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Written By: Erin Rose Belair

Photographed By: Jenavieve Belair

The winding stretch of highway 78 leading me east of San Diego and up through the Cuyamaca Mountains may very well be a one of the most lovely drives I have taken. The bends and dips in the road brought me finally to a small town just 60 miles east of our beloved San Diego: Julian, California. This old gold rush town is nothing short of the Wild West I had in my imagination, and upon arrival, I am convinced somewhere along the 78, we must have found a way to time travel. Rolling into town there aren’t many choices. You go left or you go right. The main drag stretches just a few blocks long and has everything you’re looking for. We parked far off to the left of town under a weeping willow and took to the streets. The quiet streets hold endless shops, restaurants and artifacts all giving a nod back to the golden days when time moved slower and life felt simpler. I don’t think I would have to argue with many when I say a much-needed respite from city life can change one’s perspective entirely, and there isn’t a better place to do so than Julian.

What to do in Julian


Before we go gallivanting through my time in Julian, I’ll bring you up to speed on just where we are. Julian was originally founded following the Civil War but became famous in 1869 after the discovery of gold flecks in the creek. Miners from all around the world descended upon the quiet mountain town and while no one actually struck it rich, it gave Julian a name and place in history forever. Around the same time, pioneer James Madison arrived and decided it was a fine place with fertile soil and perfect for planting apple orchards. Julian to this day is most famous for it’s incredible apple orchards and the delicious products they produce like pies, ciders and more. However, coming to Julian, I discovered there is a whole lot more to get excited about. This location is a must-do getaway.

Gold Mining & Panning Tour at Eagle and High Peak Mine

What to do in Julian

Call to book tours: 760.765.0036
Ah, the legendary mines of Julian California. We now find ourselves high in the hills at The Eagle Mining Company. This wonderful, exciting and informative tour will teach you to relive the golden glory years of the mines as you tour the underground mining operations and experience first hand the milling process. You will see 1000 ft. of underground hard rock tunnels, authentic machinery and tools, rock displays, antique trucks and loads of gold veins. Bring a lunch with you and enjoy the afternoon surrounded by the “rich” history of Julian.


Julian Tea & Cottage Arts

What to do in Julian

2124 Third Street
Julian, CA 92036
Our first stop of the day was the Julian Tea & Arts Cottage. Open everyday of the week for the month of December, this adorable home is the perfect way to spend a relaxing afternoon. They highly recommend reservations. Their delicious menu can serve as a full lunch destination or perhaps you will just order a few homemade scones served with fresh homemade jams and lemon curd. With countless loose leaf and bag teas, the options and blends are endless in this oasis. They also host special events like bridal showers and birthdays. After you finish your cuppa’ tea, take some time to browse the fabulous selection of china and tea sets available for purchase. The fine ladies running this shop know the in’s and out’s of their teas and take pride in sharing this knowledge with you. Be sure to stop by and say hi.

Old Time Photos by Larry

What to do in Julian

2608 B Street
Julian, CA 92036
When you come to Julian, you have to go visit Larry at Old Time Costume Photography at the OK Corral. Larry has been doing this gig for almost 40 years and has taken his act on the road for many years, starting way over there in Tennessee. The walls are filled with costumes that will send your imagination racing. Larry will dress you up so well you’ll hardly recognize yourself or those you came in with. Set up in front of a backdrop of an old speakeasy-styled saloon, Larry hands you fans and guns and every other kind of prop you could imagine. Trying to keep a straight face while taking the pictures was the hardest thing I’d done yet. Larry and his Old Time Photographs are nothing but a good time, and the perfect keepsake to take home with you.

The Julian Pie Company

What to do in Julian

2225 Main Street
Julian, CA 92036
If there is one thing that Julian does best above all else, it’s making pies. I am talking about mouth watering, fresh out the oven, and steaming, perfect crust kind of pies. And they are churning them out all day long. While there are quite a few spots to hit up for a pie, I was told on good authority by more than one local that the only spot they buy pie is The Julian Pie Company. So, that is exactly where I headed. They sell over a dozen pies by both the slice and the pie. During apple season, they use nothing but the finest homegrown Julian apples to stuff those pies. It would be close to impossible to decide which one is the best one, but I put my vote on the Dutch apple pie. However, I think you’ll just have to head over there and figure it out for yourself.

Cider Mill

What to do in Julian

2103 Main Street
Julian CA, 92036
The Julian Cider Mill is a small cider pressing operation located on Main Street in the heart of Julian. Willis Harold “Turk” Slaughter and his son, Fred Slaughter, founded the Cider Mill in 1975. The family had a knack for local goods such as honey and dried fruits in addition to their cider quest; and thus, the mill was born. This wonderful shop offers everything your mouth could ever want to taste. They have an endless variety of dried fruits and pickled everything in addition to what I believe to be the world’s greatest cider. During apple season, you can get the goods by the gallon, but once they run out they’re out. For the rest of the year they make delicious ciders from berries. If you trek out there during apple season (roughly September through December), then you can witness the pressing take place first hand and walk off with a jug that you just may not want to share with anyone!

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