In my red and green dreams, I picture a more trouble-less version of the Griswold Christmas tree trek into the woods: snow drifts, a hacksaw, a pine in a meadow bending ever so slightly from the morning’s dusting… That may be a dramatic interpretation, but there’s still good, old-fashioned holiday fun to be had.
As for where to do your chopping (and, afterwards, your eating), well, read on.
The North Fork has several notable tree farms, but I’m partial to Santa’s, which was where I once trudged into the woods 8 months pregnant to retrieve my Christmas spoils. In addition to Douglas Fir and Blue Spruce (as well as other tree varieties), Santa’s operates a 2,500-foot retail space, filled with ornaments, decorations, and vendors selling snacks and hot cocoa.
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Once you’ve strapped your tree to your car (don’t worry—they do it for you), drive down the road to the North Fork Table and Inn. The cozy dining room offers dinner and brunch (weekends only), or you can sit at the bar and order a burger made from McCall Wines’ Charolais cows, quite literally the local-est beef on the Island.
Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm, 30105 Main Road, Cutchogue, (631) 734.8641, open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The North Fork Table and Inn, 57225 Main Road, Southold, (631) 765.0177, open Thursday through Monday, call for hours.
Lewin’s sprawling, idyllic fields are open for Christmas tree harvesting after the Thanksgiving holiday. The massive open field is without lights and you must rent a saw ($5), but Lewin definitely offers the most authentic experience on Long Island. Lewin grows Douglas Fir, Norway Spruce, Blue Spruce, and White Pine ripe for the picking.
When you’re done selecting a tree, head to Baiting Hollow’s Cooperage Inn for baked clams, a French onion soup, and maybe a chicken pot pie. The intimate space is teeming with fall and winter décor. In the back, a pergola leads to a “craft beer garden,” where cool weather enthusiasts can sit outside for a libation.
Lewin Farms, 812 Sound Avenue, Calverton, (631) 929.4327, open Wednesday through Monday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cooperage Inn, 2218 Sound Avenue, Baiting Hollow, (631) 727.8994, open daily 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Tilden Lane Farm has been around for a really long time—we’re talking 225 years long. Which is why you can trust them to know a thing or two about Christmas trees. Trees are expensive ($70 to $80, depending on size), but they’re also gorgeous and, with a little love and care, will last throughout the season, even if you buy yours in late November. The farm grows Concolor Fir, Fraser Fir, Blue Spruce, Norway Spruce, and White Spruce. Trees are cash only, so make sure you have some on you.
Afterwards, head into Greenlawn and cozy up at Old Fields Restaurant, a steak and burger joint that is rib-sticking, the way holiday cuisine ought to be. On Sunday nights, Old Fields serves up an impressive fried chicken, too.
Tilden Lane Farm, 43 Wyckoff Street, Greenlawn, open November 25 and 26, December 2 and 3, and December 9 and 10, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Old Fields Restaurant, 81 Broadway, Greenlawn, (631) 754.9868, open Monday through Saturday 5 p.m. to close, Sunday 12 p.m. to close.
“A place that is helping to preserve open space,” reads Matt’s tree farm tagline. Matt’s cash-only operation is home to Norway Spruce, Blue Spruce, White Spruce, Serbian Spruce, Balsam Fir, and Concolor Fir. Trees are priced by the foot. Staff will give you a ride into the fields, provide you with the saw, and net your tree for you—all you have to do is find the winner and chop.
Then head over to the surprisingly good Pennachio’s for pizza by the slice that’s decidedly old school. Don’t let the shopping center throw you off. This is a true Long Island find.
Matt’s Christmas Tree Farm, 305 Weeks Avenue, Manorville, (631) 875.1465, open Wednesday through Monday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Pennachio’s, 460 County Road 111, Manorville, (631) 281.0003, open daily 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Elwood Farm offers Huntington residents 22 acres of Christmas tree joy. If you’re less desperate for the work of cutting your own tree, you can buy a pre-cut Fraser Fir. Otherwise, head into the fields (and make sure to bring plenty of cash, as well as your own hand saw, since Elwood does not provide them).
Your experience will be enhanced, for sure, by lunch at the Oheka Castle, a 127-room hotel and restaurant housed on 443 acres in Cold Spring Harbor. Pro-tip: Eat the lobster meatballs.
Elwood Pumpkin and Christmas Tree Farm, 1500 E. Jericho Turnpike, (631) 368.8626, open November 24 – 30 by appointment, December 1 – 24, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Oheka Bar and Restaurant, 135 West Gate Drive, Huntington, (631) 659.1350, open daily 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.