It’s that time of year again — when Santa and his reindeer start making appearances all over the Iowa City area. Last year, he was greatly limited in his travel abilities, but this year he will be making several appearances in and around Iowa City. We at Iowa City Moms are good friends with the big man in the red suit, and we just so happen to have some insider information on Santa’s whereabouts!
We’ve compiled this handy guide to help you and your family track him and Mrs. Claus down for photos, conversations, and holiday fun. To get those precious photos of your kiddos meeting Santa, here are some of the local places where you can find him during this holiday season!
Thank you to our friends at CHOMP Delivery for making this guide possible. Use code SantaSightings for $7 off, good for 3 uses, November 20-December 20, 2021. Enjoy!
Note: Events may have their own health and safety restrictions. Please adhere to any rules and stay home if you are sick or if any members of your family are feeling unwell.
Where to See Santa in the Iowa City Area
Ongoing Santa Events in the Iowa City Area
Where: Center court of the mall (Map)
Photo opportunities: Photo packages are available for purchase. No personal photos are allowed on the Santa Set.
Good things to know: Reserve a time online to avoid standing in line. Sundays December 5 and 12 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. are designated as Sensory Friendly for children with any type of special need. Several Monday evenings pets are invited to come have their picture taken with Mr. Clause (reservations encouraged)
Where: Main Amana (Map)
When: Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays November 26 – December 19. See website for specific daily schedules. Times are different on different days so check the agenda carefully.
Photo opportunities: Personal photos are allowed and encouraged.
Good things to know: Children’s Weekend is December 10-12. The brochure with the full schedule of events can be found on the “Prelude to Christmas” festival website.
Where: FilmScene at the Chauncey, 404 E College St., Iowa City (Map)
When: November 27, and December 4, 11, 18, and 2 from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Photo opportunities: Personal photos allowed.
Good things to know: Photo-taking is free. Other holiday activities going on each weekend in Downtown Iowa City, including tractor wagon rides and a downtown elf hunt!
Where: Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery, 1441 Marak Rd, NW Swisher (Map)
When: Sundays December 5th and December 19th from 9:00 am – 1:00 PM (reservations are required)
Photo opportunities: Santa will join you for brunch! Bring your own camera to catch a photo.
Good things to know: Reservations are required and will fill fast. Tickets are $17.99 for adults, $9 for children 6-12, and free for under 5. Ticket includes beef brisket, eggs, biscuits, gravy, pancakes, and more! Tax, alcoholic beverages, and gratuity are extra. Call 319-857-4300 for reservations.
Single Day Santa Events in the Iowa City Area
Where: Colony Pumpkin Patch, 2780 Front Street, North Liberty (Map)
When: Friday, November 26 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Photo opportunities:Bring your own camera for picture taking!
Good things to know: This will be opening day for fresh cut Christmas tree and holiday decor sales!
Where: Downtown Kalona (Map)
When: Saturday December 4, Santa will be at the Kalona YMCA from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Photo opportunities: See website for details as they become available. Santa will be available for photos at the Chamber of Commerce.
Good things to know: Many activities are going on that day, including a Christmas Tree Walk and a Christmas Market.
Where: Historic Main Street District & Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, West Branch (Map)
When: Friday, December 3 and Saturday, December 4 5 p.m.-7:30 p.m. in Town Hall. Other activities are going on all throughout the weekend!
Photo opportunities: Personal photos with Santa encouraged. Bring your own camera or enjoy a free professional photo.
Good things to know: 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of this Christmas event! Kids go home with a free holiday craft kit or cookie decorating kit. Both evenings there’s lots of other festive activities to enjoy with the family like horse-drawn carriage rides, train set, festival of trees, free hot cocoa while you shop local!
Where: North Liberty Rec Center (Map)
When: Saturday, December 4, from 8-11 a.m. (event calendar)
Photo opportunities: Personal photos are allowed. Professional photos will be taken free of charge by Sandi Spurrell Photography and posted within a few days to the photographer’s website for free download.
Good things to know: Tickets must be purchased in advance at the Rec Center. Cost is $3/person (ages 3 and up) and must be purchased prior to December 5. This event may sell out prior to December 4 if optimum numbers are reached. Tickets are not available at the door. Everyone age 3 and older must have a ticket, regardless of intent to eat. Meal is provided by the North Liberty Lions Club.
In addition to visiting Santa, holiday crafts will be provided by Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. You can also enjoy a Christmas village and train display and shop at the Holiday Vendor’s Market taking place at the same time.
Where: Bass Farms, Mount Vernon (map)
When: December 4, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Good things to know:This is a free event, bring your own camera! Shop the country store filled with local honey, jams, jellies, meat sauces, salad dressings, Edgewood Locker Meats, fabulous wine, local hand soap and more!
Where: The Stanley Cafe at Hancher Auditorium (map)
When: Saturday December 11 at 10:30 a.m., Sunday December 12 at 11 a.m.
Good things to know: Tickets are required and are $35 per adult and $20 for youth under age 12 and includes brunch at the event!
Where:Hyatt Regency in Coralville (map)
When: December 18, 8:30 a.m. – 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (two breakfasts available)
Good things to know: Tickets are required. Adults: $29, Kids 4-12: $15, Kids 3 and under: Free! Ticket includes a full holiday breakfast buffet including a chef pancake station, made to order omelets, and one complimentary holiday mimosa or bloody Mary (for those 21+ only). Kids will enjoy a photo opportunity with Santa, holiday crafts, and take home a special treat.
Did we miss any of your favorite Santa sighting locations?
Do you know of a great community event where the big man or his crew will make an appearance? Share your suggestions in the comments! We hope this guide will help you know where to see Santa in the Iowa City area!
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More Holiday Fun in Iowa City