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20+ Places to snap Santa Pictures or have Breakfast with Santa in Lakeland + Polk County

Santa Photos Lakeland Florida (2)

Whether you’re looking for a great Santa picture or your kids prefer to admire Santa Claus from afar, we can help you find places to get pictures with Santa near you.

Santa Claus (and occasionally Mrs. Claus) will be visiting Lakeland, Bartow, Mulberry, Winter Haven, Lake Wales, Fort Meade, Auburndale – he’s covering all of Polk County and Central Florida!

We’ve listed as many Santa photo ops as we could find this holiday season, including Breakfast with Santa and other events where Santa is making an appearance, because we all know sometimes it takes more than one try to get a good photo with Santa!

MOM TIP – When it comes to photos with Santa, try to leave your own expectations at the door. Your 2 year old who thought Santa was great last year might be terrified this year. Or vice versa. If you’ve never been to see Santa, keep in mind that plenty of kids are scared of Santa, and if your child cries or refuses to go near him, it is a normal reaction! {Also – some of my favorite holiday cards have included hilarious Santa pictures}

Don’t miss our Ultimate Guide to Christmas Events + Holiday Activities for a full list of things to do this holiday season in Lakeland and Polk County including Christmas Light Displays, Santa Photos, Christmas Tree Lots, Christmas Parades, Holidays Concerts, Live Performances, Holiday Markets, Ice Skating, Toy Donation Needs, and more.

2023 Events With Santa in Lakeland + Polk County

Rumor has it the man in the red suit (and sometimes Mrs. Claus!) will be at the family friendly events listed below. The availability of pictures with Santa varies by event, we have included all available info in the description. Most of these events are free and are a great place to snap free pictures with Santa near you.

Santa also appears at the end of every Christmas parade! Bring the family and wave to Santa from afar. Check our Christmas Parade Guide for a list of local parades in 2023.

A full list of upcoming events can be viewed on our Calendar.

Places to Have Breakfast With Santa Near You

Looking to have breakfast with Santa or maybe share a treat with the big guy? Below you’ll find Breakfast with Santa events as well as other sit-down type meals and interactive events that include food.

All of the Breakfast with Santa events have a cost and most require an advance ticket purchase for a breakfast buffet, be sure to check event descriptions for ticket info.

Santa Pictures Near You

Free Santa Pictures at Lakeside Village

Ho, ho, ho! Santa returns to Lakeside Village for festive free photos! Santa will be at Lakeside Village on Saturday afternoons for Christmas wishes and keepsake photos. Lakeside Village has a charming Christmas set for families to take photos with Santa. Be sure to bring your own camera – these are FREE photos with Santa.

  • Appointments Required: An appointment is required for your visit with Santa at Lakeside Village. Reservations will open on Wednesday, November 8, 2023 at 10am on the Eventbrite pageYou should make one appointment per family or group. Appointment times are offered in 1 hour increments at 11am, 12pm, 2pm, and 3pm. In an effort to let as many people see Santa as possible, each appointment is limited to around 3 minutes. **As of 11/9/23 all dates are sold out – you can check Eventbrite closer to the event dates for any cancellations**
  • Santa Photos will be in a storefront near the roundabout at 1473 Town Center Drive, Lakeland, FL 33803
  • You will need to be able to take your own photo – for everyone’s safety, Santa, Mrs. Claus, and any other event staff are prohibited from touching guests’ phones for photos. 
  • Photos are FREE, but we kindly invite you to consider making a toy donation to support the Rudolph Round-Up Holiday Toy Drive. Lakeside Village will have a collection box available on-site for your convenience.

Saturdays – November 25, December 2, December 9, December 16, 2023 from 11am – 4pm

Location: Lakeside Village, 1473 Town Center Drive, Lakeland, FL 33803 (MAP IT)
Cost: FREE – Bring your own camera
More info: Lakeside Village Website

This is a FREE event – do not be scammed by anyone selling a ticket to this event. Anyone trying to sell tickets or reservations to this event will be reported to Facebook for scamming, permanently banned from Lakeside Village’s social media accounts, any contests or giveaways, and any ticketed events, and added to Santa’s Naughty List.

Santa Photos in Lakeland Square Mall

Santa arrives at Lakeland Square Mall on Friday, November 24, 2023 and will visit with children daily until he returns to the North Pole on December 24, 2023. Located near Dillard’s. Reservations to visit Santa are strongly encouraged. Walk-up visits will be available as space allows throughout the day.

Hours: Visit the Lakeland Square Mall Website for the Lakeland Mall Santa Hours. Santa feeds his reindeer occasionally throughout the day and is unavailable for photos at those times.

Location: Lakeland Square Mall, 3800 US Hwy 98 N, Lakeland, FL 33809 (MAP IT)

Cost: Prices vary, packages are available starting at $39.99. Advance reservations are strongly recommended and require the advance purchase of a photo package.

Santa Shack – Auburndale

Come see Santa at the Santa Shack, in Auburndale. Open from 6 to 8 daily December 1 – December 22, 2023. Visit with Santa and take your own photos for free!

Directions: Just west of the Polk Parkway going towards Lakeland. On the right just after the 4 lane changes back to a 2 land road. There are two large Nutcrackers on either side of the driveway where you turn in. Go all the way to the back field to park. When it’s time to go you can exit out the back of the field onto Delon Court to keep everyone safe and the traffic flowing in one direction.

Dates: December 1 – 22, 2023
Hours: Nightly from 6-8pm {Check Facebook for any last minute or weather related changes}
Location: 2078 Old Dixie Hwy Auburndale, FL 33823
Cost: FREE – Bring your own phone/camera
More info: Santa Shack on Facebook

Santa Shack Auburndale Florida Free Santa Photos 1

Santa’s Wonderland – Pictures with Santa at Bass Pro Shops

Although it is a 30-60 minute drive from the Lakeland area to the nearest Bass Pro Shop, many of our readers say it is worth the drive for Photos with Santa at Bass Pro! A free 4×6 studio-quality photo is included, as well as a free shareable video when you provide your email address. Additional photo packages are also available for purchase and print instantly at the store.

Dates: November 4 – December 24, 2023
Hours: Vary by store – check the website for reservation times.
Locations: Bass Pro Shops Tampa – 10501 Palm River Road Tampa, FL 33619 {Brandon area}
Bass Pro Shops Orlando – 5156 International Drive Orlando, FL 32819
Cost: FREE – Reservations are required and are available up to 7 days in advance.
More info: Bass Pro Website

Selfies with Santa at the Polk History Center

Santa Claus and his elves will be in his study at the History Center for “Selfies with Santa.”

2023 Dates: November 17 from 4 – 6pm (in advance of Bartow’s Magic on Main Street celebration)
December 2 from 10am – 1pm
December 16 from 10am – 1pm
Locations: Polk History Center – 100 E Main St, Bartow, FL 33830
Cost: FREE – Reservations are required. Contact the museum to reserve your space, (863) 534-4386 by phone or email,

Sensory Friendly Santa Visits

Sensory-Friendly Hours at Bonnet Springs Park {including photos with Santa}

Join Bonnet Springs Park for two enchanting evenings as we celebrate Light Up BSP in a sensory-friendly way!

Night 1: December 21st, 5:30 – 6:30PM – Sensory-Friendly Hour with Santa and Mrs. Claus
Share your Christmas wish list in a welcoming environment. Explore Christmas sensory bins that engage the senses. Experience the magic of Light Up BSP in a quiet and low-sensory setting. Santa will be available until 8:30 PM for all guests.

Night 2: December 26th, 5:30 – 6:30PM – Sensory-Friendly Light Up BSP Event
Enjoy a soft play playground designed for sensory delight. Create holiday crafts with sensory bins for added festive fun. Immerse yourself in the beauty of Light Up BSP in a quiet environment.

Additional resources like noise-dampening headphones and fidgets will be available. Both nights promise a warm and inclusive atmosphere for guests with neurodivergence or sensory sensitivities. Let’s celebrate the joy of the season together!

In addition, Santa at Bonnet Springs Park’s Light Up BSP Events has had sensory friendly training to welcome all guests for a comfortable visit with Santa.

​​Santa Cares – Lakeland Square Mall

Children within all spectrums of special needs and their families are welcome to visit before the mall opens for a sensory-friendly event to experience the time-honored tradition of a visit and photos with Santa. Santa Cares will be held on Sunday, December 3, 2023 from 10:30am – 12:00pm at Lakeland Square Mall. Reservations for Santa Cares events are required. Attendance is free, though photo packages are available for purchase onsite to help you capture the magic of your visit with Santa.

Santa Pictures in Orlando

Willing to travel a little further for your photos with Santa? These locations for Santa Photos in Orlando get rave reviews! {TIP – make a Holiday Day Trip and plan to visit other Holiday Events + Christmas Lights in Orlando}

Santa Pictures at Disney Springs

My teenagers LOVE going to walk around Disney Springs during the holidays, which makes this Disney loving mom happy! You can visit with Santa at Disney Springs – located at Santa Greetings at Once Upon a Toy, from November 10 through December 24, 2023. A virtual queue will be in place for this experience. Which is good because you can use the My Disney Experience app to get in line, then walk around Disney Springs until your appointment time. The bad thing is that you must be on site at Disney Springs in order to enter the virtual queue, so if you arrive later in the day it is likely all times could be full. Learn more about the Disney Springs Santa Virtual Queue.

Celebration’s Santa House – Santa Photos at Celebration Town Center

Now Snowing in Celebration, FL is a month long Winter Wonderland Spectacular featuring strolling Charles Dickens Carolers, community performers, photos with Santa, horse drawn carriage rides, the Celebration Express train, and nightly snowfall at 6:00, 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00 PM. Santa is available for photos nightly starting Nov. 26 through Christmas Eve. Visit the Celebration Santa website for hours and pricing.

The Santa Photo Experience – Mall at Millenia

We have friends who drive from Lakeland to Mall at Millenia every year for Santa photos, and they are always fantastic. Advance online reservations are required for photos and visits, reservations open 10 days in advance beginning in early November. You can choose to visit Santa and not purchase photos, a reservation is still required and a $10 donation to Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children is requested. If you are taking your own photos, a maximum of 3 personal still-photos are permitted per family/group. Learn more about the Santa Photo Experience in Orlando.

Interested in having your event included here? Submit a listing. For updates to a previous year’s event, please email us or use the Contact Us form instead.

Christmas Events + Holiday Activities

Check out our Ultimate Guide to Christmas Events + Holiday Activities to find more things to do including Neighborhood Christmas Light Displays, FREE Christmas Events, Santa Photos, Christmas Parades, and more.