Meeting Santa is one of the most memorable traditions of the Christmas season for kids and their parents. Of course, you can hop on the Big Guy’s lap for a quick picture in just about any mall in America, but these cities offer a Santa sighting that is a truly magical experience. I’ve partnered with Expedia.com to tell you about five US destinations that go ‘all-out’ to transform a typical town into a winter wonderland worthy of a Christmas postcard.
Take the Train to Christmas Town
Where: McAdenville, NC
McAdenville is a small town about 20 minutes outside Charlotte, NC. Such a small town wouldn’t be noteworthy were it not for the effusive Christmas spirit that flows throughout the hamlet. In fact, there is so much Christmas in McAdenville that they change their name each December to Christmastown, USA. More than 600,000 people visit each year to visit the 450,000 lights and 375 lit trees.
For a special Santa treat, board the “Train to Christmas Town” in nearby Belmont. Based on the book by the same name, the Train to Christmas Town takes passengers on a whimsical ride with the woodland animal characters on the way to Christmas Town. During the ride in decorated cars, elves serve cocoa and cookies, while leading passengers in carols as they anticipate the arrival of Santa aboard the train.
Nearby: See what Charlotte has to offer kids to explore in the area.
Send a Postcard with a Santa Claus Address
Where: Santa Claus, Indiana
Santa Claus, Indiana is home to the only post office with Santa Claus in the name, but that’s just the beginning of the Christmas-themed fun in this city. Christmas-themed attractions throughout the town include Santa's Candy Castle, where kids can get a direct line to the North Pole, Santa Claus Christmas Store, Santa's Stables, and more.
Nearby: Don’t miss visiting Lincoln’s Boyhood home.
Ticket to Santa’s Workshop
Where: Wilmington, NY
Winter weekends at North Pole, NY in the Adirondacks are designed to transport children to the world of Santa’s Workshop. Highlights of a visit to the village include a Trim the Tree Part where Santa’s helpers assist children in creating ornaments for the tree. Live performances including caroling, magic shows and storytelling by Santa’s helpers are also part of the fun. Of course, the highlight of the weekend is when Santa makes a surprise visit to each of the lodges to visit with children and dream of Christmas Eve.
Nearby: Visit the Olympic Sites of Lake Placid
Visit the North Pole
Where: Cascade, CO
Visit the home of Santa’s Workshop at this Christmas themed family amusement park. Christmas carols fill the air as visitors browse through the village and enjoy the rides and attractions. Magic Shows, petting zoos, and other family attractions, including at aerial tram are a part of the winter fun. At the center of the village, kids can find the North Pole and meet the Big Guy and his elves.
Nearby: Take a ride to the top of Pikes Peak
The Christmas Capital of Texas
Where: Grapevine, TX
Merry Christmas gets a little yeehaw in the North Texas town of Grapevine with the entire city putting on a Christmas show. Highlights for families include escaping to Snowland at Great Wolf Lodge or creating memories with a full list of activities including ICE at the Gaylord Texan. The main event for kids is a ride aboard the North Pole Express. Wearing cozy pajamas, children journey onboard the train towards the North Pole. Arrival at the North Pole includes a sprinkling of snow-a little Texas magic-and a walk through a magical pine forest. While waiting for Santa, kids are entertained with music and dancing. When Santa finally arrives, he brings good cheer in the form of Frosty Milk Chocolate for everyone.
Nearby: Visit Lego Discovery Center and Sea Life Grapevine for more family fun.