Where to cut your own Christmas tree in the suburbs
With the COVID-19 pandemic surging, the CDC is urging everyone to limit celebrations to their own households and to avoid travel. That might be disappointing to those used to big, festive gatherings with friends and extended family, but at least one holiday tradition can still be safely observed: picking out the perfect Christmas tree for your home.
Local farms have taken a wide variety of precautions to make it as safe as possible to visit. Many of them were also open in the fall for pumpkin picking and other themed activities and saw huge demand for family-friendly outdoor activities.
"I think there was a lot of pent up desire to be able to go out and do something that was safe, especially outdoors," said Abbey Farms spokesman Stephan Perrault. "We had sanitizer everywhere. We were constantly cleaning all the touchpoints. The feedback that we were getting was, 'Yay, there's something that we can do.'"
Richardson Farm co-owner George Richardson said interest in farm fun has increased in the past 10 years, driven by Millennials who appreciate family activities and getting back to nature, but this year's fall events saw 25% more people than usual. He expects similar crowds for Christmas, which won't be an issue since the farm's 130 acres can allow thousands of visitors while still adhering to social distancing.
"(Visitors were) extremely happy to have some place to go that was fun where they could just be outside for hours, get a hot chocolate, and walk around," Richardson said. "There were just hundreds of people that said, 'Thank you for being open.'"
If you're looking for a way to bring your family some cheer, these local spots will let you make a day of selecting a Christmas tree, giving you a way to get out of the house safely while bringing home something to keep you smiling all season long. All of these locations ask that customers wear masks when social distancing is not possible.
Where: 2855 Hart Road, Aurora
Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday through Dec. 23; closed Thanksgiving Day.
Trees: Cut your own scotch, white or Austrian pine for $55 or spruce and Canaan firs for $68 for up to six feet. Precut trees are $10.50 per foot up to 12 feet.
COVID-19 precautions: Reservations are required this year and visits with Santa will happen at a large table to maintain distance. Individual doughnuts will not be available. The Pine Tree Café & Bar will have an outdoor patio with a fire. Delivery and curbside pickup are available.
Also: Tree shaking, tie-down assistance, and hot chocolate are included with a purchase and saws can be rented for $10. Wreaths, garland, ornaments, jams, mustards and other potential gifts are for sale. Photos with Santa are available for $20 per person from 8:30-9:30 a.m. Sundays Dec. 6-20 and include hot chocolate, six apple cider doughnuts, a coloring book with crayons, and a gift. (630) 966-7775 or abbeyfarms.org
Ben's Christmas Tree Farm
Where: 7719 Ryan Road, Harvard
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday Nov. 27 through Dec. 13
Trees: Choose from eight varieties of trees including Norway spruce, white pine and balsam fir for $7 to $11 per foot with 6½-foot minimums.
COVID-19 precautions: Wagon rides will not be offered this year. An outdoor payment window will be available and credit card processing charges will be waived. Hand sanitizer will be available in and around the barn.
Also: Staff will shake and bale your tree while you warm up with complimentary hot chocolate and coffee. Handmade Fraser fir wreaths and garlands are available for purchase. Leashed pets are welcome. (630) 279-0216 or benstreefarm.com
Grandpa's Christmas Tree Farm
Where: 13616 IL Route 176, Woodstock
Hours: 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Nov. 27-29, and Dec. 5-6
Trees: Choose from thousands of pine trees in every shape and size for $65. Most are five- to six-feet tall.
COVID-19 precautions: There won't be trailer hay rides this year so you'll need to walk to select your tree, though staff will pick it up and bring it in.
Also: Hot chocolate, coffee, saws, twine, shaking and baling are all included. (815) 337-2682 or grandpastreefarm.com
Kuipers Family Farm
Where: 1N318 Watson Road, Maple Park
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 27-29
Trees: A limited supply of cut-your-own Fraser firs and pines measuring seven feet or less are available for $89.
COVID-19 precautions: Capacity for the Orchard Market & Bakery will be limited and sampling will not be available.
Also: Trees are baled and shaken and purchases include an apple cider doughnut for everyone in the group. A bakery offers fruit pies and other food gifts. (815) 827-5200 or kuipersfamilyfarm.com
Larson's Family Farm
Where: 4404 Somonauk Road, Sandwich
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 27 and Saturdays and Sundays and 2-4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday through Dec. 19
Trees: Choose from 18 acres of Canaan and white fir, blue and Norway spruce, and Scotch and white pine for $45.
COVID-19 precautions: The heated part of the barn store will be closed, but items will be sold outside as space allows.
Also: Saws are provided and trees are shaken and bailed for free. Wreaths are available for $15-$35 and evergreen roping is $1.50 per foot but must be preordered this year. (815) 786-2249 or larsonfamilyfarm.com
Nature's Best Christmas Trees
Where: 13001 IL-76, Poplar Grove
Hours: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Friday to Sunday Nov. 27 through Dec. 13
Trees: Short-needled firs, spruces and white pines are $10 per foot and you can cut your own or have a staff member do it for you.
COVID-19 precautions: There won't be any on-site wreath decorating, hot chocolate or brownies this year and only one person per group will have access to the warming barn and checkout area. Credit card payments won't be accepted. Preordering of wreaths, garland, containers and baskets is strongly encouraged.
Also: Shaking and baling is included. (815) 505-3377 or naturesbesttrees.com
Oney's Tree Farm
Where: 16608 Route 14, Woodstock
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily Nov. 27 to Dec. 6
Trees: Visit the 60-acre farm and pick from its 60,000 trees in nine varieties including Fraser fir, white pine and Colorado spruce. Cut your own, get a precut one or pick up a tree with roots that you can plant. Five- to nine-foot trees are $75 or $10 more per additional foot. Trees under five feet are $50.
COVID-19 precautions: Horse-drawn wagon rides, custom wreath decorating, visits with Mrs. Claus, and pony rides are canceled for this year. Hand saws will be cleaned after every use and hand sanitizer will be available around the farm. Outside checkouts and gift displays will be set up and the bakery has been moved to a location where you'll order and pick up at windows to make social distancing easier. A contactless system for tree pickups will be set up so you can just leave your cut tree in the field.
Also: Tree shaking and netting is free. (815) 338-4108 or oneystreefarm.com
Richardson Christmas Tree Farm
Where: 9407 Richardson Road, Spring Grove
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily Nov. 27 to Dec. 13
Trees: Choose from 50,000 trees in many varieties spread across 75 acres. Cut your own trees for $79. Precut trees up to 12 feet are individually priced.
COVID-19 precautions: There is no inside seating this year but extra picnic tables will be set up outside. Hand sanitizer and washing stations will be available throughout the grounds and all contact surfaces will be cleaned regularly.
Also: Hot chocolate, coffee, tree shaking and baling, handsaws, and wagon rides to the trees are free every day. Pick up some freshly made doughnuts, fudge and kettle corn. Wreaths, garlands and decorations are also available for purchase. Leashed dogs are welcome. (815) 675-9729 or richardsonadventurefarm.com
Spring Bluff Nursery
Where: 41W130 Norris Road, Sugar Grove
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 27 and Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 13
Trees: Cut your own tree or choose from a selection of precut 8-foot-tall Fraser firs.
COVID-19 precautions: Zero contact curbside delivery and pickup is available and capacity in the greenhouse will be limited.
Also: Hayrides are provided to the trees and you can warm up with hot chocolate and a fire. Handmade wreaths and ceramics and firewood are also available to purchase. Leashed dogs are welcome. (630) 466-4278 or springbluffnursery.com