Picking out a Christmas tree is a big deal for many families, a marker of the season. For these families, their tree is the centerpiece of Christmas, adorned with precious keepsakes and twinkling lights to enjoy during the dark winter.
Sure, you could grab a nice-looking tree on your grocery run or even dust off the plastic one you have in the garage, but where’s the fun in that? Why not support our local farmers and head out to a U-pick Christmas tree farm instead? Maybe this is the year to turn your tree selection into a real-live family outing. Some farms offer free hot beverages, visits with Santa, festive photo ops, wagon rides and more. And not to worry, cutting down your own tree is not as intimidating as it might sound. Most farms offer precut options to choose from if hand-sawing isn’t your thing.
If your family is really adventurous, you can Clark Griswold it and head to the mountains to cut down a wild tree! Scroll to the end of this article and be prepared to follow detailed instructions for this.
Whether you source your tree from a U-pick farm or by foraging in a national forest, the family time, rosy cheeks and fresh evergreen scent wafting through your home will make the trek well worth it.
Important: Some farms require appointments and some don't, so take note. You'll need to mask up and follow each farm's detailed procedures and rules. Also, we recommend double-checking the farm's website or Facebook page before heading out, as status can change day by day.
Serres Farm, Redmond
Serres Farm is a small farm tucked away in Redmond, just off of Redmond–Fall City Road. Stay warm with a free hot beverage while searching the Christmas tree forest. Opening day is Nov. 26, and the farm operates Friday–Sunday until trees sell out. Call 425-868-3017 or check the Facebook page for updates.
Trinity Tree Farm, Issaquah
This one is a favorite of many Seattle- and Eastside-area families. It gets busy on the weekends, so try going on a weekday. Warm up with a complimentary hot beverage or browse the gift shop in the log cabin. Opening day is Nov. 26 and then the farm is open daily until trees sell out. Check the farm's website or Facebook page for updates!
Mountain Creek Christmas Tree Farm, Snoqualmie
A tree farm with a view, this longtime Christmas tree grower is located near the base of beautiful Mount Si. Appointments are required for U-cut trees now through Dec. 5; after that the farm is open to all with no reservations needed, daily Dec. 6–23, or until trees sell out. Book on the website; call 425-888-1770 with questions.
Honeytree Farm, Auburn
Grab some free hot cider or cocoa to warm your hands and then set off on your tree hunt! You will find plenty of options and variety on this 11-acre farm. When your mission is complete, grab a bag of kettle corn, check out the gift shop and get a candy cane from jolly ol' Saint Nick himself! (Note that Santa is around weekends only.) Open daily starting Nov. 26 and until precut trees are sold out (anticipated to be around Dec. 16). Check the Facebook page for updates.
Schilter Family Farm, Olympia
Ride a wagon (weekends only) to the Christmas tree patch to find your majestic match. Once you have picked your perfect tree, it will be delivered to the barn for you. Hot drinks and cider donuts are available for purchase on weekends. There is a lighted nativity scene to view and Santa will make an appearance on Saturdays,12:30–3:30 p.m. Flocking is available if you want that fresh-snow look. Open daily Nov. 26–Dec. 12. Visit the Facebook page for more details.
Coates Christmas Trees, Auburn
Christmas cheer abounds at this wonderfully decorated tree farm in Auburn. Indulge in a hot drink, take a picture with Santa (Nov. 27–29 and Dec. 5–6 only) and find your perfect tree! Leashed pets are welcome here. Open Nov. 26, daily until they sell out. Call 253-709-6293 or check the Facebook page for updates.
Traditions Tree Farm, Maple Valley
On a clear day, there is a glorious view of Mount Rainier from this Maple Valley tree farm. While searching for your tree, be on the lookout for Santa’s reindeer, too! Find all nine reindeer cutouts hidden around the farm and win a prize. This farm offers complimentary hot beverages, and there's a gift shop featuring items by local artists and a model train running on a track through the barn. Plus there's a train set kiddos can actually play with! Opening day is Nov. 26 and then the farm is open Friday–Sunday until trees sell out. Visit the farm's Facebook page for more info.
Stocker Farms, Snohomish
Stocker Farms keeps families visiting in all seasons: sunflowers in the summer, pumpkins in the fall and trees in the winter! With seven types of U-cut or precut trees to choose from, you are sure to find your perfect living-room centerpiece. Hot beverages and goodies are available for purchase in the gift shop. Open daily, Nov. 26–Dec. 12. Check the website and the Facebook page for updates.
Farmer Brown’s Christmas Tree Farm, Arlington
With 32 acres and trees up to 14 feet tall, the options at Farmer Brown’s are plentiful! This farm is open Thursday–Monday starting Nov. 26, and will close when they are sold out. While you’re at the farm, warm your toes near the bonfire, grab a hot drink and enjoy festive Christmas music. Beautiful precut flocked trees are available for purchase as well. Call Farmer Brown himself at 360-659-6686 or check out the Facebook page for updates.
Carnation Tree Farm, Carnation
Take in a bit of history at this farm listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Here the farmers grow a variety of different trees and provide twine, tree-shaking, baling and tree recycling with every purchase. This spot also sells a variety of other greens for decorating. Opening day is Nov. 26; the farm is open Friday–Sunday, until trees are sold out. Be sure to call ahead (425-369-7999), as the farm sells out quickly.
Christmas Creek Tree Farm, North Bend
Stay warm with some complimentary hot cider or coffee and peruse the amazing selection of trees offered at Christmas Creek. This farm offers precut and U-cut trees, plus there are Bend Bakery cookies for purchase. While you're there, check out the steam model train! Opening Nov. 26. This year, book a spot at Evening With Santa on Dec. 3 or 4 to get a photo taken with the big guy, enjoy a holiday movie and more ($35 per family). Check the Facebook page for updates.
Buttonwood Farm, Redmond
Buttonwood Farm grows 100-percent organic trees. Get your hands dirty cutting your tree and loading it yourself or take advantage of their white glove delivery service. This farm is open by appointment again this year and it books up fast! Open select days starting Nov. 23. Check the Facebook page for updates.
How to cut a Christmas tree from the national forest
This is a perfect Christmas tradition for adventurous, outdoorsy families, but you do need to be prepared. Here are important tips:
First, you’ll need to obtain a $10 permit to cut within the Mount Baker–Snoqualmie National Forest (which, if you live in the Puget Sound area, is where you'll be cutting). Each non-refundable permit allows the cutting of one tree (15 feet or under in height with a maximum stump height of 12 inches). You must print and bring your permit with you.
For most area families, the closest spots will be in North Bend off Interstate 90 or via Forest Service roads off 410 past Enumclaw and Buckley, heading into Greenwater (near Mount Rainier), but there are locations north as well (such as Highway 2 and the Mountain Loop Scenic Byway).
You can get lots more information and maps at the Forest Service site, or when you pick up your permit.
Be sure to cut only in permissible areas. Cutting down a tree from a campground, private land, or within 150 feet of a stream, lake or wetland area, is a big no-no!
Once you’ve decided where to go, follow a few guidelines to make sure your outing stays fun and safe.
Editor's note: This article was first published in 2020 and updated for 2021.