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13 Dirt Cheap Ways to Hang Out with Santa in New Jersey

I know! I know! Your kids want to see Santa as much as possible! As grown ups it can get costly paying for one Santa event after another. Making memories with Santa doesn’t have to be expensive! We’re here to help! Make a plan that works for your family’s budget with these dirt cheap events with Santa in New Jersey.

3 Quick Tips Before Visiting Santa

Before you move on to these cheap Santa events in New Jersey we must share a few quick tips.

  • First, always make sure your camera memory has enough room for all the photos you may want to take. When there’s a line waiting behind you, others may not be patient as you clear out your memory.
  • Make sure your camera battery is fully charged. Don’t scroll through your phone or leave your camera on. There’s nothing worse than having your turn and then not having the battery power to take the photo.
  • Always bring some cash/small bills. Most of these events with Santa in New Jersey don’t charge for photos with Santa. But the community group hosting the event may be collecting donations for their group or another important cause. While not required, it’s always appreciated when guests leave a donation.
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Dirt Cheap Ways to Hang Out with Santa in New Jersey

Let’s get on to those free and cheap ways to see Santa in New Jersey. Get ready to bookmark these links, save the dates, and register for the events you’re the most excited to bring the kids too.

Ride a train with Santa in South Jersey

Believe it or not, you can take a train ride with Santa without spending a lot of money or needing reservations weeks in advance. When you ride the Silver Sleigh, PATCO’s train ride with Santa you only pay your normal train fare. Take the train to enjoy Philadelphia’s free Christmas activities and spend some time with Santa on the way there.

Santas Silver Sleigh

Did you miss the train? Couldn’t make it? Take the Holly Jolly Trolley with Santa on December 18, 2022. Take a trolley ride around Barrington to check out holiday light displays. All rides will be led in Christmas carol sing-alongs! They will be offering sensory-friendly (non-musical) trolley rides as well.

Eat a Meal with Santa in New Jersey

Yes, breakfasts, lunches, and brunches with Santa can add up when you factor in the costs for each family member plus leaving a tip. But as we put together our list of Meals with Santa for 2022, we found a few that were $10 or less per person.

Santa preparing a meal
Santa picking up a decorated star shaped cookie

Read a Story with Santa in New Jersey

New Jersey libraries provide fabulous places to enjoy cheap events and activities all year long. But during the holidays they really amp things up with fun activities. Here are a few libraries offering Story Times with Santa in New Jersey.

  • Coming soon
Santa Claus holding a black child on his lap and reading a story, Christmas scene in the background

Enjoy a Daytime Slumber Party with Santa in Deptford, NJ

Don your pajamas and get ready for a daytime slumber party with Santa at the Deptford Mall. During Pajama Jams with Santa, Santa will read a story to the children. Afterward, Santa will engage in festive dancing, crafts and snacks with the children.

It’s a bird! It’s a plan! It’s Santa!

During the Christmas Fly In from Santa in New Milford children and their families can see Santa fly in on a helicopter! After Santa arrives there will be music and activities. Admission is free!

Lions! Tigers! Bears! and Santa oh my!

The Cape May County Park and Zoo and the Cape May County Board of County Commissioners are welcoming families and residents to Santa’s Tree Lighting Celebration at the Cape May County Zoo!

This isn’t just any tree lighting though. There will be live holiday music by the John Walter Cape Community Band, an ice sculpture demonstration, a polar express train ride, a bounce house castle and slide, character appearances, and treats.

Get Crafting with Santa in Freehold in New Jersey

During Santa’s Arrival in Freehold at iPlay America guests will have an opportunity to not only take pictures with Santa, but there will also be crafts. Bonus, guests who donate a toy, or $5 towards gifts, get 2 hours of FREE unlimited non-redemption video games!

Santa appearances at iPlay America
Find Santa wandering the arcade at iPlay America!

Go back in time with a Retro Santa

What if the kids could experience Santa Claus as others have in the past? It’s possible with these low-cost Santa events in New Jersey.

Santa’s Viking Christmas Village in Barnegat Light

A visit to Barnegat Light’s Historic Viking Village will take you back in time to the early days of a quaint fishing village. Visit at Christmas time for a fun day for the family!

Holiday Open House in Glendora at Gabriel Daveis Tavern in Gloucester Township

The historic Gabreil Davis Tavern Museum House will be decorated for the holidays. MainStage Harmony Choir will sing, and a Victorian Santa will be by his antique sleigh for your own picture taking.

Snow Fest at the Wicoff House Museum

Join the Wicoff House Museum for the 3rd annual SnowFest event to celebrate the winter season! Activities include a scavenger hunt, smores, snow cones, wintery-themed books, a museum light show, and a visit with Santa.

Visit a New Jersey Christmas Wonderland

Reindeers, Santa’s Workshops, ice sculptures, and wintery scenes all set the mood for making families feel like they are at the North Pole without ever leaving New Jersey.

Santa’s Wonderland in Atlantic City at Bass Pro Shop

At Santa’s Wonderland at the Bass Pro Shop in Atlantic City kids can leave a letter for Santa, pretend to be an Elf toy inspector with Lincoln Logs, watch animated elves, and more all while waiting for their chance for a free photo with Santa. This South Jersey Santa Wonderland is available now until Christmas Eve.

Santa's Wonderland Sign at Bass Pro Shops in Atlantic City NJ

Christmas Visit with Santa in Jefferson Township

Come see how the Jefferson Township Parks Crew has transformed Camp Jefferson into the North Pole and have a visit with Santa, Mrs. Claus and Rudolph. Admission is free.

More Winter Wonderlands with Santa

Here are a few more Christmas wonderlands in New Jersey that Santa will visit this year. Some will last multiple days or weekends and some will just last one or two days. Click on the event title for our event listing with more details.

Santa Claus holding blue flippers and walking on the beach sand heading into the water

Hang out with Santa at the Beach

Santa Claus loves the beach as much as we do. There’s a reason we celebrate Christmas in July. It’s so we can see Santa on the beach. But you don’t have to wait till next summer to see Santa at the beaches of New Jersey.

Christmas Festival in Point Pleasant Beach

Join Point Pleasant Beach in celebrating the holidays with a variety of live entertainment, cozy winter snacks, reindeer rides, Santa, and so much more to enjoy with friends and family!

Snowfest Saturday in Avalon

Snowfest Saturday returns to Avalon after a two-year hiatus. Santa Claus himself will be on hand for photos with the youngsters, and families can enjoy bounce houses, carnival rides, obstacle courses, and more!

Christmas at the Mansion in Somers Point

Shore Local in partnership with the Patriots of the Somers Mansion present the 2nd Annual Christmas at the Mansion. A holiday extravaganza including local merchants, food trucks, live music, elves wrapping station, kids activities and of course Santa!

Photos with Santa at the Jersey Shore

Up and down the Jersey Shore, beach towns are offering cheap and free events with Santa. Most will allow each child to take a photo with Santa. Click on these event titles for more details.

Black Santa sitting in a chair and writing something in a notebook

Swim with Santa in Millville

Santa won’t just be at the beach, he’ll be taking a swim at some community pools too. The City of Millville and the Holly City Family Center have secured a spot with Santa during his busiest time of the year to go swimming with families!

Santa Claus floating in a doughnut tube in a pool

Santa AND horses

Kids love Santa! Kids love horses! Frenchtown Riding Club is putting both together for Christmas Photos with Santa and the Horses in Frenchtown. In addition to pictures with Santa and the horses there will be sweet treats and holiday music.

Santa and Horses Frenchtown

Shop till You Drop

Okay, you don’t really have to shop till you drop, you don’t even have to shop at all. That being said, many New Jersey downtowns and communities hold special Christmas-themed shopping days to support the small businesses in their downtowns.

As a way of enticing families to visit and shop Santa usually makes an appearance to greet visitors. There may also be train rides, ice skating, horse carriage rides, food trucks, and more.

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Other free and cheap Santa events in New Jersey

Santa Arrivals

Getting pictures with Santa at the mall can be one of the most expensive ways to get a photo with Santa. However, there’s no fee to watch the grand celebration or parade that most malls have to welcome Santa’s arrival. Here are a few that might work with your calendar.

Craft shows

This time of year there are so many craft shows. We don’t generally list them on our Calendar of New Jersey Events UNLESS the event offers activities for children. Here are a few that do. Check in with your local churches or schools they may also be offering a craft show/market where Santa might be visiting.

Christmas Parades

We love New Jersey Christmas parades! You may not be able to have individual one-on-one time with Santa, but it’s still a fun way to get the kids excited for Christmas. Watch as Santa, his elves, and reindeer ‘float’ by accompanied by bands, dancers, and other community groups.


Christmas Tree Lightings

Nearly every New Jersey town has a Christmas tree lighting. Admission is almost always free and Santa’s usually there for photos with the kids. There are even lots of NJ communities that turn the night into a grand Christmas celebration. If you can’t get to your own town’s visit our listing of New Jersey Christmas tree lightings that might be a better fit for your schedule.

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Interested in more opportunities to see Santa?

List of New Jersey Santa events

Visit our listing of Santa events in New Jersey. This will present you with all of the New Jersey events where Santa will make an appearance. The list goes in a reverse order from the one the furthest out in the future to the ones before that.

Santa Claus in New Jersey

Calendar of Santa Events

Or view our Calendar of Santa Events. These are events with Santa in New Jersey. While most are free and cheap to attend, some have a slightly higher charge. For any date you see with a dot, this means there are Santa events that day. Click the date to see that date’s events with Santa Claus.

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