The Best Places to See Santa

By Laura O’Brien

Bring your kids to meet Santa in his barn, on a train or even in a pool. And for your wee little ones who might not be quite ready yet, there’s the thrilling view of the Big Guy from the edge of the Santa Parade.
Here’s our list of top places for you to visit ‘Ol Saint Nick.

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Santa’s Secret Adventure

Penryn Oak Stables
2460 Delmar Ave.
Penryn, CA 95663
(916) 825-0233

Hours: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 23 at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Price: Child (ages 3-14) – $39; adult (older than 15) – $12; adult accompanying child age 2 and younger –

This not-soon forgotten experience includes carriage and pony rides, a story, cookies and hot chocolate
with elves and Mrs. Claus around a fire, and, of course, a meeting with the great Elf himself in his barn.
Pictures with Santa are sold from a separate website.

CBS Sacramento Insider’s tip: New this year, only one car will be allowed per every five tickets purchased.

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Christmas Train

341 Industrial Way
Woodland, CA 95776
(800) 866-1690

Hours: Dec. 4 – 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Dec. 11 and Dec. 18 – 12 p.m., 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Dec. 19 to Dec. 23 –
3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Price: Child – $23; adult $29

Don your PJs and climb aboard the 90-minute Christmas Train. Santa walks through the cars so passengers can chat with him and take pictures. He will also sign copies of the book, “Morgan and the Magical Christmas Train,” which is read on-board. Copies of the book can be purchased at the time of reservation for an additional price. Other fun includes elves, singing Christmas carols, and a snack of cookies and hot chocolate. Parents should note: PJs are optional.

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Winter Wonderland - Fairytale Town

3901 Land Park Dr.
Woodland, CA 95822
(916) 808-5233

View directory listing

At Fairytale Town’s “Winter Wonderland,” you needn’t buy pictures with Father Christmas; a professional photographer is available but parents also may take their own shots. Festivities include holiday-themed arts and crafts projects. Parents should note: Winter Wonderland is only one day this year.

cali governor mansion The Best Places to See Santa

Christmas Memories - Governor’s Mansion State Historic Park

1526 H St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 323-5916

Hours: Dec. 3 and Dec. 10 – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Price: Adult (ages 18+) – $5; youth (6-17) – $3; child (0-5) – free
View directory listing

Mr. and Mrs. Claus greet young visitors to the Governor’s Mansion during its annual “Christmas Memories” event. Learn about the history of the residence from costumed docents and enjoy live music and storytelling.

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Swim With Santa

Sacramento YMCA

2021 W St.
Sacramento, CA 95818
(916) 452-YMCA (9622)

Hours: Dec. 16 – 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Price: Family of four – $5

Pose for traditional photos with Santa on the pool deck of the Sacramento YMCA. Later snap a photo of
Santa in his swimsuit during his splash in the pool.

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Santa Parade
9th and I St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 334-7777
Hours: Dec. 10 – 10 a.m.
Price: free

A decades-old Sacramento tradition, the parade features high school bands, floats, information about holiday food and clothing drives, and the headliner, Santa in his carriage. New this year, the party continues with performances by dance and singing teams after the parade.

Laura O’Brien is a freelance writer and mother (swap that) living in Roseville. She blogs occasionally at


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