Winter weather doesn’t easily lend itself for long motorcycle rides and no matter how large your bike, it is fairly impractical to try using it to transport your Christmas tree. So for the sake of the season, and in tribute to nostalgic memories of wandering through the woods in search of that one special tree, Virginiawind decided to take a more “caged” approach to this month’s destination of Ticonderoga Farms in Chantilly, VA. This 4th generation, family owned, Christmas tree farm is also a 1000 acre retreat offering educational programs and other recreational activities throughout the year.
It seems hard to believe that you can find a Christmas tree in the city some where other than in a strip mall parking lot. However, Ticonderoga Farms, aptly dubbed “A Suburban Nature Retreat”, is located a mere 4 ½ miles west of the bustling intersection of Rt. 50 and Rt. 28 in Loudoun County. Within this short distance, you travel from 4-lane highway to a simple dirt road where construction pylons are replaced by cheerful candy cane colored signs beckoning you away from the overdeveloped landscape into a magical winter wonderland full of holiday delights.
The first thing that hits you when you step out into the wintry air is unmistakable scent of fresh cut trees. The sounds of Christmas music coupled with the sight of acres upon acres of uniformly shaped trees of varying sizes completely fill your senses and leave little doubt that this is where Christmas comes alive. This first area of Ticonderoga Farms is for those who want the experience of a country Christmas without the fuss and muss of actually cutting their own tree. For those folks, a pre-cut or bagged tree (that can be planted later) is just waiting to be chosen.
Here you will also find a General Store. Inside a warm potbellied stove draws you closer as you sample a steamy cup of fresh apple cider and browse through the greenhouse filled with poinsettias of varying sizes. To help you with your “big decision” information and descriptions of the various trees are offered for those who don’t know the difference between Weymouth Pines and Eastern Cedars. Outside, families gather ‘round an open fire to roast marshmallows on conveniently provided sticks. It is easy to strike up a conversation with whoever is next to you creating a wonderful sense of community.
For those who really want to immerse themselves in the adventure of cutting your own tree, a quick drive down a bit further to their “Cut Your Own” site is in order. Here you will be greeted by none other than a candy cane toting Santa himself. There are also hay rides, pony rides, of course the marshmallow fire pit to complete your “tree hunting experience”. There are also play forts and even picnic tables for any who are brave enough to withstand the elements.
Before you venture into the “world of a thousand choices” in search of your perfect tree, Ticonderoga Farms insures your success in your quest by providing you a few tools of the trade. Properly armed with a hand saw and handy dandy bamboo pole marked with ribbons to you can determine how big your actually tree is (because a tree looks so much smaller in the whole of the outdoors than it will in that tiny little corner you cleared out in your living room) you can hardly go wrong.
Then you’re off on that ultimate family bonding experience known as picking your own tree . For those of you unfamiliar with the routine, here it is in a nutshell: You pass every single tree you see because you find some slight imperfection, besides you are certain that the perfect tree is just around that next bend. That is, until your hands and feet get numb. Then suddenly they all seem to start looking really good and you quickly decide to pick the next tree that you see without question. Of course, when you get home you will realize there is a bald spot or that the really full branches are going to have to be cut to get it in the tree stand. But in the end you realize the experience of the day more than makes up for any flaws. Besides, that’s what extra tinsel and ornaments were made for.
Whether you choose pre-cut or go for the whole experience of cutting your own, Ticonderoga Farms is the perfect place to get caught up in the spirit of the season. Sure, you could conveniently grab a tree at your nearest roadside stand without any extra effort on your part but why not take a short drive out into the country and start your own family tradition?
Monday – Saturday 7:30 AM to Dark
Sunday – 9:00 AM to Dark
Directions: Rt 50 to Rt. 659, Gum Spring Rd. Travel 2 miles to a left on Braddock Rd, Rte 620. Travel 1 mile to Ticonderoga Farms.