It’s that time of year already. Thanksgiving is mere weeks away. Target has swept all of its left-over Halloween decorations into forgotten corners of the store, and shelves once full of pumpkins and skeletons are now being adorned with stockings and Joanna Gaines’ line of holiday decor.

Believe it or not, if you want personalized holiday cards this year, it’s already the time to get those family photos done—especially if you plan to hire a professional photographer. 

Here are some great places in Council Bluffs and Pottawattamie County to take your holiday photos this year.

Bayliss Park

While a lot of the park’s trees have already lost their leaves, there’s a couple of Christmas-y trees in Bayliss that are still green and would make for a perfect holiday photo backdrop. The park will also be lit up for the holidays beginning on November 15 if you can wait to take photos until then.

Union Pacific Railroad MuseumWinterfest

Just like with Bayliss Park, if you can wait to take your holiday photo until November 15, you might be able to capture a cute photo of your family with some of the museum’s Winterfest reindeer friends. Don’t expect to capture anything high quality—that can be difficult with wild animals—but it’s a cute photo to capture if you just want one of your kids staring at a reindeer in awe!

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

If you’re looking for something a bit more touristy or location specific, you can take a photo while “bobbing”: standing on the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge between Iowa and Nebraska. Throw on some reindeer antlers and Santa hats and you’ll be all set!

Lake Manawa State Park

Some of the best photos of Council Bluffs are landscapes featuring Lake Manawa. Throw your family in front of an already beautiful scene at golden hour and you’ve got a great photo in the making.

Historic 100 Block & Downtown Council Bluffs

If you can time it perfectly with some snow or the last of the fall leaves, you can capture great photos around the 100 Block and downtown Council Bluffs thanks to its historic buildings. Even better if you can get some Christmas lights in the shot later this month!

Lewis & Clark Monument Scenic Overlook

Do you want a pretty view of Council Bluffs and Omaha in the background of your photo? This is the place! You’ll probably want to wait for some snow or take the photo in the evening when the cities are lit up to really capture the beauty of this scenic spot.

Botna Bend Park

Botna Bend is known for its elk herd, and while elk are different from reindeer, members of the deer family are still Christmas-y as seen in many holiday décor items. The park itself is a picturesque place for a photo, and wouldn’t it be lovely to get photobombed by a herd of elk?

Hitchcock Nature Center

Hitchcock is a popular spot for engagement photo shoots—so why not make it a spot for your holiday photos, too. Pack a Christmas colored blanket for the shoot and watch the Pinterest Christmas photo of your dreams come to life.

Note: If you try to take photos of reindeer at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum or elk at Botna Bend Park, please be respectful of the animals. Do not touch them. Do not feed them. Do not use excessive flash photography or bother the animals in any way.

This post was originally published on November 7, 2018 on the Unleash Council Bluffs blog.