Just an hour away from the hustle and bustle of the city of San Diego is Julian, a sleepy little town nestled in the scenic Cuyamaca Mountains. A trip to this rustic hamlet feels like a voyage back in time, and rightfully so: It’s a California Historical Landmark dating back to the gold rush. Check out its many historic buildings and book a ride down storefront-lined Main Street in a horse-drawn carriage. And don’t pass up the chance to get a taste of what this mountain town has come to be known for – apples.
An easy day trip from San Diego, be sure to check out these offerings you can only find in Julian. And, if you time it right you might even see some winter snow.
All Things Apple
Seasonal apple-picking excursions are offered at several of Julian’s orchards. If you want the goods without all the work, you can get a slice of delicious apple pie year round at a number of spots around town including the Apple Alley Bakery, Granny’s Kitchen, the Julian Café, and Mom’s Pies. Or stop by the Julian Pie Company and take one home. Candied Apple Pastry makes a number of apple treats and, of course, candied apples. If cider’s more your thing, try the family-owned Julian Cider Mill. The 21-and-up crowd can sample the hard stuff at Julian Ciderworks or Julian Hard Cider.
Explore the site of San Diego’s only gold rush. The Eagle Mining Co. offers guided tours of two historic gold mines. Kids will enjoy panning for gold and gemstones at the Julian Mining Company, open weekends. The town also embraces its roots with gold panning and gunfight reenactments during its Gold Rush Days festival.
The California Wolf Center is home to packs of both North American and Mexican gray wolves. The center is dedicated to the conservation of wolves in the wild. Public and private tours are available with a reservation.
Raise Your Glass
Several wineries call this mountainous area home. Sample some vino in tasting rooms at Blue Door, Menghini, and Volcan Mountain wineries, or try a variety of San Diego mountain-based wines paired with sweets at Julian Wine & Chocolate.
Shop ‘Til You Drop
Stroll down Main Street and check out all the specialty shops along the way. Be sure to check out Julian Station, which is full of shops, tasting rooms, and eateries. Or venture off the main drag and find unusual collectibles, bird-feeding supplies, upcycled goods, loose-leaf teas, handmade fudge, or unique furniture.