11 chances to meet Santa this holiday season

See your kid's (or dog's) face light up.

ZooLights.
ZooLights. –Dayle Sullivan-Taylor/Zoo New England

What better way to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year than to spend it with Saint Nick? Here are the best places to find—and snap a picture with—Santa in Greater Boston this month, whether it’s for your kids, your dog, or yourself.

Santa in the Seaport

District Hall in the Seaport District will host a day of cookie decorating, hot chocolate, and—yes—photos with Santa. Children can play and parents can shop at retail tables throughout the space. (December 11 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; District Hall, 75 Pier Four Boulevard, Boston; free, but guest are encouraged to bring donations to the South Boston Neighborhood House)

ZooLights at Stone Zoo

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Christmas and animals: What could be better? At Stone Zoo in Stoneham, visitors can saunter through Yukon Creek, decorated with thousands of twinkly lights, and see bald eagles and Canada lynx. Santa takes pictures nightly in his castle. Stone Zoo’s reindeer are also available for nightly photo ops. (Now through Sunday, January 1 from 5-9 p.m.; Stone Zoo, 149 Pond St., Stoneham; $8 per member and $9 per non-member for admission, kids under 2 are free; Santa photo packages start at $14)

Free Santa Photo, CambridgeSide Galleria

You won’t want to miss out on this one: free photos with Jolly Old Saint Nick in Cambridge. Every family that visits with Santa will receive two 4-by-6-inch prints and a single digital download image. Find Santa on level one of the mall, and check out the additional photos and Christmas merch available for purchase. (Now through Saturday, December 24, Mondays-Saturdays from 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sundays from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Christmas Eve from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; CambridgeSide Galleria, 100 CambridgeSide Place, Cambridge)

Photos with Santa at Natick Mall

Cut the line by reserving your spot with Santa at Neiman Marcus Court in Natick Mall. Visit the mall early in the month or preorder a package online to save money. (Now through Saturday, December 24, Mondays-Saturdays from noon-8 p.m., Sundays from noon-6 p.m., extended hours begin December 16; 1245 Worcester St., Natick; prices vary by package)

Pet Night with Santa at Natick Mall

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Why dress your dog up in a Santa costume when you can take him to the Big Guy himself? Every Monday until December 12, Natick Mall offers photo ops with Santa for your four-legged friends. Cats and dogs only, though. (December 5 and 12 from 4-8 p.m.; 1245 Worcester St, Natick; prices vary by package)

Santa in the City, Prudential Center

Santa has arrived at the Pru! He’ll be stationed in his Winter Wonderland setup in Belvidere Arcade until Christmas Eve, available for photo ops. (Now through Thursday, December 24; Mondays-Fridays from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturdays from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sundays from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; extended hours starting December 11; Prudential Center, 800 Boylston St.; photo packages start at $19.99)

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops

Every year, Bass Pro Shops transforms into a wintry wonderland of crafts, remote-control trucks, arcade games, and Santa photos. (Now through Thursday, December 24; times for activities vary each day; Bass Pro Shops, 1 Bass Pro Dr., Foxborough)

Simon Malls: South Shore Plaza, Burlington Mall, Solomon Pond Mall, Emerald Square, Northshore Mall, Square One Mall, The Shops at Chestnut Hill

Simon Malls across the Commonwealth—in Braintree, Burlington, Marlborough, North Attleboro, Peabody, Saugus, and Chestnut Hill—are all holding Santa meet-and-greets. Sign up for a time online, and know that the $10 deposit required at registration will be applied to your photo purchase. Go to this link and find when Santa will be at a Simon Mall near you. Also, several of the malls have Pet Photo Night, during which you can bring along your furry friend. Visit the malls’ websites for details. (Times, dates, and prices vary by reservation and location)

Santa’s Workshop at Smolak Farms

Every weekend in December before Christmas weekend, the barn at Smolak Farms in North Andover will offer a “relaxed atmosphere to see Santa,” complete with holiday crafts in a decorative setting. The best part? It’s free, and you don’t need to make a reservation. (December 4, 10, 11, 17, and 18 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Smolak Farms, 315 South Bradford St., North Andover)

Santa visits the Paragon Carousel, Hull

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For one weekend only, Santa will take photos on the historic Paragon Carousel adjacent to Nantasket Beach in Hull. Don’t miss the hot cider and cocoa, holiday music, gifts for your perusing, and, of course, carousel rides. The money from the photos will go to preserve the beauty of the historic carousel. (December 10-11 from noon-3 p.m.; Paragon Carousel, 205 Nantasket Ave., Hull; $10 for one photo, $15 for two photos, and $20 for three photos)

Festival of Trees and Snow Village, Massachusetts Horticultural Society

This one is fun for the whole family: a miniature village at Elm Bank decked out for the holiday season, complete with trains through the village, horse-drawn carriage rides, music, and, Santa visits. You can enter a raffle to win one of several specially made Christmas trees, with the raffle winners announced on the last day of the festival. Parking is free. (Now through Sunday, December 11; times of activities and Santa visits vary per day; Elm Bank Horticulture Center, 900 Washington St., Wellesley; $10 per person, $8 for members, children under 12 are free)

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