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, 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 one you choose, bring your camera—and your appetite—and for more seasonal family fun check out our Holiday Guide.
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Breakfast with Santa at Rockefeller Center — Midtown
The Sea Grill, 19 West 49th Street
The Rock Center Café, 20 West 50th Street
Opens Friday, November 24, reservation dates and times vary. Book online.
$55–95 for children; $75–150 for adults
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. Kids receive a special gift and families enjoy VIP admission to the skating rink.
Breakfast with Santa at Stella's in Macy's — Midtown
Stella 34 Trattoria, sixth floor of Macy's, 151 West 34th Street
Opens Friday, November 24 (times and days vary)
Prices begin at $50 for adults, $35 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 French toast, yogurt parfaits, and a plentiful pastry basket. Candy canes, takeaway treats, and a keepsake photo on Santa's knee are included.
Rawther Fancy Teas with Santa — Midtown East
The Plaza Hotel, Fifth Avenue at Central Park South
Opens Friday, November 24, running on select dates
$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, pictures with the big red guy, and an Eloise goody bag. Call 212-546-5460, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Breakfast with Santa comes with a show at the Broadway Comedy Club.
Breakfast with Santa — Midtown West
Broadway Comedy Club, 318 West 53rd Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues
Opens Saturday, November 25 (times and days vary)
$25–$50 per person
Arrive early for this breakfast-and-show combo. You'll pose for pictures with Santa and enjoy a continental breakfast. Afterward, the jolly red guy hosts Elfprov, an improvised family musical comedy that ends with sing-along caroling.
Santa Brunch — Greenpoint, Brooklyn
t.b.d. Brooklyn, 224 Franklin Street, at Green Street
Saturday, December 9
$15 per person and $5 for infants in advance; $20 and $10, respectively, at the door
Community organization Town Square Inc. is behind this annual holiday meal, which offers three seatings. Devour pancakes and sausage; make holiday-themed arts and crafts; sing carols with Santa, and then pose for pictures. Buying advance tickets is encouraged as the event always sells out.
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Celebrate with Santa over lunch aboard a Spirit Cruise.
Lunch with Santa on Spirit Cruises — Chelsea
Pier 61 at Chelsea Piers
Saturday, December 9
Prices begin at $35.95 for children, $59.90 for adults
Hop aboard a Spirit Cruise for a kid-friendly lunch buffet. Tasty adult fare is on board, too. You'll spend two hours sailing around New York harbor with Jolly Old St. Nick. Pictures are available for a fee.
American Girl Place Welcomes Santa — Midtown
American Girl Place, 75 Rockefeller Plaza
Sunday, December 10
$28 per person
If you've got an American Girl fan at home, this is the event for her. Not only can she enjoy a visit to the glamorous new American Girl retail store, she can pose with Santa while there. Bring your camera to capture the moment and your appetite. A delicious meal awaits in the cafe.
Brunch with Santa at Aviator Sports & Events Center — Marine Park, Brooklyn
Floyd Bennett Field, 3159 Flatbush Avenue
Sunday, December 17
Prices begin at $24 for adults, $22 for children, FREE for kids under 3
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. There will be two brunch seatings, but holiday events at this Brooklyn hot spot always sell out!
Top photo: Meet Santa and his elves at Stella 34 Trattoria in Midtown. All photos courtesy the respective venues.
This article, originally published in December 2012, is updated annually.