Skip the mall Santa and have a magical visit at a Santa House. Basically, a Santa House is a small heated building that you can enter and see Santa in a cozy setting — it feels almost like you are sitting in a living room with Santa himself. In some Santa Houses, your family (and maybe one of Santa’s helpers) is the only family in the room with the jolly old man, which makes it a truly personal experience.
Most of the time, Santa Houses are free; however, there usually is no photographer so you need to take your own pictures. Make sure you bundle up and bring some hot chocolate to these locations, as you may need to wait outside in the cold before you get your turn in the house.
As with everything, be sure to check all listings on the day of before heading out. Santa needs breaks just like everyone else.
SANTA HOUSES IN LAKE COUNTY
Fox Lake Santa House – FREE
Open November 25 – December 24 see link for hours
Millenium Park, Grand Ave. and Rollins Road, Fox Lake
Visit with Santa during December and have pictures taken at Santa’s Christmas Cottage in Fox Lake. A photographer is not available at this Santa House, so be sure to bring a camera to take your own pictures.
Santa’s Cottage – FREE
Open December 1 after the tree lighting and December 2,9, and 16 from 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
300 Plaza Square, Mundelein (located at the Village Hall)
Bring the kids and their lists to Santa’s Cottage and visit with Santa. This cottage is quaint, and only one family is allowed inside at a time as it is so small. Also enjoy free refreshments while visiting. Do not forget the camera as there is no photographer here. Also be prepared to wait in line for awhile outside; sometimes this line can get VERY long, especially after the tree lighting ceremony.
SANTA HOUSES IN MCHENRY COUNTY
Santa in his Hut – FREE
Open daily December 8 – 23, weekends: 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., and weekdays, 5:30 p.m.- 7:00 p.m.
Woodstock Square, Woodstock
Woodstock Square will be a filled with thousands of twinkling lights and free horse-drawn carriage rides will be available on select days. The Santa Hut is free, but a canned food donation is recommended. No photographers are at the Santa Hut, so be prepared to take your own pictures.
Santa House in Crystal Lake – FREE
Open November 24 – December 23, Thursday and Fridays, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., and Sundays from 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Downtown Crystal Lake/Main Street, Crystal Lake
Children whisper their wishes during their visit with Santa in the comfort of his house at Brink Street Market. Visits are free, but bring your camera.
Santa’s Christmas House
Open most days now – December 23, see website for exact hours
413 Front Street., McHenry
Ages 2-17, $10 admission, 18 & over $5 each, children younger than one year are admitted for FREE.
Santa will be at his special Christmas House this holiday season. Upon your arrival to Santa’s Christmas House, you will be greeted by one of Santa’s jolly elves — and, you may even see Mrs. Claus. When it is your turn, you will get to see all of the decor in Santa’s House, hear Christmas music, and visit with Santa. They have several special events such as Storytime with Mrs. Claus, craft days with the elves, and meet and greets with North Pole characters. You can even adopt a snowball before you leave. And if your child sends a letter to his mail box at the Christmas House, he will send a letter back with a coupon for $1 off admission to come see him.
WORTH THE DRIVE
Santa House Presented by Woody Buick GMC – FREE
Open daily December 1 – 23, see website for hours as every day has different times.
Located on the Naperville Riverwalk at Jackson Avenue and Webster Street, Naperville
Admission is FREE, but photos can be purchased.
What is unique about this Santa House is they have special hours and days for special needs children, children of first responders, and pets. Reservations are required for those nights, and they fill up fast, so register early. Photos can be purchased for $8 each or two for $15. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to visit Santa this year! While waiting in line, you hand the elves your list and then when you get inside the Santa house, he will try to guess what your child wants for Christmas.
Santas Workshop at Wisconsin Christmas Carnival of Lights
Open December 2 – December 23 on Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.; on Fridays and Saturdays from 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort, 8425 State Road 38., Caledonia, WI
Car (up to 8 people) $20
Drive through the Carnival of Lights afterwards, on select nights, Santa will be available for visits in his workshop. Kids are invited to sit on his lap and have their photos taken. Photos with Santa are $8 each. Afterwards you can enjoy a variety of beverages available at Santa’s Workshop, including hot chocolate, apple cider, lattes, mochas and more.
Which house will you be seeing St. Nick at this year?