Where to Take Pictures With Santa in NYC in 2021

Santa invites young visitors to step into his office and share their wishlists at Macy's Santaland in 2021. Photo by Diana Kim
Santa invites young visitors to step into his office and share their wishlists at Macy's Santaland in 2021. Photo by Diana Kim

Santa Claus is coming to town and New York City kids have plenty of options for where to take pictures with Santa this season. From the heartwarming experience at Macy's Santaland to visits at area malls, and plenty of fun seasonal activities, Santa's popping up all over town. If you're still feeling hesitant about stepping out, we've even got a couple of virtual options for safe Santa visits.

Read on for our favorite spots to snap photos with Santa all across the five boroughs, and find more ways to meet the seasonal celebrity at these brunches, teas, and cruises with Santa. Bookmark our Guide to Christmas in NYC for more holiday fun.

Be sure to click through to each venue's website for prices, location, and any last-minute changes. Remember to sign up for our FREE newsletters to get posts like this delivered to your inbox.

Where To Take Pictures With Santa in NYC

Santa in Central Park – Harlem

Thursday, December 2
Meet Santa and pose for pics at the Dana Discovery Center's annual holiday tree lighting. The flotilla of trees on the Harlem Meer makes an awesome seasonal backdrop. Other activities include ice-carving demonstrations, caroling, and more. Bring your own camera. FREE

St. Nicholas Day at the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House – Ridgewood, Queens

Saturday, December 4
Bring your camera to the historic Dutch stone house's annual holiday celebration. Snap a photo, visit Santa, and stick around for period crafts and goody bags. Timed-entry tickets are available online, with kids entering for FREE. Proof of vaccination is required for all museum entries, ages 12 and up.

RELATED: 12 Must-Do Holiday Activities and Christmas Events in NYC for Kids in 2021

Sinterklass arrives on horseback at the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum's Dutch Christmas Event
Meet an old-fashioned Santa at the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum. Photo courtesy of the museum

20th Annual Sinterklaas at the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum – East Flatbush, Brooklyn

Saturday, December 4
Celebrate an old-fashioned Dutch Christmas at NYC's oldest house with a visit from St. Nick, who arrives on a horse rather than reindeer. Discover how Sinterklaas evolved into the tradition of Santa Claus, and enjoy crafts and a tree lighting. To respect social distancing guidelines, individual photos with St. Nicholas will not be available this year, but families are encouraged to use the holiday-themed photo booth. You can also snap a photo of Sinterklaas during story time or his arrival. FREE

Christmas Xtravaganza – West Brighton, Staten Island

Saturday, December 11-Sunday, December 12
Community nonprofit NYC Arts Cypher hosts this two-day holiday extravaganza, with plenty of shopping, music, raffles, and giveaways. Bring a toy donation for Toys for Tots and wear your ugliest sweater for a contest. With such a jam-packed event, make sure to save time for a photo with Santa!

Santa Claus is Coming to Estuary – Brooklyn Bridge Park

Sunday, December 12
This Brooklyn Bridge Park gastropub hosts jolly old St. Nick for an afternoon of socially distant photos on its outdoor patio. Share your wishlists and pose for photos while sipping on complimentary hot chocolate from Ebb & Flow Bakery.

Skate With Santa at Brookfield Place – Battery Park City

Saturdays December 4-December 18
Meet Santa on the ice at Brookfield Place's ice skating rink. He'll skate solo for two performances each day, but in between his solo shows, visitors can take the ice with the jolly old St. Nick and snap a unique Santa pic to share.

NYSoM Holiday Mania – East Harlem

Saturday, December 18
This FREE community event covers all the bases. Trek through Hanukkah Town and visit Kwanzaa Village, before heading upstairs to the Winter Wonderland where Santa Claus awaits. He's surrounded by plenty of other North Pole friends, including Frosty and Rudolph, and they're all ready to pose for pictures.

Santa Claus at The Plaza – Midtown East

Select dates in November and December
Beginning in late November, Santa makes appearances at this iconic NYC hotel. You can enjoy tea time and breakfast with the jolly man, and if you're a hotel guest, special story times and meet and greets are available.

Holiday Time in PaleyLand With Santa – Midtown West

Select dates from Sunday, December 5-Friday, December 24
The Paley Center's Museum of Television and Radio reopens following a 21-month closure welcoming guests back with a holiday extravaganza. Beyond posing for pictures with Santa or a 7-foot-high menorah, visitors can enjoy holiday meet-and-greets with characters like Frosty, Snoopy, and more. Plus, watch holiday classics, see a model train show, and enjoy caroling, Lego demos, American Girl hairstyling tutorials, and more.

Santaland at Bloomingdale's – Midtown East

Weekends through Friday, December 24, by appointment only
Bloomingdale's has its own Santaland on the sixth floor, and Santa pictures are available by appointment only this season. The big man greets visitors for intimate 20-minute sessions. Choose to have your complimentary photo snapped in either the traditional North Pole or new South Pole setting. Crafts and a special pet primp station are available on select dates. Reservations may be booked by contacting the Visitor's Center.

RELATED: 35 Free Holiday and Christmas Events in NYC for Kids

Santa Claus delivers rainbow-colored baked goods
Get your pic snapped with Santa and his groovy as Baked in Color car. Photo courtesy of Baked in Color

Santa Cookie Car – Citywide

December, by appointment
The big guy gets creative with his visits this year as he travels around NYC in his very own rainbow-hued cookie car. Each stop includes a chance to snap your own DIY photos with Santa plus a box filled with Baked in Color treats. To ensure safety, Santa remains masked and inside the cookie car during his visit. Reserve ahead of time online.

Big Apple Portraits Mini Sessions – Upper West Side

By appointment
Photos at this Upper West Side studio are a splurge, but if you want a keepsake, one-of-a-kind picture with St. Nick, it could be your best bet. Outdoor-only Santa sessions last 10-15 minutes and yield high-quality prints and a copyright release. Book now for your special holiday session.

North Pole Express – Midtown West

Select dates through Sunday, January 2
Climb aboard a TopView Sightseeing Bus for a ride to the North Pole. You'll pass plenty of seasonal photo displays to capture picture-perfect city scenes. Santa climbs aboard, greeting visitors, taking lists, and doling out the first gift of the season—provided you're on the nice list, that is!

RELATED: 13 Picture-Perfect Holiday Day Trips Near NYC

Enjoy a contact-free Santa visit at the Queens Center Mall
Santa and his elves are making every effort to provide a memorable, safe experience at the Queens Center Mall. Photo courtesy of the Mall

NYC Malls Where You Can Take Santa Pictures in 2021

Queens Center Mall – Elmhurst, Queens

Level 3
Daily through Friday, December 24, times vary
Santa meets his young fans near Champs on the third level at an immersive North Pole experience. This year, guests can enjoy either a socially distant visit or a photo on Santa's lap. Santa—and the rest of the staff—are vaccinated. Masks may be removed for your photo, depending on your comfort level. Reservations to visit Santa are strongly encouraged, though walk-up visits are available as space allows throughout the day. Visits are free, and photo packages can be purchased.

Kings Plaza – Mill Basin, Brooklyn

Upper level near Best Buy
Daily through Thursday, December 24. Visit the website for the complete schedule.
This Brooklyn Santa sticks around all season. Just like other mall Santas, expect masks and social distancing. Guests can sit on Santa's lap for a visit or stay socially distant. Walk-up visits will be available as space allows throughout the day. Santa—and the rest of the staff—are vaccinated. Masks may be removed for your photo, depending on your comfort level.

Staten Island Mall – Heartland Village, Staten Island

Lower Level
Visit the website for the complete schedule.
This Staten Island Santa welcomes kids daily through late December in the Lower Level JC Penney Wing. Additional safety measures have been set in place for this year's visits. Reservations are encouraged.

RELATED: Polar Express and Christmas Trains Near NYC in 2021

Computer with Macy's Santaland at Home
Macy's Santaland at Home brings its traditional experience to your living room. Photo by Jody Mercier

Virtual, At-Home Santa Visits in 2021

Macy's Santaland at Home

Friday, November 26 through Friday, December 24
This year, the famed store again presents a virtual North Pole experience. Log on to tour Santaland, play interactive games, and view a pre-recorded visit with jolly old St. Nick. You do not need a reservation for this interactive, personalized, on-demand virtual experience. One great feature Macy's will continue this year: Adults get to choose from a diverse lineup of Santas at the beginning of the online adventure. FREE

Personalized Live Zoom Call With Santa and Mrs. Claus

If you are looking for a splurge-worthy virtual option, book a personalized Zoom call with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Coming at you live from the North Pole, your child—or children, up to four can participate!—enjoy 10 minutes of face time to share their lists. Mom and Dad can share personal details beforehand for a truly custom experience.

This article, originally published in November 2009, is updated annually. Rosalind Muggeridge provided additional reporting.

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