Holiday Classics - Briones Park - Patchen Christmas Tree - Stroll San Anselmo


Holiday Classics

There’s frost in the air and winter ales in the fridge. Shoppers bustle with bundles; stores beckon with lights. ‘Tis the season!

Briones Park East Bay

Briones Bounties

To start the weekend on a holiday high, grab your fleece and get your blood pumping with a classic hike. Briones Park in the East Bay offers five staging areas that let you explore a new path every visit. In rain or mist or shine, a brisk walk down Bear Creek or Alhambra Creek Trail will give you a head-clearing taste of wilderness. Most highly recommended? The off-trail trek to Mott Peak (1,424-ft. elevation): The 360-degree view from the summit, all rolling hillsides and marshy delta, is guaranteed to fill you with tidings of panoramic joy.

To reach Mott Peak, park at the end of Briones Road. Start your hike on “Old Briones Road,” go past the gate and make a right on Briones Crest Trail. After 1/2 mile, bear left onto Mott Peak trail. Descend a short distance, then leave the trail and head up to Mott Peak. More information and maps

Tree Trolling

Channel your inner Charlie Brown at the Patchen Christmas tree farm up in the Santa Cruz mountains. The folks there will give you the saws and directions to their stands of Douglas fir, Sierra redwood, and Monterey pine. Then it’s your turn to tramp about in the crisp, pine-scented mountain air until you find a tree that’s just right for your apartment, house, or out-of-town cabin. But don’t wait until Christmas Eve—the farm closes December 17.

Patchen, 22217 Old Santa Cruz Hwy., Los Gatos; 408-353-1615. Firs up to eight feet, $50; redwoods and pines up to eight feet, $40.

Alternatives: If you’re dreaming of a Green Christmas, check out San Francisco’s nonprofit Friends of the Urban Forest. For $150 (we told you to think green) they’ll deliver live trees right to your door. These aren’t pines: selections range from Southern magnolias to New Zealand Christmas trees. Or for a present that even your most finicky friend will enjoy, make a $25 donation and Friends will put it towards planting a tree for anyone you name. It’s a great stocking stuffer. And a good excuse to go hug a tree.

$150 Green Christmas Tree
$25 Donate a tree in someone's name

Strolling San Anselmo

In the tradition of good deeds and giving—and enjoying a holiday scene straight out of Norman Rockwell—head for San Anselmo. This charming Marin town has bounced back from last year’s flooding with its small-town main-street heart intact. Celebrate at festive stores like Fig Garden, Felice! and Gunning’s Hobbies. Get warmed up at the Marin Coffee Roasters (they also offer live music; this Saturday the Bittersweets are playing at 9:00 PM). Or satisfy body and soul at Comforts café, whose menu offers a unique range of comfort food, from the signature chinese chicken salad to the scrumptious local organic apple pie. And here’s a sweet bonus: Shop San Anselmo tonight or any Thursday evening until Christmas, and 10 percent of participating stores’ profits will be donated to the Marin Advocates for Children. That’s the holiday spirit!

To reach San Anselmo, exit Sir Francis Drake Boulevard from Highway 101. Go 4 miles west. Turn left at Tunstead. The next street is San Anselmo Avenue: free metered parking through January 1.

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