Travel & Destinations

The Apple of San Diego's Eye

Famous for its apples and apple pie, Julian, 43.5 miles northeast of Downtown San Diego, attracts many San Diego County residents who make the trek up into the mountains on weekends.

There’s a plethora of things to do that include playing in the snow in winter, spending a romantic weekend at a bed and breakfast (Julian has a national reputation for its charming B&Bs), and taking a horse-drawn carriage down Main Street or into the Julian countryside.

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Visitors can also shop in specialty stores and art galleries housed in historic buildings (some dating back to the 1870s), picnic amidst oaks and pines, hike the many trails, stargaze, and sample the goods at local wineries.

Also popular: day trips to the nearby casinos, Lake Cuyamaca, Anza Borrego State Park, and the California Wolf Center, a unique education, research, and conservation center focusing on the North American gray wolf.

Living in Julian

Many of the shops and establishments are dog-friendly. If you ask, the owner will most likely say “We love dogs around here!”
It’s not just a fun community to visit – it’s a great place to live full-time or to own a weekend retreat far from the bustle of big-city life. Properties run the gamut from small A-frame cabins to rambling ranches to mountain estates with spectacular views.

Julian has a public elementary school, a middle school, and a high school. Julian schools are among the very few in San Diego County that ever call “snow days.”

This is a very close-knit community – on the weekdays, everyone knows everyone else’s business, then they all band together to host the scores – sometimes thousands – of tourists who visit the town and environs every weekend, year-round.

Menghini Winery

There are several wineries and tasting rooms nearby, many of whom offer hard apple cider made from Julian apples.


Following the Civil War, the town was founded by displaced Confederate Veterans from Georgia who had veterans headed west to seek their fortunes in mostly unsettled land. Among the vets who arrived first were cousins Drue Bailey and Mike Julian, who were taken with the lush meadow they found between Volcan Mountain and the Cuyamacas.

This became the site of the town, which was named in honor of Mike Julian, who would later be elected San Diego County Assessor.

The cousins were there when cattleman Frederick Coleman, a former slave, found the first flecks of gold in a creek in 1869. That started San Diego’s first and only gold rush, which lasted only a decade. Nevertheless, many of those early pioneers and miners stayed on and began to farm. While they planted many crops, apples turned out to be the perfect produce for the area.

  • Grape Stomp Fest : Sept. 7th, Menghini Winery
  • Annual Julian Music Festival: Sept. 21st, Menghini Winery
  • Olde Time Melodrama: Oct. 4 - 26 ,The Julian Town Hall
  • Oktoberfest : Oct. 12 - 1, Rabobank Parking Lot
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