Welcome to Santa Claus, Indiana.
Welcome to Santa Claus, Indiana: a real-life town that celebrates Christmas all year long. This town is jolly 365 days a year, with plenty of holiday-fueled fun (including numerous Christmas-themed attractions to enjoy) — even in the heat of summer.
This town’s quirky story dates back to the 19th century when the town’s original name application was rejected, and its community decided on “Santa Claus” instead. The town’s first tourist attraction, Santa’s Candy Castle, opened in the 1930s — and the rest is history.
Santa Claus’s crown jewel is a theme park aptly named Holiday World, with lands dedicated to different holidays, a water park, and the most impressive collection of roller coasters in the area. This small town is also home to an official Santa Claus post office that draws in thousands of letters to Father Christmas from around the globe each year.
And it’s not all whimsy. Visitors can also walk in the footsteps of President Abraham Lincoln and enjoy the outdoors at Lincoln State Park between holiday-themed activities.
Here’s what you need to know before visiting Santa Claus, Indiana.
Related: 25 Best Christmas Towns in the U.S.
Places to Stay in Santa Claus
Accommodation options in Santa Claus include kitschy themed hotels like Santa’s Lodge, one and two-bedroom cottages at Santa’s Lakeside Cottages, campsites and cabins at Sun Outdoors Lake Rudolph, and spacious home rentals like Mistletoe Manor.
Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari
The highlight for many is Holiday World, a theme park that dates back to the 1940s when it opened as Santa Claus Land. It’s grown throughout the years, expanding from solely a Christmas-themed land to include other holidays, like Halloween, the Fourth of July, and Thanksgiving. The family-owned park now offers an impressive line-up of award-winning roller coasters, but it has maintained a charming, small-town feel. Plus, fewer crowds, affordable prices, and friendly employees make it a great place for a family excursion.
The Voyage, a high-speed wooden roller coaster, is a must for serious thrill seekers. And in the warmer months, check out Cheetah Chase, the world’s first launched water coaster, at Splashin’ Safari. The fun extends to food with the park’s signature blue ice cream (a Midwest favorite) and a bounty of holiday-inspired treats. Holiday World is typically open from May through October; check the theme park’s website for exact dates.
Other Things to Do
Lincoln State Park
Lincoln State Park is a calming oasis of over 2,000 acres of stunning scenery with trails, campsites, boat rentals, and picnic areas set along Lake Lincoln. Don’t forget to stop by the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, the site where Abraham Lincoln and his family lived for 14 years during his childhood.
Santa’s Candy Castle
Santa’s Candy Castle dates back to 1935, and it’s a can’t-miss stop when visiting Santa Claus. The shop offers a staggeringly large collection of candies, including vintage and rare sweet treats, as well as homemade confections. It’s also known for a special beverage that fits right in with the town’s theme — frozen hot chocolate.
Santa Claus Museum & Village
Start your holiday-inspired trip with a visit to the Santa Claus Museum & Village. It’s home to the 1880 Santa Claus Church, a 22-foot-tall Santa Claus statue that dates to 1935, and the original Santa Claus Post Office. Explore the town’s origins through exhibits and artifacts you won’t find anywhere else, and don’t forget to write a letter to jolly Saint Nick while visiting.
Christmas Lake Golf Club
This par 72 course is a welcome break from the nearby activities and features an on-site restaurant, full driving range, putting green, and shop for the utmost convenience.
Restaurants and Bars
Plymouth Rock Cafe
Enjoy Thanksgiving dinner all season long at this holiday-themed restaurant located inside Holiday World. The casual quick-service eatery is serving up the festive favorite with juicy turkey, savory mashed potatoes, and all the fixings. It also offers a cornucopia of other homestyle delights, including barbeque beef brisket and pulled pork, for a hearty and satisfying meal.
Santa Claus Brewing Co.
As one of the newest additions to Santa Claus located just across the street from Holiday World, this brewery is pouring an ever-rotating lineup of suds handcrafted right in their on-site taproom. Beyond the beer, the brewery offers a menu of pub favorites, including wings, burgers, and its twist on pretzel nuggets, reindeer balls.
Monkey Hollow Winery and Distillery
Part of the Hoosier Wine Trail and located minutes from Santa Claus, Monkey Hollow is a family-owned-and-operated winery and distillery. Come summertime, the facility fires up the grill for prime outdoor dining with a view of the area’s green rolling hills.
Best Times to Visit
With plenty of outdoor activities including the state park and Holiday World, summer is an ideal time to visit. Summer visitors can also take advantage of seasonal events, like movies at the drive-in theater, outdoor fairs, and specialty fireworks.
Of course, Santa Claus is also a popular destination during the holiday season. Santa Claus Christmas Celebration takes place the first three weekends in December, adding merriment with drive-thru light displays, shopping experiences, chestnut roasting, meet and greets with Santa, and the Santa Claus Christmas Parade.
How to Get There
Given its proximity to major cities including Chicago, Louisville, and Cincinnati, it’s a popular road trip for families in the Midwest. Evansville Regional Airport is located just under 50 miles west and Louisville International Airport is approximately 80 miles to the east. If you fly, you’ll want to rent a car so you can get around.
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