While his popularity may peak in December, Santa doesn’t disappear on December 26—he just relocates. Those wishing to visit the man with the bag—and extend the Christmas season—can do so at several holiday theme parks around the country. Believers of all ages can ride a candy cane coaster near Pikes Peak, sing karaoke carols in Miami, or go on an elf-themed scavenger hunt in New Hampshire.
Can’t make it all the way to the actual North Pole? Upstate New York and Colorado both have their own versions of Santa’s workshop, and Indiana takes Christmas so seriously that more than 400,000 pieces of mail are routed through the small town of Santa Claus every year.
Dashing through the snow is still magical, but it’s equally fun to ride a burlap sack down Santa’s slide, lounge on a lazy river, or ride a zip line through the mountains in the summer. Here are eight festive theme parks that keep the holiday spirit alive all year round.
1. SkyPark at Santa’s Village
Santa’s Village in Lake Arrowhead, California, opened in 1955—just 6 weeks before Disneyland—and became the first franchised theme park in the U.S. It closed in 1998 but was later restored, now operating year round as a holiday theme park and outdoor adventure park. In the winter, SkyPark at Santa’s Village is transformed into a nostalgic winter wonderland. In the summer, the park stays open by offering activities such as mountain biking, climbing, and zip-lining.
2. The North Pole—Santa’s Workshop
At the base of Pikes Peak is this kid-friendly amusement park, open in the spring, summer, and throughout the holiday season. Reservations are required starting in November and include access to unlimited rides, shows, and attractions. Ride an antique car, a candy cane coaster, Santa’s train, and Santa’s sleigh in a festive setting. The park is in its 65th season and also offers gift shops and eateries.
3. Santa’s Enchanted Forest
Dubbed the “world’s largest holiday theme park,” Miami’s Christmas emporium features more than 100 rides along with shows, games, and other attractions. Open annually from November to early January, the park is now in its 38th year of getting visitors in the holiday spirit. With a range of activities from magic shows and thrilling coasters to bumper boats and a Santa meet-and-greet, there’s something for all ages. Don’t miss holiday specials like South Florida’s tallest Christmas tree, Christmas karaoke, a light show, and Christmas miniatures.
4. Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari
Previously known as Santa Claus Land, Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari is located in Santa Claus, Indiana, in the southwestern region of the state. Open from April through October, this theme park and water park features roller coasters, wave pools, lazy rivers, water slides—including two of the world’s longest water coasters—and more. The Holiday World theme park is most notably known for its four divided sections that celebrate Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July with entertainment, music, holiday-themed rides, and attractions planned throughout the year.
5. Castle Noel
Celebrate the holiday season all year long at Castle Noel in the quiet town of Medina, Ohio. This church-turned-indoor winter wonderland (it even snows inside) was built by Mark Klaus and his wife Dana. Featuring original props and costumes from some of Hollywood’s most famous holiday movies, window displays replicating top stores in New York City, thousands of toys from the 1950s through the ‘80s, the Santa Klaus Mountain slide, and more, Castle Noel is known as the “largest year-round indoor Christmas entertainment attraction” in the U.S. Reservations can be made for group or private tours where a guide will walk you through the more 40,000 square feet of holiday allure.
6. Santa’s Land
Located in the foothills of the Green Mountains in Putney, Vermont, Santa’s Land has had its ups and downs since first opening in 1957. Cycling through several different owners throughout the years, the Christmas-themed park closed in 2013 and sat abandoned for several years. David Haversat reopened Santa’s Land in 2017, rehabilitating the beloved small-town attraction that had once been plagued by vandalism, neglect, and animal cruelty allegations. Haversat, who has fond memories of visiting as a child, has tried to preserve original details, including the oversized gingerbread cookies perched above the gift shop’s front door and many of the park’s rides and storybook structures.
7. Santa’s Village
Since the 1950s, it’s been Christmastime year round in Jefferson, New Hampshire, thanks to Normand and Cecile Dubois. Inspired by deer crossing the road, the couple opened the holiday theme park on Father’s Day in 1953 with pony rides and a performance by Francis the Famous Mule. Today, Santa’s Village features several festive rides and attractions including the Elfabet Game (an elf-themed scavenger hunt), a reindeer shoe blacksmith shop, and Santa’s waterpark. Open on select dates from May through December, the park hosts celebrations for Christmas and New Years, as well as Memorial Day, Halloween, and on weekends in the fall.
8. Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole
When it opened on July 1, 1949, Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole was a novelty. Considered to be a forerunner of theme parks (6 years before Disneyland opened), Santa’s Workshop is located less than 70 miles from the Canadian border in the small hamlet of North Pole, New York. Despite its remote location, visitors flocked to the Adirondacks to have breakfast with Santa, celebrate Christmas in July, or feed the live animals that once roamed freely in the park. Today, Santa’s Land includes many rides, shows, and attractions; because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the park now offers the option to book a 10-minute virtual meeting with Santa over Zoom.