For the past three years, we have headed to Crest Ranch in the Santa Cruz Mountains with some of our best friends to cut down a Christmas tree. We love the experience of making a day of it, trekking around to find the perfect tree, getting cold, warming up with some hot cocoa, maybe getting a little car sick (some people don't like all of this experience stuff and that's just fine too). This year, our best friends have moved away to Boston, but other best friends of ours suggested we meet and go together and they suggested a new place. Well, new to us.
Ward Ranch (here's a link for direction and info...scroll down....) is not far from Crest Ranch, but it is much smaller, more relaxed...and did I mention it is right down the road from Beauregard Vineyards tasting room? We met for wine tasting and then headed to Ward Ranch for the afternoon. Loveliness. I want to go again tomorrow. Oh, except I'm going to Disneyland tomorrow to meet my sister and celebrate our 30th birthdays (...again) and yes, we are going without kids (yay! and also bummer!). But, seriously, it was THAT good. Don't swarm the place, now, or else it will lose its charm. But if you are looking for that experience, I highly recommend this slice of heaven.
First...the winery. Beauregard Vineyards in right in the heart of Bonny Doon, a teeny tiny town in the Santa Cruz Mountains, which has been hit by forest fires the past two summers. Get your cute Boony Doon Volunteer Fire & Rescue shirts (and baby onsies!) and fresh lavender bath items while you sip your Chardonnay (my fav).
Down the road at Ward Ranch, the kids said "wheee!" in the swing hanging from a HUMONGOUS tree, surfed on the see-saw, found the perfect tree (via Ben), made glitter star ornaments, played with magnets, ate freshly popped popcorn from the fire, drank hot cocoa, bought handmade scarves. I loved that the crafts, popcorn and cocoa were not nickle and dime operations - it was just there. We chatted with the family owners and only left because Ava started to get pretty chilly.