Best Places to Take Pictures with Santa in NYC

Guide to Santa Picture Spots: Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Staten Island too!

Santa Claus is coming to town, and he’s not camera shy. New York City parents have a host of options for posing with Santa, from the popular Santaland at Macy's to more casual events, where you can take your own festive photos of the kids and jolly St. Nick.

We’ve rounded up more than a dozen of our favorites from across the five boroughs, including options for those who want to splurge, bring their pets, or just get it over with, as well as those with special needs. With so many alternatives, chances are, wherever you are, your kids won’t be far from Santa.

Find more seasonal fun, including a Santa brunch or tea, in our NYC Holiday Guide.

When it comes to Santa, Mommy Poppins' staffers have been around the block once or twice. Our kids have sat on the laps of just about every Kris Kringle in town, so you've come to the right place to get the skinny on the fat man.

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RELATED: 21 NYC Holiday Activities Every Kid Should Try Once

FREE or Inexpensive Santa Photo-Ops

Share a wish list with Santa at Items of Interest. Photo courtesy of the store.

Items of Interest – Park Slope, Brooklyn
60 Fifth Avenue
Daily through Friday, December 23. Visit the website for the complete schedule and to make an appointment.
Kids are welcome to share secrets with Santa at the Brooklyn home goods and design shop. Each child enjoys a 10-minute session while a photographer snaps away, sending images directly to your inbox. If you've got Photoshop skills, opt for the least expensive package and edit your own raw photos; for $39.95 you get a few prints in addition to edited e-files.

ABC Carpet & Home – Union Square
888 Broadway, between East 18th and East 19th Streets
Sundays, November 27, December, 4, 11, 18; 11am-3pm
Visiting Santa at this fancy home goods store is a lavish, Victorian affair in a setting draped in crushed velvet and filled with sumptuous housewares. ABC's Santa has gained popularity recently, and we've heard that it has the lines to prove it. Kids can snag a small but stylish ornament as a freebie. Bring a camera that works well in low light. FREE

Santa in Central Park – Harlem
Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, enter at 110th Street between Lenox and Fifth Avenues
Thursday, December 1, 5:30-6:30pm
Meet Santa and pose for pics at the center's annual holiday lighting. This year’s event is held on a weekday, which should thin the hordes at this popular spot. Plus, a flotilla of trees on the Harlem Meer makes an awesome seasonal backdrop. The East 110th Street Playground is a playful destination itself, but other activities include crafts, live music and hot chocolate. Bring your own camera. FREE

Sinterklaas at the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum – East Flatbush, Brooklyn
5816 Clarendon Road, near East 59th Street
Satuday, December 3, 1pm-4pm
$5 for adults, $3 for children ages 3-9
Celebrate an old-fashioned Dutch Christmas at NYC's oldest house with a visit from St. Nick, who arrives on horse, rather than reindeer. Discover how Sinterklaas evolved into the tradition of Santa Claus, and enjoy crafts, music, and snacks. Bring your own camera.

Winter Wonderland – Harlem
Apollo Theater, 253 West 125th Street
Saturday, December 3, 2pm-6pm
Head uptown to the historic Apollo Theater for an afternoon of holiday fun and pictures. The fun also includes choir performances and a holiday-special Amateur Night at The Apollo. Tickets are required for that show and start at $20.

Santa Rescue at the New York City Fire Museum – Hudson Square
278 Spring Street, between Hudson and Varick Streets
Sunday, December 4 at 11:30am
FREE to watch the rescue; $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 3-12 for party and pics
Enjoy an off-the-wall visit with the big red guy, who gets stuck on the roof and must be rescued by firefighters via hook and ladder. The outdoor rescue is free, but pictures are restricted to the indoor holiday party. This event is always crowded; expect a long line and limited face time with Santa. We recommend buying tickets in advance. Bring your own camera.

St. Nicholas Day at the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House – Ridgewood, Queens
18-20 Flushing Avenue, between Onderdonk and Seneca Avenues
Sunday, December 4, noon-4pm
$5 for adults, FREE for children
Bring your camera to the historic Dutch stone house's annual holiday celebration. Snap a photo and stick around for period crafts, treats, live music, and a tree lighting at 3pm.

Santa's Corner at Le Carrousel – Midtown West
Saturday, December 17-Saturday, December 24, 1pm-3pm
Head to Bryant Park's Le Carrousel for some holiday fun and facetime with Santa. He'll be holding court daily and hosting a puppet-making workshop and parade on December 17. If the kids can't wait for Santa to arrive on Christmas Eve, bring them to Santa's parade that afternoon, too! Bring your own camera to snap your no-cost pic, or plan to download it from Santa's Corner Flickr page later.

Santa also frequently shows up at community Christmas tree lightings, so check out our holiday illuminations post for other potential photo-ops.

Photo Packages with St. Nick

Big Apple Portraits elevates the photos-with-Santa game. Photo by Big Apple Portraits/courtesy of Mommy Poppins.

Big Apple Portraits Mini Sessions – Upper West Side
143 West 72nd Street, between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues
Sunday, November 27
Call 212-600-4457 to book an appointment; packages start at $125.
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. Sessions with the studio's Santa last 10 minutes and yield high-quality prints and a copyright release.

Babies R Us – Union Square
24-30 Union Square East
Daily, Saturday, December 10 through Saturday, December 24
For the first time, Babies R Us welcomes Jolly Old St. Nick during the holiday season. Photo packages start at $29.99 and appointments with the man of the hour can be made online in advance.

The Mall at Bay Plaza – the Bronx
200 Baychester Avenue
Daily through Saturday, December 24 except for Thanksgiving; times vary. Visit the website for the complete schedule.
Photo packages start at $34.99.
Santa sets up shop at the center court of this Bronx mall. Get a discount on your photo package by ordering in advance online.

Skyview Center – Flushing, Queens
40-24 College Point Boulevard, at Roosevelt Avenue
Daily through Saturday, December 24 except for Thanksgiving; times vary. Visit the website for the complete schedule.
Photo packages start at $29.99.
See Santa on Level D of this enormous Queens shopping center.

Macy's Santaland – Midtown West
151 West 34th Street, between Broadway and Seventh Avenue, Eighth Floor
Friday, November 25-Friday, December 24, times vary. Visit the website for the full schedule.
Photo packages start at $20.
The famed store mounts an entire North Pole village with "elves," an enchanted forest featuring animatronic toys, and a train display. The line is almost always long, but there is so much to look at kids might not mind the wait. If you're short on time or patience, register for an Express Pass, which allows you to skip much of the line. Check out our full review of Macy's Santaland.

Bloomingdale's – Midtown East
1000 Third Avenue at East 59th Street
Friday, November 25-Thursday, December 23, 10am-6pm Visit the website for the full schedule.
Photo packages start at $22.
Bloomingdale's has its own Santaland on the fifth floor, and we hear lines are shorter than at Macy's.

The Shops at the Plaza – Midtown East
The Plaza Hotel, concourse level
Enter at West 58th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues
Friday, November 25-Saturday, December 24
Photo packages start at $29.
Santa sets up a swanky workshop in The Plaza Food Hall on the concourse level. For a more memorable visit with the big red guy, consider splurging on a Rawther Fancy Tea with Santa. The Plaza is also partnering with SantaCares to provide private, sensory-friendly photo sessions for children with special needs and their families. Time slots can be booked online for Sunday, December 11.

Santa at Minus5 Ice Experience – Midtown West
New York Hilton, 1335 Sixth Avenue
Daily through December 25, 2pm-8pm
Reservations suggested; tickets start at $19, but photos cost an added fee
Add a true North Pole feel to your visit with Santa by meeting him at the Minus5 Ice Experience. Santa makes the rounds to greet guests as they mingle in the icy world complete with an ice bar, tables and chairs made of ice, ice sculptures, and a sound and light show.

RELATED: Holiday Train Shows for Kids in NYC

Smiles aplenty with Santa at the Winter Garden in Battery Park City. Photo courtesy of Brookfield Place.

Santa's Winter Garden – Battery Park City
Brookfield Place, 220 Vesey Street, at West Street
Friday, December 2-Saturday, December 24. Times vary, visit the website for full schedule.
Photo packages start at $27.
Visit with Santa and have your picture taken by a professional photographer. There is a meet-and-greet with Nutcracker performers on the opening weekend. Make a day of it by doing some shopping, taking in the Luminaries light show, or taking a spin on the ice rink outside. Eat at the food court upstairs where there's really something for everyone.

Queens Center Mall – Elmhurst, Queens
90-15 Queens Boulevard, between 57th and 59th Avenues, level 2
Daily through Saturday, December 24 except for Thanksgiving; times vary. Visit the website for complete schedule.
Photo packages start at $29.99.
Santa meets his young fans in the center court on the second level at a brand-new immersive North Pole experience from the folks at HGTV. In addition to time on Santa's lap, enjoy some interactive fun with the "Elf-Ray Vision," and the "Naughty-or-Nice Meter" ... if you dare! Check out our full review of the new Santa HQ in Queens.

Kings Plaza – Mill Basin, Brooklyn
5100 Kings Plaza, at Flatbush Avenue, located on the second floor near Best Buy
Daily through Saturday, December 24 except for Thanksgiving; times vary. Visit the website for the complete schedule.
Photo packages start at $29.99.
This Brooklyn-mall Santa sticks around all season. Plus, word is there's rarely a line.

Staten Island Mall – Staten Island
2655 Richmond Avenue
Daily through Saturday, December 24 except for Thanksgiving; times vary. Visit the website for the complete schedule.
Photo packages start at $39.99.
This Staten Island Santa welcomes kids every day and pets on Monday evenings. Save money on photos by buying before you go.

This article, originally published in November 2009, is updated annually.

Top image: The Winter Wonderland at the Apollo. Photo courtesy of the theater.

ABC Carpet & Home
888 Broadway
10003 New York , NY
Phone: 212-473-3000
40° 44' 17.214" N, 73° 59' 21.6672" W
New York
Skyview Center
40-24 College Point Boulevard
11354 Queens , NY
Phone: 212-732-8257
40° 45' 28.134" N, 73° 50' 4.8696" W
New York
151 West 34th Street
10001 New York , NY
Phone: 212-695-4400
40° 45' 1.2168" N, 73° 59' 19.122" W
New York
1000 Third Avenue
10022 New York , NY
Phone: 212-705-2000
40° 45' 44.3952" N, 73° 58' 4.6524" W
New York
Queens Center Mall
90-15 Queens Boulevard
11373 Queens , NY
Phone: 718-592-3901
40° 44' 2.8932" N, 73° 52' 18.6816" W
New York
Kings Plaza
5117 Avenue U
11234 Brooklyn , NY
Phone: 718-253-6921
40° 36' 34.866" N, 73° 55' 14.1888" W
New York
Charles A. Dana Discovery Center
110th Street and Lenox Avenue Central Park
10027 New York , NY
Phone: 212-860-1370
40° 47' 53.5956" N, 73° 57' 8.5608" W
New York
Brookfield Place
220 Vesey Street
10282 New York , NY
Phone: 212-945-7200
40° 42' 49.7088" N, 74° 0' 50.6844" W
New York
New York City Fire Museum
278 Spring Street
10013 New York , NY
Phone: 212-691-1303
40° 43' 32.0448" N, 74° 0' 24.9732" W
New York
Vander Ende-Onderdonk House
1820 Flushing Avenue
11385 Queens , NY 40° 42' 39.2076" N, 73° 55' 13.296" W
New York
Staten Island Mall
2655 Richmond Avenue
10314 New York , NY 40° 34' 38.8452" N, 74° 9' 52.164" W
New York
The Mall at Bay Plaza
200 Baychester Avenue
10475 New York , NY 40° 51' 49.1832" N, 73° 49' 39.4536" W
New York
The Plaza Hotel
768 Fifth Avenue
10019 New York , NY 40° 45' 52.596" N, 73° 58' 27.678" W
New York
Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum
5816 Clarendon Road
11203 Brooklyn , NY 40° 38' 39.66" N, 73° 55' 14.7972" W
New York
Apollo Theater
253 W 125th Street
10027 New York , NY 40° 48' 36.1188" N, 73° 57' 0.1404" W
New York
Big Apple Portraits
143 W 72nd Street
10023 New York , NY 40° 46' 41.8872" N, 73° 58' 48.5868" W
New York