Enjoy Christmas tree farms, Apple Hill and a Placerville day trip from Sacramento

There are plenty of holiday activities in Sacramento – from visiting Old Sacramento or the Capitol to see the Christmas trees to ice skating in Downtown Sacramento at St. Rose of Lima Park (Seventh and K streets) and more, but when friends and family come into town, don’t forget the great day trips just a short drive away.

Apple Hill is famous for its fall activities – orchard apple picking, hayrides, cider tasting, the wine harvest and pumpkin patches, to name a few – but it also has a strong draw for anyone looking to get into the holiday spirit after Thanksgiving.

About 20 Christmas tree farms are also located in the Apple Hill area, just an hour’s drive from Downtown Sacramento.

A day trip to Apple Hill can be the perfect holiday activity from Sacramento. Here is one sample itinerary for what that day could look like.

9 a.m. Spend an hour eating breakfast together at a Sacramento restaurant before taking Highway 50 toward Placerville.

11 a.m. Arrive in Placerville and head to Gold Bug Mine to explore the Sacramento region’s rich Gold Rush history. At Gold Bug Mine, just a short drive off Placerville’s Main Street, you can take a tour of an actual gold mine.

Noon Take a stroll down Main Street in Placerville and shop the local shops for Christmas gifts and décor. Have lunch at one of the local favorite spots such as Z Pie, a restaurant specializing in savory pot pies and desserts with an array of local beers and wines available.

1:30 p.m. After lunch, get back in the car and drive another 10-15 minutes to Apple Hill. Cruise the scenic roads past dormant apple orchards. See how many Christmas trees you can spot on top of cars as everyone gets in the holiday spirit.

Stop at one of the many Christmas tree farms and find the perfect sapling for your home. If you’ve already got a tree, have a cup of hot chocolate and grab some pieces of greenery to make a wreath for the front door.

3:30 p.m. Head to one of the Apple Hill apple farms such as High Hill Ranch or Boa Vista. Though the picking season is over, apples are still available, as are fresh apple products such as apple butter, caramel and candied apples, and apple cider. Don’t miss everyone’s favorite warm apple treats – apple donuts, apple fritters and apple pies. Fudge from the Fudge Factory – next-door to High Hill Ranch – makes a great holiday gift as well.

Sometimes the snow level is low enough that it collects at the tree farms and apple orchards, and families enjoy making snowmen or having snowball fights.

If you’ve had your fill of cider, hot chocolate and apples already, there are several area wineries such as Boeger Winery that have tasting rooms with free tastings. If beer is more your style, check out Jack Russell Farm Brewery.

5:30 p.m. Get back on Highway 50 and head to Downtown Sacramento, where you can enjoy a nice family dinner at a range of restaurants to fit any budget. Sacramento is America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital, so take the opportunity to show your out-of-tow relatives just how nice it is to be able to eat meals prepared with fresh, seasonal produce year-round.

When friends and family are visiting, make sure to take advantage of discounted hotel packages.