photo: Laura Hamilton via Flickr

Autumn and Julian go hand-in-hand for San Diegans. What better way to spend a day with the apple of your eye than by taking a one-hour road trip to this quaint mountain town? Channel the simpler times of yesteryear and indulge in fresh baked, homemade pies, fudge and candied or caramel apples, pan for gold, go apple picking, find charm in the changing leaves and enjoy a delicious meal. Read on for the scoop on all the best stops in Julian.

photo: Chris Jepsen via Flicker

Five Fun Julian Facts

1. 10,000 apple pies are baked in Julian in October.

2. The entire township of Julian is designated a Historical District.

3. Julian was born during the 1870’s gold rush.

4. The total amount of Julian gold (lode) found was about 220,000 ounces.

5. For a time, the Julian jail was the only indoor toilet.

photo: Oasis Camel Dairy

The Drive Up—Hwy 78

Oasis Camel Dairy
If you have a car full of kiddies who love to get hands-on with animals, Oasis Camel Dairy is a perfect morning stop on the way up to Julian. Pet camels, watch an animal show and shop the camel dairy milk store. Still more, take a camel ride, feed the sheep or try milk chocolate made from camel’s milk. After this unique adventure, hop back on the road for apple pie fun in Julian. Check Oasis Camel Dairy’s website to plan your visit and to make sure the Dairy is open to visitors on your day of travel.

26757 Hwy 78
Ramona, CA

photo: Yee F. via Yelp

Dudley’s Bakery
Did someone say fresh bread? Dudley’s famous bakery is a good spot to stop, eat and shop. Plus, little ones (and you too!) can stretch out those legs and use the restroom. Buy a sandwich (they’re huge) and fresh bread and fruit bars to take on the road. Then, little ones love to buy a small souvenir at the cute shop. It’s a cool pit stop on the way to your destination.

30218 Hwy 78
Santa Isabel, CA

photo: Mandy via Flickr

Explore Downtown Julian

Cute shops, candles, bakeries, old-fashioned pictures, historical buildings, food and more. Park under a weeping willow tree (or anywhere you can find a spot) and walk-about town. Breathe in the fresh mountain air, sip a free cup of apple cider at Julian Cider Mill, head for history at the Pioneer Museum or browse the quaint Old Julian Book House. If you need a quick pick-me up: a pastry, sandwich, tea, or coffee, step into the Candied Apple Pastry Company (it’s reasonably-priced).

Julian Pioneer Museum
2811 Washington St.
Julian, CA


Old Julian Book House
2230 Main St.
Julian, CA

Candied Apple Pastry Company
2128 4th St.
Julian, CA

Julian Cider Mill
A snackers paradise! You’ll find munchies galore at this shop on Main Street from sea salt caramel chews and colorful lego-like bricks to dried fruit and veggie chips. Even more, taste (and leave with) the locally made apple butter and fresh cider. Be ready for plenty of people in this crowd-pleasing shop. But no worries the line moves quickly and you’ll leave with sweet and salty snacks that satisfy everyone’s taste.

Julian Cider Mill
2103 Main St.
Julian, CA

photo: Kaydee W. via Yelp

More To Do

Julian Mining Company
Little Forty-niners will let out a little, “Eureka!” when finding gold and gems at this fine family establishment. Not only do they get to try their hand at panning for gold and sluicing for gems, the prospects of things to do are golden: petting zoo, fossil digs, apple and pumpkin picking, tomahawk throwing. You’ll get a little quiet and relaxing time; little miners will be focused and having fun!

Insider’s Tip: Check the website for what’s happening on the dates you’re heading to Julian.

4444 State Hwy. 78
Julian, CA
Hours: Sat. 10 a.m–5 p.m.; Sun. noon–5 p.m.

photo: Danica J. via Yelp

Apples and Grapes

You can pick apples and drink wine in one fell swoop. Volcan Valley Farm is the largest in the area with seven types of apples: from Gravenstein and Red Delicious to Granny Smith. Grab a cute bag for $12 and run through the fields to fill’er up. Are little snackers hungry? It’s okay to taste the apples as you pick them. Mom, Dad, what about you, thirsty? Head over to the (very close) Volcan Mountain Winery to do some tasting of your own.

Insider’s Tip: Hit the apple orchard early in the season for less crowds and more apples!

Volcan Valley Farm
1284 Julian Orchards Dr.
Julian, CA

Volcan Mountain Winery
Julian Orchard Dr.
1255 Julian Orchards Dr.
Julian, CA

photo: Aaron Fulkerson via Flickr

What’s Julian Without a Slice of Apple Pie?
Julian Pie Company
Follow the fresh smells of pie wafting in the air. Julian’s main event has arrived: the amazing apple pie. A favorite at this pie hot spot: Dutch apple with a scoop of cinnamon on top—mmm, good. (It’s a big slice, so little dessert eaters can share). The Julian Pie Company, a family operation, has been serving pie for close to 30 years and they have it down pat.

Insider’s Tip: There’s seating in the front, inside and in the back. Expect a line, but it moves quickly.

2225 Main St.
Julian, CA

photo: Thuong T. via Yelp

Mom’s Pie House
Chow down a slice of apple boysenberry crumb pie topped with cinnamon ice cream and you’ll be in heaven. The line is long, but it’s worth the wait.

Insider’s Tip: Arrive early or later in the day for faster service.

photo: Dan E. via Yelp

Where to Eat

Julian Beer Company
How about some pizza pie before apple pie? New to the scene, Julian Beer Company is a kid-friendly craft brewery in Julian’s historic district. Grab a slice of pizza for two to three bucks or a pizza pie starting at fifteen dollars. Even more, the IPAs get a thumbs up. There’s plenty of indoor and outdoor seating with corn hole and giant Jenga for the half-pints to play.

Insider’s Tip: Try the Gold Nuggets––bite-sized garlic bread served with a side of beer cheese for six dollars.

2307 Main St.
Julian, CA

Miner’s Diner
Let’s face it, after a day of prospecting little ones get hungry. This old town 50’s diner has a cool soda fountain with yummy shakes, malts and sundaes. For lunch it tends toward the basics: grilled sandwiches, big burgers and fried chicken. If little diners get fidgety, send them downstairs to check out the delicious old school candy bins.

Insider’s Tip: It does get busy, so bring some toys that will keep kiddos occupied while waiting in line for your table.

2134 Main St.
Julian, CA

Julian Info

— Nikki Walsh


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