The chill is in the air…the mountains have had its first frost and snow…it must be the beginning of Christmas season!
Nothing makes me happier than Christmas. I love the decorations. I love the Christmas music on all the radio stations. I love that the stores put out Christmas stuff earlier and earlier each year. I just love Christmas. That’s why I was as happy as a five-year-old when I found out the Adirondacks was actually home to the THE NORTH POLE! It was like I was transported in time, and I couldn’t wait for my first visit to Santa’s Workshop!
If you don’t already know, there is an actual town in the High Peaks, up near Whiteface Mountain, called North Pole, New York, and here is where all the magic happens. I know there are skeptics that think October is too early to think about Santa, but there are thousands of kids (and me!) who think – what are we waiting for?
On my visit to Santa’s Workshop in early October, the nip in the air set the stage for a magical visit, and put me right in the Christmas spirit. I was lucky enough to meet with one of Santa's special helpers, Teresa, for a personal tour. Teresa filled me in on a little of the history of Santa’s Workshop. It opened in July, 1949 (Christmas in July!), and is the oldest park in the United States. It was created and brought to life by Arto Monaco of Upper Jay, NY.
Santa’s Workshop is open for a good portion of the year, and is a super-fun summer attraction for the littlest visitors, but it’s when the weather starts to chill that people come from far and near to get a glimpse of the fat man himself. Teresa told me that Santa lives on the property, and the elves are there to not only make toys, but also to help visitors enjoy their time at the North Pole.
The park has so many great attractions to light the spirit of Christmas in kids of all ages, especially those from two to 10 years old. There are rides for the kids, and adults can ride the roller coaster. A train, which is open to all ages, takes you on a ride through the woods, past where the elves live! What makes it even better is that the elves take a break from toy making to work all the rides for visitors.
One of the best parts of my visit was seeing the reindeer stable, complete with separate stalls with each reindeer’s name at the top! There were three babies when I was there, they are kept in a separate area while they were being trained to stay in the open area with the older reindeer. They were adorable!
At one point, Teresa took me to the north “pole,” a stand that is freezing cold all year long. I didn’t believe it, so I had to touch it. It really was freezing! It must be the real North Pole…
I made it a point to go see the bake and candy shop, which has people baking all day for visitors and guests who are staying over at one of the local Inns for the Yuletide Family Weekends, which includes two days at Santa’s Workshop. This exciting event, which begins on weekends in November, gets you a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus in their home, as well as lots of other activities, rides and shows. You also get a welcome package, loaded with treats and gifts, a photo of your family with Santa as a keepsake, and each child receives a gift that Santa has chosen especially for him or her! Keep your eyes peeled, because Santa has been known to make surprise visits to guests at their hotels!
Now is the time to plan this once-in-a-lifetime visit to Santa’s Workshop with the important children in your life! These Yuletide Family Weekends begin in November, and feature great events including:
Be sure to also check out the Village of Lights in December, featuring a beautifully-lit park, caroling, marshmallow roasts, an opportunity to feed the reindeer and a Nativity Pageant presentation. All dates and ticket availability can be found on the park’s website.
No matter when you make it to Santa’s Workshop, be sure to see Elmer the Elf - if you drop a coin in his bucket, you can talk to him and he will talk back! Mail a letter or package from the North Pole post office, which will be delivered showing the North Pole post mark. You can also visit the hat shop, selling personalized hats and magic wands, and the gift shop, as well.
All in all, my visit to Santa’s Workshop was exactly what I hoped, a day that put me in the Christmas spirit. I think I’ll have to go again when the park is all lit up! Are you ready to sit on Santa's lap? Stay in the Whiteface Region this season!
Looking for more unique ADK locales? Check these out: