Nestled in the picturesque mountains of San Diego County, Julian is a charming historic town that comes alive with fall foliage and a cozy atmosphere. Julian is renowned for its apple orchards and the delicious apple pies made from the locally grown fruit. Visitors often indulge in freshly baked apple pies, cider, and other apple-infused treats. My parents and I recently visited for the first time this Autumn. Here’s how we spent the day along with some tips and recommendations to help you plan a trip! Enjoy!
Hiking Stonewall Peak
We began our day by heading to Cuyamaca Rancho State Park to conquer Stonewall Peak. The trailhead is just a short drive from Julian, and the hike offers an easy/moderate accent with a rewarding payoff. The final stretch requires you to climb granite steps, offering panoramic views all the way up to the summit.
Lunch at Julian Beer Company
After our hike up Stonewall Peak, we rewarded ourselves with beer and pizza at Julian Beer Co. We sat out on the patio and enjoyed the beautiful Autumn weather, Julian Beer Co boasts a diverse selection of brews, from hoppy IPAs to rich stouts, and their pizza and BBQ is delicious. It was so packed on a Saturday but we were surprised how quickly we were still able to get our food.
The heart of the town is lined with historic buildings and quaint storefronts. After lunch, we spent a little time shopping around Main Street, where you’ll discover everything from antique treasures to locally crafted goods. Julian is particularly known for its art galleries, showcasing the work of talented local artists. Don’t miss the opportunity to pop into the various specialty shops offering handmade crafts, artisanal souvenirs, and, of course, more delicious apple treats.
No visit to Julian is complete without treating your taste buds to a slice of heaven from the renowned Julian Pie Company. From classic apple pie to mouthwatering combinations like apple-berry or Dutch apple caramel, the Julian Pie Company offers a slice of perfection for every palate. Whether you choose to enjoy your slice on-site with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or take a whole pie home to share, the sweet, flaky goodness of Julian Pie Company’s creations is a quintessential part of the Julian experience. Pro Tip: they actually have a second location you can find on your way out of the town that typically has a shorter line than the one on Main Street!
More Things to Do
Julian Pie Company was our final stop, but here are a few other top activities to check out if you have the time!
Apple Picking: Several orchards in the area allow visitors to handpick their favorite varieties of apples, creating a memorable and family-friendly activity. Whether you’re searching for the perfect ingredients for a homemade pie or just want to enjoy the satisfaction of plucking apples straight from the tree, this seasonal delight adds a touch of harvest magic to your Julian adventure. Check with local orchards for their picking schedules, as the apple harvest season typically peaks in the fall, making it an ideal time to engage in this traditional and enjoyable activity.
Wine Tasting: Explore the local wineries around Julian and savor the flavors of regional wines. Some wineries offer tastings in a picturesque setting, allowing you to relax and enjoy the scenic beauty of the surrounding vineyards.
Ghost Tours: Given its rich history, Julian has its share of tales and legends. Consider taking a ghost tour to delve into the town’s spooky past. Knowledgeable guides share stories of the paranormal, adding a unique and eerie dimension to your visit.
Eagle and High Peak Mine Tour: Gain insight into Julian’s gold rush history by taking a guided tour of the Eagle and High Peak Mine. Venture underground to explore the tunnels and learn about the challenges faced by miners during this pivotal period.
Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve: If hiking Stonewall Peak has left you craving more outdoor adventure, consider exploring the Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve. The trails offer a chance to connect with nature and enjoy breathtaking views of the San Diego backcountry.
A day trip to this small town in the fall is a perfect way to immerse yourself in the season’s beauty, savor local flavors, and create lasting memories. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or simply in search of a tranquil escape, Julian, CA, offers a quintessential autumn experience that will have you leaving (and probably stuffed or on a sugar overload).