The holiday season has arrived in Northern California—the air is crisp, stores are stocking candy canes and eggnog, and the mountains are dusted with snow. As you wrap gifts and deck the halls, make sure you don’t miss out on the ultimate Christmas centerpiece: a tree hand-picked and freshly harvested from one of these six scenic Christmas tree farms. Take a nature escape with a holiday twist, and you can enjoy the natural pine scent of your tree all season long.
Set at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, this family-owned operation is both a pine farm and a forest escape. Spend the night under the stars next to the Christmas tree lot (full of silver tip, white fir, noble fir, and cedar trees), or near a picnic area in the woods nearby. If you want to get your hands dirty, you can choose to lend a hand on the farm—or just kick back and relax by the winding river. Hit the gift shop for fresh pies, hot apple cider, hot chocolate, and more.
What to do nearby: Once you’ve picked your perfect tree, take a quick drive down the road to Jenkinson Lake and Sly Park Recreation Area, which features 9 miles of trails open for hikers, bikes, and horses.
Take a holiday road trip along California’s famous coastal highway and stop off at Rancho Siempre Verde. This scenic spot lies along Highway 101 between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz, so you can enjoy views of the state’s rugged coastline all the way to your destination. The farm prides itself on a classic approach to holiday decorating (no plastic Santas here), and features tractor rides, rope swings, and plenty of picnic tables where you can stop for lunch or make your own Christmas wreath. Dogs are welcome, too.
What to do nearby: Head just three miles down the road to Waddell Beach. Stroll along the sand and feast your eyes on the Pacific Ocean, or hike along coastal trails.
Set in the quiet town of Nipomo, this 40-acre farm is just down the road from Pismo Beach and California’s Highway 101. Holloway’s doubles as a camping destination, which means you can set up your tent or park your RV near the pines. Choose from white firs, Monterey pine trees, Douglas firs, and pre-cut trees (a Fraser fir, grand fir, or noble fir), then settle in for the night with views over the rolling coastal foothills. (Note: Holloway’s has sold out its trees for the season.)
A classic holiday spot, McBurney’s is located in the Sierra foothills near the surprisingly hip town of Nevada City. It features a robust selection of you-cut and fresh cut Douglas, white, and red fir trees—plus flat gravel paths for easy strolling. Time your visit for mid-November to see the regional fall colors, or closer to the holidays for a possible dusting of snow (if it gets too chilly, you can warm up by the campfire).
What to do nearby: Don’t miss South Yuba River State Park, where miles of hiking trails wind past historic bridges and gentle rapids. If you stop by Nevada City, walk down Broad Street and check out its quirky shops and art galleries—restaurants like Three Forks Baking & Brewing Co. offer takeout and outdoor dining.
This gem is just an hour from San Francisco and Berkeley—far enough to escape the city and close enough to make for an easy day trip. Run by local couple Kriss and Carol Mungle, Little Hills has been a Bay Area holiday tradition for over 20 years. Opt for a you-cut Monterey pine, Carolina sapphire, or Leyland cypress, or choose a pre-cut fir brought in from Oregon. (Note: Little Hills has sold out its trees for the season.)
The Mungles have made environmental stewardship a priority, which means they avoid pesticides and follow sustainable farming practices. Make sure you say hello to the farm’s many resident farm animals, including three Boer goats (Daisy, Rosie, and Trixie), a pair of alpacas (Marley and Chewbacca), and a shaggy Newfoundland named Chloe.
What to do nearby: Grab coffee and donuts to-go at Acre Coffee in Petaluma, and check out the historic buildings in Sonoma County’s second-largest city. If you have extra time, take a stroll through Helen Putnam Regional Park or make your way up to Sebastopol for more festive charm.
Bordered by the Stanislaus and El Dorado national forests, this alpine tree farm features a fish pond and an all-season campground. Once you’ve picked your choose-and-cut tree, you can cast a line in the pond, jump on a hayride, set up a tent under the stars, and cozy up with hot cocoa by the campfire. (Note: Alto Tree Farm has sold out its trees for the season, but the campground is still open.)
What to do nearby: This Christmas-time destination lies en route to ski resorts near South Lake Tahoe—so if you’re driving from the Bay Area, it’s an easy stop on the way to or from the Kirkwood or Sierra-at-Tahoe resorts.
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