Create a lasting memento of the holiday by going to one of these spots for pictures with Santa. Here's a tip: get your little elf to sit still with the promise of a mug of the best hot chocolate in NYC. It's a gift, not a bribe.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Christmas for kids in NYC
These photo spots offer great experiences for families—some are straightforward, while others are themed Santa experiences that put the "whoa!" in ho-ho-ho. Keep up the holiday spirit by going to the best holiday train show for kids in NYC, and finish the day with the Christmas caroling NYC kids and families love most. The city is magic this time of year.
Where to take a picture with Santa in NYC
This holiday season, the eighth floor of Macy’s Herald Square transforms into a 13,000-square-foot winter village that’s decked out with Christmas trees, toys from Santa’s workshop and a light display that’s just the right backdrop for a family selfie. Meet-and-greets with Kris Kringle will commence on Nov 29; starting on Nov 24, visitors can RSVP online to nab a spot. Photo packages from $21.99. All ages.
Flanked by glittery angel sculptures and New York’s famously giant Christmas tree, Rockefeller Center is the backdrop to this merry holiday breakfast with Santa. You'll meet Saint Nick and his elves (and if your kid is on the nice list, you might even get a little gift, too). The Sea Grill experience boasts made-to-order omelets and a decadent chocolate fountain, and Santa will come to your table for photos. At Rock Center Cafe, there's a candy bar where kids can assemble their own treat bags to take home after sitting on Santa's Lap in the Throne Room. Don't forget to go for a spin on the ice rink—since admission is included with your meal. $110, $70 ages 9 and under at the Sea Grill; $65, $45 ages 9 and under at Rock Center Cafe. All ages.
Well hello there, St. Nick! Bring your kids to experience the season's best festivities the American Girl way—with a trip to meet Santa at the store! You'll enjoy a delicious brunch, pose with Santa Claus and set off to explore the expansive American Girl store. Reservations required—book your places here. $30. Ages 3 and up.
'Tis the season of giving! If you're shopping for your tot, look no further than Sawyer and Union Square Play's Holiday Pop-Up. The online activity marketplace and kids' play space joined forces to create a 5,000 square-foot winter wonderland complete with items from your favorite brands, like Lalo and Stride Rite. But it's not just about shopping—the Holiday Pop-Up will also include culinary events from Du’s Donuts, pictures with Santa and plenty of other festive activities. Make sure to book a visit! Note that the shop is closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. All ages.
Santa comes to Harlem! Saint Nick will preside over a Winter Wonderland under the marquee at the Apollo Theater on Saturday, Dec 14 from 2-6pm. The day will include caroling, Stop by a visit, sit for a portrait and feel the holiday cheer! Free. All ages.
Grab your holiday wish list and come visit Santa. Fujifilm's Wonder Photo Shop will be providing families with free Instax photos on December 7 with the big man in red. The earlier session (11am to noon) is pet-friendly; the second session (noon to 3pm) is humans-only. All ages.
Step into a winter wonderland at The Paley Center for Media and indulge in fun activities for the whole family. No worries if you missed your favorite holiday special when it aired on TV— catch screenings of many TV classics, including A Rugrats Chanukah, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and more. Children can check out a holiday-themed VR game, meet FAO toy soliders, enjoy crafts and much more while they await for the man in the big red suit. Santa’s hours are as follows: December 7: 1–6pm, December 8, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22: Noon–6pm. All ages.
When New York was Nieuw Amsterdam little children would wait for a visit from Sinterklaas. At the Wyckoff House Museum, the oldest building in NYC, the jolly old elf will arrive on horseback on Saturday, Dec 7, and kids can take part in the Dutch tradition of feeding St. Nicholas’s horse carrots and hay. There will be hot cider, colonial games, clog decorating—and the more contemporary tradition of posing for photos with Sinterklaas. The day will end with a tree lighting. $28 ages 3-10, free ages 2 and under. All ages.
Starting the day after Thanksgiving, the Rawther Fancy Eloise-themed events at the Plaza gets a holiday makeover and becomes the Eloise Tea with Santa. Dress to impress for this stylish get-together where you and your littles can sample finger sandwiches, fruits and desserts before gathering around the Plaza's sparkly Christmas tree and meeting Santa. The price includes a photo package, and children also get a gift bag. Reservations are required and these events fill up quickly, so be sure to book ahead. $75, $125 ages 2-8. Ages 2 and up.
Santa's workshop might be in the North Pole, but he's headquartered here in New York. To be more precise, Santa HQ is on the third floor of the Queens Crossing shopping center, and it's an immersive experience that's a technological funhouse, a 21st-century update on the classic Santa display and a cool way to kickstart Christmas for kids. The real reason to go? Your little elves get to sit for pictures with Santa. If it's better to give than receive, then give your little one the memory of a lifetime with a deskside at Santa HQ. Photo packages from $34.99. All ages.
Explore Santa’s Winter Wonderland at Brookfield place this holiday season! Your kids can play in a special children's activity center prior to their visit with Santa. Photo packages start at $29. Other great offerings include Sensory-Friendly Santa with Autism Speaks, and pet hours on Wednesdays 6:30-8pm (animals must be under 25lbs and carried or in a carrier at all times, except service animals). Walk-ins welcome, or reserve a time here. Photo packages from $29. All ages.
Santa sets up shop in Staten Island starting Dec 3, where he'll be at the Empire Outlets, the brand-new mall directly next to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. Keep in mind this isn't your average mall! The 340,000 square feet space is home to a number of stellar brands and designer stores like Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers, Gap and H&M. Plus, other retail standouts like Nordstrom Rack. Be sure to check out the Holiday Market on the fourth floor. Free. All ages.
An out-of-this-world holiday celebration is within reach: Just hop on the subway to Bloomingdale's. The iconic department store is transforming Lexington Ave into an intergalactic, festive display complete with all-things astronauts and space ships. Aside from a stunning window display, shoppers can also expect plenty of fun seasonal activations throughout the store: 3, 2, 1 Gift Off, an immersive VR experience where kiddos race against the clock to collect gifts, an intergalactic snow globe that's perfect for a holiday photo and GE C’ing is Believing, a debut smart light installation that blasts off into the stars. Plus, Santa Land! Let the little dress up for a meeting with the man in the red suit. St. Nick's hours are as follows: Mon-Sat from 10am-1pm and 2-5pm, Sun from 11am-1pm and 2-5pm. Learn more about the holly, jolly happenings online. All ages.