San Diegans definitely love their palm trees and year round warm temps but during the holidays even the most die-hard beach goers are ready to trade in their flip flops for some cozy, lace-up boots and Christmas nostalgia. Julian, located only 60 miles east of San Diego, is just the place to find it. This charming town may not offer you and the kiddos a white Christmas the rest of the country experiences, but you will feel a true nip in the air and have a legitimate reason to go for that second cup of hot apple cider. Here’s our guide to getting into the holiday spirit — the old fashioned way.
Shop at The Julian Craft Show
Who needs Black Friday or Cyber Monday when you can find unique one-of-a-kind gifts made by local artisans. Local crafters gather in Julian’s town hall and sell their handmade products throughout the month of December. Dates and times may vary. Call 760-765-1857 for more information.
Sing Along with Costumed Carolers
Stash your ipod in your bag and enjoy the sounds of real life carolers who just so happen to be decked out in full Victorian costumes! You and your kids can sing along with the locals every Saturday from 4pm – 6pm.
Have Breakfast with Santa
Get lost in the gigantic pines of the Cucyamaca Mountains with a visit to the Pine Hills Lodge. The lodge serves an old fashioned brunch every Sunday and if you’re visiting on Dec 8 from 9am – 1pm, you’ll be dining with the jolly old man himself. Call 760-765- 1100 for reservations.
Get a Shake at Miners Diner
Whether it’s the holiday season or not, a trip to Julian isn’t complete without a stop at Miner’s Diner. Your kids (and you) will flip for the creamy milk shake they serve from their authentic soda fountain. The place is usually packed but don’t fret, the friendly staff moves quickly.
Just grab a spot at the bar and a playing card (that’s the cool way they let you know when your food is ready) and soak in all the nostalgia this old fashioned diner has to offer. Did we mention they offer “apple” shakes? Just in case you weren’t already sold.
2130 Main Street
Julian, Ca 92036
See A Live Performance of A Christmas Carol
Nothing beats a live performance at the holidays and this classic is one the whole family will love. The Julian Stage Company offers several showings of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol adapted and directed by Don Winslow. Call 760-765-3789 for dates and times.
Have a Victorian Tea Party
You and your little one can nosh on finger sandwiches, soups and salads at Julian Tea’s authentic Victorian tea party. Call 866-765-0832 for times and to make a reservation.
Take a carriage ride
Your horse won’t be galloping down snow covered streets but you and your kiddos will still feel cozy when you hop into a horse drawn carriage. You’ll also get to learn a few historic tidbits about this gold mining town during your narrated carriage ride through downtown Julian.
Of course we saved the best for last – eat pie! A visit to Julian is not complete without indulging in a slice (or three) of delicious pie. While you’ll find pie at every restaurant or bakery you walk by, the locals will tell you that their top three favorites are, The Julian Pie Company , Mama’s Pie and Apple Alley Bakery. You can’t go wrong with a slice from any of these bakeries – it’s the ideal to end your trip to this old California town.
Julian Pie Company
2225 Main Street
Julian, Ca 92036
2119 Main Street
Julian, CA 92036
Apple Alley Bakery
2122 Main Street
Julian, CA 92036
From San Diego, take the I-8 East to Highway 67 (heading toward toward Ramona). Highway 67 turns into Highway 78 in Ramona. Simply follow it to Julian. Alternatively, you can take I-8 East to Highway 79 and enjoy a drive through the Cuyamaca State Park, which will lead you to Julian.
From Carlsbad or Vista, simply take the 78 East to Julian. You can pick up the 78 East from the !-15 in Escondido or the !-5 in Carlsbad.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Julian during the holidays? Share with us in the comments section below!
–Aimee Della Bitta