Santa in Des Moines

Santa in Des Moines 2021

Is taking cute photos of your kids with Santa a holiday tradition in your home? Santa is coming to Des Moines this holiday season and now is the time to share with him your wish list! There are several opportunities to see Santa, sip on hot cocoa, capture a free photo, and more in Des Moines this time of year. Many of the options listed below require advance registration. Please make sure you read closely and plan ahead. Keep this page bookmarked as we add more opportunities for fun photo ops and visits with Santa.

Des Moines Public Library | 2021 Sponsor

It’s the holiday season at the Des Moines Public Library! Now through the end of the year, stop by our buildings for fun take-and-make bags, craft activities, scavenger hunts, and more! Go to dmpl.org for a full list of holiday events for kids, teens, families, and more!

And starting December 1, you can stop by any of our buildings to pick up a very special free gingerbread house kit made just for us by Molly’s Cupcake (one per family, please), while supplies last. Then take part in a gingerbread contest, sponsored by Iowa AARP. Send us a photo of your creation by end of day December 12, and vote for your favorites before December 20! Go to dmpl.org/gingerbread for more information.


Santa Arrives at Bass Pro Shops Altoona!

1000 Bass Pro Drive N.W. , Altoona, IA 50009

November 6; 5 to 7 p.m.

Bring your family to help welcome Santa back to Bass Pro Shops Altoona in this annual event! Santa will arrive at 5 PM in his decked-out TRACKER boat escorted by our awesome Altoona Police Department. The Salvation Army of Des Moines will be on hand, starting at 4 PM, with hot chocolate, holiday music from the Salvation Army Band, and their mascot Shield! Please note: The Santa’s Wonderland photos begin Nov. 7. Reservations are required, so book online starting November 1 at basspro.com/santa.

Santa’s Wonderland

Bass Pro Shops

November 7 – December 24

Registrations required.

The festive “Contactless Claus” experience begins with Santa’s arrival this Saturday, November 6, and runs through December 24.  Photos with Santa will start on Sunday, November 7 with FREE advance reservations, which can be made beginning November 1.

  • Visit Santa and get a photo FOR FREE  
  • Reserve a virtual spot to see Santa up to a week in advance through the digital reservation system  
  • Santa’s Wonderland experience includes games, crafts and a letter box to send your holiday wish list to the North Pole 

Photos with Santa

Jordan Creek Town Center

101 Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des Moines, IA 50266

Details have not been released yet. Check back soon to learn more about when the guy in the big red suit will arrive!

Launch the Lights


November 20; 4 to 9 p.m.

New for 2021, Launch The Lights is the official kickoff to the Jolly Holiday Lights season and is the only opportunity for the public to walk, run or bike through the route of light displays. There will be a variety of activities for everyone to enjoy, from holiday crafts and visits with Santa at the Wish Wonderland Pre Party to holiday food and drink sampling stations along the route.

Outlets of Des Moines – Tree Lighting

801 Bass Pro Drive Altoona, IA 50009

November 20; 4 to 6 p.m.

Get into the holiday spirit at Outlets of Des Moines on Saturday, November 20th from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and meet Santa’s Reindeer! Enjoy holiday music, cookies, and hot chocolate. The Christmas Tree lights up at 5:00 p.m. to celebrate the season! Complimentary and open to the public

Visit Santa at Valley West Mall

1551 Valley West Drive, West Des Moines, IA 50266

November 20 – December 23

Monday – Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Sunday Noon to 6 p.m.

Christmas Eve (December 24th) 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Visit Santa at Valley West Mall. The train will also be operational this season. Please look on the website for a daily schedule as Santa takes regular cookie breaks throughout the day!

Santa Express

Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad

November 26 – December 19

Take a look at times and purchase tickets. 

Does your family love the classic story The Polar Express? This is a yearly tradition at the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad’s depot. The entire family can enjoy a trip to the “North Pole”. On your way to visit Santa at the North Pole, you will sing songs, do fun activities, and more! You will also be served hot chocolate and a cookie, and you will get to meet, and receive a special gift from, Santa himself. Wear your pajamas.

Christmas in Olde Town

Historic Olde Town Altoona

November 27; 2 to 5 p.m.

Celebrate the holiday season in historic Olde Town Altoona! Santa arrives on a fire truck at 2 p.m. and will greet families and pose for photos in his workshop next to the Altoona Area Chamber of Commerce. “Santatizer” stations will be set up throughout the area providing free hand sanitizer. 

Brunch with Santa

Center Grove Orchard

November 27 & 28; Specific ticketed times.

Brunch with Santa is a family tradition at Center Grove Orchard. Santa will be here to listen to the children’s wishes on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Add on a ticket for this year’s Winter Wonderland Lights too!


Santa In The Neighborhood

Des Moines Metro

December 20 – 24

Bring the big man in red to your front porch!  With Santa in The Neighborhood, you can avoid the lines, and instead have a personalized visit from Mr. Claus take place right outside your home.  Your children will be amazed when Santa already knows what’s on their Christmas list (thanks to the Santa Survey you’ll fill out prior to the visit)!  Limited spots are available. Reserve your spot at www.santaintheneighborhood.com

Packages range from $65-$375

Outlets of Des Moines Presents Santa’s Bedtime Stories

December 1 – 24

Children of all ages will delight in a visit with Jolly Saint Nick as he reads holiday favorites from his North Pole chair. Outlets of Des Moines presents Santa’s Bedtime Stories, five FREE online readings hosted by Santa Claus from December 1 through December 24. Santa’s Bedtime Stories are between five and ten minutes in length. Videos include 5 More Sleeps ‘til Christmas (Jimmy Fallon), Little Red Sleigh (Erin Guendelsberger), Santa.com (Russell Hicks & Matt Cubberly), Dasher (Matt Tavares), and The Night Before Christmas (Clement C. Moore). Visit OutletsofDesMoines.com or the Outlets of Des Moines Facebook page to tune in for a jolly visit!

Happy Santadays!

Merle Hay Mall

December 1 – 24

Santa arrives on December 1st at Merle Hay Mall! Check out his schedule here or at merlehaymall.com. Photos by Capture the Moment Photography.

Waukee WinterFest

Waukee Downtown Triangle

December 3; 6 to 8 p.m. 

Last year the community did not get a chance to experience the typical Winterfest event, but this year it is back! Bring on the holiday cheer with Waukee’s free, annual WinterFest celebration held in the Downtown Triangle. See Santa, take in the WinterFest tree lighting, and enjoy free activities for the whole family!

Brunch with Santa

Center Grove Orchard

December 4 & 5, 11 & 12, 18 & 19; Specific ticketed times.

Brunch with Santa is a family tradition at Center Grove Orchard. Santa will be here to listen to the children’s wishes on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Add on a ticket for this year’s Winter Wonderland Lights too!

Peoples Bank 14th Annual Waukee Wonderland: Meet Santa & REAL Reindeer

People’s Bank – 1185 University Ave, Waukee, IA

December 4; 9 to 11 a.m.

Peoples Bank Waukee is excited to announce the 14th Annual Waukee Wonderland holiday event. SANTA & REAL REINDEER will be making an appearance outside Peoples Bank Waukee. Take your own FREE photo with them! FAMILY-FRIENDLY OPEN HOUSE inside Peoples Bank Waukee where you can warm up and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies. Masks encouraged. Learn more.

Breakfast with Santa

Science Center of Iowa

Details have not been released yet. Check back soon!

Jingle Bell Stroll

Gray’s Lake

December 4; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Come celebrate the season at the Jingle Bell Stroll! A social distancing and contactless visit. Grab a candy cane and walk along the holiday-themed half-mile trail where you will end by snapping a photo with Santa Claus. A holiday prop will be between you and Santa Claus to maintain a safe social distance. We invite you to bring a letter (with your address listed) and we’ll be sure he reads it before he departs for the North Pole.

Clive Annual Mayor’s Tree Lighting

Clive Public Library

December 5 at 5:30 p.m.

Mark your calendars, Clive Parks & Recreation has set a date for its annual Mayor’s Holiday Tree Lighting that will be held in front of Clive Public Library. The event will have holiday carolers, arts/crafts, food, activities, and a special appearance from Santa Claus!

Donuts with Santa

Playground for Kids

December 10; 9 a.m. to Noon

Come join The Playground for Kids on December 11th from 9 am-12 pm to enjoy complimentary donuts and drinks with Santa! Santa will be there from 10 am-12 pm to take photos with the kiddos. There will be Christmas activities and crafts for the whole family to do. Pricing is the same as regular admission.

Coffee with a Cop + Breakfast with Santa

Hy-Vee in Johnston

December 11; 8 to 10 a.m.

Join for Coffee with a Cop + Breakfast with Santa on Saturday, Dec. 11 from 8 to 10 a.m. at Hy-Vee, 5750 Merle Hay Road. The goal of Coffee with a Cop is for Johnston police officers to get to know you and for you to get to know our officers. Bring your children and they can visit with Santa and enjoy breakfast.

We encourage you to come with specific questions or just be ready to share what is on your mind. In a short time, we hope to get to know you and discover mutual goals that will continue to grow and improve our community.

Breakfast with Santa

Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge

December 11; 8 to 10 a.m.

Join West Des Moines Parks & Recreation for this fun, festive, holiday breakfast featuring Santa Claus himself! The event features an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast, catered by “Chris Cakes”. Photos on Santa’slap will be available…so be sure to bring your camera! A take-home craft is included. Must register.

Lunch with Santa

Wahlburgers – West Des Moines

December 11; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Santa’s coming to visit your West Des Moines Wahlburgers for lunch! Enjoy lunch and pictures with Santa, like reindeer, kids crafts, and more! The jolly guy is even bringing a gift early for one lucky winner – a hoverboard! Enter for your chance to win during the event.


Nebraska Furniture Mart

December 18 & 19; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

It’s looking a lot like the North Pole here. Santa is coming to NFM. Come get a photo with the man himself, plus get FREE holiday gift wrapping. Visit https://www.nfm.com/visit-santa for more information.

  • Live Reindeer
  • Cookie Decorating
  • Live Music
  • Santa Photos 11 am to 3 pm
  • Gift Wrapping

Erin Huiatt

Erin is a reliable resource and stepping stone for women and families to find support and make connections within our community. She wants families to feel confident to reach out and ask for help and advice to get pointed in the right direction. She enjoys traveling and exploring with her two children in tow!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.