32 Unique Places to find Santa Claus in Washington, D.C. (2023 update)

The weather outside may be frightful, but the kids still want to see Santa Claus in Washington DC.

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!

Lucky for you, we are breaking down where the best places to take pictures with Santa Claus in Washington, D.C., plus everywhere you can find Santa in DC this holiday season, plus a few Santa sightings in Maryland and Virginia just over the District line.

And if you are looking for a Black Santa Claus– we’ve got that covered too.

Fairmont Washington DC Georgetown Santa Suite

Santa Suite at the Fairmont Washington DC

  • Address: 2401 M Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20037
  • Date: Saturdays and Sundays, 11:30am to 3:30pm
  • Tickets: FREE (but please reserve a time in advance)
  • More information

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

Christmas Tree Lighting at the Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown

  • Address: 2401 M St NW, Washington, DC 20037
  • Date: First Tuesday in Decembert at 5:30pm
  • Tickets: FREE (but you must reserve a spot)
  • More information

Pop into the Fairmont Washington DC Georgetown to meet Santa during the annual Christmas Tree Lighting. The event is free, but you will want to reserve your spot ahead of time.

Fairmont DC Christmas Day Brunch Pancakes and Pajamas with Santa

  • Address: Fairmont Washington D.C., Georgetown, The Colonnade, 2401 M St NW, Washington, DC 20037 
  • Date: Christmas Day, Dec. 25 (first seating at 11am/ second seating at 2 pm)
  • Tickets: $169 for adults/ $69 for children 5-12/ children under 5 are free
  • Reservations: [email protected], or call 202-457-5020
  • More information

Get ready to have breakfast with Santa in DC after he is finished delivering presents across the world. Santa stops at each table for a visit, while an electric violinist pays Christmas classics and newer holiday favorites.

The Colonnade will exude Christmas, with greenery and natural light, and of course, a buffet of all of your brunch favorites. We love the pancake and waffle station, but there is also a omelet station, carving station, fruits, pastries, and even a children’s buffet.

The pièce de résistance is a dessert buffet created by the executive pastry chef. Even adults will feel like they are in chocolate, candy and cake heaven when the get a look at this display of croquembouche, chocolate caramel turtles, Baileys Irish Cream yule log, mincemeat pies, cheesecake and a candy cane pot de crème, just to name a few.

Complimentary valet parking is included, along with sodas, coffee and tea, plus a glass of sparkling wine for adults. Adults can also purchase cocktails from the Bloody Mary and Mimosa bar.

Enchant- Washington DC Christmas
photo via Enchant Christmas

Enchant Christmas

  • Address: Nationals Park, 1500 South Capitol St SE, Washington, DC 20003
  • Date: week before Thanksgiving through December 31
  • Tickets: Prices vary by date, starting at $32 adult/ $24 child.
  • More information and tickets

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.

Christmas at City Center in Washington DC

Santa at CityCenterDC

  • Address: 825 10th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
  • Date: Thanksgiving through Christmas
  • Tickets: FREE
  • More information

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!

ICE! at the Gaylord National

  • Address: 201 Waterfront St, Oxon Hill, MD 20745
  • Date: mid-November through December 31
  • Tickets: starting at $29
  • More information

Christmas at the Gaylord National means ICE! Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer™, but also a visit with Santa. Grab your tickets, and bring your winter coats, hats and mittens. Santa lives at the North Pole and it sure feels like it when you walk into the winter wonderland of ice sculptures, ice slides and more chilly weather fun.

Learn more about our trip to ICE! and Christmas at the Gaylord National

Santa on the Potomac: Waterskiing Santa

  • Address: 1A Prince St, Alexandria, VA 22314
  • Date: Christmas Eve
  • Tickets: FREE
  • More Information

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 in Washington DC

Washington DC Christmas Zoolights
photo via Smithsonian’s National Zoo


  • Address: National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008
  • Date: various Dates, Thanksgiving until New Year’s Eve, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m (closes 8pm Sundays)
  • Tickets: entry to ZooLights $6 per person, ages 2 and up (plus $30 parking)
    • Tickets go on sale in late October
  • More information

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.

National Harbor

  • Address: 153 National Plaza, Oxon Hill, MD 20745
  • Date: mid-November through December 31
  • Tickets: FREE
  • More information

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!

Annual Santa Brunch at the Roof Terrace Restaurant at the Kennedy Center

  • Address: 2700 F St NW, Washington, DC 20566
  • Dates: multiple weekends from Thanksgiving til Christmas
  • Tickets: reservations are required, as well as a set fee per person attending.
  • More information

The Roof Terrace Restaurant in the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts 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.

The Wharf Christmas Tree in Washington DC

District’s Holiday Boat Parade at The Wharf

  • Address: 760 Maine Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024
  • Date: First Saturday in December, 6pm – 9pm
  • Tickets: FREE
  • More information

Get pictures with Santa after you watch more than 60 boats covered in Christmas lights cruise down the Washington Channel. If there is a line, don’t worry, you can check out the giant Christmas tree, enjoy s’mores at Camp Wharf, and even take a twirl around the The Wharf Ice Rink on Transit Pier.

Don’t worry parents, there is a Corona Beer Garden for you too.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Santa Meet and Greet

  • Address: multiple locations, with past appearances at
    • Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, Forest Heights, MD 20745
    • Metropolitan Police Department’s Special Liaison Branch Office, 801 Shepherd Street Northwest
    • Gallaudet University, 800 Florida Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002
    • Enchant DC, Nationals Park at 1500 South Capitol Street Southeast
  • Date: Special appearance dates depending on location
  • Tickets: FREE
  • More information: Google Deaf Santa visits DC for his annual stops in the DMV

For anyone who ever felt left out of the holiday cheer, Santa Charles Graves wants to you to know that you are not left out when it comes to Santa’s list. In fact, Graves is the first deaf graduate of the International University of Santa Claus, which in our books makes him Santa’s right-hand man.

Santa Charles does not always show up in the same spot each year, as he travels up from Texas, but this Santa likes to make sure every girl and boy gets to have a conversation with Santa in American Sign Language (ASL), when too often they are left in the quiet land of waves and not knowing who this stranger’s lap is that mom and dad just put them on.

Bethesda Winter Wonderland

  • Address: 7898 Woodmont Ave #7800, Bethesda, MD 20814
  • Date: First Saturday in December, 8am to 5pm
  • Tickets: FREE
  • More information

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
Santa • credit Wesley Paulson

Holly Trolley Fest at the National Capital Trolley Museum

  • Address: 1313 Bonifant Road, Silver Spring, MD 20905
  • Date: First Three Weekends in December + December 23, 11am-4pm
  • Tickets: Fee. Priority is given to advance ticket holders, but walk-ins are welcome.
  • More information

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.

Santa Fly- in at the College Park Aviation Museum

  • Address: 1985 Corporal Frank Scott Drive, College Park, MD
  • Date: First Saturday in December, 10am - 4am (Santa flies in at 10am)
  • Tickets: $5 per person over the age of 2
  • 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!

B&O Railroad Museum: The Polar Express Train Ride

  • Address: 901 W Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21223
  • Date: Thanksgiving weekend, plus the first three weekends in December
  • Tickets: $52- $95 (discounts for members)
  • More information

Get the kids in their pajamas and climb aboard The Polar Express at the B&O Railroad Museum. Guests will watch a live-action version of the The Polar Express (read the book before you go), before Santa’s helpers greet you at the North Pole, you spend a little time with Santa and he gives out the first presents of the season.

Find more Baltimore Santa Claus meet and greets

Holiday Tree Lighting and Santa Firetruck Parade at Mosaic

  • Address: Strawberry Park in the Mosaic District, 2910 District Ave, Fairfax, VA 22031
  • Date: Friday after Thanksgiving, starting at 4pm
  • Tickets: FREE
  • More information

Go for the tree lighting but stay for Santa as he tours the Mosaic District on a firetruck. After the parade, you can meet Santa in the Target lobby, before you go back outside to watch ‘Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas’ in Strawberry Park.

Breakfast with Santa & the Grinch at Adventure Park USA

In past years Adventure Park USA has hosted a breakfast with Santa and the Grinch, which is the perfect time to get your photos with Santa.

They are not quick to release the details each year, so look at their site sometime after Halloween, once their fall festival, “After Dark Halloween” and “Not-so-Scary Halloween Party” wrap up.

Washington DC Santa Claus

Photos with Santa

If you only want photos with Santa, there are plenty of spots in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. Definitely check the website for each Santa photo op, as many do require reservations.

  • Santa at Ellsworth Place: Ellsworth Place, Silver Spring, MD | DETAILS
  • Santa at Westfield Montgomery: 7101 Democracy Blvd., Bethesda, MD | DETAILS
  • Santa’s Back!: Mall at Prince George’s, Hyattsville, MD | DETAILS (black santa)
  • Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shop: 7000 Arundel Mills Cir Suite E2, Hanover, MD 21076 | DETAILS
  • Santa at Arundel Mills Mall: 7000 Arundel Mills Cir., Hanover, MD | DETAILS
  • Santa at Potomac Mills Mall: 2700 Potomac Mills Cir., Woodbridge | DETAILS
  • Photos with Santa: Tysons Corner Center, Tysons Corner, VA | DETAILS
  • Santa Fashion Centre at Pentagon City: 1100 S Hayes St, Arlington, VA 22202 | DETAILS
  • Santa at Mosaic District: Target Atrium at 2905 District Ave, Fairfax, VA | DETAILS
  • Santa at the Fair Oaks Mall: 11750 Fair Oaks Mall, Fairfax, VA | DETAILS (Sensory Santa visit dates available)
  • Meet Santa at Dulles Town Center: 21100 Dulles Town Cir., Dulles, VA | DETAILS
  • Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Boating Center: | DETAILS
  • Christmas at Cox Farms: 15621 Braddock Rd, Centreville, VA 20120 | DETAILS
  • Santa at Manassas Mall: 8300 Sudley Rd., Manassas, VA | DETAILS
City Center DC Christmas Tree

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