Best Photo Opps with Santa in NYC

10 Best Photo Opps With Santa Claus When He Comes to Town

Now that the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade is over, Santa Claus has officially landed in New York City. As far as we’re concerned, our town is his base for the holiday season. How else can you explain why there’s more than one place where you can meet the great gift-giving, sleigh riding, cookie-chomping icon, whether you’ve been naughty or nice?

It’s that most wonderful time of time of the year with many winter activities for families with kids visiting New York this time of year. Photo opps with Santa Claus are one of the most wonderful, and here’s where to find him.

Here are the best photo opps with Santa Claus now that he’s in town:

Photo-Opps-With-Santa NYC

Macy’s Santaland

Macy’s doesn’t do things in a small way, and Santaland at Macy’s is an epic affair. Explore over 13,000 square feet of the Winter Village, through an enchanted forest and see elves, model trains, Santa’s Workshop and more. (It’s really quite something.) Reservations are required, but a little planning will lessen your wait time. Reserve starting mid-November here.

Tip: There’s an express lane for less patient little ones, bypassing the large Winter Village. Even with a reservation, the wait time is long, so feed the kids first and be patient.

The 8th floor, Macy’s Herald Square, 151 W 34th St.; Through Christmas Eve; times vary. Free, although photo packages are available for purchase

Santa’s Corner at Bryant Park

Head to the upper terrace in beautiful Bryant Park to meet Santa, hear carolers and capture adorable photo moments with old St. Nick to send off to grandparents.

Afterward, enjoy the shops, craft making and take the kids ice skating. There’s always hot chocolate to be sipped. You can take your own photos, or Santa’s Elves will take one for you that can be downloaded from their Flickr page.

Located on the Upper Terrace, across from the Bryant Park Grill restaurant. Fifth Avenue at 40th Street; Sundays in December 1 pm-3pm; Free

ABC Carpet & Home 

The decor at ABC is over the top Victorian-esque, and dressed to thrill. The ABC Santa is dressed in magnificent vintage velvet and has been a familiar jolly face for many years. He could actually be the real Santa.

He believes in this philosophy: “Kindness and joy keep you young.” After the kiddos whisper their secret wishes to Santa and you get that great photo for your holiday card, they’ll be given a free ornament. Lovely.

Location:888 Broadway at 20th Street near Union Square;

When:Mid November, Saturdays & Sundays 11 am – 3 pm; Free


The lines can be long at holiday time, but the cool thing about this is that kids will be entertained with various interactive holiday activities while waiting for their audience with the jolly one.

Location:59th St and Lexingtion Avenue

Through December, 10 am-6 pm, Monday— Saturday; 11 am – 6 pm on Sundays

Shops at the Plaza Hotel

We bet Eloise frequently visited Santa at her home base at the Plaza. For all kids, Santa receives his public at the Food Hall. (Hey! He’s chubby; he has a sweet tooth. Don’t judge!)

What do we love most about this? The Plaza is partnering with SantaCares to provide a private, sensory-friendly photo session for kids with special needs and their families. Pretty cool.

You can also take your special person for afternoon tea in the Plaza. Santa himself will be there to read a story while you nibble on tea sandwiches and sip pink hot chocolate. It is pricey, but will create an unforgettable memory. The beautifully decorated hotel is especially great for photo opps with Santa.

Location: The Plaza, Fifth Avenue at 59th Street

When:Through December before Christmas; Photo packages start at $30

ONEderland at OneWorld Observatory

Head to the top of One World Observatory for a very special New York holiday experience in the clouds. Photo opps are plentiful in front of a giant snowglobe with the NYC’s skyline in snow. Meet elves and other characters, take a snowy elevator ride and meet Santa 1,250 feet above the ground where he parks his sleigh.

Cost: Ticket prices vary, click here to make reservations

Rockefeller Center

The location could not be more Christmassy. With views of the towering, sparkling tree and ice skaters, this is an elegant way to spend a day and get those gorgeous photos.

The Sea Grill and the Rock Center Cafe both serve a yummy, tummy-warming breakfast with Santa and his elves. Christmas treats and holiday gifts for kids and carolers make this event beyond festive, though quite pricey.

A bonus for ice skaters: You get to go to the front of the ice rink line, so no waiting to work off those pancakes and glide under the tree.

When: Late November—Christmas Eve

Location: 50th St and Fifth Avenue

Rock Center Cafe $45-$125; The Sea Grill $70-$150

Santa Rescue at the New York City Fire Museum

This event is one of the hottest tickets in town. Held at the NYC Fire Museum, a treat in itself, the FDNY swing into action to in a jaw-dropping rescue of Santa who gets stuck on the roof after exiting his sleigh.

Once the Firefighters safely get him down, kids can visit with him and tell him their wishes. Everyone will probably be hungry by then, so get a hot dog and hot chocolate and warm up singing Christmas carols along with John Clacher’s Fire House Band.

Location: 278 Spring Street between Varick and Hudson Streets 

Cost: It’s free to watch Santa be rescued, but tickets ($10 adults, $5 children) are required for the indoor activities.

Brooklyn Museum Winterfest

Just a short subway ride from the hotel, the Brooklyn Museum is a gorgeous spot for a photo opp with Santa. You’ll love the Christmas Tree Maze, an outdoor display about the origins of Santa, holiday shopping, wine tastings, music and more family activities. Santa and Mrs. Claus are there to visit with the kids.

Location:200 Eastern Parkway New York, NY 11238

When:Open mid-November through Christmas Eve; Fridays 4 — 7 pm, Saturdays 1 — 7 pm and Sundays 1 — 6 pm. 

Cost: Ticket prices vary; check the website in season

Holiday Cruise with Santa

For something a little different, head to Chelsea Piers to take a cruise with Santa around NY’s amazing harbor! Enjoy snacks, hot chocolate, a live DJ playing kid-friendly holiday music, Christmas movies, games and, of course, a visit from the big guy himself.

Parents can relax and enjoy the spectacular views while the kids are entertained and will have a ton of unusual photo opps.

When: December at noon, boarding at 11:30am

Location: 23d Street and 11th Avenue

Cost: Adults $74.90 (or $99.90 for a guaranteed window seat), children (ages 3-12) $54.90, ages 3 and under free

When the clock chimes at midnight, and a young girl’s dream adventure begins in The Nutcracker,  The Rockettes kick up a storm at Radio City Music Hall, the store windows are dressed up in their sparkling best and people are wearing a little more glitter, that’s the time to gather friends and family to grab those heartwarming, charming or hilarious photo opps with Santa.

Image via svensmail/Flickr