Colorful trees along a river in Indiana
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the rest of the crew—in LED lights!

Red Men Walking

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And he lives in Indiana. Every year about this time, the post office there goes into overdrive postmarking a bazillion-million (ballparking here) holiday missives from folks wanting their Christmas Cards to bear the Santa Claus postmark. Odds of running into the iconic Jolly One whilst strolling the streets? In your favor. But you could also find effigies at the Santa Claus Museum (69 N. State Rd. 245, 812-544-2434,, which opened five years ago and traces the town from its roots in 1846, when town Fathers wanted to name it Santa Fe. In addition to the usual ephemera, the museum contains artifacts from the time the National Enquirer came to town (the article declared the spirit of Santa was alive), a collection of Santa Coca-Cola advertising memorabilia, and a weird photo of wheelbarrows that nobody can figure out. At Santa’s Candy Castle (15499 N. State Rd. 245; 812-544-3900,, interactive computers allow children to chat with elves and find out whether they’re on the Nice or Naughty List. This weekend, from 5 to 9 p.m., you can drive through the Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort to see the 1.2-mile-long Santa Claus Land of Lights, which locals claim is the largest campground light display in North America.

GO Visitors Bureau, 39 N. Kringle Pl., Santa Claus; 888-444-9252,

Where to stay: Rockport Inn Bed and Breakfast (130 S. 3rd St., Rockport; 812-649-2664) is a 19th-century Victorian house free of Claus kitsch and near the Ohio River; rates are $65 per night. Rolling Hills Vacation Home (County Rd. 1800 N., Mariah Hill; 812-639-7415) is a four-bedroom, full-kitchen farmhouse two miles from Santa Claus and an easy drive to additional attractions including St. Meinrad Monastery, Lincoln State Park/Amphitheatre, and Ferdinand State Forest; rates range from $125 to $150 a night.

Where to eat: McKenzie’s (in the Rockport Inn; 812-649-2664) is a favorite with locals, not least for its chocolate-chip pie. Head to New Boston Tavern (11846 N. State Rd. 545, New Boston; 812-547-5539) for beloved pork chops.