{ DAY TRIP }

JULIAN

A Slice of History, Heaven, and Pie

Nestled between the Volcan and the Cuyamaca Mountain ranges lies Julian, a quaint, historic town with a beautiful backcountry and an unstoppable sky. It’s a classic mountain town bearing the distinction of having been the site of San Diego County’s first, and only, gold rush.

The town of Julian was born after the Civil War when displaced Confederate veterans headed west to seek their fortunes. In 1869, a cattleman by the name of Fred Coleman detected flecks of gold in a creek. Within a year, the first road was built, and Julian was incorporated. Although the gold rush only lasted about a decade, its townspeople stayed and began farming the rich soil. Many crops performed well, but it was the apples that started winning awards at national exhibitions in the early 1900s. Today, sweet, crunchy apples are the area’s biggest calling card, drawing thousands to visit each fall to pick them and enjoy their sweet, pungent flavors in pies, jams, butters, ciders, and other delicacies. But there’s so much more.

As the eagle flies, Julian is located just an hour west of San Diego. The town, whose population never exceeded 600, is walkable and fun to explore. Strike out in any direction and you’ll find a magnificent backcountry ideal for hiking, boating, fishing, and stargazing. In fact, Julian’s naturally dark skies attract astronomers worldwide.

THE TOWN
Start with a stroll along the historic Main Street, lined with bakeries, restaurants, and shops. Stop into Julian Town Hall for maps, information, and a copy of the Julian Historical Walking Tour. There’s lots to do within several blocks, depending on the day and time you visit. The Julian Pioneer Museum features: a treasure trove of clothing, photos, household and mining equipment, an extensive exhibit of Indian artifacts, a massive bookcase once owned by Ulysses S. Grant, and California’s most extensive lace collection. Eagle and High Peak Mine offers daily hour-long guided tours through an original hard rock gold mine and the chance to pan for gold. Horse-drawn carriage rides are both romantic and informational, and each Sunday afternoon, Julian Doves & Desperados performs an engaging historic comedy skit in front of the Julian Town Jail.

THE BOUNTY
The fertile fields surrounding Julian are home to a variety of U-pick orchards, fruit stands, wineries, breweries, and cideries inviting you to sample their bounty. Apple picking season varies each year but generally runs from September into October. Julian Farm & Orchard offers U-pick pumpkins on weekends between September 22 and Halloween. But happily, you can sample the bounty of Julian anytime in the retail establishments you visit along the way. Crumble-top and flaky-crust pies, caramel apples, apple butters, pumpkin breads and pies, fresh pressed ciders—and the list goes on!

THE BACKCOUNTRY
With easy access to Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, Volcan Mountain, and William Heise County Park, Julian is the gateway to thousands of acres to explore. Besides numerous scenic hiking trails, Lake Cuyamaca is open daily for fishing and your choice of boating: motor, row, and pedal. You can also make an advance reservation for a variety of exciting adventures. For example, you can tour the California Wolf Center, dedicated to the return of wild wolves to their natural habitat. Or contact Sky Sailing, a longtime leader in the sport of soaring. Weather permitting, a licensed pilot will take you on an exhilarating sailplane ride with unforgettable views. Equally unforgettable is the nighttime sky. Make sure to arrange a visit to Observer’s Inn, a small bed and breakfast with three powerful telescopes and an incredible astronomer, for an illuminating evening. Feeling sleepy? San Diego’s city lights are just an hour away. Better yet, you planned a full 24-hour day trip and reserved a tranquil cottage room just down the road at the romantic Orchard Hill Country Inn.

For more information, go to visitjulian.com.

EVENTS

Star Party
November 2    juliandarkskynetwork.com

Country Christmas Tree Lighting
November 30    visitjulian.com

PHOTO COURTESY OF VISITJULIAN.COM
PHOTO COURTESY OF VISITJULIAN.COM
MANUELA DURSON / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
MANUELA DURSON / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
MANUELA DURSON / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
MANUELA DURSON / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
PHOTOS COURTESY OF VISITJULIAN.COM
PHOTOS COURTESY OF VISITJULIAN.COM
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Orchard Hill Country Inn
Orchard Hill Country Inn