Santa Claus Museum
Santa Claus, Indiana
The history of Santa Claus -- the town, not the man -- is told at the Santa Claus Museum, with a room devoted to the town's premiere attraction, Santa Claus Land/Holiday World, whose owner substantially bankrolls the museum. Visitors can sit in Santa's sleigh for a souvenir photo, or gaze at old postcards and souvenirs from Santa Lands that no longer exist.
[Kids! Don't read this next paragraph.]
One prized exhibit is the typewriter used for 30 years in the Santa Claus post office to answer countless Dear Santa letters. That task today is handled in the museum -- which is in the same Kringle Plaza shopping center as the post office -- by a staff of volunteers who respond to roughly 10,000 letters each year. The most charming Dear Santa requests become exhibits in the museum.
We were impressed by dozens of signed celebrity photos lining the walls. Did swinging '70s hepcats like Jim Nabors and Howard Cosell really visit Santa Claus? No, the curator told us, those photos were just someone's autograph collection. Then she showed us photos of the celebrities who have visited: Jeannie C. "Harper Valley PTA" Riley in 1967, and Ronald Reagan in 1955.