Are photos with the big guy in the red suit part of your family’s December traditions? If so, read on for a stocking-full of opportunities for Santa photos Seattle families will want to book asap! Included are some of our readers’ picks for the best Seattle Santa, the best Santa photo experience and how to get through without (too much) crying.
Santa photos, Seattle and beyond
Diving Santa, Seattle Aquarium
Come wave to Santa as he dives in the 120,000-gallon Window on Washington Waters habitat at the Seattle Aquarium. Take a selfie with the jolly man himself, volunteers will be on hand to snap your family photo using your device.
Details: Catch Santa underwater Saturday–Sunday, Nov. 24–Dec. 24, noon–1 p.m. Seeing Santa and taking your own photo are included with aquarium admission or membership.
Santa at the Space Needle, Seattle Center
To go with the glassy Space Needle surroundings, Space Needle Santa has a nifty glass sleigh and professional photographers at the ready to take your free digital photo with him. Santa makes appearances every weekend in December through Christmas Eve; check the schedule online for details. While you’re at Seattle Center, check out all the free Winterfest fun.
Details: Visiting Santa requires paying admission (pay in advance online or in-person) to the Space Needle.
Black Santa at A Very Merry Market, Tacoma
Come support more than 80 BIPOC-owned businesses, artists and performers at this holiday market. Black Santa will pose with you for your selfie, and visitors can enjoy workshops, games, art installations and more.
Details: Saturday, Dec. 9., 2–8 p.m. at the Tacoma Armory (1001 S. Yakima Ave, Tacoma). RSVP to attend the market. Entry and photos with Santa are free; market items for purchase.
Swansons Nursery Santa, Ballard
Readers love all the holiday fun at this Northwest Seattle nursery (holiday train, nice quality trees), but especially the Santa. You must book in advance with Bonjour Photography for photos with Santa. Another reader suggests combining a visit to Swansons with a stop for a delicious treat at nearby Larsen’s Bakery (8000 24th Ave. N.W. in Ballard).
Details: Santa photos are available on select dates through Dec. 23. Book online. No walk-ins. Photo packages for purchase.
Northwest African American Museum’s Black Santa, Seattle
Black Santa is known to pause his sleigh at NAAM each year. Dates and details for his 2023 visit have not yet been released, so be sure to check the website and Facebook for updates.
Details: Timing and pricing TBA.
C-ID Santa at the Wing, Seattle
C-ID Santa will be at the Wing Luke Museum on Saturday, Dec. 9, noon–3 p.m. Reservations are already sold out for 2023! You can try to snag a walk-up spot, available on a limited basis. (Pro tip for next year: Join the Wing as a member and get first crack at Santa photo reservations.)
Details: A fee of $12 gets you one physical photo print and a digital file of a single pose. Museum admission is not required to visit C-ID Santa.
University Village Santa, Seattle
Choose from different Arthur & Associates Santas at University Village. A reader reports: "The Santas are all awesome and have real beards, and the customer service is great." Follow your photo opp with play time at the covered playground and dinner at popular spots such as Din Tai Fung or Piatti.
Details: Santa is in the house daily, for pretty long stretches, Nov. 24–Dec. 24. Pets are welcome but must be on a leash. See the full schedule online. Reservations are required; photo packages are for purchase.
Issaquah Reindeer Festival Santa, Issaquah
At this unique private zoo in Issaquah, visit Santa and the resident reindeer during the Reindeer Festival. Kids can mail a letter to Santa, sit in his sleigh, hear a story from an elf and visit the other critters, of course.
Details: Santa is at the zoo from Dec. 1–23, 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Admission to the Reindeer Festival is $18 for adults, $15 for children ages 2–12. Tots age 1 and younger are free. Photos with Santa are an additional charge.
Black Santa at Black Coffee Northwest, Central District
Black Santa loves to stop by Black Coffee Northwest every year. Details for 2023 have not yet been released, so be sure to check Black Coffee’s website, Facebook or Instagram for updates.
Details: 2023 details coming soon
Bellevue Square Santa
At Bellevue Square, choose from five different popular Santas to pose with your crew! After your photo session, stick around to see the street parade spectacular Snowflake Lane show (7 p.m. daily, Nov. 24–Dec. 24) or go ice skating at the Bellevue Downtown Ice Rink.
Details: Santa photos offered daily, Nov. 24–Dec. 24; check hours online.
Redmond Town Center Santa
Get your annual pic with Ol’ Saint Nick at Redmond Town Center, where he’ll be conveniently stationed near Center Court, by Asher Goods and Claire’s.
Details: Santa photos are offered daily, Nov. 24–Dec. 24. Book online. Walk-ups accepted, though reservations are highly recommended
Kent Station Santa
A reader raves about the Santa at Kent Station: "He takes his time to chat with the kids. The photographer is extremely nice, too." You can bring well-behaved pets on a leash. This year, there are two Saturdays when you can get your photo with Black Santa Chukundi: Saturdays, Dec. 2 and 16, 4–7 p.m. (Book asap for Santa Chukundi as his time slots will fill up quickly!)
Details: This year, find Santa in his Cozy Cottage on select dates Nov. 25–Dec. 23. Photo packages start at $20. Check the schedule and book your time slot in advance. Walk-ins accepted.
Santa at Issaquah Commons
Bring your letter and book your spot to see Santa at Issaquah Commons’ festive Santa Chalet, located near Panera. Bring your pooch as well, pets on lease are welcome!
Details: Santa photos daily, Nov. 24–Dec. 24. Book online. Packages start at $42.
Village at Totem Lake Santa, Kirkland
Santa’s cozy cottage at The Village at Totem Lake is a wonderful backdrop for your holiday photo. After you’ve visited Santa, take a stroll through the festive streets, exploring the charming stores and enjoying the cozy ambiance. You can visit Silent Santa on Dec. 3. Pets are welcome on Nov. 27, Dec. 4 and Dec. 11.
Details: Appointments available Nov. 24–Dec. 24, book online. Packages start at $30.
Alderwood Mall Santa, Lynnwood
Reader tip: "We have a very shy little guy who has cried every year. The Santa at the Alderwood Mall was so great with him that we got a thumbs up and he even said one word to him!"
Details: Santa is at Macy’s Center Court daily through Dec. 24. Book online and receive a free phone call from Santa. There are special nights for pets, and Dec. 3 features Santa Cares, a sensory-friendly Santa environment for those who prefer it.
Lake Forest Park Town Center Santa
This community shopping center hosts Santas posing for photos with your crew, Nov. 24–Dec. 24.
Details: Get your Santa photo on a Magical Monday and receive a free gift with your photo purchase. Book your session online.
Cherry Hill Santas at local malls in Auburn, Tukwila, and Tacoma
Find Cherry Hill Santas at The Outlet Collection in Auburn, Southcenter Mall in Tukwila and the Tacoma Mall.
Details: Booking in advance is recommended but not required. Dates and hours vary but most run daily through Dec. 24. Packages start at $40.
Everett Mall Santa
Santa sets up shop at the Everett Mall this season, posing for photos most days Nov. 18–Dec. 24.
Details: Book your session online.
Santa at North Pole at the Fair, Puyallup
Head to the Washington State Fairgrounds to experience not just Santa, but the whole North Pole. Kids can tour Santa’s house, play in Santa’s Office and Library, visit the Elf Village and more.
Details: Make Santa reservations online, which include entry to North Pole at the Fair. Make sure to read the fine print on the booking page. Book early as many dates are already sold out!
Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shop and Cabela’s, Tacoma and Lacey
Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shop go all out with holiday cheer and offer a free 4x6 photo with Santa.
Details: Daily through Dec. 24. Reservations are required and are available up to 7 days in advance. Additional photos available for purchase. Find Bass Pro Shop in Tacoma and Cabela’s in Lacey and Tulalip.
Santa at Christmas Creek Tree Farm, North Bend
Cut your own tree and visit Santa at the same time — if you come on the right day.
Details: The farm is open for tree cutting starting Nov. 24 this year, and Santa makes his special appearances on only three days, Friday–Sunday, Dec. 1–3. Reserve your spot in advance. One family tickets for $45 includes multiple activities.
More holiday-season fun...
Editor’s note: This article was originally published many years ago and was updated most recently for 2023. Devon Hammer, Kari Hanson, Elisa Murray and other writers contributed to this report.