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Best places around Seattle to get your kids' photo with Santa



The Santa photo session is a beloved holiday tradition. What fun to look back through the years to see how your kids (and maybe the Santas, too) have changed.

We know of at least two families who have told their skeptical teenagers, "As long as you're living under our roof, you're sitting for a Santa photo!" (That way their chronological displays can range from scared baby to eye-rolling adolescent.)

Do you have a favorite, year-after-year spot, or do you go when the mood strikes and the lines aren't too long?

If you're open to suggestions, here are a bunch. We don't claim that this is an exhaustive list. However, scroll down for a good selection of both diverse Santas and Santa sessions tailored for kids with special needs.


Pro tip: If you want to avoid lines, go early in the season. Going early in the day is also a good idea.


Old-school Santas

Arthur & Associates

If nostalgia is what drives you to seek Santa, then Arthur & Associates is the company for you. According to company lore, a Seattle Post-Intelligencer photographer named Art French invented Santa portrait photography. He set up a photography studio in the window of Seattle’s Frederick & Nelson department store in 1943. Arthur & Associates carry on his style of a tradition that is now global. And if you are really a stickler for originals, you can go to the Town Center at Lake Forest Park and have your kid’s picture taken on the original Frederick & Nelson set.

Locations (Click to check hours and individual Santa schedules): University Village, Bellevue Square, The Commons at Federal Way, Everett Mall, Town Center at Lake Forest Park, Redmond Town Center, The Landing in Renton.

Nordstrom Santa Lane

Someone else may have inherited the sets and the business, but Nordstrom has the Frederick  & Nelson’s flagship store building, and to many Seattle residents, the elaborate display in the grand old department store hits the nostalgic sweet spot. Open Nov 29 through Dec 24.  Call the Santa Information Line (206) 628-1000 to find out about hours, wait times, and when you can see an African-American or an American Sign Language proficient Santa.

Downtown Nordstrom, 500 Pine St


Far-flung Santas

Given Santa’s legendary powers of swift travel, it’s not surprising he pops up in some unusual places. Here are some notable spots around Seattle where you can get a picture with the man in the red suit.

Space Needle Santa

Have your kid photographed sitting with Santa in his glass sleigh on the glass floor of the Space Needle. The digital picture is included in the Space Needle ticket price, so if you have been putting off checking out the renovated Space Needle, this is a cool souvenir.

Space Needle, 400 Broad St


Seattle Aquarium Diving Santa

Come to Seattle Aquarium at the right time and you can have a professional photographer take your picture with Santa, who will be behind glass, blowing bubbles through his beard as he scuba dives in the Windows on Washington aquarium. He appears noon on Mondays and Fridays and noon and 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, Nov. 29 through Dec. 24.

Seattle Aquarium, 1483 Alaskan Way


Issaquah Reindeer Festival

From Dec. 1 through Dec. 23, the Cougar Mountain Zoo hosts not only Santa, but his reindeer, his kittens and various other animals, many of whom kids can feed.

Cougar Mountain Zoo, 19525 SE 54th St, Issaquah


Museum of Flight Santa

Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive by plane to the Museum of Flight’s annual holiday party at 9:45 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14. They’ll be available for visits inside the museum until 2 p.m. Also attending: Caspar Babypants, who performs at 2:30 p.m.

Museum of Flight, 9404 E Marginal Way S


Santas of Color

Santa has no fixed color. If you’d like to visit a Santa who isn’t white, Seattle has a options:

Black Santa at NAAM

The Northwest African American Museum hosts black Santa from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, Dec. 8 . Photos with Santa are $15, and are first come, first serve. Other parts of the festivities: a Seattle Childrens Theatre hosted-storytime, and food from Stubbs BBQ.

Northwest African American Museum, 2300 S Massachusetts St


Wing Luke Museum Asian-American Santa

Asian-American Santa visits the Wing Luke Museum from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. Make reservations here.

Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, 719 S King St


Nordstrom Santa Lane

This Seattle Christmas hotspot has a diverse Santa lineup. Call the Santa Information Line 206-628-1000  for times when you can see an African-American Santa.

Downtown Nordstrom, 500 Pine St


Sensory-friendly Santas

Going to a dazzling public place and parking in the lap of a costumed stranger for a chat and a photo is not something that all children take to. For kids on the autism spectrum or with sensory processing issues, it can be very hard indeed. Which is why a few places cater to kids who need a more controlled situation, with less stimuli, and a Santa trained in connecting with kids with their needs. Note: Reservations are required for these Santas.

Northgate Mall: 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Sunday, December 1.

Alderwood Mall: 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Sunday, November 24.

Issaquah Commons: 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Sunday, December 1 and December 8.

The Outlet Collection, Auburn: 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Sunday, December 1 and December 8.


Signing Santa

Nordstrom Santa Lane

The picture may be the takeaway (for the parents, anyway), but an essential part of meeting Santa is the conversation. Downtown Nordstrom has an American Sign Language proficient Santa. Call the Santa Information Line 206-628-1000 for information about times.

Downtown Nordstrom, 500 Pine St



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