4. World Tree of Hope, San Francisco
San Francisco's City Hall is the site of this truly elegant holiday tree, decorated with more than 7,000 white origami cranes and gold and silver stars. Before being folded, each paper crane is inscribed with a personal wish for the future of the world, submitted by everyone from average citizens to the president. The result: a lovely tree that's also a symbol of unity and hope for a better world.
5. World's Tallest Living Christmas Tree, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Draped with more than 30,000 lights, this grand fir soars more than 160 feet skyward. Add a 10-foot-tall star at the top and you've got a serious neck-craner. What makes things even more magical in this lakeside northern Idaho resort town is the likelihood of a white Christmas, not to mention the 40 lavishly decorated "normal-size" trees — which are auctioned off to raise money for charity — at the Coeur d'Alene Resort Convention Center. Try to book a lake cruise: The holiday lights are particularly spectacular when seen from the water.
6. The Nation's Christmas Tree, Kings Canyon National Park, Calif.
For a simple and beautiful commemoration of the season, consider a Christmastime trek to see the 267-foot-tall, 40-foot-wide General Grant tree in Kings Canyon National Park, on the west side of the Sierra Nevada range in south-central California. The giant sequoia is the world's second largest living tree (the first is the 272-foot, 36-foot-wide General Sherman tree in adjacent Sequoia National Park). Its origin as a holiday tree allegedly harks back to 1925, when the daughter of a local politician looked up at it and declared: "What a wonderful Christmas tree it would be!" That sparked efforts to get the tree a special holiday name and, in 1926, President Calvin Coolidge designated it the Nation's Christmas Tree. The nearby (tiny) town of Sanger is the official organizer of the Trek to the Tree Christmas services, held on the second Sunday in December.
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