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  • Writer's pictureThe West End Mom

The Best Places to See Santa around RVA

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

Ready to meet Santa Claus in Richmond? I've rounded up the best spots around RVA to snap a picture with Santa this November and December.

From paid experiences at our RVA shopping malls and restaurants to locations with free Santa meet-and-greets, my guide has something that will work for every family! Some of these locations even offer brunch or treat time with Santa, and, at the time of making this guide, all restaurants still had availability.

This guide is made possible by Cameo Cakery and Cafe. Cameo Cakery and Cafe is a full service cafe with plenty of grab and go options including speciality coffee beverages.

Specializing in savory and sweet cakes, this boutique eatery has something for every occasion! You can try savory cakes like shrimp & crab or butternut squash. You can indulge in sweet cakes like cinnamon roll, coconut supreme and birthday cake. There are plenty of vegan, gluten free and vegetarian options too.

Cameo Cakery also goes all out for holidays! By Thanksgiving each year, the cafe turns into a "Land of Sweets" with the cutest Christmas decor. Keep your eye on Cameo's social media for seasonal specialities and Brunch with Santa dates!

The best places around Richmond to see Santa in Richmond, Virginia:

Art Factory Play Place: Located in Brandermill, Art Factory is a play space for kids ages 0-5. It’s open Monday through Friday from 9-3 and Saturday 9-12. The cafe sells hot & cold beverages, baked goods and snacks. They also host Music Storytime for toddlers, and Little Explorers, a class for preschoolers filled with sensory play, crafts, songs and more.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be available for photos with children on the mornings of December 18 and 19. They are also hosting an evening experience where children can interact with both Santa and Mrs. Claus, listen to them tell stories, sign songs and chat about the North Pole. For ticket information, visit The Art Factory's website.

Bass Pro: Located in Ashland, Bass Pro is a fishing, hunting & outdoor store. We love to visit it because the entire store is themed for the outdoors: there a giant tree, a massive aquarium, a stream, pretend animals & an old fashion store. It reminds me of Walt Disney's Wilderness Lodge, too.

Santa's Winter Wonderland is open from November 4 – December 24, 2023, and it's free to visit. Your free visit with Santa also includes a free picture with Santa. You have the opportunity to purchase digitals or more pictures if you want. Sign up on Bass Pro's website here. We visited on a week night, and we signed up on the spot. My littles got to spend at least 10 minutes with Santa because there was no one else there, too. This was a great experience for us!

Brambly Park's Santa in the Park: Located in Scott's Addition, this urban winery hosts Santa each year, and this year's event is on December 17. You can have your photo taken for $25 (one digital image) by the resident photographer Mike Guyer, and children can bring notes to place in Santa's bag, too!

Tickets will be ready for purchase sometime in the next week (November 6). You can make Santa Brunch reservations online, or you can call (804)406-5611 and note "Santa Brunch" when making reservations.

The Bunny Hive: RVA's newest social club is for children 4 & younger and their grownups. The Bunny Hive is specifically designed for families with little kids, and it immediately connects you to other families who are in a similar stage of life. With over 7 different classes, there’s plenty of options for experimental learning & playtime!

During December, The Bunny Hive hosts a couple festive events: The Holiday Party is on December 2, and Storytime with Santa is on December 22 at 10am. Visit their website to sign up!

Cabelas: This is one of our favorite spots to greet Santa - this was our third year! Cabela's Santa’s Wonderland has free visits & pictures with Santa until December 24. My little ones enjoyed being able to look at Santa before going to meet him, they didn’t mind the separation from Santa on the bench, and they loved playing with the linking logs! We always visit the giant fish tank, and check out the "animals," the ATVs and boats around the store when we visit, too.

Similar to Bass Pro, Cabela's Winter Wonderland is open from November 4– December 24, 2023, and it's free to visit. Your free visit with Santa also includes a free picture with Santa. You have the opportunity to purchase digitals or more pictures if you want. Sign up on Cabela's website here.

Coco and Hazel: This locally owned treat spot has two locations, one in Tuckahoe and one in Bon Air. Coco and Hazel serves over the top milkshakes and loaded hot chocolate, as well as breakfast options.

While "Coco + Grinch" has sold out, "Coco + Santa" still has available time slots. It costs $80 per family, and you can enjoy hot cocoa, coffee, take a cookie kit home, and have ice cream with Santa!

You can visit with Santa between 10am to 2pm on Saturday, November 18, Sunday, November 19, Saturday, November 25, Sunday, November 26, Saturday, December 3, and Sunday, December 4. If the date you are looking for sells out, you can join the "Waitlist."

To register for Coco & Santa, click here.

Children's Museum of Richmond: This museum has been a favorite of families in Richmond since 1981. The Children's Museum is designed for children 0-8 & it has exhibits for interactive & imaginative play, learning & creating. Children can play in the dairy barn, a service station, ride a carousel & more.

Tickets for nonmembers go on sale Wednesday, November 1 at 9AM.

Legendary Santa Chimney Time Tickets: Families get to watch Santa come down the chimney LIVE! You need to make reservations ahead of time. Tickets cost $65 per family (up to 6 individuals and one emailed photo). Dates start on Tuesday, November 28.

Legendary Santa will be at the museum from Friday, November 24 to Sunday, December 24. You need to make your reservations ahead of time, and it costs $30 for a family of up to 6. The ticket includes a digital photo, with additional photo package purchases available. Tickets do not include a visit to the museum.

Sensitive Legendary Santa will be on November 29, December 1, and December 7. This event is for families with sensory or other special needs. Registrations opens November 15.

The Great Big Green House: This locally owned nursery is in Huguenot Village Shopping Center. We love Great Big Green House because they are so family-family & host many events throughout the year.

2023 Santa dates have not been released yet, but last year Santa was available on 9 dates (Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays). As soon as The Great Big Greenhouse releases this year's schedule, I'll update my guide. Bring your own camera to take pictures! This is a free activity. No reservations or tickets required. Pets are welcome too!

River City 3 Railers sets up an elaborate model train display, and the trains will be there the first weekend of December. Usually, you can watch it in operation from 4-7pm during the week and 11-2 on weekends (these times sometimes change).

Hardywood West Creek's Smile With Santa: This family friendly brewery has 24 acres next to the peaceful Tuckahoe Creek, and the outdoor space has a lawn, a large concrete patio, a natural play area with swings, a see saw and hammocks, plus there are two regulation-sized bocce courts!

Santa comes to Hardywood Richmond on December 2 (city location), and Hardywood West Creek on December 10 and December 16. The tickets cost around $30. Tickets include two drink tickets (you can get nonalcoholic too), the chance to sit and talk with Santa, and a digital picture with Santa. There will also be food trucks on property too!

Santa Brunch & Santa Dinner at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden: While Lewis Ginter is best known for GardenFest each winter, it also hosts Santa Brunch and Santa Dinner. These meals are served family-style and on a buffet. Bring your camera to snap pictures with Santa!

The breakfast experiences are on Saturdays and Sundays in December. Brunch costs $53 per person, $36 for children (3-12), and children 2 & under eat free. The dinner experiences are on December 18-20. Dinner costs $68 per person, $43 for children (3-12), and children 2 & under eat free. This price includes admission to the garden, and dinner reservations include Garden Fest.

Santa Dinner is on Sunday, December 17, Monday, December 18, and Tuesday, December 19.

The Santa Spot RVA: Located in Libbie Mill, this interactive holiday experience costs $219 per family — and it’s filled with holiday cheer, not crowds! Each reservation time has a limited number of guests, so each family gets special time with Santa without waiting in a line. This experience starts on Novmber 18, and it's available on weekends.

*The North Pole* wonderland is filled with festive decorations for photo ops, giant Legos for building & an art wall for coloring. Santa (with a real beard!) mingles with families throughout the whole experience - everyone gets a chance to “warm up” to Santa!

Families get to create magical memories in *The North Pole* with interactive activities: decorating cookies in Mrs. Claus’ Bakeshop, decorating ornaments in Santa’s Workshop, writing Christmas letters to send to the North Pole, one-on-one time & photos with Santa, and story time with Santa.

On Sunday, December 17, Black Santa will be at The Santa Spot. There are two reservation times: 2pm and 3:15pm. Click here to book your appointment!

Short Pump Mall: Every year this local mall decorates for Christmas with a 60 foot walk-through tree. The annual tree lighting is scheduled for November 17 this year.

Santa will be at the mall for pictures from November 17 to December 24. Children will also have the opportunity to have their picture taken with Santa - there is also a sensory sensitive experience available! Santa will be in the Pal's Clubhouse, next to LL Bean. Reservations are strongly encouraged.

Stony Point Fashion Park: This local mall decks its halls every year for Christmas, and the annual tree lighting event is on Saturday, November 18 from 5-7pm. Saturday, November 18 to Monday, January 1, Stony Point will have a pop-up ice skating rink. Some special activities and events will include snow falling during the week, horse drawn carriage rides, and falling snow!

Santa is typically at the mall from November through December 24. Registration links aren't available yet!

Tablespoon Bakery: Located in Westover Hills, this local bakery serves a *good cause,* makes yummy treats & has a playground! Tablespoon Bakery a vocational culinary training program for students with diverse abilities. They are on a mission to provide employment opportunities to all. This bakery & cafe serves coffee, tea & an assortment of baked good. Tablespoon Bakery also offers a *cookie club* + *children’s baking workshops*!

On December 16, Tablespoon Bakery hosts it's annual Santa experience from 10am-12pm. It is a sensory-friendly experience with Black Santa. No reservations necessary - this is a free experience!

The Red Barn Farm's Cookies with Santa: Located in Dinwiddie, this local farm hosts Cookies with Santa on November 25-26 and December 1-2 from 10am-3pm each day. The general admission days cost $10 per person (2 years and older). Animal feed buckets cost $3. The VIP dates are December 3, 9, 10, 16, and 23. Tickets costs $15 per person during this event.

Children can see the real Santa in his workshop, decorate their own cookies and feed the animals. The Gingerbread Man, Abominable Snowman, and the Grinch will also make appearances.

The Red Barn Farm also hosts a Live Nativity: Walk Through Bethlehem. This event is on December 9-10, December 16-17. It's on Saturdays from 4-8pm, and on Sundays form 2pm-6pm. The nativity is hosted in collaboration with First Baptist Church of Hopewell.

Call (804)536-6879 to reserve a spot. Bring your camera to take pictures.

Tom Leonard's: This locally owned farmer's market hosts Santa each year in their Christmas Shoppe. While Tom Leonard's hasn't released the dates of Santa's visits this year, he is usually at the store on Saturdays and Sundays in December from 10am to 2pm. They also sell Christmas trees outside the market in the same area that Friday Night at the Pumpkin Patch is hosted.

Upper Shirley's Santa Brunch: Upper Shirley Vineyard usually hosts a Santa Brunch on the two weekends prior to Christmas. This year's dates are December 9, 10, 16, and 17 from 10am to 2pm.

Children get to sit on Santa's lap, and you can get unlimited pictures with him with no extra costs (bring your own camera!). Call (804)829-9463 to make your reservations for brunch and make sure you reserve a time between 10am & 2pm.

Some of the most popular Santa experiences fill up prior to November. Save these activities for next year: Crozet Trolley's The North Pole Express, The Jefferson's Santa Brunch and Santa Tea!

*For more details on these fun, festive spots and more Richmond adventures, follow our family on @thewestendmom on Instagram!


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