Christmas & Holidays 2019: Where Kids can Take Photos and Hangout with Santa in Des Moines

Christmas & Holidays 2019: Where Kids can Take Photos and Hangout with Santa in Des Moines

For those who celebrate Christmas, the holiday season is hardly complete without a trip to visit Santa. Lucky for us, there’s no shortage of places in the Des Moines area where kids can have a meet-and-greet with the big guy, and we’ve rounded them up for you here. From traditional mall photo ops to Santa breakfasts and other holiday activities, we’ve got tons of fun ways to meet the man in red.

For even more Christmas and holiday fun, see our Holiday Fun Guide and visit the on-line Calendar.

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

Where Kids Can Visit Santa at the Mall and Shopping Areas in Des Moines

Bass Pro Shops

Santa’s Wonderland • 1000 Bass Pro Drive NW • Altoona, IA 50009 • (515) 957-5500

Santa arrives at Bass Pro Shops on November 16th at 5:00 pm! Magical tree lighting, unveiling of Santa’s Wonderland®, carolers, crafts, activities and more.

Santa’s Hours November 16 to December 24, 2019:
Weekdays November 17-31: 5:00 to 8:00 pm
Weekdays December 1-7: 3:00 to 8:00 pm
Weekdays December 8-23: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm

Special Hours
November 28: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
November 29: 1:00 to 8:00 pm
December 24: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Jordan Creek Town Center

Sephora Promo Court Lower Level • 101 Jordan Creek Parkway • West Des Moines, IA 50266 • (515) 440-6255

Santa arrives at Jordan Creek Town Center on November 22, 2019 with a bang.  He will light the holiday tree and there will be fireworks! Live music by the Snacks will start at 6:00 pm. 

Santa’s Hours November 22 to December 24, 2019
Monday – Saturday: 12:00 noon to 8:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 Noon to 6:00 pm
Special Hours:
December 16-23 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 25 to December 16.
Santa Cares: Time reserved for Children within all spectrums of special needs and their families for a sensory-friendly visit with Santa, Sunday, November 24 8:30 to 10:30 am and Sunday, December 8, 8:00 to 9:30am.

Merle Hay Mall

Target Wing • 3800 Merle Hay Road • Des Moines, IA 50310 • (515) 276-8551

Santa arrives at Merle Hay Mall on Saturday, November 30thYou can book your visit with Santa’s FastPass.

Santa’s Hours November 30 to December 24, 2019:

Monday – Saturday: 11:00 am to 8:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm

Valley West Mall

Lower Level of Valley West Mall • 1551 Valley W Drive #400 • West Des Moines, IA 50266 • (515) 225-3631

Santa arrives on Friday, November 15th at 6:00 pm.  Enjoy a parade, FREE train rides, coloring, crafts, treats and entertainment for the whole family. 

Santa’s Hours November 16 to December 23, 2019:
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.

Christmas & Holidays 2019: Where Kids can Take Photos and Hangout with Santa in Des Moines –

Cool Experiences with Santa in Des Moines: Community Events, Train Rides, Animals, and More

ARL Santa N’ Paws

Join ARL for their 33 annual Santa N’ Paws, November 1-17, 2019. Bring the whole family, humans and pets alike, for a photo to celebrate the 2019 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.

Santa and Mrs. Claus Photo Op at Homemakers

Saturday, November 9th & Sunday, November 10th, 2019 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.

Jingle in the Junction

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 Thursdays, November 21, December 5, December 12 and December 19, 2019 from 5:00 to 9:00 pm.

Holiday Promenade

The 18th 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 22nd 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.

Jolly Holiday Lights

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 29 – December 30, 2019; 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm Friday and Saturday; 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm Sunday through Thursday. 

Santa Express

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 29 through December 22, 2019.  Visit the website to purchase tickets.

Home for the Holidays Kickoff

The Santa House opens on Saturday, November 30, 2019, during the Home for the Holidays Kickoff on the square in Indianola.  In addition to that, you can take a picture with Santa on the square during “Light Up the Square” on Friday, December 6th from 6:00 to 9:00 pm.

Father Christmas Children’s Event

Canoyer Garden Center in Grimes is calling all children young , old, furry and friendly to join them to experience the magic of the season with Father Christmas. Bring your camera, kids, and pets alike to have a chat with ole Father Christmas on November 30, 2019 from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon.

Ankeny Mayor’s Tree Lighting

Join Ankeny Mayor Gary Lorenz (and Santa) for the annual Mayor’s Tree Lighting at the Ankeny Market Pavilion on Friday, December 6, 2019. Enjoy festive music, an ice carving demonstration and more! Kick off the holidays in Ankeny at this event that is fun for the whole family!

Waukee Winterfest

Santa will light the WinterFest holiday tree in Waukee on Friday, December 6 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.

Christmas in Uptown

Visit Santa on December 7, 2019 at 11:00 am to 2:00 pm during Ankeny’s Christmas in Uptown. This year Santa has another special mission for all the good boys and girls! Stop into any Uptown business to get started. After the mission is completed you can go and turn it into Santa and his helpers at the Ankeny Historical Society for an extra special gift. There will be treats, specials, shopping, gift wrapping and horse drawn wagon rides!

Living History Farms Family Christmas

Enjoy some holiday cheer on December 7, 2019 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!

Holidays in Johnston

On Saturday, December 7, 2019 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.

Beaverdale Holiday Happenings

Snap a photo and have a laugh with Santa during Beaverdale Holiday Happenings on December 7, 2019. He’ll be at Grounds for Celebration from 5:00 to 6:00 pm. At 6:00, Santa will head to Beaverdale Books where he’ll read stories to children until about 6:45pm.  

PJ’s & Stories with Santa

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 stories with Santa on Saturday, December 7 and December 21, 2019. 

UCAN’s Light up Urbandale

Kick off your holiday season at UCAN’s Light Up Urbandale, December 8, 2019 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!

Grimes Holiday Celebration

Bring the little ones to Grimes Holiday Celebration Event on Sunday, December 8, 2019 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 Mayor’s Tree Lighting

Clive’s holiday lighting ceremony is on Sunday, December 8, 2019 at the Clive Public Library. The event is FREE and open to the public from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.

Scuba Santa

Chimney’s aren’t the only thing Santa will be diving into this winter! Santa is scuba diving in Blank Park Zoo’s 15,000 gallon tank on Saturday, December 7th and Sunday, December 8th at 11:00 am and again at 2:00 pm each day. Visit the zoo and snap a unique holiday selfie with the man himself!

Windsor Heights Fire Department Santa Day

The Windsor Heights Fire Department will be giving Santa a ride around the city on their fire truck and will stop to say hi to kids along the way! Listen for ambulance/command car sirens to know that he is coming down your street, Saturday, December 14 from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. 

Santa at the Zoo

Bring the entire family to Blank Park Zoo on December 14 and 15, 2019 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!

Pony Express to Santa

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 13-15, 2019 and start at 11:00 am. 

Santa Day

Clive Firefighters will be escorting Santa aboard Clive fire trucks to special Santa Stops throughout the City on Saturday, December 14, 2019 from 9:00 to 11:00 am. This is the 57th 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!

Where Kids Can Eat with Santa in Des Moines: Breakfasts & Brunches

Brunch with Santa and Rudolph

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 30-December 1, December 7-8, December 14-15 and December 21-22, 2019.

Breakfast with Santa

You’re invited for some holiday cheer to celebrate this special time of year at the Tea Room on December 1, 2019 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Enjoy a delicious buffet breakfast for all ages, a special reading from Peppermint the Elf and her friend Snowflake the Reindeer, an interactive sing-along of favorite holiday songs, and arts and crafts. Take home a photo of the kids with Santa and create holiday memories to last a lifetime!

Evening Milk & Cookies with Santa 

Oh, what fun! Enjoy a lively Christmas program on December 1, 2019 at 3:00 to 4:30 pm over milk and cookies. You’ll also enjoy a special reading from Peppermint the Elf and her friend Snowflake the Reindeer, an interactive sing-along of favorite holiday songs, and arts and crafts. Take home a photo of the kids with Santa!

Breakfast with Santa

Bring your family and have breakfast with Santa at Doanes Park in Pleasant Hill on December 7, 2019 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.

Breakfast with Santa at Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl & Grill

Enjoy a breakfast buffet, craft, personal visits and reading with Santa at the Bass Pro Shops of Altoona. There’s two seatings offered on December 7 and 14, 2019 at 8:00 to 9:30 am. Very limited seating and RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED. To make reservations, please call 515-957-5400.

Coffee with a Cop + Milk and Cookies with Santa 

On Saturday, December 7, 2019 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.

Breakfast with Santa

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 14, 2019 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.

Breakfast with Santa

Kids, bring your parents to Reiman Gardens on Saturday, December 14, 2019 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. 

Brunch With Santa

Santa will be taking a break from making toys and wants you to join him at the Giovannetti Community Shelter in Urbandale on December 14, 2019 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.

Breakfast with Santa

Reserve your table for Breakfast with Santa at the Science Center of Iowa on Saturday, December 14 or Sunday, December 15, 2019.  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 go to snap a pic with Santa in Des Moines? Know of a cool place to visit him? Let us know in the comments section below.

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