Santa Claus, Indiana: The Complete Guide

What to eat, where to stay, and things to do in Santa Claus, Indiana

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Year Visited: 2023

Time of Year: November

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Or maybe I should say yes, Indiana…

If you love small towns with Hallmark Christmas movie vibes as much as I do, you may want to plan a trip to Santa Claus, Indiana. It’s a small town in southern Indiana with lots of holiday themed attractions. And there are a surprisingly lot of things to do in Santa Claus, Indiana!

I’ve got all the things for you to do, as well as where to eat and where to stay, with tips from my friends who are locals!


About Santa Claus, Indiana

The Christmas Village at the Santa Claus Museum.

Santa Claus, Indiana is a town of about 2,500 people in southern Indiana. It’s just about an hour from Louisville, Kentucky to the east, and Evansville, Indiana to the west.

History of Santa Claus, Indiana

The year was 1855. The small town of Santa Fee, Indiana was applying to the US government for its very own post office. But their application was rejected because the name of their town was too similar to the already established Santa Fe, Indiana. Go figure.

On a cold, blustery Christmas Eve night (or so the legend goes) the townspeople stayed after their Christmas Eve service to discuss a new name for their town. A large gust of wind blew open the doors of the building and the faint sound of jingle bells could be heard outside, leading a child to cry out “Santa Claus!”

And so, they applied for a post office under the name of Santa Claus, Indiana.

Letters to Santa

After opening their “Santa Claus” post office, the town started to receive letters that were addressed to… you guessed it, Santa Claus! In 1914, the Santa Claus post master decided these letters needed an answer, so he gathered a group of volunteers to help him respond the each child’s letter to Santa.

This action soon garnered the small town national attention, and people began to visit Santa Claus, Indiana. The increasing number of visitors, and the local residents’ desires to not disappoint the kids coming to see Santa Claus, led to the development of some of the world’s first themed attractions, and the town of Santa Claus as we know it today.

Weather in Santa Claus, Indiana

Much to the chagrin of white Christmas lovers everywhere, Santa Claus, Indiana does not get a lot of snow. It is actually further south than Louisville, so snow is a rare (though not impossible) occurrence there.

The weather remains pretty mild in the winter, and hot in the summer. Late October is a good time for fall weather here.

What time zone is Santa Claus, Indiana in?

Santa Claus, Indiana is on Central time.

This can get super confusing, since most of Indiana is on Eastern time, and Santa Claus is very close to the time zone line.

Depending on where you stay and what other attractions you visit, some of these might be in the Eastern time zone, but the town of Santa Claus is on Central time.

Who should visit Santa Claus, Indiana?

Santa Claus is a great destination for everyone, but it is especially good for families, Christmas lovers, and history buffs.

Best Time of Year to Visit Santa Claus, Indiana

You can visit Santa Claus, Indiana any time of year, but some times will be better than others.

Be sure to pay attention to the opening hours of the local attractions. Some events and attractions are only open during the Christmas season, while others are only available during the warmer months.


December is the best time of year to visit Santa Claus. All the festive attractions are sure to put you in the holiday mood!

Santa’s Candy Castle, with their famous hot chocolate, is open daily during the Christmas season. There are also other seasonal activities, like the Santa Claus Land of Lights Christmas light drive through and the town’s Christmas Celebration.

You can also mail your holiday cards from the Santa Claus, IN post office with a special holiday postmark that is only available in December.

  • Bonus: You can mail your holiday cards to the Santa Claus Post Office to get the holiday post mark, even if you aren’t actually in town. More info on that below.


Summer is another popular time to visit Santa Claus, mainly for the Holiday World theme park. The park is generally open daily May-July, and then on weekends through October.

Mid-Late October

I love traveling places in the fall, and southern Indiana is no exception! October would be a beautiful time of year to visit the state.

The weather will be comfortable, the crowds will have thinned, there are lots of fall festivities going on (like Happy Halloween Weekends at Holiday World), and the changing leaves will make a perfect backdrop for all of fun things to do in Santa Claus and nearby!

Things to Do in Santa Claus, Indiana

There are a lot of things to do in Santa Claus, Indiana. Remember to pay attention to opening times, as they are not all open year-round.

Santa Claus Museum & Christmas Village


The original Santa Claus post office, where you can mail a letter to Santa.

The Santa Claus Museum is one of the main things to do in Santa Claus, Indiana. Here you can learn the history of Santa Claus (the town), see letters that kids have written to Santa, and, if you’re lucky, maybe even meet the big guy himself!

The Christmas Village includes:

  • The Santa Claus Museum

  • The original Santa Claus post office building, where you can send a letter to Santa!

  • An 1880 chapel with a beautiful nativity scene inside

  • The 22-foot Santa Claus statue, made in 1935

This is an especially good place to bring kids, but it’s worth a quick stop for adults as well (at least those of us who are Hallmark movie characters at heart). It’s also the best place in town to take photos (lots of good insta/holiday card backdrops!).

The museum is open year-round, and they host special events throughout the year.

How to mail a letter to Santa Claus:

Even if you are not visiting Santa Claus, Indiana, you can still mail a letter to Santa Claus and have it answered!

Letters received before December 17 will receive replies from Santa Claus! Mail your letter to:

Santa Claus

P.O. Box 1

Santa Claus, IN 47579

Holiday World

The main attraction in Santa Claus, Indiana is Holiday World, which also happens to be the world’s first theme park!

The park was first opened in 1946 by businessman Louis J. Koch as a Christmas themed amusement park, because he saw how disappointed many kids were when they came to Santa Claus, Indiana, and discovered Santa was not actually there!

Today the park has five different sections: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, 4th of July, and the Splashin’ Safari water park.

Not only does it hold the distinction of the world’s first theme park, it also has the world’s best water park ride (the Wildebeest) and one of the world’s top wooden roller coasters (the Raven)! Holiday World is definitely one of the best things to do in Santa Claus, and in all of Indiana!

The park is open most days in May-July, and weekends in August-October. They offer free parking for park-goers (take that Disney World!).

Santa’s Candy Castle

Holiday World may be the world’s first theme park, but Santa’s Candy Castle is the world’s first themed attraction! The castle, opened in 1935, is actually part of the original “Santa Claus Town” that also included Santa’s Workshop and Toy Village.

The attraction was the town’s first answer to the families that came, hoping to see Santa Claus, and was free for visitors to come to! Unfortunately, during WWII, they lost many sponsors and visitors, and eventually closed down.

But in 2005, a new family bought the property and started restoring it! Santa’s Candy Castle reopened in 2006.

The building itself is a fun sight to see, but there is so much more to do inside! They have an entire room devoted to PEZ candies, and the first ever PEZ dispenser character (Santa Claus!), and a gourmet hot chocolate bar (I’ve been told the frozen hot chocolate is famous!!).

Be sure to check the opening hours for Santa’s Candy Castle. They are typically open daily in the summer season from Memorial Day-mid August, have limited hours in early May and November, and are open daily during the Christmas season.

Santa Claus Christmas Store

The Santa Claus Christmas Store is a HUGE store FILLED with all things Christmas (as its name implies…). It is a Christmas wonderland for holiday lovers, with all sorts of decorations and ornaments and rooms and rooms of Christmas souvenirs to browse.

You can also order yourself a cozy hot chocolate and some roasted chestnuts and sit in the little cafe in the back, dreaming that you are in a real life Hallmark Christmas movie.

The holiday store is open May-December.

Go Shopping along Kringle Place

Besides the famous Santa Claus Christmas Store, there are a lot of other cute shops to visit along Kringle Place. There is the Evergreen Boutique, a toy store, the post office, even a hardware store that I would shop in just because it’s adorable.

Spend some time browsing around all the local shops in the plaza.

Mail a Christmas Card

One of the fun things to do in Santa Claus, Indiana is to mail your Christmas cards from the Santa Claus Post Office on Kringle Place.

Not to be confused with the post office at the Santa Claus Museum & Village, where you can send letters TO Santa, this is the current post office actually serving the town. During the month of December, there is a special holiday postmark available, which is different every year.

It’s just a simple thing to add a little extra magic to your holiday season. The special Santa Claus postage mark is designed each year by a local high school student, which makes it even more special!

Be sure to ask for the holiday postmark when you go in to mail your cards.


  • There is a limit of 50 postmarks per customer.

  • The postmark is free to add to your mail.

Did you know? You can get the Santa Claus holiday postmark without physically being in Santa Claus, Indiana!

How to mail a letter with the Santa Claus postmark:

If you can’t visit Santa Claus, Indiana but you still want to mail your Christmas cards with the unique Santa Claus postmark, you can actually mail your cards to Santa Claus and have them postmarked and sent out from there.

First make sure that all your cards are addressed and stamped, so they can be mailed out from the Santa Clause post office. Be sure to leave enough space (about a 2 inch by 4 inch area) between the stamp and the address on the envelope.

Then put all your cards in a package or a big envelope and mail them to this address:


P.O. Box 9998

Santa Claus, IN 47579-9998

Things to Do Near Santa Claus, Indiana

In addition to all of the fun things to do in Santa Claus, Indiana, there are a lot of great attractions just a few minutes drive away from the town (just be sure to double check what time zone you’re going to).

The Lincoln Parks

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln grew up just down the road from Santa Claus, Indiana (before it was called Santa Claus)?

Today, you can visit a recreation of the log cabin in the spot where the Lincoln family lived, at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial.

Just across the street from the National Memorial is the Lincoln State Park, with 10 miles of walking trails, the home of Colonel Jones (an early employer of Lincoln), and the Lincoln Amphitheater, a great place to see a show in the warmer months!

St. Meinrad Archabbey

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a monk, you can tour (for free) St. Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad, Indiana, a 15 minute drive from Santa Claus.

Visit their gift shop, tour the grounds (on your own or on a guided tour), or even stay overnight in their guest house.

Monastery Immaculate Conception

In St. Meinrad you have the monk’s monastery, and in Ferdinand, Indiana, you have the Sisters of St. Benedict’s Monastery Immaculate Conception.

This beautiful monastery is also a 15 minute drive from Santa Claus. You can take free tours of their gorgeous monastery, wander around on your own, eat at the brewery (yes, a brewery on their grounds!), or stay overnight.

A “League of Their Own” Field

One of the most unique things to do near Santa Claus (actually, everything here is super unique!) is to watch a baseball game at League Stadium, where they actually filmed A League of Their Own.

You can visit the stadium for a baseball game, or just take a tour (or both!). The stadium is in Huntingburg, a 20 minute drive from Santa Claus, Indiana.

  • Bonus: League Stadium in Huntingburg is where they filmed the home games of the Rockford Peaches in A League of Their Own.” Just another hour away, in Evansivlle, IN is Bosse Field, where they filmed the championship game.

Places to Eat in Santa Claus, Indiana

The Santa Claus, Indiana website has a list of places to eat in Santa Claus, and within a few minutes drive from the town center.

Another great place to find food is right in Holiday World, if you’re at the park. Plymouth Rock Cafe is a popular restaurant in Holiday World, serving Thanksgiving favorites.

I asked my friends who are locals where their favorite places to eat were. These are some of their suggestions (along with a frozen hot chocolate from Santa’s Candy Castle!).

Fry’d and Chop’d

Fry’d and Chop’d is a restaurant/ax throwing venue in Huntingburg, Indiana, just a 20 minute drive from Santa Claus (where the League of Their Own field is!). They’ve got delicious fried food, and then when you’re finished eating, you can burn off some calories with ax throwing…!

Frosty’s Fun Center

Frosty’s Fun Center was suggested by my friends as having the best pizza around (and by their kids… because it’s fun). In addition to pizza, they also have an arcade and mini golf course.

  • Unfortunately, the restaurant closed at the end of July, as the current owners were selling it, and there has not yet been any updates on reopening it.

St. Benedict’s Brew Works

St. Benedict’s Brew Works might be the most unique place to eat near Santa Claus, Indiana.

Located on the grounds of the Sisters of St. Benedict’s Monastery Immaculate Conception, this brewery offers delicious pub fare and beers. And punny t-shirts with phrases like “Ale Mary.”

Where to Stay in Santa Claus, Indiana

There are actually so many places to stay in Santa Claus, Indiana, and some of them are very unique!

Sun Outdoors Lake Rudolph

The Sun Outdoors Lake Rudolph campground is the best place to stay in Santa Claus.

It is right next to Holiday World, and they offer free transportation to the park and back. They also have their own “mini” waterpark for guests ($10 a person), as well as swimming pools, mini golf, and other fun resort activities. They even have seasonal activities like trick-or-treating and their Christmas lights display.

They have RV and tent sites, and a variety of different cabin rentals available.

Santa’s Cottages

Just outside of town is Santa’s Cottages Lakeside Family Resort.

Like Lake Rudolph, they also offer seasonal events like trick-or-treating and the Reindeer Express train. You can rent different size cottages around the lake at this beautiful resort.

Lincoln Pines Lakefront Resort

Another lakefront resort with cabin rentals is Lincoln Pines Lakefront Resort, located just outside of the Lincoln parks. They have a pool, arcade, and lots of other fun things to do for guests of their resort.

Lincoln State Park Campground

As if you weren’t spoiled for choice of cabins and campgrounds already… you could also book a stay at a campsite or cabin on the grounds of the Lincoln State Park.

Santa’s Lodge

If renting a cabin is not your thing and you really just want a normal hotel room, Santa’s Lodge is the closest place to stay in Santa Claus. They have some good reviews and some bad reviews…

Overall they seem to be a pretty average hotel in need of some updating. I personally would not choose to stay here, but it is definitely an option for staying close to Santa Claus!

Stay in a Monastery

Both the St. Meinrad Archabbey and the Monastery Immaculate Conception have guest houses where you can actually stay on the grounds of the monastery and experience what life is like for the monks or the sisters.

Movies to Watch

I always like to watch movies about a place, or that remind me of a place before I visit (and after, too!). It gets me excited to go, and excited when I see things from the movies in real life!

Here are some movies you should watch before you visit Santa Claus, Indiana:

Miracle on 34th Street

Especially the black and white one! Even though this takes place in NYC, this reminds me so much of Santa Claus, Indiana, because of the post office recognizing the letters to Santa. It’s a great movie to watch before visiting a place that became famous by answering letters to Santa Claus.

Hallmark Christmas Movies

Santa Claus 100% sounds like a Hallmark Christmas movie location, and is a great place for Hallmark Christmas movie fans to visit. So go ahead and binge 1 or 12 of their cheesy Christmas love stories.

Any other Christmas movie ever

Basically any of your favorite Christmas movies is good to watch before visiting. Might I suggest the one actually called The Santa Clause?

A League of Their Own

I had this classic movie on my personal list of movies to watch before I visited Indiana. But I forgot to watch it until I was at my friends’ house (who live close to Santa Claus) and they were telling me other places to visit, including the baseball stadium where they actually filmed the movie!

So make sure (unlike me) you actually watch this movie before you visit!


(Or any other movie having to do with Abraham Lincoln). I was surprised to find Lincoln’s boyhood home in southern Indiana, as well as the trail of “12 stones” marking significant moments in his life, such as the rock on which he stood to give the Gettysburg Address.

Learn more about one of our nation’s most iconic presidents before visiting his boyhood home by watching Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.

So there is all the information you need to plan a magical trip to southern Indiana. With so many unique things to do in Santa Claus, it is truly a great vacation destination for everyone!

Like real life Christmas towns? Visit this town in Canada:

Any more questions?

If you have any more questions, feel free to email me or leave a comment below.

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