This time of year, kids can find Santa ho-ho-ho-ing it up at most holiday events in the area. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite places where the kids can meet up with the big guy in and around Des Moines.
Note: We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of this information. However, you should always verify dates, times, location and other information, especially with the possibility of weather impacts. Please submit corrections and additions to this guide to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where Kids Can Visit Santa at the Mall and Shopping Areas in Des Moines
Santa’s Wonderland • 1000 Bass Pro Drive NW • Altoona, IA 50009 • (515) 957-5500
Santa arrives at Bass Pro Shops on November 10th at 5:00 pm! Magical tree lighting, unveiling of Santa’s Wonderland®, carolers, Santa will be giving away a $25 Bass Pro Shops® gift card to one lucky winner every half-hour!
Santa’s Hours November 10 to December 24, 2018:
Weekdays: 5:00 to 8:00 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm
LL Younkers Court • 101 Jordan Creek Parkway • West Des Moines, IA 50266 • (515) 440-6255
Santa arrives at Jordan Creek Town Center on November 16th at 6:00 pm. Holiday Tree Lighting and Fireworks!
Santa’s Hours November 17 to December 24, 2018
Monday – Saturday: 12:00 Noon to 8:00 PM
Sunday: 12:00 Noon to 6:00 PM
December 15-23 extended hours: 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM
December 24: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Pet Nights: Bring your furry friend to see Santa on Monday evenings, 5:00 to 8:00 pm, November 19 to December 17.
PJ Night: November 30 and December 6 at 5:00 to 8:00 pm
Ugly Sweater Night: December 13 at 5:00 to 8:00 pm
Target Wing • 3800 Merle Hay Road • Des Moines, IA 50310 • (515) 276-8551
Santa arrives at Merle Hay Mall on Saturday, November 17th.
Santa’s Hours November 17 to December 24, 2018:
Monday – Saturday: 12:00 noon to 8:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 noon to 5:30 pm
801 Bass Pro Drive NW • Altoona, IA 50009 • (515) 518-6085
Santa arrives at the Outlets of Des Moines on November 17th. There will be kids’ activities and a tree lighting, as well from 3:00 to 6:00. Receive TWO FREE 4×6″ Santa photo prints + digital download of single image for every family who visits Santa! (Nov. 17 – Dec. 24)
Santa’s Hours November 18 to December 24, 2018:
Monday – Saturday: 11:00 am to 8:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 am to 5:00 pm
Sensory Santa Photos: FREE photos with Santa in a more subdued and calm environment – November 30, 2018 8:30 to 11:00 am.
Lower Level of Valley West Mall • 1551 Valley W Drive #400 • West Des Moines, IA 50266 • (515) 225-3631
Santa arrives on Friday, November 9th at 6:00 pm. Enjoy a parade, FREE train rides, coloring, crafts, treats and entertainment for the whole family.
Santa’s Hours November 10 to December 23, 2018:
Monday-Saturday: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
Sunday: 11:00 am to 6:00 pm
December 24: 10:00 am to 12:00 noon
Cool Experiences with Santa in Des Moines: Community Events, Train Rides, Animals, and More
Join ARL for their 32 annual Santa N’ Paws, November 1-18, 2018. Bring the whole family, humans and pets alike, for a photo to celebrate the 2018 holiday season. You don’t even have to own a pet, or even bring them to participate, holiday photos of any kind are welcome. Photos are taken at ARL Main, West End Architecture and University Photo. Please visit the website for dates, locations and to register.
Saturday, November 10th & Sunday, November 11th, 2018 11:00 am to 3:00 pm Santa and Mrs. Claus will be making a weekend trip to Des Moines. He wants to visit all the good boys and girls, so bring your Christmas lists and say “cheese!” You’ll get a FREE picture with Santa and Mrs. Claus—the perfect keepsake to enjoy for years to come.
The 17th annual Historic East Village Holiday Promenade is the holiday kick-off event with something for everyone! Santa will be on hand at Brenton Skating Plaza on Friday, November 16th from 6:00 until 7:00 pm and then Santa will head over to LifeServe Blood Center where he’ll be available until 8:00 pm.
Santa will be at Scarcello Photography in Valley Junction on Sunday, November 18th. This is a great opportunity for your kids to have a cherished memory with Santa and have your holiday photos taken. Contact Scarcello Photography to reserve your spot. Price is $150 per household.
Kids can get their picture taken with Santa at Jolly Holiday Lights at Adventureland and enjoy a cookie and cocoa at Santa’s Wish Shop. All proceeds benefit Make-A-Wish Iowa. Pictures with Santa are available November 23 – December 23, 2018; 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm Friday and Saturday; 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm Sunday through Thursday.
Enjoy a round trip ride from the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad depot, to the North Pole, and return. You will be served hot chocolate and cookies, and receive a special gift from Santa. Arrive in your pajamas and prepare for a great adventure. Many trips a day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday November 23 to December 16, 2018. Visit the website to purchase tickets.
Santa will be visiting Valley Junction during “Jingle in the Junction”. He will set up shop at the West Des Moines Community Center, 217 5th Street, West Des Moines on November 29, December 6 and December 13, 2018 from 5:00 to 9:00 pm.
Join Ankeny Mayor Gary Lorenz (and Santa) for the annual Mayor’s Tree Lighting at the Ankeny Market Pavilion on Friday, November 30, 2018. Kick off the holidays in Ankeny at this event that is fun for the whole family!
The Santa House opens on November 30, 2018, during the Holiday Extravaganza on the square in Indianola. In addition to that, you can take a picture with Santa on the square on Thursdays during the upcoming holiday season on December 6th and December 13th from 5:30 to 7:00 pm.
Watch for Firefighters and Santa traveling through Windsor Heights on Saturday, December 1, 2018 from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm! Watch the Windsor Heights Fire Department’s and the City’s Facebook page for updates!
See Santa and Mrs. Claus on December 1, 2018 at 12:00 pm at the Historical Society Barn. Take your own pictures and get your token for the treasure hunt. Then stop into the Uptown Ankeny businesses with a Santa Stop Sign for your treasure bag. Treats, specials, shopping, gift wrapping and horse drawn wagon rides.
Enjoy some holiday cheer on December 1, 2018 from 1:00 to 5:00 pm in the Visitor Center at Living History Farms. Guests will enjoy children’s crafts, music, and Santa Claus in his sleigh!
On Saturday, December 1, 2018 from 2:30-4:30 pm, Santa will make a special appearance on a Johnston fire truck! Holidays in Johnston will feature crafts, cookie decorating, a gingerbread house contest, entertainment, food and fun. No registration is necessary. Holidays in Johnston is free and open to everyone.
Kick off your holiday season at UCAN’s Light Up Urbandale, December 2, 2018 at Lions Park. You will enjoy holiday festivities of all kinds, including an opportunity to visit Santa, see Santa’s real live reindeer, crafts and activities, holiday goodies and entertainment!
Bring the little ones to Grimes Holiday Celebration Event on Sunday, December 2, 2018 from 4:00 to 6:00 pm. Bring the kiddos to the Grimes Community Complex to see Santa and Mrs. Claus and enjoy activities including face painting, balloon artistry, crafts, cookies and hot chocolate. This annual event is fun for the whole family.
Clive’s holiday lighting ceremony is on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 at 6:00 pm and will be followed by a visit from Santa Hot cocoa and cookies will be served at Bruegger’s – 1650 86th Street, Clive (Just across the street from Aasheim Plaza). The Clive Historical Society’s Open House will be held in conjunction with this event from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.
Santa will light the WinterFest holiday tree in Waukee on Friday, December 7 at 6:00 pm. From there, he’ll head to the Waukee Community Center so the kids can tell him what they want for Christmas and enjoy some cocoa and cookies.
On Saturday, December 8, 2018 Santa will be at the Hy-Vee Market Grille in Johnston from 8:00 to 10:00 am. You can get to know your local officers and bring your children to visit with Santa and enjoy milk and cookies.
Girl Scouts are welcoming Santa to their Des Moines Leadership Center on Saturday, December 8 from 9:00 am to11:00 am. Get your picture with Santa and create your own Christmas cookie, decorate an ornament, pin the nose on the snowman and more. The event is open to the public and all ages, especially NEW and current Girl Scouts. Suggested donation of $5 per child.
Come listen to holiday stories and songs with the whole family and make a special craft. Santa himself will make an appearance at the Clive Public Library on Saturday, December 8 at 10:30 am. Registration Required.
Experience the joy of the holidays at Menagerie Stables’ barn! Children can ride a horse through a winter wonderland, play games on horseback, visit with Santa and get a photo, make a craft, and enjoy treats and snacks! Saturday, December 8, 2018 at 10:30 am to 2:30 pm.
Santa AND his Reindeer will visit the Jordan Creek Hy-Vee on December 9, 2018 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm in the HealthMarket parking lot.
Bring the entire family to Blank Park Zoo on December 8 and 15, 2018 to enjoy a day of holiday cheer. After snapping a photo with Santa, writing a letter to the North Pole and enjoying a warm cup of hot cocoa, explore the wonders of the Zoo, both indoors and outdoors! Bring along your scarf and hat and wish all of your animal friends a happy holiday!
Families are invited to attend a special storytime with Santa at the Waukee Public Library on Thursday, December 13, 2018 at 6:15 to 7:00 pm. There will be a few songs and stories followed by a photo opportunity. Kids are welcome to come in pajamas.
Jester Park Equestrian Center’s Pony Express to Santa starts with fun games and crafts, a pony ride through Santa’s wonderland, a chat and photo with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, and an ends with cookies and hot cocoa! Rides take place on December 15-16 and 21-22, 2018 and start at 11:00 am.
Clive Firefighters will be escorting Santa aboard Clive fire trucks to special Santa Stops throughout the City on Saturday, December 15, 2018 from 9:00 am to Noon. This is the 56th consecutive year! Santa will be handing out candy canes to the children and listening to their Christmas requests. Don’t be late to the Santa Stop nearest you!
Bring the little’s to Canoyer Garden Center on December 15, 2018 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm and watch the excitement as they sit on Father Christmas’ lap and share the magic and wonderment of the Christmas season! Bring your camera to capture the moment!
Where Kids Can Eat with Santa in Des Moines: Breakfasts & Brunches
Join Santa at Center Grove Orchard for a festive holiday brunch! It’s great fun for the whole family. Santa and Rudolph will be there so children can share their holiday wishes. Saturdays and Sundays November 24 through December 23, 2018.
You’re invited for some holiday cheer to celebrate this special time of year at the Tea Room on November 24 and 25, 2018 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. Enjoy a lively Christmas program over brunch, cookie decorating with the elves, and get your photo taken with Santa. Your whole family will be in the Christmas spirit at The Tea Room!
Oh, what fun! Enjoy a lively Christmas program on November 24, 2018 at 6:00 to 7:30 pm over milk and cookies. Your whole family will be in the Christmas spirit at The Tea Room!
Join Center Grove Orchard for a festive holiday dinner on the farm. Round up your family and friends to enjoy their quaint, holiday atmosphere. You are welcome to join them anytime between 5:00-8:00 PM – no reservations are required. Visit Santa, take photos, and enjoy your time spent with family on Saturday, December 1, 2018.
Join Santa at BRAVO! Cucina Italiana for breakfast on December 1 and 8, 2018. Breakfast begins at 8:00 am and ends at 10:00 am. Fun for the whole family! Adults = $10, Kids = $5. All proceeds will go to Children & Families of Iowa. Reservations are being accepted by email only at Martha.Wagner@Brookfieldpropertiesretail.com.
Bring your family and have breakfast with Santa at Doanes Park in Pleasant Hill on December 1, 2018 at 8:00 am. Breakfast includes; pancakes, sausage, milk and juice. Santa will be available for photos and kids can enjoy face painting and a book fair. Event is sponsored by Pleasant Hill Parks & Recreation and Fire Department.
Join West Des Moines Parks and Recreation for this fun, festive, holiday breakfast featuring Santa Claus himself! Santa will be at the Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge on December 8, 2018 from 8:00 to 10:00 am. The event features an all you can eat pancake breakfast catered by Chris Cakes. Photos with Santa will be available so be sure to bring your camera! Register by December 5th.
Kids, bring your parents to Reiman Gardens on Saturday, December 8, 2018 to enjoy a hearty and delicious breakfast buffet! There’s two sessions at 8:00 am and 10:00 am. Visit with Santa, create your own holiday themed crafts, and see the train exhibit in the Hughes Conservatory.
Join the Eastview Community Center for their annual Breakfast With Santa. There will be a FREE pancake and sausage breakfast. Bring your camera and take pictures with Santa. There will be a Cookie Walk where you can stock up on all your Holiday treats. Lot’s of fun, crafts, and balloon animals. Bring your whole family on Satruday, December 8.
A fun, festive, family event at Center Grove Orchard that will create memories that last a lifetime! Come dressed in your holiday pajamas and enjoy dinner and stories with Santa on December 8, 2018 at 5:00 pm.
Enjoy breakfast with Buddy the Elf and Santa Claus at the Des Moines Playhouse Saturday, December 8 and 15. Pose for photos with Buddy and Santa (great holiday card photo opportunity) and enjoy the holiday fun! Tickets on sale now! $20 per person, all ages, with proceeds benefitting Playhouse programming.
Santa will be taking a break from making toys and wants you to join him at the Giovannetti Community Shelter in Urbandale on December 15, 2018 from 9:00 to 10:00 am! Come have a fun morning with Santa enjoying donuts and juice, making holiday crafts, cookie decorating, singing songs and more. Don’t forget your list to give to Santa and a camera for a great photo opportunity! Register by December 9th.
Grab your list and come chat with Santa at the South Suburban YMCA. Get your photo taken, eat, and much more on Saturday, December 15 from 8:30 to 10:30 am. $25 per family of four; $5 per additional child.
Enjoy for breakfast with Santa, crafts, and a special Christmas surprise for children! A buffet breakfast is included with ticket purchase, cupcake bar, a photo with Santa, and a special present for your child!Two reservation times are available at 9:00 am and 11:30 am on Saturday, December 15, 2018.
Reserve your table for Breakfast with Santa at the Science Center of Iowa on Saturday, December 15 or Sunday, December 16, 2018. After breakfast, get your photo taken with Santa and share your wish list. You will see “Science of Winter” demonstrations with SCI’s Science Learning Team and more. Visit SCI’s website for pricing info.
Where do you meet up with Santa in Des Moines? Let us know in the comments section below.