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It’s once again that most wonderful time of the year! The Christmas season is upon us and if you have children, they’re likely dreaming of what Santa Claus might bring for Christmas. Luckily, there are plenty of fun opportunities in Arkansas for kids to share those wishes with St. Nick and enjoy a fun experience as well. From train rides to breakfast, find a location near you or plan a fun holiday day trip to visit Santa Claus and relive the magic of the Christmas season.
Photo Credit: By Doug Wertman from Rogers, AR – Wikimedia
The Kansas City Southern Holiday Express will have two stops in Arkansas this year, so mark your calendars to see this special sight. The train rolls into DeQueen on December 10th at 4 p.m. and stops in Decatur at 4 p.m. December 13th. The train is free to board and meet Santa, the elves and enjoy the lights and decorations inside and out!
The Arkansas & Missouri Railroad will once again have its popular Children’s Christmas Train this year. Saturday, December 7th, the train will depart Springdale and travel to Johnson and back. The Arts Center of the Ozarks is partnering with the railroad for this event, which also includes a winter wonderland of games, activities, a cookie station and pony rides. The train leaves every hour from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. but tickets must be bought in advance. Don’t wait! The Christmas Train is expected to sell out.
If you can’t make the Christmas Train on December 7th, there are still plenty of opportunities to ride the train this holiday season. The A&M Railroad runs the “Pajama Train” and the “Holiday Express” train beginning November 29th with routes from Springdale to Fayetteville and Van Buren to Rudy, giving kids the chance to enjoy the train and catch a glimpse of Santa, too. Be sure to check the calendar at amtrainrides.com for the routes and schedules and buy tickets in advance.
Head to Prairie Grove December 7th to enjoy pancakes with the big man himself. The Prairie Grove Senior Center hosts an all-you-can-eat pancake bar for $3 per person from 9 am-noon. Superheroes will also join in the fun and photo opportunities. The proceeds will go to Prairie Grove Meals on Wheels.
Santa arrives early at McCain Mall in North Little Rock. until December 24th for all who want to visit and get a picture.
Santa’s North Pole in Jonesboro offers breakfast with Santa on December 21st. Kids will play games and sing Christmas carols as well as eat breakfast and meet Santa Claus.
Santa’s Wonderland can be found inside local Bass Pro shops in Little Rock and Rogers, where children can visit and receive a free picture.
Coffee Love Bakery in Hot Springs will host Mr. and Mrs. Claus Saturday, December 7th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Each child will enjoy a visit with Santa and cookies and milk, with additional photo opportunities.
If you thought you had to go to the North Pole to see Santa, think again. Visit Santa’s North Pole in Jonesboro to see animated Christmas displays and visit the jolly old elf. With a wide selection of special events, kids also have the chance to see superheroes, princesses, Star Wars characters and maybe even Rudolph.
Christmas isn’t complete without a Christmas tree. Santa will make several appearances at Papa Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm in Benton. On November 30th, December 7th and December 21st, Santa will be on the farm from 2 p.m. until close and available for visits at no charge. See Santa and take home a tree for him to place gifts under on Christmas Eve!
In Northwest Arkansas, find Santa at Pinnacle Hills Promenade in Rogers or the Northwest Arkansas Mall in Fayetteville. Santa will also be at Central Mall in Ft. Smith for hugs, wishlists and photos. Check each mall’s schedule for availability.
SugarDumplin’s Cupcakes in Bryant will continue their Santa tradition with the 5th Annual Cocoa with Santa on December 7th from 10 am to 2 pm, including a sensory-friendly experience from 1 to 2 pm. Though the event is free, reservations are required so don’t forget to RSVP!
Thomas Nast, 1881.
Head to Eureka Springs this holiday season on December 7th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for Firefighters & Santa in the Park.
This year, Searcy will have Santa on the Square for the Searcy Christmas Parade December 16th from 6 to 8 pm. However, the Searcy Santa will also be hearing Christmas wishes at the Santa Hut beginning November 29th. Find the full schedule at the Searcy Holiday of Lights Facebook page.
Santa will visit the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock on December 7th and 21st from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The visit is free and includes art projects and free photos. See clintonfoundation.org for more information.
Garvan Gardens Botanical Garden in Hot Springs will host Santa Nights, beginning December 2nd, which provide children the opportunity to visit Santa in the Garvan Pavilion.
Clarksville will celebrate At The Barn at Sleepy Hollow on Sunday, December 8th with S’mores with Santa. From 1 to 6 p.m., Santa will be available for photos, plus s’mores, hot cocoa, games and a special guest (other than Santa, of course.)
The Rogers Historical Museum has its holiday open house and opening of its themed tour, Here Comes Santa Claus, December 7th from 10 am to 4 pm. Along with crafts and the tour of historic Hawkins House, Santa will stop in at 2 pm to visit with the kids. Find out the history of St. Nick and enjoy a visit with him, too!
There are several opportunities to see Santa at First Security Bank. Check their Facebook Event Page for locations and times.
Whether you see Santa in Arkansas once or many times, enjoy the magic of the Christmas season.
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