When I was young my Dad used to take me and my brother to a local Christmas tree farm so we could select the perfect tree. It was guaranteed–my little brother would always say no to the first 10 trees, so Dad and I would hatch a plan to circle back to our favorite tree when my brother was ready to say yes. It worked like a charm! I really appreciate that my Dad kept the annual Christmas tree cutting tradition because the memories will stay with me forever.
Nowadays, I have to be honest and confess that we usually just go to our local supermarket parking lot to buy our tree. But this year I decided to put on my ugly Christmas sweater and bring the family to a tree farm in Sebastopol. And while we were in the area, why not go ice skating in Santa Rosa? And then to kid friendly dinner in Petaluma? We had such a great time on our day trip from San Francisco that we decided to share this itinerary with you so you can be inspired to get outdoors and have fun too!
We now have kids age 9 & 11 that like to sleep in, so it is a rare occasion that we get to leave the house before 10am. For that reason, we just went in as straight of a line as possible and took Highway 101 North from San Francisco to Highway 116 west to Sebastopol. We then made a bit of a loop as we ventured northeast to Santa Rosa for the ice skating, and then south to Petaluma for dinner.
12:00 pm Reindeer Ridge Christmas Tree Farm
Reindeer Ridge Christmas Tree Farm is located just outside of downtown Sebastopol off of Bloomfield Road. There are several tree farms off of Bloomfield and we decided to go to the one that had the most kid-friendly features. In fact we almost went right next door to Frosty Mountain Tree Farm but at the last moment we changed our mind because we saw a cute hand painted sign that said “zip line!” Our kids couldn’t say no to that!
We must have arrived at the peak time of day because the parking lot was very crowded, but by the time we left the parking lot was almost half empty. Once we got parked, we easily found a saw and headed over the knoll to find a tree. It took us about a half hour of crisscrossing the rows until we found the *perfect tree*. The kids proudly posed for a photo with the tree and carried it back to the car without help from Mom and Dad. The kids spent a couple minutes on the zipline after, but they didn’t want to ride the train or go for a hayride. I need to get used to the fact that big kids have different tastes, or I should have just borrowed a toddler for that part!
The atmosphere of Reindeer Ridge was perfectly festive with decorations on trees and bushes, some goats to pet and feed, a playground with zip line, a hay ride, a train ride, and plenty of snacks to buy in the barn. Pro Tip: get the apple fritter. You won’t regret it!
1:30 pm Ice Skating at Snoopy’s Home Ice
After getting the tree we went for our annual ice skating adventure. This was the first time we skated at Snoopy’s Home Ice in Santa Rosa, and it certainly will not be our last. The ice rink was much larger than what we were used to, and was perfectly decorated with lights strung everywhere and an enormous Christmas tree right in the middle of the rink. My daughter and I enjoyed the music as we skated along, while my husband taught our son to skate. The rink provided a selection of 5 gallon buckets that can be stacked on top of eachother so the novice skater can just hold onto the bucket and push it along in front. I was very impressed with that simple yet clever skating hack. By the end of the session we were relieved to see that my son was finally enjoying himself. We finished out the afternoon with a hot cocoa from the cafe at the ice rink. It has a full menu so you don’t need to pack a lunch. Snoopy’s Home Ice is the best ice rink we have ever been to, and I am sure we will be going back every year from now on.
5:00 pm Early Dinner at Brewsters Beer Garden
Before we went on this day trip I spent a few minutes researching the “most Christmassy” restaurant in the area, and that is how I found Brewster’s Beer Garden. And wow, they take Christmas very seriously at Brewsters. There were lights absolutely everywhere, a snow machine at the entrance, every staff member was wearing a Christmas sweater, Christmas presents hung from the ceiling, and there were light up Santas throughout. The atmosphere is very lively with Christmas music playing and plenty of background noise to drown out any loud noises a baby or kid might make.
When the server came to us he brought kids menus with activities and a template for a letter to Santa on the back. As soon as the kids were done writing their letter to Santa, they dropped it in the mailbox provided in the festive outdoor patio. The entire dining area of the restaurant is outdoors with covers to keep out the weather, which is a major plus during the COVID pandemic.
We enjoyed some quality modern American food and delicious seasonal cocktails. My cocktail came with a little santa hat wearing koala hugging the stem. So cute! The kids enjoyed the kids menu and a Shirley Temple. It was a successful evening out overall.
Whew, what a day!
I am so glad we skipped the grocery parking lot tree this year and made a day trip out of it. I hope this summary of our day in Sonoma County inspires you to go out and try something new this Christmas season.