'Tis the season to experience the magic and magic awaits in the heart of Flagstaff, Arizona. That's where you can embark on a memorable journey to the North Pole where you'll mingle with elves, make toys, dance with Mrs. Claus, and spend QT with St. Nick.
Here are 10 insider tips for visiting the North Pole Experience, including where to stay, what to wear, and how to optimize your trip.
1. Book early
The North Pole Experience, located in the heart of Flagstaff, Arizona, is a magical journey transporting you to the esteemed North Pole destination: Santa’s Grand Workshop. It’s arguably one of Arizona’s most popular seasonal experiences attracting families all over the state and country. Secure your spot early because tickets sell fast. Open mid-November through December, choose between an array of day and nightly timeslots. It’s suggested you arrive to check-in at least 30 minutes prior to boarding (last minute bathroom runs are a must.) Each departure leaves promptly on time. Click here to buy tickets.
2. Stay at Little America Hotel Flagstaff
The North Pole Experience departs from Little American Hotel in Flagstaff, AZ. You don’t necessarily need to stay overnight, but I highly recommend it. The hotel is an absolute gem and turns into a winter wonderland when the season rolls around. They have a great family-friendly restaurant for pre-North Pole lunch or dinner (and drinks!) called Silver Pine Restaurant and Bar. You can make a reservation here.
The oversized rooms and suites are comfortable and tastefully decorated flaunting spacious remodeled bathrooms and plenty of living space. In addition, some rooms come with a fireplace and balcony.
I’ll detail the property in tip #9 because there’s so much to do for families! Just know that staying at the hotel makes visiting the North Pole that much more fun, easy, and convenient.
3. Prep for winter weather... and wear festive PJs
Flagstaff is Arizona’s famous mountain town rich in forest and woodsy terrain. November and December might be sunny with blue skies, but the weather is still chilly. Bet on snow... if you’re lucky. We went in November and was welcomed with flurries- it was magical!
Ditch getting dolled up and instead opt for matching family pajamas. (Yes, adults wear them too.) My favorite pajama company for seasonal gear is Lazy One. And since you’ll barely be outside, you don’t need heavy coats while venturing to the North Pole, but I do recommend close-toed shoes (boots), vests and beanies.
4. Enjoy the ride
Your journey begins by boarding one of Santa’s Magic Trolleys via the Little America Hotel. Your trolly elf whisks your family away and transports you through the Magic Portal to the North Pole, ensuring a safe arrival at Santa’s HQ.
The transport is a fun-filled 15 minutes, singing Christmas songs and learning the portal poem (without reciting the poem, the portal will not work). You’ll feel the magic as you travel through the portal and witness the switch from leaving Flag and entering a land far, far away. Enjoy the ride. Be a kid with your kid. Partake. In Santa’s eyes, even adults are kids at heart.
5. Once you arrive, embark on quite the experience
When you get off the trolley, you’ll be greeted by elves who encourage the kids to embrace the Christmas cheer for all to hear... and when it’s loud enough, the doors will open.
The first stop is Santa’s famous Toy Hall of Fame where you’ll spot the most nostalgic toys past to present. Next, you’ll help Santa’s Elves build toys for children around the world. Your family will then enter Santa’s Factory along with Mrs. Claus’ Bakery for her signature treats and hot cocoa. Following befriending Mrs. Claus, you’ll earn a diploma from Elf University along with making your way to the mail room where you can scribe letters to Santa. Finally, as you wait to see the big man himself, you’ll tour Santa’s top secret sleigh hanger and, if you’re lucky, potentially spot reindeer.
The North Pole Experience is a reminder that those who don’t believe in magic, will never find it.
6. Get ready to pack presents, eat, dance, and sing
Don’t think you’ll just be watching and waiting; the journey is extremely interactive. Be prepared to help pack presents, dance the night away, and sing to your heart’s content. Prepare your kids to partake.
Here’s more on what to expect.
7. Capture the memories
I know this goes without saying as most of us are glued to our phones, but you’ll really want to capture the memories. Snap pics, take video, but also savor the precious present (and BE present).
8. Enjoy the special one-on-one time with Santa
Your final stop is visiting Santa and the North Pole Experience does it right. Every family gets their own private moment with St. Nick where the kids can share all their hopes for Christmas morning. The journey includes professional photos with Santa (which are then provided via QR code), and you’ll also leave with a special gift- a teddy from Mr. Claus.
9. Enjoy the property
Once you’ve visited the North Pole and made your way back to the US, hang at Little America. It’s such a fantastic property with a pool, hot tub, awesome playground, and tons of walking paths/hikes. Also, at night, the property is dressed in twinkling lights making for a delightful Christmasy stroll.
10. Book brunch with Santa at Little America Hotel Flagstaff
End your overnight with a beautiful brunch... with Santa! On select mornings, Little America Hotel offers a special Santa-infused dining experience... made to order omelets, waffles, fruit, cereal and more... paired with tableside visits from Mr. Claus!
Remember: magic is much easier seen through the eyes of a child. And when you partake in the North Pole Experience, you’ll learn that believing is, in fact, seeing.