Rancho Siempre Verde Christmas Tree Farm
Sure, you can pick up a pre-cut Christmas tree at your local grocery store, but remember those old Norman Rockwell paintings of kids tramping around the forest in search of the perfect fir? That scene comes to life on the San Mateo Coast at Rancho Siempre Verde, a U-Cut Christmas tree farm that's been bringing friends and families together for the past 40 years. Plastic Santas aren't part of the bling here, but this rural farm isn't short on holiday hoopla. A billowing bonfire is a gathering point for roasting marshmallows, wreath-making classes are offered on-site, and a hilltop picnic area overlooking the ocean is charmed by 40-foot-tall giant swings that sway to even bigger views of the Pacific and acres of Christmas trees below. (Swing solo or pair up—we saw up to 4 people on one.) The farm's festive charms add plenty of spirit to the main attraction: trees. Douglas firs, Monterey pines, and Sequoias are a few popular choices found here, though many are in need of a little nip and tuck. Those seeking smaller trees should have easier pickings. Otherwise, patience and a keen eye while strolling the rows are helpful.

Rancho Siempre Verde is located at 2250 Cabrillo Hwy. (Hwy. 1), 25 miles south of Half Moon Bay. All trees are $60. They'll help you load and tie the tree of your choice to your car. Dog-friendly!