A Santa statue.

A Town Named Santa Claus

Santa Claus, Indiana

Long before there were cars or vacations, there was Santa Claus, Indiana.

Christmas crossroads.

The town was originally named Santa Fee. When its citizens asked for a post office in 1856, they were told that Indiana already had a post office named Santa Fe and that if they wanted one they would have to change their town's name. "They wanted to keep the Santa," said the curator at the Santa Claus Museum, "and all they could think of was Santa Claus." But that's not a very magical story, so a tale developed that the new-name debate took place on Christmas Eve, and that it was interrupted when a door blew open and sleigh bells could be heard on the wind. "It's Santa Claus!" cried a child, and the town decided that indeed it was.

Santa Claus remained that way for decades of peaceful obscurity. Then in 1895 the Grinch-like Secretary of the Interior changed the name of the town to one word, Santaclaus, supposedly to conform to a nationwide standardization for place names. Town postmaster James Martin spent years trying to change it back, and in 1927 the town became Santa Claus again. This triggered publicity, an appearance in Robert Ripley's Believe it or Not! syndicated newspaper column, and a flood of children's letters.

Another waving Santa.

The Postmaster General was furious (the more mail that came through, the more money postmaster Martin was paid) and he threatened to force yet another name change in 1931, but the public howled in protest and the threat was withdrawn. It was then announced that all letters to Santa -- which had previously been thrown away -- would now be routed to Santa Claus.

In 1935 two attractions arrived in Santa Claus to try and mine its Christmas gold: Santa Claus Town and arch-rival Santa Claus Park. Their owners succeeded only in destroying each other. In 1946 a new attraction opened, Santa Claus Land, which survived and is technically the oldest theme park in the world -- although its name is now Holiday World and Splashin' Safari and it makes Santa share billing with Halloween, the 4th of July, and Thanksgiving.

Drippy snowman.
Melting Snowman at a miniature golf course.

The Santa Claus post office still earns its stripes at Christmastime, postmarking a half-million holiday cards and answering roughly 20,000 letters from children (Santa's address is 45 North Kringle Place, Santa Claus, IN 47579, in case your kids ask). But the days when Santa could take the summer off are over, and Santa Claus has had to adjust to a world in which people want Christmas all year long.

The local motel, Santa's Lodge, features two 12-foot-tall fiberglass Santas on its lawn, and the town fire trucks have been dubbed Rudolph, Dasher, and Blitzen. But a housing community on the south side of town -- Christmas Lake Village -- is off-limits behind security gates. On the north side, Holiday Village has streets such as North Pole Lane and Blitzen Blvd, but also New Year's Eve Rd, Inauguration Day, and Easter Drive. Holiday World is closed on Christmas.

What town is this -- Santa Claus or Santa Fee? Diversity is nice, but not in a town named Santa Claus.

Worth a trip to Santa Claus, Indiana:
Santa Claus Museum | Original Santa Claus Statue | Candy Castle | Drippy Snowman

RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

Santa Claus Museum

Address:
69 N. IN-245, Santa Claus, IN
Directions:
South edge of town, on the west side of IN-245, just south of its intersection with IN-162.
Hours:
Call for hours. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Phone:
812-544-2434
Admission:
Donations.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

Santa's Candy Castle

Address:
15499 N. State Rd 245, Santa Claus, IN
Directions:
On the left side of Hwy 245 about a half-mile south of its intersection with Hwy 162, at Candy Castle Rd.
Hours:
Hours vary. Call ahead. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Phone:
812-544-3900
Admission:
Free.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

America's First Santa Statue

Address:
69 N. IN-245, Santa Claus, IN
Directions:
On the west side of IN-245, just south of its intersection with IN-162. Up on a hill, set back from the road.
Phone:
812-544-2434
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

Drippy Snowman

Frosty's Fun Center

Address:
Hwy 162, Santa Claus, IN
Directions:
Frosty's Fun Center. On the south side of Hwy 162/Christmas Blvd just west of Holiday World, next to Santa's Lodge and St. Nick's Restaurant.
Save to My Sights

More Quirky Attractions in Indiana

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in Indiana.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use RoadsideAmerica.com's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

My Sights

My Sights on Roadside America

Save Cool Vacation Destinations! ...Try My Sights

Mobile Apps

Roadside America app: iPhone, iPad Roadside America app for iPhone, iPad. On-route maps, 1,000s of photos, special research targets! ...More

Roadside Presidents app: iPhone, iPad Roadside Presidents app for iPhone, iPad. POTUS landmarks, oddities. ...More

Indiana Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

International Spy Museum, Washington, DC (Oct 11-17, 2021)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings

RoadsideAmerica.com Hotel & Motel Finder

Special rates for hotels.

Book Now

 

Favorite Quirky City Sights