Santa at ZooLights

Santa sightings in Chicago are in full swing! Santa Claus loves Chicago and every year he rolls into town to visit with all the good boys and girls. The busy man in red hops from venue to venue, from parks to cruise liners sailing along Lake Michigan, carefully checking his list twice and marking down what kids want for Christmas. Catch him at these spots in Chicago before he heads back to the North Pole to gear up for the big night.


Spirit of Chicago Santa Lunch Cruises
600 E. Grand Avenue - Navy Pier

December 12-13

Santa loves sailing the spirited waves of Lake Michigan, and around Christmastime, you'll find him on the Spirit of Chicago. Enjoy fantastic skyline views, a buffet lunch plus a chance to tell Santa why you deserve to be on his good kid list this year. Two cruises will be taking place this year, on December 12 and 13, with departures at 12:30pm from Navy Pier. Tickets are available for children (ages 3-12) at $26.95 and adults $44.90 each.



Santa Saturdays at the Driehaus Museum
40 E. Erie Street

December 12 & 19


Chicago's Driehaus Museum, one of the grandest residential buildings of 19th-century Chicago, hosts two events for their 3rd Annual Santa Saturdays: December 12 and December 19 from 10am - 1pm. Chicago's own Aunt Holly tells lively stories and sings songs while families enjoy festive treats and create holiday art projects. Visit with Santa and take home a complimentary family portrait taken in the elegantly festooned Ballroom. Tickets ($8 children/$12 adults) include museum admission. 



Breakfast with Santa and SUE

1400 S. Lake Shore Drive – The Field Museum

December 12 & 19

Add some history to your family traditions and celebrate at The Field Museum! Enjoy a buffet breakfast in the historic Stanley Field Hall and have fun creating holiday crafts. After breakfast you'll get to share all of your holiday wishes with Santa when you take your picture with him and SUE the 67-million-year-old T.rex skeleton. Tickets (from $23-45) are limited, with seatings at 8:30am, 9:30am and 10:30am.



Holiday Breakfast at Shedd Aquarium

1200 S. Lake Shore Drive

December 12, 19 & 22


This annual tradition packs a full day of holiday happenings into three busy hours: a breakfast buffet to power up; photos with Santa; a holiday parade leading to a 4-D viewing of The Polar Express; followed by hot chocolate, cookies and coloring time; and a finale of the Holiday One World holiday show. Tickets ($34.95 children/$49.95 adults) are limited and include admission to the aquarium.



Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo
8400 31st Street, Brookfield, IL 60513

December 12-13 & 19-20


Chicagoland's largest lights festival at suburban Brookfield Zoo is massive holiday affair... over one million twinkling LED lights, a 41-foot talking tree, ice carvers, carolers and more! Make a beeline to the Seven Seas Underwater Viewing area to find Santa from 4:30-8:30pm.


Sunday Brunch with Santa at Pinstripes
435 E. Illinois Street

December 13

This all-ages fun zone is a triple threat, combining Santa with bowling, bocce and brunch this holiday. The Grand Buffet is $12 for children and $34 for adults (kids 5 and under are FREE).  Gaming is additional, standard rates apply.


Brunch with Santa at The Drake Hotel

140 E. Walton Place – Drake Bros' Restaurant

December 19 & 20


Dine in style at the historic Mag Mile hotel while Santa makes the rounds. From delectable carving stations to a kid-approved waffle bar, this luxe experience will be an unforgettable one. Seatings ($35 children/$75 adults) are every half hour from 12 noon to 4pm.


Millennium Park

201 E. Randolph Street

Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays, through December 20

Santa and Chicago's grand Christmas tree both headed to Millennium Park for the first time this year. Find Santa's house (visits are FREE) right next to Cloud Gate aka "The Bean". Double up on holiday festivities with pre-Santa singing for Caroling at Cloud Gate, or bring your skates and enjoy some post-Santa skating at Millennium Park’s McCormick Tribune Ice Rink or the Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon next door.



ChicaGlow at Chicago History Museum

1601 N. Clark Street
Saturdays & Sundays, through December 20


From 12 noon to 3pm, you'll find Santa AND Mrs. Claus set up in the most historic seat of all: on the platform of L train car Number 1. There is no charge to meet the couple of the season — please bring your own camera. Holiday storytelling and festive face painting round out the offerings. Bonus: complimentary cups of hot cocoa and hot cider will warm you up at the museum cafe. Holiday activities are included in museum admission, and kids age 12 and under are always FREE!



ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo
2001 N. Clark Street

Select dates, through December 23


The FREE evening lights spectacular hosts visits with Santa (and his fun-loving monkey friends!) at the zoo's Helen Brach Primate House. Professional photos available for purchase.



Winter WonderFest

600 E. Grand Avenue - Navy Pier

Daily, through December 24 


The Claus residence (home to both Mr. & Mrs. Claus) is just one of the many sights at this 170,000 sq. ft. indoor playground. Professional photographers will be ready to capture your visit with Santa. This fun photo op is included with General Admission Ticket.



SantaLand at Macy’s on State Street

111 N. State Street


You'll find Santa at Macy’s on State Street, where he sets up shop on the 5th floor's SantaLand, known to many as Cozy Cloud from the Marshall Field’s days. Photo packages range from $16.99 to $39.99. You'll also want to check out the Great Tree towering inside the historic Walnut Room, and the store's iconic holiday-inspired window decorations on State Street — both on display though January 10.



900 Shops
900 N. Michigan Avenue, 3rd Floor

Daily, through December 24

Every Michigan Avenue shopper needs a break — especially when you have little children in your crew. We like to visit Santa Claus at the 900 North Michigan Shops: He's the most photogenic Santa out there, with a real beard. Santa sits on a fancy Santa-quality throne with a 40 ft. tree as a backdrop. Not to mention, he also gifts every kid — whether you pay for a photo or not — with a sweet little stuffy. Photos with Santa are available for purchase, with five different packages to choose from $26.99 and up. Head to the Holiday Lounge on Level 4 for complimentary coat check, charging stations and gift wrapping services. 


Water Tower Place
835 N. Michigan Avenue
Daily, through December 24 

This Chicago shopping paradise is home to some of the most popular kid shops, including American Girl Place and the Lego Store. Cap off a day of holiday shopping with a visit with Santa. Photo pre-purchase is required to book your time, however all guests can enjoy savings by pre-purchasing a photo package online without making a reservation.

Santa Claus on the CTA Holiday Train

Select dates & times, through December 23

Every Christmas season Santa Claus shows his love for public transportation by partnering with the Chicago Transit Authority and rolling his holiday train onto the city's tracks. You can catch this spectacularly decorated train and find Santa and his elves on board based on the online schedule. The train runs on different CTA routes. Regular train fares apply. 


For more seasonal celebrations across the city for families and all ages, visit