We all know that jolly old Saint Nicholas has his home in the North Pole, but what if he lived in the United States? If he decided to move his workshop south, or buy a vacation home closer to the Equator, he’d definitely want to find the perfect city for his unique brand of magic.

How We Ranked Cities

We decided to see if we could find cities in America where Kris Kringle would feel most at home. Since we couldn’t get ahold of the old elf himself for an interview, we used what we know about him to rank these cities. For starters, we know that he is used to colder weather, loves children, and can’t get enough sweets. We chose these 5 metrics to judge cities by:

  • Coldest Weather – Santa will probably look for some place cold if he wants to feel at home. We looked for cities with the lowest average temperatures.
  • Kids in the City (per capita) – Since Santa has dedicated his life to making children smile, he’ll probably want to live in a city with plenty of young people.
  • Toy Stores (per capita) – Santa needs to keep up on the latest toy designs and trends, which is easier in a city with stores that carry the latest playthings.
  • Bakeries (per capita) – Even though kids around the world give him treats on Christmas Eve, Santa needs cupcakes, pies and cookies year-round to maintain his iconic figure. Bakeries are the perfect place for Santa to stay in shape.
  • Dog Parks (per capita) – There are plenty of animals in Santa’s Village, which he has grown accustomed to. Additionally, Santa’s reindeer need a place to go to stretch their legs and mingle too.

We looked at 100 of America’s most populous cities, scored them in each of these five categories, and added the points up. The 10 highest scoring cities earned a spot on our list. Read on to see the top 10 cities where Santa might live.

1. Cincinnati, OH

Cincinatti's Santacon
If Santa wanted privacy he could blend in with the crowd at Cincinnati’s Santacon. Photo by Drink Hoist.

The city of Cincinnati might not be an obvious number one pick. It’s definitely a far cry from the North Pole, but, if you look closely, you’ll see that Cincinnati has everything that is important to Santa: bakeries to satisfy his sweet tooth, toy stores for job-related research, and dog parks where his reindeer can play.

Santa may get millions of cookies on Christmas, but those hardly stay fresh through New Years. For sweet treats fresh from the oven, Santa should look to Cincinnati. He’s probably already enjoyed cookies from the St. Lawrence Bakery, its ovens have been working hard for 100 years! When Mrs. Claus wants to eat somewhere a little more high end, the Christmas couple can savor Parisian favorites at the French Crust Cafe.

2. Sacramento, CA

California's State Capitol Building during Christmas
Sacramento may not have snow, but the tree outside the California State Capitol Building feels like it’s from the North Pole. Photo by John Loo.

Sacramento is another warm city that nevertheless offers a wealth of attractions for Santa and his family. It may not snow, but at the Global Winter Wonderland the jolly old elf can find 17 acres of Christmas-themed fun. It goes on all December, and is just one of the many ways that the city of Sacramento shows off its Christmas spirit.

The city can also tempt Santa Claus with its dog parks. Sacramento has acres of parkland where Prancer and Vixen can play with Fluffy and Spot. Overall, Sacramento earned its spot by being a well-rounded city. Some cities made our list by excelling in one or two areas. Sacramento ranked near the top in just about every category, with temperature being the exception.

3. Saint Paul, MN

Ice sculptures from St. Paul Winter Carnival
This Wizard of Oz themed ice sculpture from the St. Paul Winter Carnival captures Saint Paul’s creativity and Christmas spirit. Photo by Manop.

Minnesota’s capital is a more traditional choice for Santa, with plenty of snow to go with the toy stores and children that can also be found in the city. The average annual temperature is just 47°F.When December comes around the average high is just 29°F–it can snow any hour of the day!

Saint Paul is also the city in our top ten with the most children, making it a great place for Santa to live if he wants to be close to the people he serves. Famous for its children’s hospitals and children’s museum, it’s clear that the city of Saint Paul has a heart for kids that mirrors Santa’s own.

4. Minneapolis, MN

When Minneapolis’ Minnehaha Falls freeze into a gorgeous natural ice-sculpture it’s easy to see how Santa might appreciate the city’s beauty and chilly climate. Photo by Albert Leung.
When Minneapolis’ Minnehaha Falls freeze into a gorgeous natural ice-sculpture it’s easy to see how Santa might appreciate the city’s beauty and chilly climate. Photo by Albert Leung.

We move across the Mississippi river to the other half of the Twin cities, Minneapolis. Minnesota’s most populous city is the perfect destination if Santa isn’t interested in leaving behind the cold, since Minneapolis has the coldest weather out of our top ten. The average temperature all year is a brisk 45°F. There’s also the fact that the city gets 55 inches of snow every year on average, with about a foot expected in December.

Minneapolis also has plenty of toy stores for Santa to visit. In addition to the normal chain stores,the city is home to local boutique toy stores. Kids of all ages will find something to love at Manhattan Toy. Then there’s Creative Kidstuff, where Santa can find gifts that encourage kids to create their own fun.

5. Madison, WI

The Christmas Tree at the heart of the Wisconsin Capitol building may be the most beautiful in the state. Photo by Mark Sadowski.
The Christmas Tree at the heart of the Wisconsin Capitol building may be the most beautiful in the state. Photo by Mark Sadowski.

If Santa’s number one priority is his reindeer, then Madison is the place he should go. No city on our list has more dog parks. In Madison, his reindeer will have plenty of room to play all the reindeer games they want, just as long as they let everyone join in. They can also meet new friends in December, Santa’s Village brings live Reindeer to the city every year as part of the holiday festivities.

The reindeer will also appreciate the temperature. Madison is the second coolest city in our top ten. All year round, Santa’s buddies will enjoy weather averaging 46.3°F. The city also usually gets a foot of snow in December. It’s perfect weather for going on a sleigh ride, whether you’re sliding over the hills, or flying through the air.

6. Seattle, WA

The Confectionary in downtown Seattle at Christmas time
Santa would cheerfully satisfy his sweet tooth at The Confectionery in downtown Seattle. Photo by Wonderlane.

In Seattle, Santa can feel like he’s surrounded by Christmas trees all year long. A nickname for Seattle is the Emerald City, because of the evergreen trees found throughout the city and in the surrounding area. All the trees need are some lights and tinsel to turn the area to a Christmas Wonderland.

While Santa may be known for enjoying cookies and milk, he’d find that the bread at Columbia City Bakery is as decadent as double fudge chocolate cookies. The macarons at Le Panier are a favorite sweet for people visiting the famous Pike Place Market. If Santa is in the mood for his old favorite, then he should head to Dahlia Bakery and pick up one of their freshly baked cookies.

7. Portland, OR

Portland is another city where Saint Nick can mingle with his biggest fans at the local SantaCon. Photo by Badlyricpolice.

Santa’s elves would love Portland even more than Santa himself, thanks to the city’s reputation as a destination for crafty individuals.The local stores and streets are full of people selling handmade goods. At the Portland Christmas Bazaar, the elves could talk shop with local toy makers while Santa picks up some truly unique gifts to deliver to children.

Even when there isn’t a crafts fair going on, it’s still easy to find toys for sale in Portland. Finnegan’s and Child’s Play are two of the city’s oldest retailers. Together they’ve provided toys to Portland’s youth since the 1970s. From old classics to new favorites, Santa could find the right toy for any child in Portland.

8. Pittsburgh, PA

A lit Christmas tree at PPG Place in Pittsburgh
When Santa sees PPG Place it will be hard for him to resist putting presents underneath such a perfect tree. Photo by Joseph.

While our list is focused on America, Santa doesn’t just stop in the USA. He serves the children of the world. Pittsburgh understands this, as shown by the Santas from Around the World exhibit at the Wintergarden. This local tradition shows how much Pittsburghers respect Santa, making it an attractive place for Santa to hang up his fuzzy red hat.

Pittsburgh has the most toy stores out of all the cities in our top 10. The largest and most well-known shop in the city is S.W. Randall Toyes and Giftes. For over forty years, this downtown establishment has sold thousands of toys to Pittsburgh children, making them one of Santa’s valued allies.

The Steel City is also the third coldest city in our top ten. Throughout the year, the temperature averages out to 52°F. It’s a good place for Santa to move if he wants to enjoy a cool, but not freezing climate throughout the year.

9. Richmond, VA

Christmas time at The Lewis Ginter Center Conservatory in Richmond, Virginia
Santa would find that the The Lewis Ginter Conservatory puts on one of the best light shows this side of the North pole. Photo by Will Fisher.

Given how hard he has to work running his workshop all year, Santa needs plenty of cookies and pastries to keep him going. Richmond has more bakeries than any other on our list. After he tastes what they’ve got cooking at Pearl’s Cupcake Shoppe, Santa might ask kids to hold off on the cupcakes and milk this year. Other local favorites include turnovers from Lucille’s Bakery, cakes from Shyndigz, and croissants from the Sub Rosa Bakery.

Richmond is also the smallest city in our top ten. That makes it an ideal choice if Santa wants to avoid the crowds. In Richmond, he’ll find a lot more people than he would in the North Pole, but not so many that he’ll miss out on the feeling of community he’s used to. He and his elves would have no trouble becoming part of the Richmond family.

10. Las Vegas, NV

A Christmas display at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas
This scene of Christmas time at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino shows that Las Vegas can really get into the Christmas spirit. Photo by Brad Parrett.

The inclusion of Las Vegas is another surprise. Moving from the snow of the North Pole to the sand of Nevada would certainly be a big change! But while Las Vegas may be the warmest city on our list, it makes up for its weather with its large variety of toy stores and dog parks.

Whenever Santa wants to check out the latest toys that kids are asking for, he’ll have plenty of places to go in Vegas. With options like Rogue Toys, Toy Shack, Lego Store, and Kappa Toys to choose from, Santa could find the perfect toy for every kid on his list. There are also plenty of collectibles for the young at heart.

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

It looks like Kris Kringle could find cities to call home throughout the United States. He might lean towards the Midwest thanks to its climate, but even some of the warmest cities in America might attract Santa. If a city has baked goods, a varied selection of toys, and Christmas cheer, there’s a chance he might be there.

Do you think Santa would like to come to your hometown? Does he feel at home when he delivers goodies to your house? If you want your home to look like it belongs to the world’s jolliest elf, then consider some personalized Christmas doormats. After Santa sees yours he might go in the front door, even if you have a chimney.