Santa has already been busy making his way around Wichita for the holidays this year – and he still has quite a few stops left. From breakfasts and s’mores to a miniature train ride and watching the fella in the red suit ride in on a trike motorcycle, there are many options in Wichita to see Santa this season and get photos with children or even fur babies. Here’s where you can find him:
- What could be more majestic than a Santa sighting among one million glittering lights? Illuminations at Botanica, Kansas’ most grand Christmas light display set among 17 acres of gardens, runs seven days a week from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. through Dec. 31 (excluding Dec. 24 and 25) and features nightly Santa appearances. Tickets are $8 ($7 members) for adults and $6 for ages 12 and under.
- Santa photos are available 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) at The Arc’s Lights drive-through light display with 1.9 million lights. The display runs through Wednesday, Dec. 28, and starts at Douglas and St. Paul. Admission of $10 per carload is required Friday and Saturday, donations accepted Sunday through Thursday.
- Towne East Square and Towne West Square are offering visits with Santa daily through Dec. 24. A special event will take place this Sunday, Dec. 11, at both locations that will allow pet owners to fetch pet photos with Santa from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Visits with Santa are free; professional photos cost.
- Meet Kris Kringle from noon to 2 p.m. this Saturday, Dec. 10, at Exploration Place. The Meet Santa event will be in the main lobby so museum admission is not required.
- Seats are limited on the popular Polar Express at the city’s O.J. Watson Park and you can reserve yours by calling 316-529-9940 or visiting www.wichita.gov/parkandrec. This family activity costs $15 per person is geared toward children 2 and up and starts with a reading of “Polar Express” with milk and cookies. Enjoy crafts and activities, then take a ride on the miniature train to see Santa at the North Pole, where you’ll have s’mores and hot chocolate. The event is at 12:30 p.m. and at 2 p.m. Dec. 10-11, 17-18 and at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 23.
- Meet and take photos with Santa and a live reindeer at Wichita Park & Recreation’s A Night with Santa event from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. this Thursday, Dec. 8, at Century II Exhibition and Convention Halls. You can even write Santa a letter at this event, which also includes drawings for decorated trees and bicycles, face painting, inflatables, carnival games and bingo. The event is free, however donations of non-perishable food items for Kansas Food Bank are encouraged. Food and drinks will be available for sale (cash only). The drawings are held at 8:15 p.m.
- Santa will be at the Sedgwick County Zoo’s Children’s Farms Festival: Holiday in the Barn from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17. Play with farm toys and see animal demonstrations including animals found in a manger. Stop by the Plaza Beastro for hot chocolate, and don't forget to peruse the gift shop for the animal lovers on your list. Regular admission applies.
- Have Breakfast with Santa from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17, at Old Cowtown Museum. While waiting for Santa to arrive by stagecoach, guests can make some fun Christmas crafts and send a personalized telegram to the North Pole. Breakfast includes pancakes, French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits and fruit salad. Tickets ($7.95 for ages 4-15, $12.95 for ages 16 and older) must be purchased in advance at www.wichitatix.com.
- Stearman Field Bar & Grill – on a private airport where restaurant seating is just a few yards from the active runway – is serving its breakfast buffet from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17, and welcoming families to come out to Benton for Breakfast with Santa and his reindeer Dasher.
Visit Wichita markets the greater Wichita area as a major convention and tourism destination, thereby enhancing the economic development of the city, county, region and state. Visit Wichita is led by President and CEO Susie Santo, and in 2013 travel and tourism contributed more than $1 billion in economic impact to the Wichita MSA.