 10 and 17), Santa is at the Market at the Fareway from noon to 3 p.m., and on Sundays, he’s at his headquarters at Laurel Hill Gardens from noon to 3 p.m.
The Details: Santa, plus some elves who are also ready to hear Christmas wishes and pose for pics! You should also know that on December 16, the Market at the Fareway is hosting a FREE craft time for kids/families in collaboration with Nest, from 11 to 1 p.m.
Where: Sister Cities Park, Center City
When: Brunch with Santa is on December 10 and 17 (Seatings at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. on the 10, and 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on the 17)
The Details: You can brunch with Santa at the park’s Logan Square Cafe — t’s $15.95 for kids 12 and under; $22.95 for adults; and free for babies 1 year and under (though you have to buy a ticket for the babies if they need their own seat). Reservations are required! In addition to Santa, the brunch also includes horse-drawn carriage rides around the park!
Where: Local 44, West Philly
When: December 10 (Noon to 3 p.m.)
The Details: Bring your kid, bring your camera, grab a beer at the bottle shop, and your kid can hear stories, get treats and say hi to the Big Guy. You should also know that they’re hosting a toy drive through December 15 — toys and personal care items will benefit the People’s Emergency Center.
Where: One Liberty Observation Deck
When: Saturdays and Sundays through December 18, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Details: Santa, Mrs. Claus and an elf or two are on the 57th floor (along with the coolest view in the city) — and kids’ tickets (11 and under) to get up there are free along with one paid adult general admission through December 31. You can buy tickets online ahead of time or at the admissions desk upon arrival.
Where: Cherry Hill Mall, Cherry Hill
When: From now until December 24
The Details: Dreamworks’ Adventure to Santa at the Cherry Hill Mall is not your average Santa visit. What it is is a 15-minute LED wonderland, featuring characters from Kung Fu Panda, a simulated sleigh ride to the North Pole, interactive games and more. According to the mall website, the entrance to the adventure and to see Santa is free, but if you want the photos or merchandise, you have to buy one of the package options (starting at $40). You can see the mall’s holiday hours here, and make online reservations here to guarantee a spot, which isn’t necessary, but is strongly recommended. (They’re also collecting food to donate to Food Bank of South Jersey: See details here!)
Where: Other malls, various
The Details: Nothing more classic than waiting in line for a pic with Santa at your local mall. And both the The Simon website (which includes Franklin Mills, King of Prussia, Montgomery Mall, and more) and the PREIT site (Moorestown, Cherry Hill, Plymouth Meeting) has searchable links to each of their malls; usually you can find Santa details under “events”. (Note: Some Simon malls also have the “Caring Santa” for kids with special needs, and you can make an appointment to see him on specific days. Check out the Philly-area details here!)
Where: Comcast Center, Center City
When: Most Saturdays and Sundays through December, at five points throughout the day, starting at 11:20 (check times here).
The Details: After some of the Holiday Spectacular shows on the LED screen (those happen at the top of every hour (a total Wee favorite!), Santa pops out for hellos and for photos downstairs in the Market.
Where: Franklin Square, Old City
When: Saturdays through December 17.
The Details: Franklin Square has a whole lot going for it: light shows (specifically, the popular Electrical Spectacle!), singalongs, holiday markets, live music, food trucks, an Anna and Elsa night, and, yes, Santa. Every Saturday from now until December 17, you can have milk, cookies and stories with Santa in the heated pavilion from 4 to 5 p.m. (tickets are $10, and you have to purchase them in advance here); then, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. he’s at the Square for photos and lap time (and that part’s free). You can also check out the long list of (really fun, family-friendly) holiday happenings here.
Where: Christmas Village at City Hall, Center City
When: Fridays throughs Sundays from now until Christmas Eve. (Fridays, 2 to 8 p.m.; Saturdays, noon to 8 p.m.; Sundays, noon 7 p.m.)
The Details: This year in its new spot at City Hall instead of the currently torn-up Love Park, the beloved annual Christmas Village features its usual plethora of vendors, food and entertainment … as well as, yes, Santa. Note: There’s a bunch of other kid-friendly stuff, too — arts and crafts, a carousel, train rides, and more.
Where: Frankford Hall, Fishtown
When: A couple more weekends in December (10 and 11, from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; 17 and 18, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. )
The Details: Every year, Santa visits one of our favorite watering holes on the weekend, and it’s always an awesome time for kids and grown-ups alike: There’s free hot cocoa and music from The Lara & Joe Show. (And you can have a beer to help celebrate!)
Where: Local farms and orchards, various suburbs
Details: Make a day out of it at Linvilla (Media), Johnson’s Corner Farm (Medford, NJ), Shady Brook Farm (Yardley), the Market at DelVal (Doylestown)… depending on where you land, you can also pick out a tree, or check out lights, or take a wagon ride, or have some eggnog or cocoa, or eat brunch or just smile with Santa. These various and sundry fests run almost every weekend, check specific websites for details.
Where: Macy’s, Center City
When: Now through December 24; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. all days except Saturday, which is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Details: A Philly classic that everyone should (arguably?) do at least once — you can check out the legendary free light show, then weave your way through Dickens Village, and sit down with Santa for the camera. (Photo packages start at $18.) Some advice: Go early as possible and bring snacks for the kids.
Where: Various spots on East Passyunk
When: Saturdays 2 to 5 p.m., through December 17
The Details: Each Saturday, Santa makes a different stop at an East Passyunk hang: This past weekend (oops!) was Tildie’s Toy Box: December 10 is at Urban Jungle; December 17 is at Cloth. You can buy an optional photo package onsite or have it emailed to you.
Where: Manayunk Brewing Company
When: December 10, 1 to 3 p.m.
The details: Totally chill, and totally simple: Head over for lunch at the Manayunk hang, and you can get your photo taken with Santa.