If your kids want to meet Santa and you want a nice photo, you can get both in the Twin Cities, but it’s a bit more limited this year!
I’ve put this list together before but this is the first year like this! Due to COVID, many events are cancelled and opportunities with Santa are mostly virtual, but they still are out there!
Also be sure to check what your city or local community center is offering! Many community centers have had holiday events in the past and may be just changing them for 2020.
I’m sad that visits with Santa won’t be the same this year, but I know Santa is doing everything he can to make it a joyful season for families!
Note: All events are subject to change at any time! (Some already changed 1 day after this posting.) Please check each venue in advance.
Free Personalized Video Message from Santa
Free Personalized Video Message from Santa. You can get a FREE personalized video message for your child from Santa! I signed up for my son and it was 1-1/2 minutes and Santa said his name, age, and more! You have to create a free account and yes they do sell phone calls and more, but the video is truly free from Portable North Pole.
Free Visits with Santa!
Bachman’s. At the six Bachman’s locations in the Twin Cities, you can take FREE photos with life-size cutouts of Santa and Albert. This is available from November 21 to December 24. They’re in the garden area. They’re also located near the Holiday Ideas House which is $5 to attend. Be sure to bring your own camera! (Read our review of the Bachman’s Holiday Ideas House!)
Also check the Bachman’s Facebook page as the Santa and Albert play is LIVE every Saturday at 10:00am!
Cabela’s. (This event is on hold as of 11/30. Check with your location for updates!) At Cabela’s from November 7th – December 24th, you can get your photo taken with Santa for free, but you have to make a reservation in advance. Santa poses with you behind a plexiglass screen for everyone’s safety. Each location has different hours for Santa. There are locations in Rogers, Woodbury and Owatonna. Each family gets a free 4×6 photo and a free shareable video, but you can purchase more if you wish.
Holidazzle Santa Zoom Meet and Greets – Holidazzle is going virtual this year! And part of that includes Santa being in some shows online, as well as doing storytimes, all for free to watch online. PLUS – he’ll do zoom chats for free! Zoom meet-and-greets will take place Saturday, December 5 and Saturday, December 19 from 9 am-1 pm. Sign up to meet Santa virtually during a brief Zoom chat. The sign-up link for the December 5 Santa Zoom will be available on Thursday, December 3 at 10 am, and the December 19 Santa Zoom sign-up link will be available Thursday, December 17 at 10 am.
Also, Santa shared his number to the North Pole—give him a ring! Dial 612-376-SNOW for a Santa greeting or nighttime greeting!
And be sure to check out Holidazzle online for free downloadable activities and online activities!
Sam’s Club – Santa is offering FREE virtual visits for members.
At-Cost (Not Free) Visits with Santa
Santa visits galore! A Touch of Magic Entertainment in Minnesota offers both socially-distanced, in-person and virtual visits with Santa, and more.
Santa’s Train Shop. Minnesota Transportation Museum, St. Paul. For the first 3 weekends in December from 10:00am – 4:00pm, you can meet and get a photo with Santa for $5! Admission to the museum is $15 for age 16 and up, $10 for children ages 3 to 15, and free for ages 2 and under. (Families are $45.) Purchase tickets in advance! Train rides are included with admission. Santa and trains – what could be better?
The Virtual Santa Experience. Normally at Mall of America, Bloomington. This year, visit with Santa virtually— Santa movies, photos + Christmas merchandise will be available for purchase. Appointment Required. “The Santa Experience is a passionate, small business that specializes in appointment based Santa visits offering unique Santa photos, video, and fun Christmas merchandise.” The schedule is booking fast and you can pick your Santa! Virtual visits are $30 which you prepay.
Santa at Maplewood Mall. All Virtual this year. November 27th – December 24th.
Santa at Northtown. All Virtual this year. November 27th – December 24th.
Specific Dates for Both Free and At-Cost Opportunities
Thursday, December 3rd
Drive Thru Santa Express. 5:00 – 8:00pm. Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, Andover. Enjoy an express Santa experience where you can wave to Santa from the comfort of your vehicle, drop off your Christmas letter for Santa to read, and enjoy some holiday scenery! Children 10 and under will receive a special gift (while supplies last). *Participants are encouraged to bring a non perishable food donation that will be brought to a local food shelf, or a toy for Toys for Joy*
Friday, December 4th
Minidazzle. 6:00pm. Osseo. This is a light-filled parade that starts in downtown Osseo at 6:00pm. Santa will be at Boerboom Park to accept children’s wish lists. (Free)
Sunday, December 6th
COVID-style Photos with Santa. 11:00am – 2:00pm. Kari’s Create & Paint Studio, Stillwater. Free.
Saturday, December 12th
Tuesday, December 15th
SCHEELS Virtual Santa Experience. 7:00pm – 7:30pm. Scheels, Eden Prairie. Online only. Free but must register to attend.
Participation is free and easy:
– Sign up and submit a letter to Santa
– Get a personalized letter and video from Santa himself
– Join us online for a fun-filled evening with Santa and his helpers on Tuesday, December 15th at 7:00pm CT.
On hiatus at least until Dec. 18th due to Minnesota’s executive order
Photos with Santa. Burnsville Center. Delayed until December 18th.
Virtual visits with Santa. Ridgedale Center, Minnetonka. As of this posting they weren’t taking any new orders but hopefully they have openings soon so check back! However, you can still enjoy Holiday on Display. It’s Saturdays and Sundays, December 5th – 20th. Enjoy six murals on display across the property of paintings by local artists. Plus cheerful music and more!
ELFS (Experimental Long-Range Flight Simulator). Rosedale Center, Roseville. This is a simulator ride that gives you a sleigh’s-eye view of what Santa sees every Christmas Eve! Unfortunately they are closed due to the executive order but hope to open after December 18th.
Live Reindeer Cam at Como Zoo!
Also be sure to check out the LIVE Reindeer Cam at Como Zoo! You and your kids can watch Mabel, Abigail & Forest, the three reindeer that call Como Zoo home! You can also tune in to Como’s Facebook page on December 23rd at 1:30pm to chat with Santa as he visits the reindeer before his big day!
Do you know of any events to add to this list? Is your business having an event? Please contact me so I can add it! Leave a message in the comments or email me at twincitiesfrugalmom @ gmail.com.