A Hometown Holiday in Santa Claus
Are you dreaming of a fun-filled Christmas? Get in the holiday spirit without traveling to the North Pole by planning a trip to Santa Claus.
The Story of Santa Claus
The southern Indiana community traces its famous name back to 1856, says Emily Thompson, director of the Santa Claus Museum & Village. Originally called Santa Fe, the town’s post office application was rejected because the name was already taken.
According to legend, town residents gathered in the old Santa Claus Church on a date near Christmas to discuss a new name. During the debate, Thompson says, “A gust of wind blows the doors open, and the sound of jingle bells are heard, and a child yells out, ‘It’s Santa Claus!’” This new name was applied for and accepted, and the rest is history.
Holiday Happenings in Santa Claus, Indiana
While Santa Claus offers a festive atmosphere year round, “During the holidays, the town sort of goes all out,” says Melissa Brockman, executive director of the Spencer County Visitors Bureau.
To take full advantage of the town’s seasonal offerings, plan your visit during the annual Santa Claus Christmas Celebration. This three-weekend celebration offers activities for all ages, many of which are free, Brockman says. Some scheduled events take place on multiple dates, while others are specific to a single day or weekend.
During this year’s celebration, families can roast chestnuts on an open fire, enjoy face painting and view a choreographed light show on Santa’s Great Big LED Tree of Lights, Brockman says. Adult visitors, on the other hand, may be more interested in attending the town’s wine tasting event or Santa Claus Arts & Craft Show.
After night falls, visitors can drive through the Santa Claus Land of Lights at Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort. This drive-through show tells the story of Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
A Santa Claus Meet and Greet
If you prefer to put your Christmas wishes in writing, head to the Santa Claus Museum & Village. This attraction’s grounds feature a museum showcasing the town’s history, a 22-foot-tall Santa Claus statue, historic Santa Claus Church and the original Santa Claus Post Office. Visitors can write letters to Santa, then drop them in an on-site mailbox. Santa’s dedicated elves help answer an average of 13,000 letters received at the museum and by mail each year.
Shopping and Dining in Santa Claus, Indiana
No holiday getaway would be complete without a little shopping. The Santa Claus Christmas Store stocks ornaments, wreaths, stockings, village collectibles and more. Across the plaza, Evergreen Boutique and Christmas Shop offer both home décor and seasonal items.
Trip Planning Tools
If you work up an appetite sightseeing, Brockman recommends visiting St. Nick’s Restaurant for a sit-down meal of pasta, steak or sandwiches. Just need a snack? Santa’s Candy Castle boasts gourmet hot chocolate, handmade confections and a huge wall dedicated to Pez candy.
Finally, if you find yourself in Santa Claus during warmer weather, be sure to schedule a visit to Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari. This two-in-one theme park operates seasonally into October. “They have three top-rated roller coasters, the world’s longest water coaster, wonderful shows – just something for all ages,” Brockman says.
Letters to Santa
Children who have requests for Santa but can’t make it to Santa Claus, Ind., for an in-person visit can still enjoy the town’s holiday magic. Send letters addressed to Santa Claus, P.O. Box 1, Santa Claus, IN 47579. Thompson recommends getting in all correspondence to that address by Dec. 20 to ensure a response.