After sipping Glühwein at Christkindlmarket and seeing your favorite holiday shows, continue the seasonal cheer by taking Christmas tree-hunting into your own hands. Just a short day trip from Chicago will give you and your family the chance to chop down your own tree, Little House On The Prairie-style. We promise that filling your home with the smell of fresh-cut pine is well worth a bit of a drive.
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Where to cut your own Christmas tree
Ben's has been growing gasp-worthy firs and pines since 1982. Choose from nine types and the folks there will provide the tools to cut down your own evergreen so you can take it home for the holidays. Make sure to warm up with the complimentary coffee and hot cocoa, or take a ride on the horse-drawn wagon. $6–$9 per foot. Cash or check only. Nov 24–Dec 17, Fri–Sun.
Be your family’s knight in shining armor by bringing home a tree from Camelot. Opening for the season on Black Friday, the farm offers eight types of trees—firs and spruces and pines, oh my! You can choose and cut, or skip the dirty work and purchase a pre-cut Christmas tree. There's wreaths, roping and swags available for purchase and free shaking and bailing, too. Camelot also has a warm hut with hot chocolate and cookies to make you feel like royalty. All trees $60, cash or check only. Opens Nov 24 at 9am.
The oldest and largest tree farm in Northern Illinois features nine types of trees for you to purvey while riding a horse-drawn wagon among the fields. When you've selected the perfect pine, visit Mrs. Claus at her North Pole house. Oney's also has a bakery with fresh goods and lunch items, so a trip here is sure to be an all-day holiday experience. Less than 5 feet, $30. Pines 5–9 feet, $55. Spruces and firs 5–9 feet, $65. 9–14 feet, $10 per foot. Nov 25–Dec 11, 9am–4pm.
Soak up some country air while you shop at this farm in McHenry, Illinois. The owners and volunteers grow the trees organically with no use of pesticides whatsoever, with 10 percent of sales donated to Environmental Defenders of McHenry County. So take your pick and they'll shake and bale it for you. All trees $50, cash or check only. Opens Nov 24 at 9am.
This spot serves guests an all-out holiday experience. In addition to supplying your sapling, the popular seasonal destination provides complimentary hot chocolate and coffee inside a large indoor heated sales barn. On weekends, catch a free wagon ride to haul your tree back to the barn while you munch on homemade kettle corn and freshly baked doughnuts. Cut your own trees, $68. Pre-cut trees and small trees individually priced. Opens Nov 24, 9am–6pm daily
Tammen will provide the saws, so all you need to do is withstand the winter temperatures to find and cut down your own tree. Enjoy this no-frills experience with plenty of pines and firs to choose from. All trees $55, $7 additional for shaking and baling. Opens Nov 24, 8am–4:30pm daily.