With Dec. 25 around the corner, get into the Christmas spirit and take the family to a local tree farm.
"Cutting a real tree is really a 'greener' thing to do than to buy an artificial one," said Steve Abel, owner of Abel's Trees in Verbank. "It is also a family experience and potentially a family tradition that will always be remembered in the years ahead."
Most of the farms began selling their trees the day after Thanksgiving, and even with the extensive selection of live evergreens, it is best to find your tree early, as they tend to go quickly.
Below is a list of nine local farms where you can pick out that perfect holiday tree.
Abel's has been allowing families to choose and cut their own Christmas trees since the early 1970s. Available in six varieties, trees are priced between $50 and $60 and come with a plastic mesh to make transportation easier. You can bring your own saw to chop down that perfect tree or rent one for a $10 deposit, which will be returned to you once the saw is returned.
Abel's also offers tree preservatives and stands, as well as holiday wreaths. If you work up an appetite chopping down your tree, be sure to stop in for some Abel's Treats, baked fresh daily by owner Steve Abel's daughter, a graduate of Hyde Park's Culinary Institute of America.
Info: 435 N. Clove Rd., Verbank; 845-677-6395; abelstrees.com
Hours: Sat.-Sun.: 9 a.m. until dark through Dec. 25.
Bilmar Nurseries Tree Farm in Pleasant Valley
Family-owned and operated for three generations, this tree farm specializes in five kinds of fir trees, including the Fraser Fir, which Bilmar calls the most sought-after type of Christmas tree, as well as a variety of spruces. The Bilmar experience begins at the parking lot, where weekend visitors will be transported to the fields via a hayride or firetruck.
Once you have picked your tree (customers can either cut their tree themselves or choose a fresh, precut tree), make a stop at Bilmar's Christmas shop, where you can purchase locally made gifts as well as freshly made wreaths. If you can't find the perfect tree here, head over to Bilmar's sister farm, Fabulous Firs.
Info: 26 Bilmar Blvd., Pleasant Valley; 845-635-3206; bilmarnurseriesinc.com
Hours: Weekdays: Sat.-Sun.: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Dec. 23.
The Wade family began planting Christmas trees in 1976 and now has more than 7,000 planted on their property. The farm has been operated by the family for three generations, and the current owners, Glenn and Noel Wade, appreciate that customers have been returning with their children and grandchildren year after year.
Plains View Farm offers seven varieties of trees, some of which can reach up to 12 feet in height, and all of which are priced at a flat $50. To save you the trouble of carrying your tree all the way back to the car, hop into the tractor-pulled hayride.
Before you leave the farm, warm up by the wood stove and try some free cocoa and cider along with fresh cookies baked by 100-year-old Grandma Wade.
Info: 21 Freedom Rd., Pleasant Valley; 845-485-4277; plainsviewfarm.com
Hours: Sat.-Sun.: 9 a.m. to dusk through Dec. 25.
Solvang Tree Farm in Pougkeepsie
This farmoffers cut-your-own trees in three varieties: Blue Spruce, White Spruce and Scotch pine. The trees, which are about 8 feet in height, are priced at $48. If you are looking for something a little bigger, the farm also offers precut trees as tall as 15 feet for $48 to $120.
While you are busy packing the tree onto the car roof, the kids can check out the animals, including goats and an alpaca, in the barnyard, and families should be sure to pick up some holiday decorations and hot chocolate in the gift shop.
Hours: Fri.-Sun.: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Dec. 23, depending on availability
Emmerich Tree Farm in Warwick
Celebrating its first winter season, this new tree farm will offer limited quantities of choose-and-cut trees, ranging from 3 to 9 feet high. Customers who purchase a tree, which range in price from $20 to $70 depending on size, will be treated to an all-around Christmas experience, including complimentary hot cocoa and cookies, wagon rides, bonfires and live music on select days.
The tree farm also offers handmade wreaths in two sizes, ranging from $15 to $35. Emmerich knows that pets are part of the family, too, and they are welcome to join the festivities, as long as they are on a leash.
Info: 101 Sleepy Valley Rd., Warwick; 845-986-0151; emmerichtreefarm.com
Hours: Sat.: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sun.: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Open until Dec. 23 or when sold out.
Pine Farm Christmas Trees in Youngsville
This farm has been family-owned since the 1800s but began offering Christmas trees only in the late 1960s. Pine Farm offers five varieties of choose-and-cut Christmas trees priced between $5 and $7 per foot, depending on the type you choose. Saws and wagon rides from the fields are offered for no additional fee. When the snow is on the ground, families are welcome to bring their sleds for a little winter fun and can warm up by the wood stove with some free hot chocolate later.
Info: 121 Eagin Rd., Youngsville; 607-591-5507; pinefarmchristmastrees.com
Hours: Sat.-Sun.: Opens at 9:30 a.m. until dusk through Dec. 25.
Bell's Christmas Trees in Accord
Christmas trees were first planted on this family-run farm as a hobby more than 20 years ago. Now it offers nine varieties of cut-your-own Christmas trees beginning at $43, and saws are provided at no extra cost. Bell's gift shop offers handmade wreaths, which can be special ordered in designs including snowflakes and candy canes. While in the gift shop, you can also enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and buy locally made honey or maple syrup.
Info: 647 Mettacahonts Rd., Accord.; 845-626-7849; bellschristmastrees.com
Hours: Sat.-Sun.: 8 a.m. to dusk. The farm will close at noon on Christmas Eve.
Hurd's Family Farm in Clintondale
This farm invites you to "celebrate Christmas in the country" at its Clintondale location, which offers choose-and-cut trees starting at $50. Hurds employees will help load the tree onto your vehicle, and provide baling twine to help secure the tree. Once your tree is picked, warm up by the bonfire and enjoy some complimentary s'mores.
Info: 72 Hurd's Rd., Clintondale; 845-883-7825; hurdsfamilyfarm.com
Hours: Call for hours