Maybe one of the best memories from the holiday season is photos of your kids with Santa Claus. If you're looking for a less traditional way to take your kids to see Santa this year, or maybe you just don't want to deal with the holiday-shopping mall crowds, we've gathered a few events going on around Cincinnati where Jolly Old St. Nick will be. Some events are free and some require tickets, admission fees or reservations, so check the descriptions to plan your holiday outings.
Scuba Santa’s Water Wonderland at the Newport Aquarium
Newport Aquarium, 1 Levee Way, Newport
Santa is returning to the Newport Aquarium for his 20th Christmas! Your kids will be able to meet Santa and tell him what they want for Christmas. They can also meet the North Pole elves and watch as Santa dives with the aquarium’s brand new sand tiger sharks. Tickets to the aquarium are between $22.99 and $33.99 for adults (13 and over) and $14.99 and $31.99 for kids 2 and older. Daily, Friday, Nov. 25 to Saturday, Dec. 24. Check here for specific times each day.
Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s
You can visit any Bass Pro Shop or Cabela’s to get free photos with Santa this Christmas. It is recommended that you make a reservation before visiting.Daily until Saturday, Dec. 24. Check website for daily hours and to make a reservation.
Visit Santa at the Cincinnati Museum Center
1301 Western Ave., West End
Santa will arrive in style to the Cincinnati Museum Center on a historic fire truck at noon on Friday, Nov. 25. Afterward, you’ll be able to find him by his fireplace on the Mezzanine in the Ruthven Gallery, where he’ll talk with your child and find out what they want for Christmas. A visit with Santa is included in museum admission ($17.50 for adults 13 and older; $13.50 for seniors and children 12 and under; free for members). The museum’s holiday train exhibit, Holiday Junction, is purchased separately ($10 for non-members 3 and older; free for members).Museum hours are Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Check museum’s website for special extended holiday hours.
Santa’s Village at PNC’s Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo
3400 Vine St., Avondale
Santa’s getting wild at the Cincinnati Zoo! Zoo admission covers you all day, so you can come early to see the animals and stay late for fun holiday activities and some amazing lights. Starting at 4 p.m., Santa and Mrs. Claus will be walking around to greet guests. And when Santa’s not out and about in the zoo, you can find him at Santa’s Village, where he’ll be making his lists and checking them twice.Zoo opens 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Festival of Lights activities begin at 4 p.m. daily. Admission prices vary, so check prices on the zoo’s website.
Christmas at the Junction at EnterTRAINment Junction
7379 Squire Court, West Chester
Take a magical journey to the North Pole and visit Mrs. Claus in her kitchen, the reindeer in their stables, the elves in their workshop and Santa in his study where you can have a little chat with him. Also, don’t miss out on the Junction’s enormous train display. Tickets are $16.95 for adults, $14.95 for seniors 65 and older and $12.95 for children 3 to 12. Children 2 and under can get in for free. You can also buy a “do-it-all” ticket for $19.95.Christmas at the Junction runs daily until Sunday, Jan. 1. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Check their website for extended holiday hours.
Santa’s Workshop at Washington Park
1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine
Ditch the mall and bring your kids (and your dogs) to Washington Park to meet jolly Old St. Nick! The event is free, but you have to bring your own camera for pictures.Santa will be at Washington Park on Saturdays and Sundays from Saturday, Nov. 26 to Sunday, Dec. 18 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. More information here.
Cincinnati Black Santa at the Cincinnati Art Museum
953 Eden Park Dr., Eden Park
On Saturday, Dec. 17, The Voice of Black Cincinnati will present their annual Cincinnati Black Santa at the Cincinnati Art Museum from noon until 4 p.m. Santa will greet kids and listen to their wish lists, and parents can take photos. The event is free, and admission to the museum is also free.
Santa on the Levee
1 Levee Way, Newport
Santa’s stopping by Newport on the Levee this year to share some holiday cheer! You can take your kids to visit Santa for free, no reservations needed. Make sure to bring your own camera for photos.Fridays through Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. from Saturday, Nov. 26 to Friday, Dec. 23. On Nov. 26, Santa will only be available until 3 p.m. He also takes a break to feed his reindeer from 3-3:20 p.m. each day. More information here.
Santa Fly-In at the Tri-State Warbird Museum
4021 Boman Dr., Batavia
Santa’s used to soaring through the skies in his sled, but in a plane? Yep, that too! The jolly elf will be flying into the Tri-State Warbird Museum on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 9:30 a.m. After he arrives, he’ll be available to meet with kids until 11 a.m. There will also be fun activities, arts and crafts, hot drinks and cookies! Tickets are $12 for adults, $7 for kids and free for children 3 and under. Members get in free. Organizers say the event tends to sell out, so buy your tickets online early here.
WinterFest at Kings Island
6300 Kings Island Dr., Mason
If you’re checking out all WinterFest has to offer with ice skating, rides, sledding and more, you can also stop by to visit the man in the big, red suit. He’ll be taking toy requests at the Rivertown Wonderland section of the park until Dec. 23. Visiting Santa does cost an additional fee along with park admission. Select nights, Friday, Nov. 25 to Saturday, Dec. 31. Check their website for more information on times and tickets.
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