Santa in Des Moines

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Santa in Des Moines 2022

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.

** Please note: We are actively updating this guide. Make sure you have it bookmarked and check back regularly for updates!

Des Moines, Iowa, Santa, Christmas, holidays, holiday season, events, Santa Clause


Santa Arrives at Bass Pro Shops Altoona!

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

November 5 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Bring your family to Bass Pro Shops’ Christmas Parade as Santa returns to open his Santa’s Wonderland!

Santa will be riding in on his decked-out TRACKER boat with his elves, following his friends from the Altoona Police Department. After you greet Santa, come into the store for a Holiday Scavenger Hunt and take home a Santa’s Wonderland ornament. Please note: Santa’s Wonderland experience will open in the store the following morning. Reservations are recommended, so book online starting October 31st at basspro.com/santa

Santa’s Wonderland

Bass Pro Shops

Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s is proud to invite families to the beloved tradition of visiting Santa Claus this holiday season during the annual Santa’s Wonderland experience. Visit your local store to be one of the millions of families to take a FREE photo with Santa. Photo sessions will start on Sunday, November 6. Reservations are recommended. To learn more and make a reservation, visit www.basspro.com/santa.

Photos with Santa

Jordan Creek Town Center

November 8 – December 24

101 Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des Moines, IA 50266

Sit and chat with Santa at the Jordan Creek Mall. Participate in fun events such as Pet Night or Sensory Santa on December 4. Different time slots are available. Make your reservation ahead of time!

Outlets of Des Moines – Tree Lighting

801 Bass Pro Drive Altoona, IA 50009

November 19 from 4 to 6 p.m.

Get into the holiday spirit at Outlets of Des Moines on Saturday, November 19th from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and meet Santa’s Reindeer! Enjoy holiday music, cookies, and hot chocolate (while supplies last). Our Christmas Tree lights up at 5:00 p.m. to celebrate the season! Complimentary and open to the public. For more information, visit OutletsofDesMoines.com.

Homemaker’s – Free Picture with Santa

Homemaker’s Furniture Store

November 12 & November 13 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

On Saturday, November 12th & Sunday, November 13th from 11 am-3 pm, bring the whole family to Homemakers to get a FREE picture taken with Santa! Your FREE digital photo will be sent via email following the event. A digital photo will be sent via email by 4 pm CST Wednesday 11/16/22.

Brenton Skating Plaza Opening Night + Tree Lighting

Brenton Skating Plaza in Downtown Des Moines

November 18 from 5 to 9 p.m.

Opening night of Brenton Skating Plaza. The night will consist of a visit from Santa, a tree-lighting ceremony, free skate passes for youth, and an ice carver.

Visit Santa at Valley West Mall

1551 Valley West Drive, West Des Moines, IA 50266

December 1 – December 24

Santa is coming to Valley West Mall so you can capture those magical memories with family photo opportunities! He’ll be visiting from Thursday, December 1st through Christmas Eve. Reservations are strongly recommended.

Santa Comes to Pella

Downtown Pella

Various days throughout November & December. Take a look here.

There are few things more festive than Santa, join us as he visits Pella! He will be in the Information Windmill at the corner of Franklin Street and Main Street, directly kitty-corner from Smokey Row. FREE! 

Santa Express

Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad

November 25 – December 18

Take a look at the 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.

Brunch with Santa

Center Grove Orchard

November 26 – 27; Various 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. 

A favorite fall activity, the Corn Pool, is being transformed into a walking wonderland of snow, trees, lights, Rudolph, and scenes of the season.  Purchase a combo ticket for Winter Wonderland Lights and Brunch with Santa.

Christmas in Olde Town

Historic Olde Town Altoona

November 26; 2 to 5 p.m.

Olde Town Altoona transforms into a bustling winter wonderland for Christmas in Olde Town—a celebration of community and the holiday season. On Saturday, November 26th, load up your sleigh with family and friends and come join Historic Olde Town Altoona for live music, walking tours, the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, a light show, and a special appearance from the Big Guy himself! All of the family-friendly activities start at 2 p.m. when Santa arrives on a fire truck.

Santa in the Garden

Ted Lare Design Build & Garden Center

November 26 from 9 to 11 a.m.

Santa is coming to Ted Lare Garden Center! Stop in Saturday, November 26 between 9 and 11 to take a photo and get your wish on the list before the big day.


Holiday Hullaballoo

Horizon Events Center

Now through December 31st; Various days and times.

Are you looking to ring in the holiday season? Head to Horizon Events Center for the Holiday Hullaballoo benefiting Dorothy’s House through December 31st. This is a family-friendly holiday experience that will delight guests of all ages. Wear your best festive wear, grab your friends, see Santa, and beat the central Iowa seasonal temperatures for this fun Holiday Hullabaloo all indoors!

Happy Santadays!

Merle Hay Mall

Details have not been released.

Waukee WinterFest

Waukee Downtown Triangle

December 2; 4 to 8 p.m. 

Bring on the holiday cheer with your friends, family, and neighbors at Waukee’s free, annual WinterFest celebration held in the Downtown Triangle! Santa makes his big appearance at 6 p.m. at the tree lighting.

Breakfast with Santa

Grimes United Methodist Church

December 3 from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Join Grimes UMC for their annual Breakfast With Santa where everyone can enjoy a pancake breakfast and have a photo taken with Santa Claus. The cost is free, but they are asking for donations to help their group go to Uganda on a mission trip in the summer of 2023.

Brunch with Santa

Center Grove Orchard

December 3 & 4, 10 & 11, 17 & 18

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. 

A favorite fall activity, the Corn Pool, is being transformed into a walking wonderland of snow, trees, lights, Rudolph, and scenes of the season.  Purchase a combo ticket for Winter Wonderland Lights and Brunch with Santa.

Holidays at the Johnston Town Center

Johnston Town Center

December 3 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Join the community on Saturday, December 3, from 6-8 p.m. at the Johnston Town Center to celebrate the holiday season. There will be an appearance by Santa and his reindeer, ornament making, the Johnston tree lighting, and more!

Windsor Wonderland Santa Visit

Windsor Heights Community & Event Center

December 3 from 5 to 6 p.m.

It’s not a Windsor Wonderland without a visit from Santa! Join us between 5 and 6 PM to say hi to good ol’ Saint Nick.

Santa in the Garden

Ted Lare Design Build & Garden Center

December 4 from 9 to 11 a.m.

Santa is coming to Ted Lare Garden Center! Stop in Saturday, December 4 between 9 and 11 to take a photo and get your wish on the list before the big day.

Jingle Bell Stroll

Gray’s Lake Park – Southeast Picnic Area

December 3; 2 to 4 p.m.

Come celebrate the season at the Jingle Bell Stroll! Walk along the holiday-themed loop with game and craft stations. Visit live reindeer, listen to some holiday tunes, and pick up a hot chocolate to keep you warm as you wander around the loop.

Santa Claus will be available for a quick photo. Parents, relatives, or guardians, be sure to bring your phone or a camera to capture the holiday moment. Since you will not be able to chat along with Santa Claus, 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. Register here and fill out the waiver.

Clive Annual Mayor’s Tree Lighting

Clive Public Library

December 4 from 5 to 7 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. Enjoy complimentary beverages and kid-friendly activities. Special guest appearance from the North Pole!

Breakfast with Santa

Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge

December 10; 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.

Waukee Winter Wonderland

People’s Bank Waukee

December 10 from 9 to 11 a.m.

The event will feature the return of Santa and his REAL Reindeer, along with an open house at the bank where visitors can come inside, warm up, and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies. Children (age 11 and under) can also submit a colored entry for a chance to win a $50 Gift Card! There are two choices of colored entries (a Santa-themed picture and a Snowman-themed picture) that will be available to color at the bank or can be downloaded below and printed at home. Submissions must be returned by Saturday, December 10th to Peoples Bank in Waukee to be entered into our drawing. Winners will be notified by 12/14/2022.

Meet Santa – Sensory Friendly

655 SE Legacy Pointe Blvd, Clive

December 11 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

A sensory-friendly Meet Santa event! Families have the opportunity to sign up for 15-minute uninterrupted child-led time with Santa. It will also include unlimited photos by a professional photographer. The event is put on by Fi & Friends, a nonprofit organization that was set up to support and include autism families around the metro.  Register here. $25 per session.

Skate with Santa

The RecPlex in West Des Moines

December 11 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Enjoy a special opportunity to take to the ice at the RecPlex during public skate to skate with Santa! Bring along the kids and a camera to capture pictures and skate around Santa. Pre-registration is not required. $7 admission and $4 skate rental.

Brunch with Santa

Willow on Grand

December 17 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Join Willow On Grand on Saturday, December 17, from 10 am to 1 pm for Brunch with Santa.

Enjoy a delicious pancake breakfast from Chris Cakes, Hot Cocoa Bar, as well as Signature Holiday Cocktails for the over 21, kids at heart!

Santa will drop by for a visit, a perfect time to make those toy requests and take photos. There will also be sugar cookie decorating and a Kid’s Craft Zone to keep all entertained.

Still, have a few people to buy for? Visit our small cottage which will be stocked with unique gifts provided by Vinyl Studio and fresh bouquets from Wildflower. Purchase tickets here.

Let’s make some memorable holiday memories together, see you there!

Dinner with Santa

Chick-fil-A Merle Hay

December 20 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Take pictures with Santa while you enjoy dinner with your family! They will have a complimentary hot cocoa bar as well as cookie decorating.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical

Des Moines Civic Center

December 22 from 7 to 9 p.m.

The beloved TV classic soars off-screen and returns to the Civic Center stage with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical. The audience will enjoy their favorite characters from the television special including Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius, and, of course, Rudolph, as they come to life in this gleeful adventure that teaches us that what makes you different can be what makes you special. Audiences young and old will not want to miss this wonderful holiday tradition that speaks to the misfit in all of us. Purchase tickets here.


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!

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