50+ Awesome Santa Activities in New Jersey

Liberty Hall hosts Breakfast with Santa on Sunday, December 16. Photo courtesy of the Liberty Hall Museum
The Best Ways To See Santa this Christmas with Kids in New Jersey

December is here, and that means Santa is here, too! Your kids are sure to want to meet St. Nick, and you’re sure to want to snap a pic or two for a keepsake.

From photo ops to breakfasts and brunches, train rides, and even special holiday shows, we’ve rounded up more than 50 of the best places to see Santa across the state this year. They include some old classics as well as a few new favorites.

Whether you want to take in the holiday lights, have your preschooler mingle with Kris Kringle, or hear a token ho-ho-ho at a free event, there’s something for everybody.

Read on for where to catch up with the jolly jet-setter all over New Jersey this holiday season. 

You'll find even more ways to get the yuletide party started in our Holiday Fun Guide and Dozen Holiday Must-Dos.

Warm up with a hot chocolate on the Polar Express. Photo courtesy of the Delaware River Railroad Excursions

Take the Train

Tri-State Santa Train – Wayne
Saturday, December 8, 2018
This 25th annual Santa Train is no ordinary trip. Along with Santa and Mrs. Claus, children will be entertained on the hour-long ride by elves and cartoon characters. 

The Christmas Express – Allaire State Park, Wall Township
Select dates through Sunday, December 16, 2018 
All aboard this popular 15-minute holiday train ride with Santa, which has been a family tradition for more than 35 years. 

The Polar Express – Phillipsburg 
Select dates through Sunday, December 16, 2018
Families closer to the Pennsylvania border can step right up and get their tickets punched to ride to the North Pole via the Delaware River Railroad in Phillipsburg. 

North Pole Express – Flemington 
Weekends through December 23, 2018 
Serving up hot chocolate and cookies, plus extra face-time with Santa and Mrs. Claus, this two-hour ride also includes face painting. 

The Polar Express – Whippany
Now through Sunday, December 30, 2018 (except Christmas Day)
Inspired by the children's holiday classic, this magical train ride features Santa, music from the movie soundtrack, and bottomless mugs of hot cocoa. 

Breakfast with Santa

Camden Children’s Garden – Camden 
Saturdays, December 8-22, 2018
Take a day trip to Camden Children’s Garden to enjoy a catered lunch with Santa and craft. Tickets includes admission to the garden, plus a carousel and train ride. 

Congress Hall – Cape May
Saturdays and Sundays through December 23, 2018
Bound to become a new family holiday tradition, Congress Hall transforms into a winter wonderland weekends in December with a delicious hot buffet and a photo opportunity with Santa.

Garden State Discovery Museum – Cherry Hill
Saturday-Sunday, December 8-9, 2018
Bring your family to enjoy a pancake bar with toppings and beverages in a fun, festive holiday atmosphere. 

The Wooden Spoon – Bloomfield
Sunday, December 9, 2018
We’re not sure what Santa’s favorite cuisine is, but we bet he (and your family) will enjoy this Southern-inspired breakfast buffet. 

Liberty Hall Museum – Union
Sunday, December 16, 2018
Liberty Hall welcomes hungry visitors to join Santa for a buffet breakfast, plus photos with the jolly old man in his sleigh. 

RELATED: 30+ Free Holiday and Christmas Events for NJ Kids

Santa and swimming makes for a fun and unique holiday experience. Photo courtesy of Sahara Sam's

Make a Splash 

Santa's Snack and Swim – West Berlin
Weekends through Sunday, December 23, 2018
Dine at Sahara Sam's Oasis Indoor and Outdoor Water Park’s expansive breakfast buffet, then slip on your swimsuits to take a dip with Jolly St. Nick. 

Milk & Cookies with Santa – Camden
Saturday-Sunday, December 8-9 & Saturday, December 15, 2018
Milk and cookies count as breakfast, right? That's what is on the menu at Adventure Aquarium’s event. After meeting Santa on dry land, he’ll swap his Santa suit for a scuba suit to swim with the sharks, stingrays, and sea turtles.

Sea of Lights – Point Pleasant 
Fridays and Saturdays, December 14-28, plus Wednesday and Thursday, December 26-27, 2018
Known for unforgettable summer fun, Jenkinson’s Aquarium shines in December with beautiful indoor light displays as well as crafts, holiday treats, pictures with Santa, games, and more. 

Swimming with Santa – Cranford
Sunday, December 16, 2018
Join Santa at the Westfield Area YMCA as he relaxes in the pool before the big day—and go home with a truly unique Santa photo this year. 

Tree Lightings

Hoboken Christmas Tree Lighting – Hoboken
Thursday, December 6, 2018 
Meet Santa and Elvis the Elf in front of City Hall and enjoy the sweet sounds of holiday favorites by local school children and other entertainers while you warm up with a cup (or two) of cocoa. 

Seaside Heights Christmas Tree Lighting – Seaside Heights
Friday, December 7, 2018 
Kick off the holiday season at one of the Jersey Shore’s most beloved community events ending with Santa’s arrival and a festive tree lighting. 

Montclair Christmas Tree Lighting – Montclair
Friday, December 7, 2018
Gather at Church Street Plaza for a host of wintery fun, including carolers, a giant snow globe, s'mores over a fire pit and hot cocoa. Santa will be there, too, plus you catch him the next day as he makes his rounds around town from St. James Church to the South End business district.

RELATED: 30 Christmas and Holiday Events for NJ Babies and Toddlers

Experience a neighborhood Christmas block party with favorite friends. Photo courtesy of Sesame Place

Zoos and Theme Parks

Breakfast with Santa at iPlay – Freehold
Sunday, December 9, 2018
Rides, games, and breakfast make for a festive day at iPlay America. Join Santa for a breakfast buffet and photos, then stick around for the thrills.

Turtle Back Zoo Holiday Lights Spectacular – West Orange 
Select dates through Monday, December 31, 2018 
Little ones will love a nighttime trip to the zoo for this festive light display. Meet and greet Santa and Mrs. Claus at the party gazebo and don’t forget to bring non-perishable foods, new/gently used winter coats, and unwrapped toys for donation. 

A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place – Langhorne, PA 
Select dates through Tuesday, January 1, 2019
Start a new holiday family tradition with a trip to Sesame Place, as the entire park is transformed into a winter wonderland. Bundle up for the rides and attractions, holiday musicals, plus special appearances by Santa, Rudolph, and everyone’s favorite furry friends.

Storybook Land Christmas Fantasy with Lights – Egg Harbor Township
Select dates through Sunday, December 23, 2018
Every evening at 5pm Mr. Claus himself pops up out of the chimney of his adorable home in the village and waves his wand to light up a spectacular display of more than one million holiday lights.

Santa's Family Workshop at Cape May County Park & Zoo  – Cape May Court House
Saturday, December 8, 2018
Bring your own camera for a photo with Santa and Mrs. Claus in the Reptile House, then stick around for the animals and other special events including crafts and a scavenger hunt.

Six Flags Holiday in the Park – Jackson
Select dates through Tuesday, January 1, 2019
Prepare for a thrilling holiday experience as the entire park is filled with Christmas trees, festive decorations, and holiday magic around every corner. Warm up inside the North Pole, where kids can pose for a photo with the jolly bearded guy in red, write letters to Santa, and even meet a talking reindeer. 

Unique Party Experiences

The Santa Experience – Glen Ridge
Sunday, December 9, 2018
Enjoy a one-on-one with Mr. Claus as the Glen Ridge train station transforms into Santa’s holiday workshop for the event. Little elves can make ornaments, write Santa letters, and sip cocoa before holiday pics are snapped. 

Dutch Christmas at the Dey Mansion – Wayne 
Saturday-Sunday, December 8-9, 2018
Deck the halls at Wayne's Dey Mansion, where there’ll be 18th-century dancing and music, hearth cooking, crafters, and demos. Stick around for a visit with New Jersey’s local militia and the man of the hour: Sinterklaas.

Shop 'Til You Drop

Holiday Market at Hudson County Community College – Jersey City
Sunday, December 9, 2018
While you’re scoring awesome presents at the stalls, the kids can watch a magician or puppet show, try face painting, balloon animals, and crafts, or take selfies with Santa.

Asbury Park Holiday Bazaar – Asbury Park
Sundays through Sunday, December 23, 2018
It's a Sunday fun day at Asbury Park Convention Hall, with vendors, live music, kids art classes, food, and Santa stationed in the Grand Arcade. Bring a toy or gently used coat and receive a 4x6 print of your child’s photo.

Bass Pro Shop – Atlantic City
Now through Monday, December 24, 2018
Kids can meet and pose with Santa while you cross fishing rod and binoculars off your Christmas list. You’ll receive a free 4 x 6 photo, personalized digital Christmas card, and a wooden picture frame (while supplies last). Free crafts and outdoor-themed activities will keep little elves busy while you wait.

Dramatic Arrival

Santa Flies into Princeton Airport – Princeton
Monday, December 24, 2018
Santa trades in his sleigh for a plane when he comes in for a landing at the Princeton Airport on Christmas Eve. The landing takes place at 11am, and children will greet Santa while snacking on hot cocoa and cookies. If you'd like to arrange to have a gift waiting for your child at the airport, you're also asked to bring an unwrapped present for a child in need. 

It's Showtime

Magic & Mistletoe with Joe Holiday – Manasquan
Saturday, December 22, 2018 
You’ve heard of holiday magic, but Joe Holiday will help you see it firsthand at the Algonquin Arts Theater. Kiddos will marvel at his illusions and sleight of hand, then meet up with Santa and Mrs. Claus after the show.

'Twas the Night Before Christmas – West Windsor
Friday-Sunday, December 7-9, 2018
The beloved holiday poem is brought to life on stage as an enchanting musical at Mercer County Community College’s Kelsey Theater. Stick around for Santa photos after the performance.

RELATED: Best and Brightest Christmas Light Displays in New Jersey

In addition to seeing Santa at Longstreet Farm, guests are treated to apple cider, cookies, and wagon rides. Photo courtesy of the farm

Fun & Free 

Winter Solstice Celebration – Toms River
Saturday, December 8, 2018
Toms River gives winter a warm welcome with a visit from Santa, plus arts and crafts, a guided candy cane nature walk, food and a campfire storytime. 

Visit with Santa at Longstreet Farm – Holmdel
Saturday and Sunday, December 22-23, 2018 
Head to Longstreet Farm and enjoy an old-fashioned Victorian Christmas. Children can visit with Santa, then take a walk to the farmhouse and have a cup of cider. 

Santa Visits Kale's Garden Center – Princeton
Weekends through Sunday, December 16, 2018
Santa makes his annual trek to Kale's Garden Center every Saturday and Sunday until mid-December. Bring your camera to snap photos with Santa, then browse the shop’s wreaths and other holiday decor.  

Farm Fun

Candy Lane Holiday Game – Robbinsville
Saturday-Sunday, December 8-9 & 15-16, 2018
Dress your little elves in their warmest pajamas for a trip down Candy Lane in Oasis Family Farm’s interactive walk-through game. You’ll use your phone (and flashlight) to help Santa crack the secret code to recover his stolen Christmas candy. 

Country Christmas with Santa – Chester
Saturdays and Sundays through Sunday, December 23, 2018
Skip the lines and chaos at the mall and enjoy a low-key visit with Santa at Alstede Farm. Bring your camera for this special photo op then enjoy roasting marshmallows over a cozy campfire.

Holiday Train Rides – Vernon
Sunday, December 9, 2018
Santa Claus makes a detour to Heaven Hill Farm, where you can get a family portrait for your holiday cards. Plus, enjoy a free train ride around the farm while you look for the perfect Christmas tree. 

Visit with Santa – Medford
Now through Sunday, December 23, 2018
It’s easy to get into the holiday spirit with a visit to Johnson’s Corner Farm. Santa’s in the (farm)house everyday through December 23 (times vary) for free photos. The farm’s Light Show on the Lake is another must, along with gingerbread decorating, s’mores, and hayrides.

Visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus – Wyckoff 
Saturday, December 8, 2018
Stop by Abma's farm for some s 'mores and hot cocoa, and stay for a visit with Santa & Mrs. Claus. The cheerful couple will be greeting guests in the greenhouse and smiling for as many pictures as you wish to take (remember your camera).


Storytime with Santa and Mrs. Claus – Nutley
Saturday December 8, 2018
Join Mr. & Mrs. Claus for a holiday story time at Kingsland Manor. In addition to refreshments, kids will receive a small early Christmas gift from Santa. Don’t forget your camera!

Storytime with Mrs. Claus – Smithville
Saturdays and Sundays through December 23, 2018
If the big guy in red causes fears (and tears) in your little one, Smithville’s holiday celebration presents the softer side of the family. Join Mrs. Claus for storytime, pictures, and Christmas wish lists she can pass along to Santa. 

RELATED: Where To Have Breakfast with Santa in New Jersey

Take a drive to Johnny's Hazlet Holiday Lights for a show and a Santa sighting. Photo courtesy of Johnny's Hazlet Holiday Lights

Holiday Lights

Skylands Christmas Light Show & Village – Augusta
Now through Sunday, December 30, 2018
After you drive through the mile-long light show featuring more than two million twinkling lights,  visit the outdoor village for photos with Santa, hot chocolate, s'mores, carnival games, and ice skating.

Johnny's Hazlet Holiday Lights – Hazlet 
Saturday December 8 – Sunday December 23, 2018
Back and bigger than ever, this popular show draws tons of fans every year to see two dozen inflatable decorations and more than 75,000 lights. Even Santa will swing by and see the show nightly from 6-11pm (weather permitting).

Outdoor Fun

Bergen County’s Winter Wonderland at Van Saun Park – Paramus 
Weekends and select weekdays through Tuesday, January 1, 2019
Beyond the open-air ice skating, Bergen Express Train Ride around the zoo, and unlimited carousel rides, tickets to this winter wonderland includes admission to Santa’s North Pole Dome and Workshop to get pics with the Big Guy. 

Christmas Festival at the Green – Morristown
Fridays-Sundays from Saturday, December 8 – Sunday, December 23, 2018
The magic and wonder of the holiday season can be found on the town’s famous Green, where Santa House takes up temporary residence for visits and photos. 

Dickens Village – Maplewood
Saturdays, December 8 and 15, 2018
Maplewood’s charming downtown gets even sweeter with a mini Dickens Village pop-up. Enjoy breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus at several village eateries on December 8, then stick around for horse & wagon rides, a petting zoo, and storytime. Kids can also enjoy a non-breakfast visit with Santa on both dates, between 1-4pm.

Santa in the Park – Ridgewood
Saturdays through December 22, 2018
Come see Santa’s home away from home at Memorial Park. Each Saturday from noon-3pm, St. Nick will visit his little red cottage in the park to greet children for photos and hear all their wishes for the big day. Ben & Jerry's will be there to provide hot cocoa.

Meet the man himself at Macy's Santaland. Photo by Mike Coppola for Macy's

Fantastic Photo Ops

Christmas Ice Caverns – Fairfield
Now through Monday, December 31, 2018
Jody’s Silk Florist and Patio Center is home to the Christmas Ice Caverns, NJ’s largest walk-through animated Christmas display. The 10,000-square-foot winter wonderland includes characters sleigh riding in the snow, Santa’s candy factory, a reindeer feeding barn, a life-sized Nativity, and of course, Kris Kringle himself.

Macy's Herald Square – New York City
Now through Monday, December 24, 2018
The center of all things Christmas in the NY metro area is Santaland at Macy’s Herald Square. Head up to the eighth floor of the iconic department store where you’ll find a 13,000-square-foot replica of the North Pole, where caroling snowmen, reindeer, giant toy soldiers, a massive train display, and decked-out Christmas trees line the path to Santa. Avoid the lines and make advance reservations online.

Best Mall Santas

Cherry Hill Mall – Cherry Hill 
Now through Monday, December 24, 2018
Every guest who purchases a photo package has the opportunity to receive at least one free phone call from Santa. 

Garden State Plaza – Paramus 
Now through Monday, December 24, 2018
If having the WHOLE family in the picture, paws and all, makes a difference, the mall hosts Monday night photo sessions for Santa and his four-legged furry friends. Pets must be on their best behavior, too—so make sure to bring a leash! All packages come with a $20 promo code to Shutterfly as well (great for getting those holiday cards started). 

Freehold Raceway Mall – Freehold 
Now through Monday, December 24, 2018
Santa HQ's Elf Academy presented by HGTV invites guests to stand in front of a Magic Mirror and be turned into one of Santa's elves. Make a date with Santa and all of his elf helpers to see the magic of his workshop in real life! 

Willowbrook Mall – Wayne
Now through Monday, December 24, 2018
Check the schedule of special events happening at the North Pole. From holiday PJ parties to ugly sweater soirees, there's no shortage of mix-and-mingle time with Kris Kringle.