Santa Experiences in Northeast Ohio

Santa Experiences in Northeast Ohio

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When it comes to getting your kids’ pictures taken with Santa, times have changed. While nearly every shopping mall still offers an audience with the jolly old elf, the set-ups are more spacious, better decorated and sometimes offer entertainment while you wait.

Beyond this, there are many other places in the greater Cleveland/Akron area that make visiting Santa an entire experience. Your kids still get facetime with St. Nick and you collect that keepsake photo, but the whole family can enjoy a day of entertainment.

If you’re looking to elevate your family’s Santa experience, consider the following options taking place throughout Northeast Ohio.

Elf Labs at Castle Noel
A team of exuberant elves will escort your children through six unique stations where they will experience the magic of Christmas, including a visit with Mrs. Klaus for story time, plus opportunities for creating, crafting and making memories. Finish your family’s adventure with a stop to see Santa and take your own pictures. While you’re at Castle Noel, consider touring the museum, which houses the world’s largest privately owned collection of Hollywood Christmas movie props and costumes.
For more information, go to castlenoel.com.

Sunday Brunch with Santa at Pinstripes
Find a location offering Santa for the kids, great food for everyone, and mimosas or bloody marys for mom and dad, and the whole family will be happy. You can find all of this and more — bowling and bocce, to be exact — at Pinstripes’ Sunday Brunch with Santa, which takes place Dec. 8, 15 and 22 at the Orange Village entertainment hotspot.
For more information, go to pinstripes.com/cleveland-ohio.

Kringle’s Inventionasium
Kids become honorary elves and work with Kringle’s inventing team as they prepare for the holiday season. The family-friendly adventure includes mysterious corridors, secret tunnels and coded clues, all leading to the Whatchamacallit Workshop, where kids bring their design to life. The experience culminates in a private visit with Mr. Kringle.
For more information, go to mrkringle.com.

Scuba Claus at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium
You hear a “ho, ho, ho” everywhere you go during the holidays, but there’s one surprising place you can see a jolly old elf in Cleveland: underwater! Talk to Scuba Claus and snap a cellphone selfie while he visits with the angelfish, stingrays  and sharks on his “nice list.” The event, which is included with aquarium admission, also features activity books, a trivia challenge, snowflake crafts, animal enrichment activities and more.
For more information, go to greaterclevelandaquarium.com.

Holiday Circle Fest in Wade Oval
More than a dozen of University Circle’s renowned museums, gardens, galleries, churches and schools open their doors and offer an afternoon of activities, music, food, fun and shopping. Catch live performances from talented musicians, plus enjoy craft making, historic displays of holiday toys, storytelling, the city’s best gingerbread house competition, and much more. Outside, Wade Oval becomes Cleveland’s Central Park with ice carving demonstrations, horse drawn carriage rides, live music, photos with Santa, The Rink at Wade Oval, a Fire and Light show, and more.
For more information, click here

Santa’s Wonderland at Cabela’s
Mom and dad can shop for the outdoor enthusiasts on their list while the kids enjoy crafts and activities, the chance to write letters to Santa, and a photo session — all free of charge at Cabela’s Avon location.
For more information, click here.

Ride the Rails
Ride the Santa Express at Ohio Station Outlets in Burbank for a visit and storytime with Santa, as well as the chance to snap your own photo.
For more information, click here.

Experience Santa Train events at the Lake Shore Railway Association in Wellington and enjoy complimentary hot chocolate in a vintage railway station that’s decorated for the season, then board the train for a short ride and a chance to visit Santa.
For more information, go to lwvry.org/santa-trains

Winter Wonderlands at Area Shopping Centers
The holiday transformation at Crocker Park, located in Westlake, includes the opening of the new Santa Village, home to Santa’s House, Santa’s Sleigh, Polar X Ornament Shop, Toy Train Town and the Holiday Express Train. In addition, families can enjoy nightly choreographed light shows on the 50-foot tree in Center Circle, an ice-skating rink, a Walk-Through Ornament and a Tree Garden.
For more information, go to crockerpark.com.

At Pinecrest in Orange Village, Mingle with Kringle offers experiences throughout the district for families to rub elbows with Santa, including a movie screening at Silverspot Cinema, painting at Color Me Mine, bowling and brunch at Pinstripes, and candle-making at The Candle Studio. There’s also ice skating in Central Park, horse-drawn carriage rides, outdoor movie screenings and Pinecrest Nights of Lights, a nightly choreographed light show.
For more information, go to discoverpinecrest.com.

Note: There are some phenomenal Santa experiences, like the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s Polar Express, the Lake Metroparks Farmpark’s Country Lights, and Breakfast with Santa at Merwin’s Wharf, that sell out each year. Included in this list are some unique events for which you’re likely to still be able to get tickets.

About the author

Northeast Ohio Parent Managing/Digital Editor Denise Koeth is raising her two sons while working part-time. She and her husband make a point to take the boys to area events and attractions, and Denise is always on the lookout for new, kid-friendly destinations. Here she will share her experiences in seeking family-friendly fun throughout the Northeast Ohio region.

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