The weather outside may be frightful, but the kids still want to see Santa Claus.
Every year we pack the kids into their jackets and gloves, load them into the car, drive in the snow, and spend an aggravating amount of time looking for parking, all so we can stand in line for nearly an hour and pay out the pocket for the kids to sit on Santa’s lap for a few minutes and take pictures.
And as awful as I make it out to seem, I do it every year without fail because is it really the holidays if you don’t?
And no matter what you say, you know that you’re going to do it this year too – it’s just a matter of when and where!
Use this guide to find the best places to take pictures with Santa Claus in Washington, D.C. And. ifyou are looking for a Black Santa Claus– we’ve got that covered too.
Table of Contents
- 1 Santa Suite at the Fairmont Washington DC
- 2 Enchant Christmas
- 3 CityCenterDC
- 4 Santa on the Potomac: Waterskiing Santa
- 5 ZooLights
- 6 National Harbor
- 7 Roof Terrace Restaurant at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
- 8 Bethesda Winter Wonderland
- 9 National Capital Trolley Museum
- 10 College Park Aviation Museum
Santa Suite at the Fairmont Washington DC
2401 M Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20037 | Website
One of the most decadent (and FREE!) Santa visits you can do this year is to the Santa Suite at the Fairmont Washington D.C. This decked out group of rooms gets a holiday makeover that’s just bursting with Christmas cheer as the big guy comes to stay for a few weeks each December.
The elves only bring up a few people at a time, so everyone gets their turn and enough time to tell Santa everything on their list.
The pastry chefs at the Fairmont fill the room with cookies and other treats for you to sample (again, all free), while a hot chocolate bar can be found in the lobby- perfect for inspiring those wish lists you write before you go up to the suite.
Learn more about the Santa Suite
1500 S Capitol St SE, Washington, DC 20003 | Website
Immerse yourself in the magic of Christmas at Enchant Christmas in Washington, D.C. You can meet and take photos with Jolly Old Saint Nick himself, which is often the highlight for children. Don’t worry though – the entire family is going to have an enjoyable time at one of the largest Christmas light festivals and markets in the nation.
There are five sections: The Light Maze, The Village, Ice Skating, Santa’s Landing, and Play Palace. Make your way through the stunning Light Maze, buy some holiday souvenirs from The Village, spend hours having fun at Ice Skating, tell Santa what you want for Xmas at Santa’s Landing, and then do holiday-themed crafts or listen to Mrs. Claus read a storybook at Play Palace.
Enchant Christmas runs from the end of November to the beginning of January. Tickets sell out quickly, especially weekend access, so be sure to purchase yours in advance.
Find more ice skating in D.C.
825 10th St NW, Washington, DC 20001 | Website
Every year, the public park within the mixed-use development CityCenterDC is transformed into a winter wonderland and becomes home to Santa, Mrs. Claus, Rudolph, and the elves.
Their Christmas displays vary year by year; sometimes it’s an ice maze and other times it’s a giant igloo. But no matter what theme they go with, a visit with Santa is guaranteed.
Gather around the Christmas tree at CityCenterDC this season!
Santa on the Potomac: Waterskiing Santa
1A Prince St, Alexandria, VA 22314 | Website
While there are limited opportunities to take pictures on Santa’s lap, you’ll definitely be able to take pictures of Santa Claus water skiing on the Potomac River – and in some ways, isn’t that better? Every year, Santa heads to the Old Town Alexandra waterfront and indulges in exhilarating water sports.
He’s joined by his friends Frosty the Snowman in a dinghy, the Grinch on jet skis, a knee boarding reindeer, and flying elves. This 35-year-old tradition is a family favorite. Who says Santa only loves the snow?
Find a Black Santa near you
3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008 | Website
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo is a popular, family-friendly attraction in Washington, D.C. especially since it’s free admission for all. And this includes access to their annual ZooLights event which has an endless array of light displays in the form of animals and more.
While Santa is not there every day, they do have special events during ZooLights which include meet and greets with Kris Kringle himself. Little ones will be able to climb on his lap, talk about how naughty or nice they’ve been, and tell him what they want for Christmas – all while you take the perfect holiday photo of them.
Fort Washington, MD 20745 | Website
The National Harbor is a wonderful place to spend the day when in the mood for seasonal, family-friendly activities. Everything is covered in twinkling lights and there’s an overall atmosphere of cheer; it doesn’t hurt that there’s a 60-foot-tall Christmas tree and frozen sculptures carved out of ice!
There are so many great spots that you can take holiday pictures at; find a location you love and just shoot away! Check their website for days that Santa Claus comes to town – you can usually spot him going for a spin on the Capital Wheel!
Roof Terrace Restaurant at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2700 F St NW, D.C., DC | Website
The Roof Terrace Restaurant in the Kennedy Center hosts an annual Santa brunch that really is a better alternative to standing in line for an hour. While the kiddies hang with Santa and take pictures, you can enjoy their expansive buffet brunch. It’s filled with all your breakfast favorites like muffins, omelets, pancakes, and more.
The big man is the main attraction but there are also lots of Christmas crafts and holiday activities scheduled.
Bethesda Winter Wonderland
7898 Woodmont Ave #7800, Bethesda, MD 20814 | Website
Bethesda’s annual Winter Wonderland Festival is a wholesome and fun way for the family to celebrate the season. In addition to meeting and taking pictures with Santa Claus, the whole family can enjoy live ice sculpting demonstrations, musical performances complete with caroling, holiday shops, and more.
National Capital Trolley Museum
1313 Bonifant Road, Silver Spring, MD 20905 | Website
Take a ride with Santa Claus at the National Capital Trolley Museum! He’s there every year at the Holly Trolley Fest where you can learn about and ride in classic, restored trolley cars all day long.
Afterward, take the kiddos to wander around at Winter in Washington which houses an extensive toy train exhibit that will put smiles on everyone’s faces.
College Park Aviation Museum
1985 Corporal Frank Scott Drive, College Park, MD | Website
If you’re going to wait for Santa to arrive so the kids can take pictures with him, it might as well be at the College Park Aviation Museum where you can see him fly in!
That’s right – you’ll catch Santa on the flight from the North Pole to College Park Airport, right before he circles the globe to deliver toys. You can do holiday crafts while you wait and then take pictures with the bag man himself. Let your kid be a believer and show them Santa flying through the sky this Christmas!