1. Visit Grandma Buddy's Tree Farm in Sebastopol, CA. Open until 12/23/15. Okay, I know at first glance you're thinking that you'll just cross this one off the list right away. You don't need a tree and it would be pointless. Well, the tree farms here are beautiful and offer so much more than just trees. Buddy's Tree Farm offers that old fashioned country feel with a lot of magical touches that feel like it comes straight out of a Christmas Hallmark Movie. It's so picturesque that it's used a lot by professional commercial shoots. As soon as you enter the property you are very aware that you are someplace special. The white barn is decorated inside with beautiful designer wreaths, garlands, a miniature Victorian Christmas Village display complete with a train and complimentary hot chocolate with candy canes. This is pure eye candy in my opinion and totally worth the visit. I take at least 100 pictures in here alone every year. You can then walk around the property and trees, discovering little bridges over creeks and snap plenty of family photos for your scrapbook. It's the perfect way to start your holiday adventure. Take a peek at their website and you’ll get the idea. 8575 Graton Rd, Sebastopol, CA 95472. 707-823-4547. http://www.grandmastrees.com. Restaurant nearby: Mary's Pizza Shack: Casual Italian food in a cozy atmosphere. 790 Gravenstein Hwy, Sebastopol, CA 95472. 707-829-5800.
2. Snoopy’s Home Ice & Charles Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, CA. Open through the holidays - closed on Christmas. (Officially known as Redwood Empire Ice Arena). This is a knock-your-socks-off kinda place that’s perfect for skaters and non-skaters alike. Decorated to the hilt for Christmas, this ice arena features Swiss chalet facades and panoramic scenes from the Swiss Alps. Tiny white and colored lights dot the entire inside arena and a Christmas tree proudly sits on the center ice. It’s a magical place when you are skating to Christmas music in the frosty air. I am not a skater so we when visit, it’s my son and husband that take to the ice. My visit will start out in the arena watching them skate while taking a ton of photos and then I eventually move into the Warm Puppy Café. The café is enclosed with large glass windows right next to the ice rink so you can practice your spectator skills while sipping on a warm beverage and a tasty sandwich all from the warm comfort of your chair by the gas fireplace. I also like to soak in the history of this magical place and always blow a kiss to the table where “Sparky”, Charles Schulz would sit every weekday for breakfast and lunch. Then it’s off to the gift shop to see what’s new in the world of “Peanuts.” There are even signatures of famous skaters like Scott Hamilton out in front of the arena and gift shop in the cement – al a Grohmann’s Chinese Theatre style in Hollywood. Then across the street is the Charles Schulz museum which is a true delight! You can sit in the theatre and watch cartoons all day, visit all of the exhibits and check out the kite-eating tree in the backyard. A visit here leaves you feeling light on your feet and warm inside. 1667 West Steele Lane • Santa Rosa, CA 95403 • 707-546-7147. http://www.snoopyshomeice.com
Restaurant nearby: Sam's For Play Cafe: Homestyle food in a fun, casual atmosphere. 2630 Cleveland Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95403. 707.528.2929
3. Sonoma Valley Winery Gingerbread Contest, Kenwood/HWY 12 - Sonoma, CA. Contest open through 12/31/15. This is a fun outing perfect for the whole family. Select wineries throughout Sonoma Valley create gingerbread masterpieces and display them in their tasting rooms. Your mission is to visit each one and then vote for the best. It’s an outing that provides sweeping vineyard views, beautifully decorated tasting rooms, fun shopping opportunities and a bonus – each time you vote for the best gingerbread creation you’ll be entered to win a case of some fabulous wine. You can find the list of participating wineries and directions here: http://sonomavalleywine.com/events/
Restaurant nearby: Cafe Citti: Great Italian food in a casual atmosphere. 9049 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, CA 95452
Website: Cafe Citti.
Quick Tip: Be sure to visit Sonoma Plaza for cheese tasting and then if you have kids with you, check out Train Town located about 2 miles down the street complete with ferris wheel, roller coaster, mini train ride and more!
4. Weaver's Winter Wonderland, Rohnert Park, CA. This is a house that was featured on TV's 2014 "The Great Christmas Light Fight" and won! The TV crew showed up very early in the morning to film the segment and when the lights were turned on, the entire crew gasped. It is an amazing effort put together by Scott Weaver and does not disappoint. The entire house has been turned into a castle and includes millions of lights and a sleigh for taking photos. 1190 Cielo Circle Rohnert Park, CA 94928. Lights turn on at 5:30pm until 9pm Nightly. Starts Dec 1st through Dec 31st. You can visit his facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/Weavers-Winter-Wonderland-1548105775406039/
Restaurants nearby: There are a few chains to choose from all within 1 mile of the 101 freeway - Outback, Chili's, In N Out, Olive Garden.