21 Unique Ways to See Santa Safely This Year — From Skiing to Diving With Sharks
Here’s a bit of all-too-scarce good news from 2020: The North Pole isn’t under any mandatory stay-at-home orders, so jolly ol' Saint Nick will indeed be making his annual rounds to spread some (sanitary) Christmas cheer.
While sitting on Santa’s lap is definitely on the 2020 naughty list, that doesn’t mean you can’t share your extensive Christmas list with him. Santa Claus and his elves expect to be busier than ever packing the sleigh and readying the reindeers.
In preparation for the big day, here are 21 unique places where you can find a socially distant Santa around the world.
1. In a Snow Globe in West Palm Beach, Florida
As part of West Palm Beach’s over-the-top annual holiday programming, 2020 Santa will be tucked inside a snow globe — yes, his own bubble of personal space — in order to ensure he’s at a safe, contactless distance from merry-making families. Visitors are welcome to take pictures from outside Santa’s globe.
2. Diving With Sharks in Las Vegas, Nevada
Santa’s not partial to reindeers, and Las Vegas brings out his wild side. Catch him scuba diving with more than 2,000 creatures, including sharks, giant rays, and green sea turtles, in the shipwreck area of the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay from December 21 to 24.
3. On an Outrigger Canoe in Maui, Hawaii
In true Hawaiian fashion, Santa and his elves will arrive at Wailea Beach at Grand Wailea Maui, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, on a decorated Hawaiian outrigger canoe. Hotel guests and Maui residents can both join to watch Santa paddle to shore and hand out candy canes.
4. On the Slopes in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Santa makes a special appearance at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort every year on Christmas Eve, but with his customary flair for dramatic entrances, he drops from a gondola and skis down the mountain instead of arriving by sleigh.
5. Driving an Uber in Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana
Head to Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana, for a chance to score Santa as your Uber driver. He dresses in full costume to chauffeur passengers around and even has an app to measure your level of naughty or niceness.
6. In Lapland, Finland
Book a private jet escape with Diamonté Jets to see Santa in his own stomping grounds: Finland’s Lapland. The home of Father Christmas is just a short drive away, and the experience includes accommodations in a glass igloo, snow igloo, or log chalet plus a reindeer safari — not to mention arrival on a festive red private airplane.
7. In His Office at Stone Mountain Park in DeKalb County, Georgia
Head to Stone Mountain Christmas to pay Kris Kringle a visit in his satellite office in the heart of Georgia. You can chat with Mr. Claus from a safe distance and get a peek at where the magic happens through his office window.
8. “Up on the Rooftop” at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio
Head to Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo to chat and grab a photo with Santa from a safe distance. He’ll be seated in his sleigh on a festive housetop set while families can pose in a window six feet away for a COVID-safe meet and greet and fun photo op.
9. In the Bush of Kenya and Tanzania
10. Flying a Cessna Over Ottawa, Canada
Sleighs aren’t the only vehicle Santa is licensed to fly. On weekends in December, up to three passengers can fit in Santa’s Cessna for short flights with Ottawa Biplane Adventures, departing from the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. Participants are escorted to the plane by an assistant dressed as an elf. Best of all, the experience won’t break the bank: Prices start at $38 CAD plus tax per person for a 10- to 15-minute flight over downtown Ottawa. Or, you can extend to a 20- to 25-minute tour over downtown and Gatineau Park for $70 CAD plus tax per person.
11. Behind a Plexiglass Shield at the Christmas Cottage in Lockport, New York
Head to the Christmas Cottage — a free, family-friendly attraction featuring all things Christmas — to meet Santa, who will be tucked safely in a “snow globe” behind plexiglass to allow for photo opportunities while limiting exposure. Only one family will be allowed in the cottage at a time. Kids can also drop off a letter in the North Pole mailbox and meet the head elf during their visit.
12. Arriving by Helicopter to Grand Velas Los Cabos in Mexico
Santa arrives in style to Grand Velas Los Cabos on Christmas Day, flying in on a private helicopter to drop off presents in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
13. In an Aquarium at Wonders of Wildlife in Springfield, Missouri
Scuba Claus is coming to town at Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri. He’ll be diving among fish inside the three-story Great Barrier Reef exhibit. To prevent crowds and keep guests safe, Scuba Claus will make surprise dives at random, unscheduled times on Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 8 through Dec. 20.
14. Aboard a Pirogue in the South Pacific
On Christmas Day, Santa will visit guests at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa in a pirogue (a type of small native canoe) for a truly Bora Bora-style meet and greet.
15. In a Golf Cart at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, California
On Dec. 25, Santa will make a socially distanced visit to Christmas brunch at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, California, via golf cart.
16. On the Beach at Kauna’oa Bay in Hawaii
In keeping with annual tradition, Santa will make a beachfront Christmas Eve appearance at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel — ideal for socially distanced, envy-inducing photos set against the backdrop of beautiful Kauna’oa Bay.
17. Rappelling Down Chimney Rock in North Carolina
Santa will show off his chimney-climbing skills on one of the world’s largest natural chimneys at Chimney Rock State Park in North Carolina. Visitors can watch Santa scale the 315-foot monolith while enjoying festivities like holiday music, hot cocoa, and more. Santa will not be available for photos, but kids can have local poet Eddie Cabbage write out their wishlist on a vintage typewriter to mail to Santa.
18. On a Boat in Montego Bay, Jamaica
A masked and COVID-safe Santa will arrive by boat to Round Hill Hotel and Villas, disembarking on the resort’s private beach to deliver gifts and Christmas cheer to guests.
19. Aboard a Magical Train in Sacramento, California
River Fox Train’s Magical Christmas Train is a holiday wonderland on the rails, complete with a visit from Santa himself. Passenger capacity is limited on the open-air cars; families will be seated together and socially distanced from other passengers.
20. In Your Own Private Beach House
Guests at Wild Dunes Resort on Isle of Palms, a barrier island off the coast of South Carolina, can receive a personalized visit from Santa in the comfort of their own private beach house. During the visit, Santa will remain outside and read aloud the story “'Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Parents can also schedule Santa’s helper to deliver cookies and milk to their doorstep for the full experience.
21. At the Summit of Banff Gondola in Alberta, Canada
Take the Banff Gondola to Santa’s workshop at the summit, located 7,510 feet above the town of Banff. Here, you can decorate cookies in the bakeshop, roll your own maple taffy, watch a Christmas movie, and of course, snap photos with Santa. He’ll sit in an outdoor dome to allow for safely distanced photo ops.