I was born in Fresno and grew up here, as did my husband and my parents. I'm thrilled to be raising my young son here too! I've gone away for school and spent brief periods in other parts of California, but have always ended up homesick for my hometown.
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Where to cut your own Christmas Tree
One of my favorite holiday memories as a little kid was heading out to the Christmas tree farm to choose and cut our tree.
It was definitely a family event, mom would guide us to find a favorite. Not too tall, not too short, nice and even, with full branches and the elusive straight trunk that would fit into the Christmas tree stand with minimal pruning. After much inspecting and lobbying, Dad would obligingly (I use this term loosely) cut down the final choice. It was quite a production.
I guess this was longer ago than I care to admit! I don’t think most people cut their own trees anymore. Fresh, pre-cut Christmas trees are sold everywhere in Fresno, from the hardware store to the drugstore to the small lots that pop up all over town. There are also plenty of Christmas Tree farms where you can pick up a tree, your candy cane and hot cocoa, and call it a day.
If you’re looking for something a little different, and you want the DIY, be your own lumberjack approach that I remember from childhood, your options are a little more limited. But I managed to find a few different venues that still allow you to pick up a saw and “get your tree on”.
Hillcrest Tree Farm
6943 S. Reed Avenue, Reedley CA
Open weekends between Nov. 26th and December 18th, 10AM to 5PM
Hillcrest Christmas Tree Farm is actually where we went to pick out our Halloween pumpkins this year. Somehow, these multi-taskers manage to turn everything around in a couple of weeks! Voila-from Pumpkin Patch to Christmas Wonderland.
I called and spoke with Melissa Bautista and she filled me in on the inside scoop for a visit to Hillcrest.
They host a popular event called Pajama Christmas, which involves the nighttime visit to see the lights and ride the train, and take a photo with Santa (In your warmest comfiest pajamas obviously!) Unfortunately Pajama Christmas is already completely sold out for 2016. Per Melissa, the key is getting your spot reserved soon as it opens up in early October. Mark your calendar for next year!
However any visit to Hillcrest is a great time. You can make a day of it with train rides, exploring the play areas, pictures with Santa (he typically hangs out from 11 to 4), yummy food, and a wide array of holiday fun on your search for the perfect holiday tree.
When it comes time to pick up your saw, you can borrow one or even bring your own. Hillcrest has Monterey Pines in their u-cut tree lot for $55 each, no matter how tall. If you want to bag a Noble Fir or something similar, they have those available pre-cut for you- they just don’t grow well here in the valley, they like it cold! The pre-cut trees range in price from $28 – $228.
Red Hawk Ranch
33477 Cottontail Lane, Auberry CA 93602
Open weekends from 10 AM – 5PM
Red Hawk Ranch has both pre-cut and U-cut options available for purchase, as well as a gift shop with all the holiday trappings ready for you to visit. And don’t forget your complimentary hot beverages and holiday treats!
Their U-cut selection is a little more diverse than Hillcrest’s, because they aren’t on the valley floor. They have Blue Spruce, Douglas Fir, White Spruce, Scotch Pine, and Monterey Pine to choose from. (Once again if you’d like a noble fir, those are available pre-cut.) The u-cut trees are $40 each up to 8 feet tall, $45 if they’re a loftier height!
Sequoia National Forest
And if all of this seems a little too easy for you, you can also (this was news to me!) get a tree permit from the Sequoia National Forest. You’d have to provide your own hot beverages, tie downs, and saw, as well as a good eye, a full tank of gas, and some sturdy boots.
It’s $10 for members of the public on a limited basis, (contact your local Forestry Service office) but if you have a fourth grader in your household, they qualify for a free park membership through the Every Kid in a Park White House initiative. Fourth graders can print out a voucher online here- everykidinapark.gov
Good luck, wishing you plenty of FresYes Christmas Cheer and Happy Hunting!