The holidays would hardly be the same without an opportunity for children and families to visit Santa Claus. Although Santa appears in a number of places across the globe, before and after Christmas, it can be difficult to nail down the perfect time and place to find him. Parents and children are encouraged to bring their Christmas lists and holiday cheer to a few of these great places to visit Santa in Minnesota.

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Minnesota Zoo
Members Only Snack with Santa
13000 Zoo Blvd.
Apple Valley, MN 55124
(952) 431-9200

Date: Dec, 15-16, 2012
Price: $10 per person for adults and children age three and older/$3 children age two and younger

Children and families can catch some time with Santa at the Minnesota Zoo on Dec. 15 and 16. A morning snack will be provided in the Call of the Wild restaurant as well as music and lots of fun activities. Each child will also receive a special gift. Bring a camera for photos because you will want to capture this moment. Continue the day with a trip around the zoo to see all of the cheery animals. This event with Santa is for zoo members only.

Cabela’s in Owatonna
3900 Cabela Drive
Owatonna, MN 55060
(507) 451-4545

Date: Dec. 15-16, 2012
Price: Free

There is nothing more convenient than being able to stock up on hunting supplies while getting a photo with Santa Claus. On Dec. 15 and 16 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the African Diorama of the Owatonna Cabela’s, visitors will receive one complimentary photo per family. Additional pictures may be taken by families that bring their own cameras to the event.

Related: Best Photographers For Kids In Minnesota

(credit: Marcus Brandt/Getty Images)

University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
3675 Arborteum Drive
Chaska, MN 55318
(952) 443-1400

Dates: Weekends now through Dec. 23, 2012
Price: Photos packages start at $5

As part of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Making Spirits Bright event, Santa will be visiting on weekends now through Dec. 23 from 10:30 a.m. to noon and then 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Making Spirits Bright will feature a number of exhibits which include a 20-foot live poinsettia tree and a life-size, candy-themed board game. The event will also feature a Holiday Kids’ Shop where children are able to (with the help of adult volunteers) complete their holiday shopping and gift wrapping for their families.

Ridgedale Center
12401 Wayzata Blvd.
Minnetonka, MN 55305
(952) 541-4864

Dates: Now through Dec. 24, 2012
Price: Photo packages start at $10

Santa will likely visit every shopping mall on the globe this year, as he does every year. However, one popular mall to visit Santa and receive a photo is the Ridgedale Center. From Nov. 10 to Dec. 24, 2012, Santa will be available to greet children ready to share their holiday wishes. Babies are also welcome and parents can choose to purchase a commemorative photo package signed by Santa and Rudolph along with a lullaby CD to remember your baby’s first Christmas. Various photo package options are also available for children of all ages.

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Washington County Courthouse
14949 62nd St. N.
Stillwater, MN 55082
(651) 430-6322

Date: Dec. 16, 2012
Price: Free

Santa will also be visiting the Washington County Courthouse in Stillwater on Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to stop by the historic courthouse for an afternoon of singing activities and Santa Claus. Bring a camera to this event if you want photos.

Related: 2012 Minnesota Holiday Theater Preview

Christina Majaski is a full-time legal assistant and freelance writer for online and print publications. She has an obsession for all things related to social media and invites you to follow along with her on Twitter @cmajaski. She currently resides with her daughter in central Minnesota. Her work can be found at