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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 get away for a romantic weekend in the tranquility of the great outdoors.
Nestled in the picturesque Cuyamaca Mountains, an hour east of downtown San Diego, charming Julian is an easy escape into the countryside. A historic town dating back more than a century, Julian was home to the only gold rush in Southern California. Now an apple-growing region, Julian is the home of the best apple pies in Southern California, quaint shops, artful galleries, wine tasting rooms and many fruit stands, which line country lanes surrounding the town. 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.
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.
In April, 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.
Join the fun at the annual Julian Grape Stomp Festa in September. Participate in the old-world tradition of kicking off your shoes, rolling up your pant legs and letting tons of blessed grapes squish beneath your feet! With ten local wineries offering sips to sample, a wide variety of food and shopping opportunities, great Italian music provided by Roman Holiday, Bocce Ball Court, a little extemporaneous dancing here and there, this will be a party to remember!
Every Sunday, the famed Julian Doves & Desperados will perform a historical skit at 2 p.m. in front of the Historic Julian Jail. This entertainment is fun for all ages. (*Weather permitting.)
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.
Many world-class artists have their studios in Julian and occasionally turn up at galleries displaying their 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, wander through the 16 unique shops, listen to live music from a different local artist each Sunday, and taste Julian Hard Cider, wine at Julian Wine & Chocolate, and brews at The Cooler Craft Beer Tap.
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. 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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