How-To: Have a Great Visit in Julian

(Photos by Sarah and Selma Komisky)

How-To: Have a Great Visit in Julian

By Zelda Dominguez


Among the things I love is the fall season. One of my favorite places I like to visit, especially around this time of the year, is the quaint town of Julian. It’s located here in Southern California, a prime mountain getaway, just an hour east of San Diego, in the Cuyamaca mountains. The entire township of Julian is a designated Historic District.

No matter how many times I’ve been there, I never grow tired of Julian because there is so much to do year-round. It is one of the few places here in Southern California that exhibits all four distinct seasons. Spring brings the blossoming of many flowers, including daffodils and lilacs; summer is perfect for hiking and star-gazing; fall is famous for the apple or pumpkin harvest and fall colors; winter brings snowfall and bright, crisp days.



It is also a city rich in history. Julian was founded following the Civil War, but became famous in 1869 after the discovery of gold by A.E. (Fred) Coleman. Miners came from all over to try to strike it rich, and that’s how Julian originally was made known. Confederate veterans from Georgia headed West to seek their fortunes in a new, mostly unsettled land. Among these were Drury Bailey and his cousin Mike Julian, whom the town was named after in 1870. Around the same time, pioneers arrived and found that the soil was good for planting apple orchards; to this day, it still is recognized for its delicious fruit, apple pies, and cider.



Julian is a great place to go for the day, stay at a bed and breakfast, go for a hike, or go shopping. There is certainly something for everyone’s taste.  For instance: having a delicious meal, or going on a hay or horse-drawn carriage ride. If you love museums or horseback riding, perhaps camping is your thing, or taking the gold mine tour to pan for gold. If you love star gazing, there’s a tour just for you, or if having tea is your kind of fun, Julian has its own Tea House.



As you walk down the main street, which is only a few blocks long, it feels as though you have stepped into another time. It reminds me of the Old West with that country small town charm. One of the original buildings still stands, which now is the Julian Market and Deli, and on the opposite corner sits Julian’s Miner’s Diner with its old-fashioned soda fountain. Maps are available for a self-guided tour at the Chamber of Commerce office at the Town Hall. The Bailey House and The Julian Gold Rush Hotel are also historical buildings. At one end of Main Street, up on a hill, is Julian’s Haven of Rest Pioneer Cemetery. It dates back as early as 1870. Remember, poor living conditions, alcohol, violence, and work accidents were all too common during the gold rush, which created a need for a graveyard. Centuries old cemeteries like this one hold fascinating history. The founder of Julian, Drury Bailey, and his family are buried there. It’s definitely a must see.



During peak season, 10,000 apple pies hit the ovens in Julian each week. Some of the local orchards also offer pick-your-own-apples during the mid-August through October harvesting season. They have the Julian Pie Company, Apple Alley Bakery, and Mom’s Pie House, which all have their followers and long lines to purchase one of these incredible apple desserts.



Many artists and craft makers have settled here in this small town and have set up shops and galleries selling their crafts and exhibiting their art. You may also hear musicians playing in town or see reenactments of the pioneers or miners dressed in period clothing.

Throughout the year, Julian holds special events that draw tourists in, such as Gold Rush Days, Taste of Julian, Music Festival, Grape Stomp, Apple Days, and Country Christmas. Check their website for complete list of events at

Julian is such a fun place and truly lives up to its motto: “Four seasons of beauty and fun.”