Historic Mountain Town of Julian


Location: Julian (62 Miles / 1.25 Hours Northeast of Downtown San Diego)

Features: Historic Town in the San Diego Mountains with Hiking, Wine Tasting, Gold Mines, Stargazing, Shops, Famous Apple Pie, and Surrounded by Forests

Julian Cafe and BakeryJulian Highlights: Julian was a hot spot for Gold Mining from 1869 to about 1900. Today, it serves as an escape for tourists looking for a change of pace from their urban and suburban lives. Julian is a historic town offering fresh mountain air surrounded by the Cleveland National Forest and overlooking the Anza-Borrego Desert.

Fall is the most popular time of year as Southern Californians visit to enjoy the fall colors afforded by the local forests, crisp air, and hot apple pie. However, there are events throughout the year.

Visitors on the streets of JulianNearby Mountain Activities

Visitors generally plan on spending the day in and around Julian. Many will spend the morning on challenging hikes in the Cleveland National Forest or Cuyamaca State Park. Those looking for easier trails on the outskirts of Julian will visit the William Heise County Park, which still affords great views of the mountains and the Desert below.

However, hiking is not the only outdoor activity in the area. Some like to fish at Lake Cuyamaca, go horseback riding at a nearby stable, or explore one of the local gold mining attractions:

If you like animals, you should definitely check out the California Wolf Center, where you will learn all about the North American Gray Wolves and get to meet a Denali wolf pack.

Historic Town of Julian Activities

After a morning of activity in the surrounding mountains, every traveler makes their way to Main Street in Julian to enjoy a hearty meal at one of several restaurants.

Visitors lining up for Apple Pie in JulianAll of the restaurants and a number of take-out windows offer Julian’s famous Apple Pie. The apple pies come in many varieties. A Dutch style apple pie uses sweetened crumbs instead of regular crust. You will find a number of mixed flavor choices, including the crowd favorite, boysenberry apple pie.

How did Julian’s Apple Pie become so famous? Well, way back in 1907, Julian grown apples won the International Wilder Medal for best apples. (You can see the medal at the Julian Pioneer Museum.) For over a hundred years, Julian has continued to grow the best apples and baked them in warm pies for the enjoyment of visitors as their reward for a day of hiking in the cool mountain air.

Carriage ride in JulianTo work off the hearty meal, tourists walk down Main Street to explore the myriad of shops and art galleries, all with a western mountain theme. For those who have had a little too much to eat, you can take a horse-drawn carriage ride. To learn more about the history of Julian during the gold mining days, visit the Julian Pioneer Museum. If you like scavenger type hunts, the chamber of commerce put together a game to help visitors find the historic treasures throughout town. On Sunday afternoons, you can even enjoy historic skits. To learn more about the shops, art galleries, skits, or taking photographs of yourself wearing historic western costumes, visit the Julian Chamber of Commerce web site. Pioneer Museum in Julian(All of the tourist related information in on the left side of the web page, including a list of bed & breakfasts for those who want to spend a weekend in Julian.) The following couple of activities may also be of interest to you.


  • Julian Starfest at the Menghini Winery in August.
  • Sky Tours with the Observers Inn, a bed and breakfast for stargazers.

Wine Tasting

  • Menghini Winery has been around for years offering wine tastings, grape stompings, and other activities.
  • Cider mill in Julian

  • The Orfila Winery from San Pasqual offers a 2nd tasting room two miles west of Julian at 4470 Highway 78, near Wynola Road. It is open daily from 10AM – 5PM except Tuesdays and major holidays.

Information on Visiting Julian

What to Expect

  • Most tourist attractions are along Main Street, or just a block or two away.
  • Wear good walking shoes. This is a casual, laid-back, mountain town.
  • street festival in Julian

  • Check the Mountain Weather Forecast. Weather is generally good year-round for outdoor activities but it can get chilly and snow a couple times during the winter and get hot a few times during the summer.
  • Look for the free “Guide to Julian California” at the local newstands and online. Read more about the history of Julian, local attractions, and shops.

Directions from Google Maps to Main Street in Julian, CA 92036.

Traffic – Daytime travel to Julian is relatively easy. After leaving San Diego on highways, the last 30 – 45 minutes of your trip will take place on curvy and hilly two-lane roads.

Used Bookstore in JulianThe roads are generally wide enough to make it a comfortable drive for most drivers, despite the winding roads that take you through the Cleveland National Forest and into the mountains. (You will climb to about 4,000 feet above sea level.) Traffic is a little slower during the busier months of September and October but it still moves along quite well. Also, keep an eye out for possible mountain snow in the forecast, when tire chains may be required to get into Julian. (Visit our page about traffic in San Diego to learn more.)

Parking – Parking can be a little bit of a hassle during the popular fall months. Most parking is along the streets. You may have to park on the shoulder of SR-79 or SR-78 as they head out of town.

Transit – There is no regularly scheduled transit option that gets you into Julian.

Find More Attractions with Similar Themes or Location: *Top San Diego Attractions*, Astronomy & Outer Space, Communities, Julian, Nostalgia & Western Frontier, Scenic Drives, Unique Shopping Venues |

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