(credit: Robert MacPherson/AFP/Getty Images)
For those looking for a more picturesque experience than heading on over to the local home remodeling store for a Christmas tree, the Bay Area offers a number of picturesque spots to pick out the perfect choose-and-cut tree. Typically a bit pricier than purchasing a pre-cut tree, cutting a tree offers the chance to spend some time in the fresh air with the family and is worth the enriched experience. Head for the hills and start a new holiday tradition using this guide for five of the best Christmas tree cutting experiences in the Bay Area. To avoid the crowds, head out in the early mornings or during Sunday football games. Don’t forget the gloves and a thermos of hot chocolate.
Redwood Road at Miller Road
Castro Valley, CA 94546
Castro Valley Christmas Tree Farm was started in 1967 by a UC Berkeley professor of forestry. This no-frills farm is nestled in a wonderfully secluded area, and all trees sold are pesticide free. In addition to choose-and-cut Douglas Fir, Monterey Pine and a limited number of Sierra Redwood, there is a large selection of pre-cut Noble Fir. The farm is open Wednesdays through Sundays and provides saws and twine. Trees run $40 to $65, plus tax.
Alhambra Valley Road and Reliez Valley Road
Martinez, CA 94553
Located in Martinez, Alhambra Valley Tree Farm offers a variety of choose-and-cut trees such as Sierra Redwood, Incense Cedar, Monterey Pine and Douglas Fir. Hand saws are available, as well as free coffee. Pre-cut Noble Fir trees and wreaths are available for purchase, and netting is available to wrap trees for easier transport. Make sure to stop and visit the resident farm animals like horses, goats and alpacas.
20259 Black Road
Los Gatos, CA 95033
Black Road Christmas Tree Farms is comprised of three adjacent farms begun by Robbie Criswell in 1966. With easy access off of Highway 17, Black Road Farms offers the best deal in town for those looking for taller trees, as every tree here, from five feet to 15 feet, has the same $50 price tag. All trees are chemical free. The farm also sells mistletoe, local honey and wreaths of varying sizes, and for those lucky enough to get there early in the season, there is free firewood. The farm is cash only, and there is a picnic spot available at farm #3.
12731 San Mateo Road
San Mateo, CA 94497
Four C’s Christmas Tree Farm is located next to La Nebbia Winery just off Highway 92. Open seven days a week, the farm sells mainly Monterey Pine, with trees starting at $40. Hand saws are provided, with electric options available for particularly difficult-to-chop trees. In addition to choose-and-cut, there is a lot with pre-cut trees, and flocking and fire retardant treatments are available.
78 Pilarcitos Creek Road
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
With over 400 acres of Christmas trees, scenic Santa’s Tree Farm and Village in Half Moon Bay is one of the largest u-cut Christmas tree farms around. The farm grows a selection of Douglas, Grand, White and Noble Fir, as well as Monterey Pine trees. Open daily from the day after Thanksgiving through December 24th, the family-friendly farm has a gift shop, train rides and weekend puppet shows and visits from Santa. Wreaths, garlands and tree stands are available for purchase, credit cards are accepted and the farm also offers tree flocking and delivery. Leashed dogs are welcome, and make sure to check out the complimentary candy canes and hot apple cider. Visit the farm’s website for a $2 off any choose-and-cut tree.
Joanna Metheny is a freelance writer covering all things South Bay. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.