A picture with Santa can be thrilling for a little kid, but if your child wants a heartier visit with the Big Red Guy, a tasty breakfast with Santa (or brunch or tea) might be in order.
We've found eight spots in New York City where families can enjoy a special holiday meal with Old St. Nick. These range from inexpensive pancake brunches hosted by local organizations to lavish spreads at Rockefeller Center and the Plaza Hotel. You can even hop on a cruise with Santa.
All require advance reservations and sell out quickly. Whichever ones you choose, be sure to bring your camera—and your appetite, and for more seasonal family fun check out our Holiday Guide.
American Girl Welcomes Santa – Midtown
The American Girl Store, 609 Fifth Avenue at 49th Street
Sunday, November 22
$28 per person
If you've got an American Girl fan at home, this is the event for her. She not only gets to visit the doll mecca, she can pose with Santa while there. Each child receives a 5x7 keepsake photo and everyone dines on a tasty meal.
Breakfast with Santa at Rockefeller Center – Midtown
The Sea Grill at 19 West 49th Street
The Rock Center Café at 20 West 50th Street
Opens November 28, reservation dates and times vary. Book online.
Gaze at Rockefeller Center's sparkling Christmas tree and the skaters twirling on the rink as you dig into breakfast with Santa and his elves. All kids receive a special gift from Santa and families enjoy VIP admission to the skating rink.
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Breakfast with Santa at Stella's in Macy's – Midtown
Stella 34 Trattoria on the 6th floor of Macy's, 151 West 34th Street
Opens November 27 (times and days vary)
Prices begin at $55 for adults, $40 for children ages 3-10
We rave about the magic of Macy's Santaland, but this in-store breakfast at Stella 34 Trattoria provides a more edifying experience. Chow down on a traditional Italian breakfast, which includes kid-pleasing ricotta pancakes or breakfast pizza. Candy canes, takeaway treats and a keepsake photo on Santa's knee are included.
Breakfast with Santa – Midtown West
Broadway Comedy Club, 318 West 53rd Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues
Opens November 27 (times and days vary)
$25 per person, but Mommy Poppins readers receive $10 off.
Breakfast and a show — pose for pictures with Santa and enjoy a continental breakfast. Afterward, the jolly red guy hosts Elfprov, an improvised family musical comedy, which ends with sing-along caroling.
Santa Brunch – Greenpoint
t.b.d. Brooklyn, 224 Franklin Street at Green Street
Saturday, December 5
$15 per person in advance, $5 for infants
Community org Town Square Inc. is behind this annual holiday meal. Munch on pancakes, sausages and bacon, make holiday-themed arts and crafts, sing carols with Santa and then pose for pics. Buying advance tickets is encouraged as the event always sells out! Revelers are also encouraged to bring new, unwrapped gifts to donate to a toy drive.
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Queens eatery Masso offers a cozy setting for visiting Santa. Photo courtesy of Masso.
Breakfast with Santa at Masso – Long Island City
47-25 Vernon Boulevard at 47th Road
Sunday, December 6
Children's prices begin at $25.
Enjoy a prix-fixe brunch at this Queens eatery, and pose for complimentary digital pics with Kris Kringle. All kids receive a small gift. Bring a new unwrapped plaything for the restaurant's Toys for Tots drive and you'll snag a voucher for a free drink at your next visit. Call 718-482-8151.
Tea with Santa – Midtown East
The Plaza Hotel, Fifth Avenue at Central Park South
Opens Friday, December 4, running on select Wednesdays and Fridays
$100 per child; $50 per adult
Got a little one who’s been really nice? Consider indulging in this sumptuous tea at the Eloise at the Plaza shop, where you can snack with Santa in high style. Enjoy tea sandwiches, dessert treats and fruit, Santa storytime, pics with the big red guy and an Eloise goody bag. Call 212-546-5460, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Spirit Cruise lunch with Santa is a festive affair. Photo courtesy of Spirit Cruises.
Lunch with Santa on Spirit Cruises – Chelsea
Pier 61 at Chelsea Piers
Saturday, December 12
Prices begin at $30.95 for children.
Hop aboard a Spirit Cruise for a kid-friendly lunch buffet complete with chicken tenders, fries and cookies. Tasty adult fare will be on board, too. You'll spend two hours sailing around New York harbor with Jolly Old St. Nick. Pictures are available for a fee.
Breakfast with Santa aboard the Zephyr Yacht – South Street Seaport
Pier 16 at South Street Seaport
Saturdays, December 12 and 19
Prices begin at $39 for children; call 212-742-1969 for $160 price special for a family of four.
This 90-minute holiday cruise includes a breakfast buffet, live DJ, dancing, Christmas movies, games and, of course, face time with Santa. Each sailing includes a surprise special guest.
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Brunch Buffet with Santa – Chelsea
Rare Bar and Grill, 152 West 26th Street
Sunday, December 13
Prices start at $20 for children.
Fill your tummies with a delicious hot & cold breakfast buffet before taking your seat on Santa's lap. Bring your camera to capture this magical moment with a spectacular view of Midtown and the Empire State Building beyond. FREE for those 4 and under.
Brunch with Santa at Aviator Sports & Events Center – Marine Park
Floyd Bennett Field, 3159 Flatbush Avenue
Sunday, December 20
Prices begin at $20 for children.
Hit the popular Brooklyn athletics complex for pancakes, eggs and other breakfast goodies, plus one Bloody Mary or mimosa per adult. Kids can pose for a free photo with Santa and enjoy cupcake decorating and crafts. Bring unwrapped items for Toys for Tots and receive a free gift for each toy you donate. RSVP by Monday, December 14.
Top photo of the Santa at the Plaza's holiday tea by Mommy Poppins staff.
This story, originally published in December 2012, is updated annually.