Best Places to Take Pictures with Santa in NYC

Macy's Santaland, Bloomingdale's, ABC Carpet & Home, Winter Garden at Brookfield Place

Santa Claus is coming to town, and he’s not camera shy. New York City parents have a host of options for picture-taking with Santa, from the popular Santaland at Macy's to the 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, we at Mommy Poppins 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.

Remember, sign up for our FREE newsletters to get posts like this delivered to your inbox.

FREE or Inexpensive Santa Photo Ops

Items of Interest – Park Slope, Brooklyn
60 Fifth Avenue
Friday, November 20 through Wednesday, 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.

ABC Carpet & Home – Union Square
888 Broadway between 18th and 19th Streets
Friday, November 27-Sunday, November 29; Saturdays, December 5, 12 and 19; Sundays, December 6, 13 and 20, Fridays and Saturdays, 10am-3pm; Sundays, 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, but it's still one of the best places to see St. Nick with little or no wait. Kids can snag a small but stylish ornament as a freebie. Lighting is not great; bring a camera that works well in low light.

RELATED: Best Brunches with Santa in NYC

Santa in Central Park – Harlem
Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, enter at 110th Street between Lenox and Fifth Avenues
Thursday, December 3, 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. While there, check out the recently renovated East 110th Street Playground. Other activities include crafts, live music and hot chocolate. Bring your own camera.

Sinterklaas at the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum – East Flatbush, Brooklyn
5816 Clarendon Road near East 59th Street
Sunday, December 6, 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 Old 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.

Santa Rescue at the New York City Fire Museum – Hudson Square
278 Spring Street between Hudson and Varick Streets
Sunday, December 6 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 6, 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.

Winter Wonderland – Harlem
253 W. 125th Street
Saturday, December 19, 2pm-6pm
Head uptown to the historic Apollo Theater for an afternoon of holiday fun and pose for pictures with Santa. The FREE 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 also frequently shows up at community Christmas tree lightings, so check out our holiday illuminations post for other potential photo-ops.  

RELATED: 21 NYC Holiday Activities Every Kid Should Try Once

Big Apple Portraits elevates the photos-with-Santa game. Photo provided by Mommy Poppins.

Photo Packages with St. Nick

Big Apple Portraits Mini Sessions – Upper West Side
143 West 72nd Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues
November 21, 22 and December 13
Call 212-600-4457 to book an appointment; packages start at $135
Photos at this Upper West Side studio are admittedly 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.

Macy's Santaland – Midtown West
151 West 34th Street, between Broadway and Seventh Avenue, 8th Floor
Friday, November 27-Thursday, 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 live 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. Once you make it to the front of the line, the family can enjoy a stroll through this winter village on the way to the big man. 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 slide show of Macy's Santaland.

Bloomingdale's – Midtown East
1000 Third Avenue at 59th Street
Friday, November 27-Wednesday, December 23, 10am-6pm. Visit the website for the full schedule.
Photo packages start at $22.
Bloomies has its own Santaland on the sixth 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 58th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues
Friday, November 27-Thursday, December 24
Photo packages start at $29.
Santa sets up a swanky workshop on the first floor of The Plaza between Couture Kids and Asulin Galleries. For a more memorable visit with the big red guy, consider splurging on a Rawther Fancy Tea with Santa. The Plaza is 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 6 or Sunday, December 13.

RELATED: Holiday Train Shows for Kids in NYC

Santa's set at The Winter Garden really glistens. Photo courtesy of Brookfield Place.

Santa's Winter Garden – Battery Park City
Brookfield Place, 220 Vesey Street at West Street
Friday, December 4-Thursday, December 24 10am-6pm
Photo packages start at $22.
Visit with Santa and have your picture taken by a professional photographer. There are special hours for pets and a meet-and-greet with Nutcracker performers on opening weekend. Bonus: You snag a free skate rental with a $50 photo package purchase so you can also hit the ice rink outside.

Queens Center Mall – Elmhurst
90-15 Queens Boulevard between 57th and 59th Avenues, level 3
Daily through Thursday, December 24 except for Thanksgiving; times vary. Visit the website for complete schedule.
Photo packages start at $34.99.
Santa meets his young fans in the mall's JCPenney wing, and kids walk away with a free gift.

Kings Plaza – Mill Basin, Brooklyn
5100 Kings Plaza at Flatbush Avenue, located on the second floor near Best Buy
Daily through Thursday, December 24 except for Thanksgiving; times vary. Visit the website for the complete schedule.
Photo packages start at $32.99.
This Brooklyn mall-Santa sticks around all season. Plus, word is there's rarely a line.

Skyview Center – Flushing, Queens
40-24 College Point Boulevard at Roosevelt Avenue
Daily through Thursday, 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.

The Mall at Bay Plaza – the Bronx
200 Baychester Avenue
Daily through Thursday, December 24 except for Thanksgiving; times vary. Visit the website for the complete schedule.
Photo packages start at $39.99.
Santa sets up shop at the center court of this Bronx mall. Get a discount on your photo package by ordering in advance online.

Staten Island Mall – Staten Island
2655 Richmond Avenue
Daily through Thursday, December 24 except for Thanksgiving; times vary. Visit the website for the complete schedule.
Photo packages start at $49.99
This Staten Island Santa welcomes kids every day and pets on Monday evenings beginning November 16. Save money on photos by buying before you go.

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

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