Though it's in San Diego County, only an hour outside of San Diego, the small town of Julian has a very different feel than most of Southern California. Its historic Main Street is lined with small shops and bakeries, and its mountainous landscape — whose cool air is a welcome relief from the SoCal heat — is dotted with gold mines. Evidence of Julian's history as a boomtown can best be seen at the Julian Pioneer Museum or by taking a tour of one of the old gold mines just outside of town. The other big draw to Julian is its famed apple pies. Different bakeries around town make various claims as to who makes the best pie, but, of course, there's only one way to find out. Visit Julian during Apple Days, the annual apple harvest, for an even more special experience.
Not much has changed in Julian since it was a bustling gold-mining town in the 1800s. Most activity in the town is still concentrated on Main Street, which is lined with shops, bakeries and small hotels like the Julian Gold Rush Hotel. The Main Street Carriage Company offers visitors 15-minute tours of the street in horse-drawn carriages, and their guides can tell you a bit more about the history of the town. Afterward stop in at the Julian Cafe and Bakery for some of that famous apple pie you've been hearing about.
Guided tours of the Eagle and High Peak Mine are a must while in Julian, as the tour leads visitors through dark and fascinating abandoned mining tunnels and deep into the mountainside. Your colorful guide will provide fun insights into the history of gold mining in the area, and the tour even ends with a real-life gold panning experience. It's easily one of the top family friendly experiences in Julian, and even the adults will love it!
Julian is a town famous for its apple orchards and as such it takes its apple pie very seriously. There are a few joints in town that lay claim to the "town's best pies," but it's probably best to just try them all! The Julian Cafe and Bakery on Main Street is a good place to start, but don't miss its neighbor, the Julian Pie Company.
The Julian Gold Rush Hotel is the perfect place to rest up once you've eaten yourself into a pie-induced coma. The town's only historic landmark, the hotel has been welcoming guests for over 100 years now. It's also a bed and breakfast and guests are treated to some fantastic grub in the mornings. Couples looking for a romantic trip to Julian will especially enjoy its charming ambiance.