Timber! U-Cut Christmas Tree Farms & Our Fave Spots to Pick Your Pine

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A little like Disneyland, Christmas tree farms have that magic ability to instantly ignite memory-making opportunities and put a smile on your kiddos’ face. The yearly ritual is the perfect kick-off to the holiday season and these family-owned, U-cut Christmas tree farms know how to make the journey of tree-picking merry and bright. Read on for the details on full-service farms near San Diego as well as our favorite local tree lots for fresh Christmas trees—most of which open the day after Thanksgiving.

Highland Valley Christmas Tree Farm 

Tree cutting + wine = yes, please! Check out this Ramona farm where its owners also claim stake to a whimsical winery, the Principe di Tricase Winery. Families can come for the wonder of the property and to stroll through the groves to find the prettiest tree to cut and take home. You’ll find a few thousand trees including Monterey Pine and Leyland Cypress varieties with sizes ranging from 3 to over 12 feet tall trees. Choose your tree and they’ll come cut it for you––or you can also cut it yourself. In addition to cutting your tree, they offer shaking, drilling and netting for free.

Good to know: Prices start at $18/ft. with 10% off for military families, firefighters and senior citizens. 

Open Nov. 26-Dec. 18

Hours: Thurs. & Fri. noon-4 p.m.; Sat. & Sun. 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.; By appointment only Mon.-Weds.

18425 Highland Valley Rd.
Ramona, CA
Online: pineandwine.com

Family Christmas Tree Farm

Mark your calendars for opening day! This ten-acre, family-owned farm in El Cajon kicks off the season the day after Thanksgiving on Nov. 26th. Pick from an array of native California Monterey Pine trees––they provide the saw for cutting and the twine to secure the tree to your car. In addition to the u-chop experience, there’s an abundance of pre-cut tree varieties (Douglas, Grand, Noble & Nordman Fir) as well as potted trees (including Rosemary!) and wreaths to choose from. Though the folks at the farm recommend cutting your tree during daylight hours, they suggest bringing a flashlight if you’ll arrive after dark. Saws and twine are provided while shaking is free, netting is $2 and stands are available as well. Pick up your mistletoe and cinnamon brooms here too!

Good to know: This family farm’s first Christmas tree season was in 1972 and generation after generation come to cut their tree here each year. It’s a wonderful place to partake in this holiday tradition, given the Farm’s friendly, small-town community vibe that can’t be beat––and you’re supporting local agriculture by picking your perfect tree here. Also, bring Fido! Dogs are welcome at this pet-friendly farm. 

Open 9 a.m.-9 p.m., 7 days a week (starting Nov. 26)
300 Pepper Dr.
El Cajon, CA
Online: familychristmastreefarm.com

Sand Haven Pines Christmas Tree Farm

The drive to Sand Haven Pines Christmas Tree Farm in Perris is worth it! Here you can cut down your pick of a beautiful Monterey Pine tree. The kiddos will get a free candy cane and you'll get a free cup of coffee. If you need a hand, the staff will also cut and carry your tree, shake it clean, net it for transport, drill a hold in it for the tree stand, install the tree stand, flock your tree if desired, and even tie it to your car for the trip home. A variety of potted Christmas trees are also available––so you can plant it in your yard after the holidays and enjoy it forever.

Opening Day: Nov. 20; closed Thanksgiving Day; "Trees Under the Lights" opens Dec. 1st
Hours: Nov. Hours: Weekdays 11 a.m.- 5 p.m.; Weekends 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Dec. Hours: Weekdays 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Weekends 8 a.m.-7 p.m.

Good to know: After you select your tree, we can apply flocking to give it that "White Christmas" look!  You can choose from a light dusting to a heavy snow.

19255 Wood Rd.
Perris, CA 92570
Online: sandhavenpines.com

photo: Mr. Jingle's Christmas Trees

Mr. Jingle's Christmas Trees

Mr. Jingle's Christmas Trees is a tree lot as opposed to a farm––so if you're not up for chopping down your tree this year, this is a great place to pick out a fresh Christmas tree closer to home. With three locations in San Diego: Clairemont/Pacific Beach, Balboa Park/downtown, and La Jolla, there are plenty of options. All of these locations open November 26 and offer Douglas Firs, Nordman Firs and Noble Firs in a wide variety of sizes, as well as wreaths, garland and decorating accessories. They also offer online ordering and tree delivery or pick-up.

Online: mrjingleschristmastrees.com

Pinery Christmas Trees

Pinery Christmas Tree lots are conveniently located all over San Diego in Bonita, Del Mar Horsepark, Rancho Bernardo, Murrieta and Mission Valley. This year they're offering the options to shop on location or to opt for home delivery. Here you'll find fresh cut Nordman, Noble, Grand and Douglas Fir varieties. They open Nov. 26 and anticipate large crowds on peak days––so they'll be limiting the number of visitors allowed on the lot during these times. Read their Covid-19 update and plan accordingly before your visit. Going on a weekday morning is generally a less busy time.

Good to know: Click here for a $5 off coupon. 

Online: pinerychristmastrees.com

Tips For a Successful U-Chop Experience

If you usually get your tree from a lot but are ready to head out into the field, we’ve got a few tips for you.

1. If it’s an option, leave the compact car at home and instead bring the family truck or SUV to accommodate your freshly chopped tree. Bring a tarp, old sheet or blanket to put in the trunk to catch the needles and sap. You can also use this on the roof of your car if you are going to tie it down.

2. Most farms have some rope or twine but it never hurts to bring your own to make sure you can tie it down securely before you head home. Even if it costs extra, spring for the wrapping on-site if the farm has it.

3. Bring snacks and water. Cutting down your own tree is some serious business, so be sure to bring snacks and drinks to keep those little tummies going and to stay hydrated.

4. The farms usually provide a small hand saw for your use. If you have a better tool at home, bring it.

5. Don’t forget to charge your phones and cameras because you’re going to want to snap a family photo or several!

6. Bring a mask for each member of your family and remember to follow social distancing protocols. 

––Jeannette Swanson & Beth Shea


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