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.