Small Town Vibes: Julian

    It may be mid-October, but the people of San Diego are still strolling around the streets in tank tops and board shorts, working on their suntans. No leaves changing color, no cravings for warm apple cider and no fireplaces. Though there are Halloween and Thanksgiving, it’s hard to experience the phase between summer and winter here.

    That’s why there’s Julian. Located in the picturesque Cuyamaca Mountains, the historical gold-mining city of Julian is just a one-hour scenic drive northeast of San Diego. Famous for its award-winning apples and the fall foliage, along with many art shows and entertainment, this charming and historic mountain town is not to be missed during this time of the year.

    Apple Orchards

    Nothing says “autumn” quite like as apple picking in orchards. Picking apples in Julian is one of the highlights of the fall season.

    “When gold ran out, we turned to agriculture,” said Julian Chamber of Commerce president Mike Menghini. “Julian is certainly a fine place to grow apples.”

    During September and October, about five apple orchards open up for “U-picks.” For a small fee, family and friends can pick a variety of apples (and pears, at certain orchards) to bring back home. A popular venue is the Raven Hill Orchard, which is the largest U-pick apple orchard in Julian.

    Transformed into a beautiful shade of gold in autumn, the landscape is surrounded by farmland and rolling hills. Because Raven Hill Orchard is an organic orchard, it is not uncommon for people to bite into the succulent apple on the spot. Just look out for a worm hole on the apple before taking a bite.

    Julian Apple Pies

    If picking apples sounds like too much work, there’s an easier way to indulge in the nature of this quaint town — Julian apple pies. If there is one thing Julian is really famous for, it’s apples and apple pies. For many, Thanksgiving isn’t complete without the perfect apple pie.

    “Being so close to San Diego, where it’s not a very good place to grow deciduous fruits, Julian is an ideal place to be during the fall time with freshly baked apple pies — very fall-ish thing,” Menghini said.

    Be sure to stop by Julian Pie Company to pick up their crusty creations for a pre-Thanksgiving celebration with friends in San Diego or before driving back home for the holiday. Although Julian Pie Company tries to use local apples whenever possible, its pies are in such high demand that most come from other parts of the country. Different varieties of apples are used for different pies, so it can be fun to hunt for your favorite type of apple by trying out their various pies.

    Their pie variations are not only limited to apples — they also have classic pies like pecan, pumpkin, blueberry and peach. Frozen unbaked pies are also sold to bake at home. Make sure to place an order early so you can pick it up yourself or have it shipped.

    Hiking and Camping

    Julian doesn’t leave out wilderness explorers. As leaves turn and apples grow to perfection in autumn, the forests are a great escape from stressful city lives. Many parks are available for picnic sites and campgrounds.

    “Paso Picacho is a great place to hike and camp,” Menghini said. “Not to mention the beautiful government park, William Heise County Park, that is situated along the northern extremity of the Laguna Mountain Range, where each season brings dramatic changes.”

    Forests of oak, pine and cedar embrace the peaceful mountain meadows and offer a naturally peaceful setting for miles of scenic hiking and equestrian trails. Wild animals like mule deer and wild turkeys are often seen throughout the park, as are more species like bobcats and mountain lions. There are also cabins available.

    Shopping

    Julian transports tourists back through time and offers a glimpse of post-Civil War life. Unique tourist shops on the town’s Main Street and B Street sell all types of craft goods. “There’s a store called Bird Watchers, which is one of the biggest businesses in town. It’s a bird lover’s paradise. We’re pretty famous for that,” Menghini said.

    The specialty shops offer a range of goods including handmade candles and knives, antiques, herbal wreaths and bird and clown lovers. What’s great about these shops is that they’re all within walking distances. It’s easier for people to walk by and feel the unique personality of each shop. Because Julian’s peak season includes the autumn apple harvest and the winter holidays (September through December), beware of the large crowds on the streets during those times of year.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $2505
    $5000
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $2505
    $5000
    Contributed
    Our Goal