Robert Arends

Julian Ripe and Ready for Apple Days!

Visitors and locals alike are gearing up for a San Diego tradition as “American as apple pie:” Julian Apple Days, happening this weekend October 6-7!

Every year the historic Gold Rush mountain town of Julian rolls out the red (apple) carpet, celebrating its big annual harvest with apple picking and mouthwatering apple pies and ciders. The Apple Days fest takes place on the grounds of Menghini Winery (10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Saturday & Sunday), featuring music and dancing, children’s games, gold panning, a wine and beer garden, food, vendors, apple-related contests, the coronation of Mr. and Mrs. Apple Days and, of course, Julian’s famous apple pies.

While in Julian be sure to sample the apple pies!

It’s A LOT of fun for the whole family! Admission is only $5; free for children ages 12 and under. The first 250 guests receive a free souvenir pie server!

While you’re in town, following are my Top 5 to Try Julian activities that’ll have you smiling ear to ear this weekend:

1. Pick a Bushel of Apples at Raven Hill Orchard

Sculpture with a Raven at Raven Hill Orchard

Wild Raven Hill sculptures!

Next door to the Julian Apple Days fest is Raven Hill Orchard where you can pick your own apples among a vast orchard of 8,000 trees! Also check out the fantastical metal sculptures dotting the grounds – great photo opps!

2. Pan for Gold at the Julian Mining Company

Family Panning for Gold - Julian Mining Company

Gold panning in Julian!

New in town is the Julian Mining Company, featuring gold panning, pumpkin picking and even an Early American Farm-Life Tour where you can work a real apple cider press!

3. Take a Llama Trek from Wikiup B&B

Couple with two Llamas from the Wikiup Bed and Breakfast

Lovin’ the Wikiup llama treks!

Gidddyup on one of Wikiup B&B‘s exciting Llama Treks through Julian’s backcountry to the Menghini Winery and famous Eagle Gold Mine, where you can take a tour of one of Julian’s original gold mines!

4. Fresh Apple Pies

Julian Apple Pies

Mmmm…Apple pies!

Sure there’s delectable Dudley’s Famous Bakery, Mom’s Pies and Julian Pie Co… But for the most gourmet apple pie in town, nothing beats the Candied Apple Pastry Company‘s sour creamapple pie. It’s off the charts!

5. Spooky Tour of the Julian Cemetery

Yours truly at spooky Julian Cemetery!

Kids will get a kick out of Julian Historical Society’s classic 1888 one-room school house (2133 Fourth St.), open weekends throughout October. For an insider’s scoop on prospectors and pioneers who settled here, join local resident/historian David Lewis on fun guided walking tours that include the spooky Julian Haven of Rest Cemetery!

Quick sidebar: Our local newspaper, U-T San Diego, did a great story on Julian Apple Days weekend!

See you in Julian!

Robert Arends

3 Tried and True Backcountry Adventures

Joy is in the journey! Ne’er so true in San Diego’s scenic East County where wild and wonderful adventure tours await. From gold mine trains to desert off-roading to flights into the wild blue yonder, following are three sure bets to put some “spring” in your sightseeing:

Mine a good time at Smith Ranch in Julian.

  1. Make tracks… For the Smith Ranch Train Rides in Julian! Just in time for the town’s big annual Daffodil Show (March 26-27), pioneers of all ages can enjoy a one-mile train ride up the mountain and through the blooming backcountry. Afterward, explore an authentic 1870 gold rush mine (climb into one of the mine cars for an unforgettable ride!), and then try your hand panning for gold!  
  2. Wheel good time… California Overland is roughing it at its finest, especially venturing deep into the vast (600,000 acres!) untamed landscape of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park – “one of the most pristine desert parks in the world” (National Geographic). Hop board their open-air military vehicle for an unforgettable wildflower tour, as you discover hidden palm oases, slot canyons, wind caves, Native-American pictographs, historic ruins, stark Badlands, ancient fossil reefs, dry lake beds and breathtaking vistas {whew!}. Travel + Leisure Magazine-approved! 

    Go wild with California Overland!

  3. Fly like an eagle…  Just west of Borrego in Warner Springs, grab some serious air with Sky Sailing where your heart will soar high as the birds as you hitch a ride on a sail plane (also called a glider)! It’s the ultimate adrenaline rush and the views of pine peaked mountains and the desert floor in the distance are out of this world!

    Hip to the height with Sky Sailing.

Robert Arends

5 To Try – One-of-a-Kind Finds in Julian area

The Eagle & High Peak Gold Mines in Julian are a treasure trove of tall tales from Julian's gold rush days.

On a recent trek through San Diego’s East County mountain communities of Julian, Santa Ysabel and Wynola, I came upon five fabulous finds that I’m still telling friends and family about:

  1. Greatest thing since sliced bread – seriously! For over 45 years Dudley’s Famous Bakery in Santa Ysabel (just down the road from Julian) has been baking 43 varieties of mouthwatering breads, fruit bars, pies and pastries, much to the delight of visitors and locals alike. My find: their brand new pecan maple bread – sure to sweeten many upcoming holiday feasts!
  2. Sitting on a gold mine… Now I don’t believe in ghosts, but after hearing some startling tall tales on a tour of the historic Eagle and High Peak Gold Mines in Julian – and seeing some strange floating orbs in the tunnels! – I had goosebumps up and down my spine. Feeling fearless? Check out the mines’ new nighttime Ghost Hunt Tour.
  3. Speaking of specters… Julian’s colorful, golden history comes alive in – best online casino of all places – the Julian Cemetery. David Lewis’ Julian Historical Tours takes guests on an extraordinary journey back in time amongst graves that almost seem to speak from the great beyond. His encyclopedic knowledge of the town, its families and brave pioneers that made Julian so American to the core left me in awe.
  4. I’ll drink to that… Apple wine! OK, it’s actually called Julian Hard Cider, and they package and pitch it as apple ale, but I’ve got to say, one sip of this crisp light, refreshing libation during lunch at Jeremy’s on the Hill (a fine dining find I also highly recommend) was just like sipping chardonnay. Enjoy free tastes and meet owner Paul Thomas at their shop at Wynola Farms Marketplace.
  5. I heart art… Santa Ysabel Art Gallery (a charming jewel of a space just up the street from Dudley’s) has a new exhibit, “Stepping Stones-The Art of James Hubbell,” celebrating the wondrous works of James Hubbell – “San Diego’s Gaudi.” Alice would have very well found her wonderland here among his fantastical paintings, sculpture, stained glass and jewelry; on display through Jan. 9, 2011. Info: 760-765-1676.