Choose your own Christmas tree at one of the many tree farms here in Texas.
Christmas tree farms are a great holiday tradition that the whole family can enjoy. Texas may not have snow-covered hills, but we do have plenty of fields with rows of conical trees, and there is one that will be perfect for your living room.
Along with the fun of a drive in the country, many of the tree farms also offer other attractions like hot cider, hayrides, petting zoos, and gift shops. Virginia, Afghan, and eldarica pines are the most popular Christmas trees grown in Central Texas, but the Leyland cypress is becoming more popular, especially for people with allergies.
The cut-your-own farms began a new tradition in Texas in 1977. Since then, more than 150 Christmas tree farms have opened around the state. Most of the farms operate from Thanksgiving weekend until the weekend before Christmas.
Mike Walterscheidt has been selling trees off his 40 acres outside of Elgin since 1995. With Evergreen Farms' wide selection of sizes and shapes, the hard part will be finding just the right tree from all the choices. Tractor-drawn trailers haul the tree hunters to the fields and bring them back with their evergreen quarry.
In addition to the trees, the gift shop at Evergreen Farms offers a wide selection of Texas handcrafted items and Czech- and Polish-made Christmas tree ornaments. The farm is two miles west of Elgin. Go 1.5 miles down County Line Road, then turn left on Monkey Road and follow the signs. Visitors are welcome Monday through Friday, from noon till dark; and weekends, 9am to dark. For more information, call 512/281-4833 or see www.evergreen-farms.com.
Gene and Rose Fritsche's Farm north of Giddings used to be a peanut farm. Gene decided to try Christmas trees as an investment for his children's college education fund, but the kids grew faster than the trees. They now have Virginia pines up to 10 feet tall and Leyland cypresses up to 7 feet.
The coffeepot is always on at the gift shop that carries a small supply of unique items. The Fritsches also operate two bed and breakfast accommodations in Giddings. The tree farm is open Monday through Friday, 3-6pm; Saturday, 9am-6pm; and Sunday 1-6pm. For more information, call 979/542-3452 or see www.bluebon.net/fritsche.
Loma Alta Christmas Tree Farm between Bastrop and Smithville is one of the most scenic tree farms in Central Texas. Maybe it is so cute because the small farm of Virginia pines is surrounded by native loblolly and slash pines between two state parks. The NYC family has been selling trees since 1981.
Along with a gift shop and hayrides, the picnic area at the farm is often patrolled by the resident ducks and geese. The farm is 5.5 miles east of Bastrop off of Texas Highway 71 and opens daily, 9am-5:30pm. For more information, call 512/360-2005 or visit www.flash.net/~lomaalta.
Every year, my family hangs a wooden ornament on our tree that we got from Nature's Way Christmas Tree Farm outside of Elgin. On the back of the ornament are the names of all of our family and friends that went with us that year to pick out a tree.
One of the largest Christmas tree operations in Central Texas, the farm has been in operation since 1987. The name has changed to Elgin Christmas Tree Farm, but it offers the same friendly service, plus Elgin sausage on weekends, hot cider on cold days, and a barn full of gift ideas and antiques. The farm is one mile east of Elgin off of U.S. 290 on Roy Davis Road. The farm animals look forward to visitors Monday through Saturday, 10am-5:30pm; and Sunday, noon-5:30pm. For information, call 512/303-6829 or visit them at www.cycorp.com/christmastree.
One of the prettiest trees my family ever found was at Seiler Christmas Tree Farm outside of Seguin. The tree wasn't too tall, but it was bushy and well shaped with a wonderful pine scent. The Seilers' spread is on a hill with the rows of trees dipping down toward a small pond. We even picked up a hat full of paper-shelled pecans.
The farm is south of Seguin off of Highway 123 a couple of miles behind Smithey's Country Store at Jakes Colony Road. The farm gate is open daily from 9am-6pm. For information, call 830/303-4130.
653rd in a series. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of Day Trips 101-200, is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.