By DENNIS WYATT
Nothing beats a day of ice skating and snow tubing followed up by a hay ride bundled against the evening chill to take in Christmas lights and then sitting around a fire enjoying hot chocolate with friends.
That is especially true if you can do all of those things in one place and not have to pile in a car to drive two to three hours so your kids — young and young at heart — can frolic in the snow.
You can do all the above and more without driving more than an hour from home.
That’s because the 10th season of Holidays on the Farm opens Saturday, Dec. 14 and runs through Saturday, Jan. 4. It takes place at the Dell’Osso Farms right off Interstate 5 at the Manthey Road exit between the Highway 120 Bypass and Interstate 5 interchanges.
There is no general admission charge as tickets are sold for each attraction you choose to access. That means you can simply walk around and soak in the holiday sights from young couples channeling Bambi learning to walk as they hit the ice for the first time ever to kids of all ages flying down Mt. Dell’Osso — the ultimate snow play area courtesy of gigantic snow making machines.
There is snow tubing, ice skating, zip lines, the Dell’Osso Express Train, rollercoaster, giant super slide, ball throw arena, pony rides, petting zoo, country store bakery, Christmas shopping and photos with Santa. There are even free attractions such as pedal cars and the tire pyramid.
The only online tickets are for the snow tubing given the demand as the 90-minute sessions can sell out fast. Parking is free. There is also a food court although guests are welcome to bring in their own food.
To view the Lights on the Farm you have the option of the train ride for $4 a person or an open air hay ride for $6 per person.
Guests in the rides are supplied blankets to help bundle against the cool weather.
The Lights on the Farm is in operation nightly except Christmas from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Snow tubing is $22 per 90-minute session for all ages. Sessions on Saturdays are from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. while on Sundays they are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. They switch to 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday, Dec. 16 through Friday, Dec. 20 then start all day and evening sessions on Saturday, Dec. 21 through Jan. 4 (except Christmas Eve when there are sessions only at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and Christmas Day when the farm is closed.)
Given there is an escalator and sessions are capped you can easily get in 15 runs if not more. For available times and to buy tickets go to holidaysonthefarm.com/snow-tubing-2/.
Those escalators eliminate trudging back uphill. You don’t even have to take your tube back up as the staff supplies you with a new one at the top. Add in the fact there are no rocks and a roof to allow you to snow tube in the rain and you’ve got a perfect 90-minute holiday escape.
Ice skating starts at 10 a.m. every day through Jan. 4 except on Monday, Dec. 16 through Thursday, Dec. 19, when it starts at noon. The skating rink is also closed Christmas Day.
Skating is on first come, first served with no on-line ticket sales.
Monday through Thursday ice skating is $12 for those 8 and older and $10 for those 7 and under. All rates include skates. Stroller skating is available during the first two hours of Monday through Thursday sessions for $10. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday rates are $14 for those 8 and older and $12 for those 7 and under. Those with their own skates can skate for $2 less.
One of the neatest things about Holidays on the Farm is the fire pits where you can not only warm yourself but can make s’mores.
The Country Store is worth the trip to Dell’Osso Farms even if you don’t do anything else. The Santa is top drawer with photos, if you opt to have them taken, professional quality at $8 each.
The store is loaded with local crafts, desserts, jams, and more.
There are pies by the slice, white chocolate themed lollipops, cupcakes, brownies, shortbread cake, caramel apples, Tiger Butter (white chocolate and peanut butter) and more.
My favorite by far is the fudge. The Country Store last year offered 15 different flavors.
Even if all you head out to the farm for is to buy fresh holiday treats the trip is well worth it.
The country store opens daily at 10 a.m. except for Monday, Dec. 16, through Thursday, Dec. 19, when it opens at noon. Santa is on hand the Saturdays and Sundays before Christmas at 11 a.m. as well as on Dec. 23 and 24. His hours Monday, Dec. 16, through Thursday, Dec. 19, begin at 3 p.m.
Zip lines are $10 per ride or $15 if the same person does two rides. Zip lines are open daily at 11 a.m. They do not operate from Monday, Dec. 16 through Thursday, Dec. 19.
The petting zoo is $2 while pony rides are $7.
The pedal cars and pyramid tire attractions are free.
A $5 wristband charge for all ages gives you unlimited play time in the ball toss area, use of the giant super slide, and riding on the spinning pumpkins.