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Explore Julian in San Diego East

A historic gold mining town in the Cuyamaca Mountains

Nestled in the picturesque Cuyamaca Mountains, an hour east of downtown San Diego, charming Julian is an easy escape into the countryside. This historic mountain hideaway is rich with natural beauty and entertaining adventures, whether you want to take a day trip in search of sublime apple pie or getaway for a romantic weekend in the tranquility of the great outdoors.

What to Do and Where to Eat

Unlike San Diego's coastal communities, Julian is unique as it has four distinct seasons, from the changing color of fall leaves and the fresh spring blooms of lilacs and daffodils to warm summer nights and even majestic snowfalls.

Events

The annual fall apple harvest runs from mid-September to November and draws locals and visitors hungry for fresh apple pies and just-pressed cider. For two days in October, the area celebrates the Julian Apple Days Festival with apple displays, music and dancing, an antique tractor display, children's games and activities, gold panning demonstrations, a beer and wine garden, food and handicrafts, contests, and, of course, apple pie and cider.

In June, Julian celebrates its gold mining history during the Julian Gold Rush Days. This fun-filled weekend includes gold panning, gold mine tours, face painting, historic skits, reenactments, a scavenger hunt and more.

Restaurants and Sweet Treats

  • Julian Café & Bakery serves classic American plates such as roast beef with mashed potatoes, meatloaf, fried chicken and chicken fried steak, plus delicious desserts like the popular pumpkin apple pie. 
  • Bailey's BBQ/Julian Brewing Co., the first operational brewery in town since 1891, features Texas-style barbecue, wood-smoked meats, pies, two handcrafted beers (Stout and Bailey Pale Ale), plus 14 other pints. 
  • At the popular Miner's Diner, step back in time and enjoy old-fashioned, 1950s-style soda fountain items like root beer floats, burgers and fries. 
  • Cowgirl Café serves up delicious down-home cooking, including sandwiches, Paninis and soups like the signature Cowgirl Gumbo, in an Old West cowgirl-themed setting. 
  • Jeremy's on the Hill in Wynola, just down the road from Julian, is a family-owned and operated California bistro-style restaurant, featuring a gourmet seasonal menu by Cordon Bleu Chef Jeremy Manley made from fresh, local ingredients. The cozy dining room is perfect for a romantic evening in the mountains. 
  • Candied Apple Pastry Company is a culinary gem known for its cakes, chocolates, breads, pastries and pies, including their famous gourmet sour cream apple pie. 
  • Mom's Pie House has folks lining up out the door, especially on the weekend, for traditional apple pies and imaginative fruit-filled creations like "Bumbleberry" (boysenberry, blackberry, blueberry) and "Ruby" (apple, rhubarb, raspberry, blueberry, strawberry). 

Shopping

Julian’s friendly and inviting Main Street is sprinkled with old-fashioned stores and specialty shops offering everything from artwork, antiques and apple pies to books, candles, quilts, crafts, clothing, jewelry, seasonal decorations and more. Just off Main Street, on B and C Streets up to Third Street, a number of quaint little shops are tucked on the hill and worth exploring.

Browsers will discover the works of world-class artists in Julian and will often have a chance to meet the creative minds behind the work. The Julian Arts Guild, a collective of talented painters, sculptors, potters, jewelry makers, craftsmen and women, hosts four annual art shows throughout the year showcasing its diverse group of artists, culminating with an Open Studios and Galleries Tour each November.

At Julian Station another lively destination in Julian for art, antiques and local libations, guests can wander through the 16 unique shops, sample local produce at its popular Sunday farmers market and taste Julian Hard Cider and wines from the award-winning Orfila Vineyards & Winery.

Outdoor Recreation

Horse lovers will be rewarded with a truly magnificent horseback riding experience around Julian's backcountry. Experienced trail guides lead riders to breathtaking views from vistas surrounding Julian valley. For the camping enthusiast, Julian offers some of the best private and public campgrounds in San Diego County with varied terrain. Campers can retreat to the high desert or set up by the water’s edge at Lake Cuyamaca, where fishing, biking and hiking are just some of the many activities available to nature buffs.

Julian's mountain setting provides great scenic routes for leisurely road biking or challenging mountain biking. For unbeatable views of the deserts and valleys below, riders flock to Julian for annual bike events like the Julian Laguna Classic in June. Julian also boasts over 15 notable hiking trails among its scenic setting. A diverse selection of trails can be found in the forested Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, the meadows of Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve and the woodlands of Santa Ysabel Preserve.


Whatever the season and whatever your interests, there is something for everyone in the spectacular mountain town of Julian. Extend your trip by exploring more of San Diego's East County.

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