Here in California we may not have an abundance of snow, but we have plenty of gorgeous farmland perfect for growing the beloved evergreens that define this time of year. For a family day out that is sure to get you in the holiday spirit, how about walking through a pine forest and chopping down your own Christmas tree? There is a farm for every type of reveler, from the family that is looking for a low-key outing to a small family farm, to the merry crew who prefers train rides, face paint, bounce houses and plenty of Ho, Ho, Ho with their holiday experience. See them all right here!

Little Hill Christmas Tree Farm PetalumaPhoto: Little Hill Christmas Tree Farm Petaluma

North Bay 

Little Hills Christmas Tree Farms 1&2
Best For: Getting Your Santa Picture Done On the Same Day

Free apple cider and popcorn will comfort those bellies as you wander Petaluma’s peaceful Little Hills Christmas Tree Farms in search of the perfect Monterey Pine, Douglas Fir, or Sierra Redwood. This year Little Hills offers two locations, since they added a second (and less crowded) one on Liberty Road. At the original Chapman Lane location, families will love the old fashioned Christmas vibe (elves, ornaments for sale and on weekends, one of the best “real” Santas around sitting in a photo-worthy throne chair). Over on Liberty Lane, you can still score popcorn, cider and ornaments, but smaller crowds (No Santa here) and a larger, 8-acre forest filled with Christmas trees in which to wander makes for a more laid-back experience. Dogs are welcome on leash at both locations.

Good to Know: 

  • Score a coupon for $3 off your tree over at their website.
  • It’s a popular site for families, so plan on midday crowds (early mornings are best to avoid them). Bonus: They do have one of the larger parking lots in Sebastapol.
  • Santa is there ONLY on weekends from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and only at the Chapman Lane location.

Little Hills Christmas Tree Farm
961 Chapman Ln.
Petaluma, Ca
Hours: Mon.–Fri., 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sat.–Sun., 9 a.m.–5 p.m., from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve.

Little Hills Christmas Tree Farm 2
241 Liberty Rd.
Petaluma, Ca
Hours: Mon.–Fri. 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sat.–Sun., 9 a.m.–5 p.m., from the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve. 

Online: littlehillschristmastree.com

grandma_buddys

Photo: Grandma Buddy’s

Grandma Buddy’s Christmas Trees
Best for: Family Christmas Card Photo Backdrop

Located in Sebastopol, Grandma Buddy’s Christmas Trees picturesque barn and farm setting has been used for numerous photo shoots, including Pottery Barn catalogs. The inside of the barn is stocked with crafts, ornaments and a mini-Christmas train village. Families can  wander through the  farm, which offers many different Douglas Firs growing in the field, as well as custom wreaths and garlands, and free hot cocoa and candy canes.

Good to Know:

  • The farm is better known for its charming setting than quality of trees.
  • If you go later in the day, the barn and train village are utterly magical at dusk.

8575 Graton Rd.
Sebastopol, Ca
707-823-4547
Hours: 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m., every day from the day after Thanksgiving through December 23.
Online: grandmastrees.com

reindeer_ridge
Photo: Reindeer Ridge

Reindeer Ridge
Best for: Getting Someone Else to Schlep the Tree to Your Car 

Wander along the acres and acres of trees growing at this farm and you’ll find a bevy of options, from Douglas Fir, White Fir, Grand Fir, Sequoia, Monterey Pine, Scotch Pine, Incense Cedar and Leyland Cypress all growing side by side. The best part? They provide the measure poles, tree saws, tree carts, and they’ll even help recut the trunk, cover the tree in netting, and help you load it into your car. And don’t forget your free bag of apples with tree purchase! Now that’s tree shopping made easy.

Good to Know:

  • If you have a kid that “likes to go,” the tractor ride, train ride, swings and zip line will keep them busy.
  • Got a December birthday? They also do train birthday parties here.

3500 Mariola Rd.
Sebastopol, Ca
707-829-1569
Hours: Weekdays, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.; Weekends, 11 a.m.–6 p.m., Thanksgiving through Christmas. Closed Wednesdays.
Online: reindeerridge.com

garlock_christmas_tree_farmPhoto: Garlock Tree Farm

Garlock Tree Farm
Best for: Riding in a One-Horse Open Sleigh, errr Carriage

There a several tree farms near each other is Sebastapol, and Garlock Tree Farm is a local favorite. The free carriage rides are a draw, as well as the free candy canes and complimentary coffee. Head into the farm’s eight acres to choose and cut one of five varieties of trees (cost: $6–$10 per foot), then visit with sweet ponies Dixie and Jett, or hop onto Santa’s lap for a photo.

Good to know:

  • While carriage rides are free, the petting zoo costs extra.
  • Picnic tables are scattered throughout the property, so pack a picnic (hot dogs, breakfast burritos and popcorn are also offered at the snack bar.
  • Save a few bucks by printing out a coupon on their site for $3 off any tree.

2275 Bloomfield Rd.
Sebastopol, Ca
707-823-4307
Hours: Friday, after Thanksgiving: 9 a.m.-5pm; Fridays in December, noon–5 p.m.; Saturdays & Sundays, 9 a.m.–5 p.m., from the day after Thanksgiving through the Sunday before Christmas.
Online: garlocktreefarm.com

frosty mountain tree farm
Photo: Frosty Mountain Tree Farm

Frosty Mountain Tree Farm
Best for: Adding Animals to Your Farm Experience  

You’ll find the traditional selection of trees at this Sebastapol farm, but the true holiday fun comes in the form of hayrides, the old red barn, Santa’s workshop, and Mrs. Claus’ kitchen. On weekends, there are always animals to visit, though the variety changes from year to year. Will it be sheep, lambs, llamas, or mini horses this year? The surprise is part of the fun.

Good to Know:

  • Head to Mrs. Klaus’ kitchen for some delicious popcorn and apple fritters.
  • Print the coupon from their site for $5 off any tree.
  • They sell trees by the foot (a better deal if you’re looking for a smaller tree)

3600 Mariola Rd.
Sebastopol, Ca
707-829-2351
Hours: Weekdays noon–5 p.m., Weekends and the Friday after Thanksgiving, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Online: frostymountaintreefarm.com

reindeersantachildontrain
Photo: Santa’s Tree Farm

Peninsula

Santa’s Tree Farm
Best for: Getting into the Whole Kitschy “Santa’s Workshop” Vibe

If your ideal Christmas tree family outing includes train rides, life-sized Reindeer mascots, an imitation Santa’s Village and putt-putt golf with Frosty, than head straight to the love-it-or-hate-it Santa’s Tree Farm and Village in Half Moon Bay. In addition to 487 acres of trees to choose from, the village offers $3 train rides, carolers, handmade goodies in the Elves’ Workshop, and visits from Santa and Mrs, Claus on weekends. Also on weekend they have story time, stocking decorating, a treasure hunt and that Christmas-y putt-putt experience (all at additional costs)—you can register for all activities prior to your visit on their website.

Good to Know:

  • It’s kitschy (you’ve been warned).
  • The bathrooms are port-o-pottys (you’ve been warned).
  • Many of the activities cost extra. (you’ve been warned)
  • Most people go to Santa’s for the experience, not necessarily the trees. (and, you’ve been warned).

78 Pilarcitos Creek Rd. (Hwy 92)
Half Moon Bay, Ca
650-726-2246
Hours: Weekdays, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; Saturdays & Sundays, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.; Nov. 22 through Christmas Eve.
Online: santastreefarm.com

Christmas-pony-RidesPhoto: Lemos Farm

Lemos Farm
Best for: Entertaining the Under-3 Set

If you’re up for a mini-amusement park experience (with a slightly lower price tag), Lemos Farm, also in Half Moon Bay, is more than just a Christmas tree farm. It’s been called a “festive holiday destination” and the site offers hay rides, pony rides, a Playtown, petting zoo, and a train that winds through fields upon fields of Christmas trees for your choosing. Each experience will run you $1-8, or $17 for an unlimited pass.

Good to know:

  • Because they are only open on weekends, they are always busy—plan accordingly.
  • Parking is free
  • Yup, it’s touristy (that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun).

12320 San Mateo Rd. (Hwy 92)
Half Moon Bay, Ca
650-726-2342
Hours: Saturdays & Sundays and the Friday after Thanksgiving, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. (only weekends from Nov. 29–Christmas Eve)
Online: lemosfarm.coms

girl in treesPhoto: Black Road Christmas Tree Farm

South Bay

Black Road Christmas Tree Farm
Best for: Chemical-Free Trees at a Good Price

Black Road Christmas Tree Farms consist of three different farms, all in Los Gatos. Each farm grows a specific type of tree, which is matched to the environment they will grow best. All trees are cultured and free of chemicals, which means that your home will not be blanketed with any sort of unhealthy off-gassing. All trees are $50 and your family will have no problem finding the perfect one because there are 40,000 to choose from!

Good to know:

  • All  three locations on the same road. Lot #3 has the biggest trees, features a picnic area, and feels most “forest-y”
  • All trees are $55, whether you’re picking a three-foot or 17-foot tree.
  • Cash and checks only.

Black Rd. (see map)
Los Gatos, Ca
408-354-8472
Hours: Open Daily, 7 a.m.–Dusk; the Friday after Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve. or until trees sell out, which happened early December last year.
Online: christmas-tree-farms.com

Battaglia Ranch Christmas Tree Farm
Best For: Non-Commital Cutters 

Located about 15 minutes south of San Jose, the farm has been in the Christmas tree biz for more than 40 years. They offer both choose and cut trees, and a wide selection of pre-cut trees that come from their farm in Oregon. Look for the huge 35-foot-tall Santa Claus that greets motorists on the west side of the freeway as you travel on U.S. 101. Stop by on a weekend when Santa visits the farm (see Santa’s travel schedule here). But any time you come, enjoy a Christmas train ride through the farm, or make like Saint Nick on their signature reindeer ride. Food vendors set up on site as well.

Good to Know:

  • The 10-minute, narrated train ride is free for under 3 lap children, and $4 for all others.
  • Sign up for their newsletter for coupons
  • There’s also a gift shop and a custom wreath shop.

Find directions here (as there is no street address)
Hours: Nov. 25–Dec. 18, 9 a.m.–7 p.m.; Dec. 19-23, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. 
Online: battagliaranch.com

christmas_tree_farm

Rancho Siempre Verde
Best for: A Truly California Low-Key Vibe

If you’re looking for an intimate family experience, head over to Rancho Siempre Verde, this hidden gem just south of Half Moon Bay in Pescadero. For 45 years, this family-owned farm opens for only 9 or 10 days a year (Psst, get on the mailing list), sharing their magnificent u-cut Christmas trees, eclectic collection of swings and xylophones scattered throughout the property (not to mention all you can eat toasted marshmallows) and sweeping Pacific Ocean views with a few lucky, in-the-know visitors.

Good to know:

  • Cash only.
  • Dogs are welcome.
  • Pick up a pear galette or walnut pie at neighboring Pie Ranch on your way in or out.

2250 Cabrillo Highway (Highway 1)
Año Nuevo State Reserve, Ca
650-326-9103
Hours: Friday after Thanksgiving, and the weekends of November 29th and 30th, December 6th & 7th, 13th & 14th, 20st & 21; 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Online: rsvtrees.com

castro valley treesPhoto: Castro Valley Christmas Tree Farm

East Bay

Castro Valley Christmas Tree Farm
Best for: No Frills Experience but Great Quality Trees

Enjoy an outdoor experience in the East Bay hills at the Castro Valley Christmas Tree Farm, where the whole family, including the kids, are invited to help saw down the perfect tree. The farm has been open since 1969 for families looking for a “woodsy” experience in the East Bay.

Good to know:

  • Cash only, and set prices from $45–65 depending on type.
  • A little tricky to find (don’t rely on the gps directions).
  • No frills but very good quality and selection of trees.

Redwood Rd. at Miller Rd.
Castro Valley, Ca
510-889-1992
Hours:
Fri., Sat. & Sun., 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Friday after Thanksgiving through Dec 18.
Online: 
cvchristmastreefarm.com

We want to hear from you—will your family visit one of the above farms to cut down a tree? If so, which one?

—Renee Rutledge and Erin Feher