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Climb, Hike, Paddle, and More With Santa: Unique Ways to Meet the ‘Big Man’ This December

Although this is Santa’s busiest time of year, he still manages to squeeze in a pow day or a hike here and there. If you and your family are hoping to catch him enjoying the outdoors, we’ve got you covered with several different, unique ways to spend time with Santa. 

Climb With Santa

Santa loves to frequent climbing gyms and crags during the holiday season. Find him rappelling down the chimney at Chimney Rock State Park in North Carolina or, if you’re on the west coast of the U.S., head to the SkyPark at Santa’s Village in Skyforest, California, for a full day of adventure, including climbing indoor and outdoor bouldering walls. Outdoor shops like Neptune Mountaineering in Boulder, Colorado and climbing gyms like G1 Climbing and Fitness in Broomfield, Colorado have yearly “Santa Climbs.” Check with your local indoor gym to see if they host a Santa climbing event near you. 

Cut Down a Tree With Santa 

On select weekends, Santa and Smokey the Bear hang out at various tree-cutting locations within national forest land. Pay them a visit before or after you cut your tree and share your adventure gear wishlist with Santa while you’re at it. Check out the U.S. Forest Service website to see if there is a participating cutting area near you.

Paddle with Santa

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Image by Surfing Santa Contest

Head to Ventura Harbor in Ventura, California for a Santa Paddle and “boat sleigh ride” with Ventura Boat Rentals. Down the coast in Dana Point, California, there’s an annual Surfing Santa and Paddleboard contest (held in November, though, not December). In Oregon, bring a toy donation and paddleboard down the Willamette River alongside Santa and Mrs. Claus. Paddleboarders also gather in Vancouver to paddle down the Campbell River—dressed as Santa, of course. For those near the Great Lakes, Nalu Standup Paddle and Surf holds a yearly holiday paddle on Lake Erie. Check your local paddling shop for similar events in your area.

Shred with Santa

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Image by Blue Mountain

From the hills of Blue Mountain, Ontario to the slopes of Loveland, Colorado, “Santas” can be seen skiing or boarding down the hill. During the month of December, you can dress up like Santa and ride for free at Sunday River in Maine. Winter Park Resort in Colorado hosts the  Torchlight Parade and Fireworks on Christmas Eve—the perfect time to catch Santa on the slopes. The Spruce Peak Lights Festival is a great place to hit up after skiing the slopes at Stowe, Vermont to see Santa, along with a performance on ice. Most ski resorts have festive holiday events with the “big man,” so check events pages to get something on the calendar. 

Hike with Santa

This December, listen to an interpretive reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas at the Bear Creek Nature Center in El Paso County, Colorado, followed by a nature hike on two separate dates. Or head to Scottsdale, Arizona. The city puts on the “Jingle Hike to Santa” at Pinnacle Peak Park. In Buckeye, Arizona, you can take a hike and search for Santa’s elves, who can be found hiding all along the trail. If you’re in the Midwest, go Ho Ho Ho Hiking with Santa and Buddy the Elf at the West Woods in Russell and Newbury Townships, Ohio. Check your local botanical garden or nature preserve to see if there are similar events near you.

Trot with Santa

From the mountains of Breckenridge to the suburbs of Chicago, Santa runs are a festive way to celebrate the holidays. The Santa Hustle 5k (available virtually and in nine locations throughout the U.S.) brings out thousands of holly-jolly runners dressed in Santa garb. One of the largest Santa runs globally, the Great Santa Run in Las Vegas, is another option. There are also plenty of options for a virtual Santa run. Throw on some jingle bells and an ugly sweater and see if you can beat Santa across the finish line. 

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