Santa Sightings in Pittsburgh: Alternatives to the Mall

Make Memories With Fun Location

Phipps Conservatory winter 2015 Broderie Room
••• Dllu/Wikimedia Commons

It's easy to find Santa at shopping malls around the Pittsburgh area; he makes regular stops. But there are other great places to find the jolly guy that offer more fun and interaction and a little less standing in line. Check out these options for your kids' visit to the old man with a white beard in the red suit in 2017.

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    This popular annual event (one day only) at Schenley Park offers a special opportunity for kids and their parents to take to the ice with Santa and his elves amid the beautiful forested backdrop of Schenley Park. Bring the camera to capture the holiday memories. Check the website after Thanksgiving to find out the date and times in 2017.

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    Santa Cruises

    Gateway Clipper will take you on a two-hour cruise along the three rivers that meet up in Pittsburgh. Santa himself will be there, along with characters from your kids' favorite movies. Dance along during a DJ party to holiday classics and get snacks and drinks from the bar. This cruise is offered on Nov. 24 and 25 and the first three weekends of December in 2017.

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    Join Santa for a special breakfast or lunch, make a holiday craft, and decorate a sugar cookie before heading off to visit the polar bears and the rest of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. If you aren't into the cold, the aquarium and jungle areas of the zoo are nice and toasty year-round.

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    If you've never been to the Western Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, you're in for a treat. The kids can talk to Santa, take a fun trolley ride, have hot chocolate and cookies, and then go an educational tour through the trolley museum. There's also a huge model railroad all decorated for the holidays. Santa will be there Nov. 26 through Nov. 26 and the first three weekends in December.

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  • 05 of 08

    Santa and his elves bring the tropics to Pittsburgh on weekends from Thanksgiving through Christmas during the Winter Flower Show and Light Garden at Phipps Conservatory. Santa will be there from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 25 through Nov. 27 and the first three weekends in December. He'll be there every day the week before Christmas, Dec. 18 through Dec. 23. The kids can visit Santa for free with a paid admission to Phipps.

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    Skip the shopping mall and bring your kids and your camera to the National Aviary for brunch with Santa and his penguin pals. There will be two seatings on Dec. 10, at 9 and 11 a.m. Reservations are required, and the price includes admission to the aviary.

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    Breakfast With Santa at Hard Rock Cafe

    Wake up early and treat your kids to Breakfast with Santa at the Hard Rock Cafe at Station Square. Each child will get to meet and greet Santa and put in their last-minute wish lists. Reservations must be made by Nov. 27.

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    Combine choosing your Christmas tree and buying evergreens with a visit with Santa, all in one fun morning or afternoon at Trax Farms. The kids enjoy breakfast or lunch with Santa, plus a special treat, while you browse the Christmas Shop or have coffee at the Garden Cafe. Santa will be at the farm on the first three weekends of December in 2017. Reservations are required, and seating is limited.