Santa at ZooLights

Every year, Santa Claus swings through Chicago on his sleigh so he can do some last-minute Mag Mile shopping and check the lists of all the good little boys and girls. If you're looking for that treasured Santa photo opp, or if you just want to let him know that you've been nicer than naughtier, here are eight spots to catch Santa in Chicago before he heads back to the North Pole to prepare for his grand Christmas Eve voyage around the world.

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SantaLand at Macy's on State Street

The Great Tree

Santa sets up shop here on the 5th floor's SantaLand, known to many as Cozy Cloud from the Marshall Field's era. On days when Santa has an abundance of visitors, his team of elves will make seeing him easier by taking your phone number and sending you a text when it's your turn to wait in line. You're free to shop for presents or grab a bite to eat while you wait!

You'll also want to check out the Great Tree, on display in the historic Walnut Room, November through early January, and the store's iconic holiday-inspired display windows on State Street.

Where: Macy's on State Street, 5th Floor, 111 N. State Street
When: Now until December 24. Get Santa's schedule.

 

 

ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo

Santa at ZooLights

Santa loves visiting his animal friends at the Lincoln Park Zoo, especially when it's illuminated by millions of festive lights during the annual ZooLights festival. Enjoy live music, holiday crafts and large-scale ice carvings and then pay your visit to the man in red, who will be at the Helen Brach Primate House at the zoo most days of the month until Christmas. 

Where: Lincoln Park Zoo, Helen Brach Primate House, 2001 N. Clark Street
When: December 2–4 and December 9–23, 4:30–9 p.m.

 

 

Navy Pier's Winter Wonderfest

navy pier

Featuring 170,000 square feet of carnival rides, giant slides, holiday-themed activities, the Chicago Blackhawks Ice Skating Rink, and more, Winter Wonderfest shines as the city's biggest and best indoor winter playground.

And every year, Santa Claus makes a pit stop to the fab festival, setting up shop on a grand, red velvet throne. Even though he's a busy guy, he stays on hand from December 2 until Christmas to meet with good boys and girls. 

Where: Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Avenue
When: Now until December 24. Get Santa's schedule.

 

 

900 North Michigan Avenue Shops, 3rd Floor

The Santa Claus at 900 North Michigan Avenue is the most photogenic Santa out there, with a real beard to boot. He reigns from his fancy Santa-quality throne with a 40-foot 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. Head to the Holiday Lounge on Level 4 for complimentary coat check, charging stations and gift wrapping services.

Where: 900 North Michigan Shops, 3rd Floor, 900 N. Michigan Avenue
When: Now until December 24. Get Santa's schedule.

 

 

Water Tower Place, Level 7

Water Tower Place

Cap off a day of holiday shopping with a visit with Santa at Chicago's shopping paradise, home to some of the most popular kids' shops, including American Girl Place and the Lego Store. Make a reservation to see Santa and you'll spend less time in line. Plus, save 30% on your photos by pre-ordering a package online. Visit before December 9 to save an extra $5. You'll also receive a coupon for $30 to spend toward Tiny Prints. 

Where: Water Tower Place, Level 7 near Harry Carey's, 835 N. Michigan Avenue
When: Now until December 24. Get Santa's schedule.

 

 

Santa Claus House in Millennium Park 

Millennium Park

You'll find both Santa and Chicago's grand Christmas tree in iconic Millennium Park. There is no charge to visit Santa, but you must take your own photos with your camera or smartphone. Bring your skates and enjoy some post-Santa skating at Millennium Park's McCormick Tribune Ice Rink.

Where: Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph Street
When: Now until December 18. Get Santa's schedule.

 

 

Spirit of Chicago Santa Lunch Cruises

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 10 and 11, with departures at 12:30 p.m. from Navy Pier

Where: Departs from Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Avenue
When: December 10 and 11 at 12:30 p.m.

 

 

Santa Claus on the CTA Holiday Train and Holiday Bus

CTA Holiday Train

Santa loves public transportation and for the past 25 years, he rides his holiday train onto the city's tracks. The train runs on different CTA routes, so check his schedule. Regular train fares apply.

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Holiday Train, this year a new six-car, elf-packed train will follow the Holiday Train on Saturdays, which are the busiest days, to help ensure everyone has an opportunity to experience this one-of-kind and joyful tradition.

Complementing these two festive trains is the CTA Holiday Bus, which brings the same holiday spirit and joy to bus riders as it travels throughout Chicago's neighborhoods.

Where: Various CTA routes throughout the city
When: Now until December 23. Get Santa's schedule.

 

Looking for more holiday fun in Chicago? Check out our 2016 Holiday Guide.