Legend has it that when the town of Santa Fee, Indiana was meeting in a church building, trying to come up with a new name, the door blew open and sleigh bells were heard in the distance. A young child shouted with glee, “Santa Claus!” and the town was forever named Santa Claus, Indiana. Most famous for the official Santa Claus postmark from the Santa Claus Post Office and for the family favorite amusement park, Holiday World, Santa Claus makes a joyful destination for children and adults during the Christmas season.
My accommodations and some attractions were provided complimentary for the purpose of sharing this adventure with you.
Santa Claus, Indiana at Christmas
After visiting Santa Claus, Indiana this summer with my kids, I had a feeling that this would make a charming and memorable visit during the holidays, so we made plans to return.
Santa Claus and the surrounding cities have a jam-packed schedule of holiday fun during the first three weekends of December; there are parades, meals with Santa and characters, light shows and other themed events and attractions. We took our children the first weekend of December and couldn’t fit everything in that we wanted to, so we’ll certainly have to make a return visit another year.
Where to Stay with Kids in Santa Claus, Indiana
With several options for accommodations during the winter, it might be difficult to choose — select from cabins or hotels. Here are two places we’ve stayed and can tell you about.
Lake Rudolph Campground & R.V. Resort
Lake Rudolph is a super popular place for families to stay during the summer when they visit Holiday World because they are connected to the park, offer fun spaces and a plethora of options. During the winter, Rudolph’s Christmas Cabins are a lot of fun for visitors, especially families with children. My kids love the loft bedrooms, the fireplace, the large deck space and the lighted Christmas tree on our patio. I love that there is a separate area for my children and a kitchen for cooking meals. You’ll need to bring your own bed linens, bath towels and kitchen towels.
78 North Holiday Blvd., Santa Claus, IN
Lincoln Pines Lakefront Resort
The gorgeous Lincoln Pines cabins are a retreat just minutes from the Lincoln Boyhood Home and other local attractions, shopping and dining. We stayed here in the summer but a winter stay would be just as nice! You’ll feel in this beautiful cabin and comfortable cabin with full kitchen and generous gathering space. Bed linens, towels and kitchen items are provided.
3862 E, IN-162, Lincoln City, IN
Where to Play | Things to do in Santa Claus, Indiana
Santa Claus Land of Lights at Lake Rudolph
Your whole family will love the Santa Claus Land of Lights jam packed light display that tells a fun story of Rudolph and the hard work and preparation it takes to be ready to help Santa when he’s in need. The light show is just under a mile and a half and includes lighted displays that follow along with a written story book on signs that children can ride along the way. At the end of the light show, you’ll be given a coupon for a free photo with Rudolph at the Santa Claus Christmas Store.
78 North Holiday Boulevard, Santa Claus, IN
Christmas Dinner with Santa
This special dinner with Santa feast takes place at Santa’s Lodge on Friday and Saturday nights the first three weekends of December. Your family will enjoy a buffet dinner with kid-friendly options and then Santa will visit with each table during dinner. After dinner, you can stay and visit with your family or new friends, or take this time to leave and see the Santa Claus Land of Lights. Just be sure to return by 8 pm for a story time with Santa and then milk and cookies. We used our time after dinner to change in to our pajamas and then to see the lights before returning to wrap up the evening with dessert and a story.
91 W Christmas Blvd, Santa Claus, IN
Lincoln Pioneer Village and Museum
The Lincoln Pioneer Village and Museum is a hidden gem. A small museum full of Abraham Lincoln related artifacts opens to a village made of 12 cabins that are replicas of cabins that existed in Spencer County, Indiana during Lincoln’s childhood in the early 1800’s.
928 Fairground Dr, Rockport, IN
Santa’s Candy Castle
Santa’s Candy Castle is a dream for kids and their sweet-toothed parents. Santa’s Candy Castle is a revamp of one of the first buildings built in Santa Claus Town. It was closed during World War II but reopened in 2006. Inside you’ll find a selection of retro candy favorites, current favorites, a whole room of Pez dispensers, confections like handmade fudge and peanut brittle, gourmet popcorn and 35 flavors of hot cocoa! Kids can sign on to the North Pole Network and chat with an elf at the North Pole or sign up for the Santa Claus, Indiana scavenger hunt that takes you around town to visit other local businesses.
On Saturdays in December, leading up to Christmas, Santa’s Candy Castle is host to a free event, Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire. Come learn the history of the oldest Christmas tradition, watch a demonstration, try roast your own chestnuts and then taste roasted chestnuts. Other special events take place from time to time, including the anniversary party for Santa’s Candle Castle.
15499 North State Road 245, Santa Claus, IN 47579
Santa Claus Museum & Village
We popped in to the Santa Claus Museum and Village to send some letters to Santa Claus in the original post office. A friendly elf was waiting for us and helped my children craft their letters to Santa. There are also a few beautiful photo opportunities, including one with a 22 foot tall concrete Santa statue. Make sure you visit Santa Claus Museum where you’ll learn about the story of Santa Claus, Indiana and how it came to be the best place to celebrate Christmas throughout the year. Admission is free but donations are accepted.
69 North State Road 245, Santa Claus, IN 47579
Santa Claus Post Office
Gather up your holiday cards and bring them with you on your trip. Right next door to the Santa Claus Christmas Store is the Santa Claus Post Office. You can mail all of your Christmas cards from here to get the famous Santa Claus postmark. While you’re in the area, take a snap with the big Santa statue! It makes a great photo opportunity.
45 N Kringle Pl, Santa Claus, IN 47579
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial
Be sure to visit the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, one of the National Parks located in Indiana. Get a stamp in your National Parks Passport if you’re one of those types — we are and then let your kids participate in the free NPS Junior Ranger program by completing the Junior Ranger Activity Book. There’s a 15 minute movie about Abraham Lincoln and personally, I thought it was fascinating and even found myself sharing some Lincoln stories in my conversations with friends a few days later. If the weather is nice during your visit, make the short trek to the Living Historical Farm. The interpreters are all gone for the winter, but you can still explore the farm and see an outline of where Abraham Lincoln’s cabin stood. There’s also the Trail of 12 Stones, a guided walk that takes you through the life of Lincoln, represented in stones. During the winter months, a candlelight tour takes place one each month at the farm. Staff will be dressed in historical clothing and discuss life in the 1800’s.
3027 E S St, Lincoln City, IN
Where to Eat with Kids in Santa Claus, Indiana
You may find that many of your meals during the holiday season are themed dinners or breakfasts with the man in red, but here are some places we checked out while we were in Santa Claus, Indiana and the surrounding area.
Frosty’s Fun Center
This 50’s diner inspired restaurant is super casual and offers dine in our take out. We enjoyed a lunch of hamburgers and pizzas to share. There’s a very attractive arcade at the front of the restaurant and everyone will want to play.
15 Cedar Lane, Santa Claus, IN 47579
Brick Oven Pizza
This locally owned pizza shop offers a pizza and salad buffet and carry out. The price was right for feeding our family and my kids enjoyed the pudding at the salad bar. Your kids will likely enjoy the ice cream and milkshakes that can be purchased for an additional fee.
21 N Kringle Pl, Santa Claus, IN
Los Panchos Mexican Food
While visiting the Lincoln Pioneer Village in Rockport, we had lunch at Los Panchos, a small Mexican food restaurant built inside an old train caboose. The food was very good and there was a children’s menu. We love discovering train themed restaurants and activities in Indiana and now we get to add Los Panchos to our list!
715 N 5th St, Rockport, IN
Shopping in Santa Claus, Indiana
There are several shopping hot spots in Santa Claus and Spencer County. Some of the stores double as an attraction or activity center, such as the Santa Claus Christmas Store.
Santa Claus Christmas Store
A stop in to the Santa Claus Christmas Store is an experience, not just a shopping trip. You’ll find gorgeous ornaments everywhere, Christmas decor and even the fragrances of the holidays. Children can visit with Santa Claus in the photo studio and pose for photos. Afterwards, stop by Mrs. Claus’ bakery to buy some huge cookies! If you’re looking for some fun Christmas themed shopping, stop here. And even if you’re not, stop here! The Santa Claus Christmas Store is open May – December.
33 North Kringle Place, Santa Claus, IN 47579
You and your kids will love Santa’s Toys, a color-filled toy store that sells specialty toys from popular and independent toy brands. Browse and try out some of the best toys of the season. Kids will love the small shopping carts to do a little bit of shopping of their own, plus the hands on activity tables offer fun for everyone.
3 N Kringle Pl, Santa Claus, IN
Evergreen Boutique & Christmas Shop
The Evergreen Boutique has a nice selection of clothing for women up to size 3x in some styles. There are seasonal selections ranging from causal to dressy. You’ll also find home decor, jewelry and other odds and ends.
8 Kringle Place, Santa Claus, IN
Santa Claus, Indiana Wineries & Distilleries
Santa Claus, Indiana and the Spencer county area have several wineries to try, including the two that we visited. The wineries we visited offer free wine tasting.
Pepper’s Ridge Winery is a 21+ facility, so plan on having your kids sit outside on the patio, leave them with grandparents or visit during a romantic getaway weekend. This is a locally owned winery that has a lot of my favorite types of wines…fruit wines! You must try the pineapple wine!
4304 N County Road 200 W Rockport, IN
Monkey Hollow Winery & Distillery
After visiting Monkey Hollow, I’ve decided that this is one of my favorite wineries in Indiana. They have a variety of very good wines, including plenty of my favorite fruit wines and sweet wines, plus they also are a distillery and have created quite the line up of delicious cocktails. Children are permitted at the facility and there’s a nice little seating area right off the tasting room. We set our kids up with tablets (you can also purchase non-alcoholic slushies for them) and tasted what Monkey Hollow had to offer.
11534 E County Rd 1740 N, St Meinrad, IN
As you can see, there’s so much to do in Santa Claus, Indiana during the Christmas season. Everyone in your family is sure to have a good time!