Ah, childhood in New England. I remember the hip-deep snows of December, building snowmen until my fingers froze, and drying my hand-knit mittens by the fire. Fast forward to my boys’ childhoods in LA, and I wonder: What will they remember? Sand sledding at the beach and wearing shorts on Christmas day? Will they never make snow angels in their best friend’s backyard?
Thankfully, one winter tradition we can carry on here in the Southland is cutting down our own Christmas tree. If you’re willing to cross county lines, you, too, can experience this classic holiday outing. If living Christmas trees aren’t your thing, and you want something other than a pre-cut or artificial tree, get ready to set hacksaw to tree trunk, watch the tree fall gently to the ground, and smell the sap on your hands as you sing carols on the car ride home. We have compiled a list of area tree farms to help you get started.
Tree Cutting Tips: Here are some things to do and consider before you head out:
1. Call before you go. Hours listed below are subject to change based on weather and tree availability. Most farms are open by Thanksgiving weekend, though some open earlier. Also, some locations do not accept credit cards.
2. Familiarize yourself with your options. The tree varieties grown in and/or native to Southern California differ from the pre-cut trees brought in from Oregon. Look at photos of the trees on the websites below to see what is available here.
3. What to wear: It might be warm at your house, and chillier at the farm. Determine if you need a jacket, or hardy shoes to navigate mud.
4. What to bring: Work gloves and tarps (for the car) are recommended and usually not provided. Ask if you need to bring your own saw (chainsaws are typically not allowed). Some locations welcome dogs, and others do not. Call ahead to see if your furry companion is welcome.
5. Make a day of it! Some of the farms have added entertainment; others just have cool stuff to see or do on the way home.
Photo courtesy of Christmas Ranch Tree Farms
Christmas Ranch Tree Farms - Thousand Oaks (the Simi Valley location will be closed for 2018)
Hours: Sat-Sun 9am-7pm; Mon-Fri 2pm-7pm
Tree varieties: Monterey Pines, Aleppo Pines and Leyland Cypress
Cash, check, or credit cards accepted
Fillmore & Western Railway Co’s Christmas Tree Train
This isn't really a cut-your-own scenario, but it's still a cut above your average tree lot: families can ride the holiday train to a spot in Santa Paula where they pick out their own (pre-cut) tree, have it netted, and return with it on the train to unload it and drive it home.
Peltzer Pines - two locations
1. Brea Tree Farm
2. Silverado Tree Farm
Both Peltzer Pines Locations:
Open: Sat-Sun, 9am-5pm, Mon-Fri 11:30am-5pm
Trees varieties: Monterey Pine, Leylandia
Tree prices vary. See website for details.
Cash and checks only.
Christmas trees are never a drag. Photo by CJ Sorg via flickr
The Wickerd Farm - Menifee
951.672.3020 or 909.286.8289
Sun-Thurs 10am-8pm, Fri-Sat 10am-9pm
Tree variety: Monterey Pine
Cash, checks, and credit cards accepted
San Bernardino County
Christmas Conifers II - Colton
Sat-Sun 9am-dark, Mon-Fri 10am-dark
Tree variety: Monterey Pine, Noble Fir
At the Colton location, it's cut-your-own. The company also has a location in nearby Bloomington, where you choose and the pros cut.
Greenspot Farms - Mentone
Tree variety: Noble Fir, Sequoia Redwood
Cash or check only
Note that Chamberlain Choose and Cut Christmas Trees in Claremont, Los Angeles County, is not opening for the 2018 season but hopes to return in 2019.
Originally published December 4, 2011