If small-town pleasures like going apple picking in an orchard or hiking a scenic trail excite you then Julian is the travel destination created just for you. At an elevation of 4,200 feet (1,280 meters) and tucked away in the pretty Laguna Mountains, Julian is an appealing hideaway from every big-city annoyance. Only one hour and fifteen minutes north-east of San Diego, Julian offers a distinct atmosphere with lots of natural beauty, charming 1800s streetscapes, and fun tourist attractions reflective of the town’s early gold rush days. So if easygoing quiet surroundings make your heart flutter then you have to read on to uncover the best things to do in Julian.
1. Go on a wine-tasting adventure at Volcan Mountain Winery
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
Taste the hard work and craftsmanship magnificently shown at the vineyards of Volcan Mountain Winery. Priding itself with responsibly produced wine, the establishment is currently home to pinot grigio and pinot noir plants. Pomme D’Amour, the sparkling apple wine, is one of their best-selling products, as well as the 2018 Viognier white wine, the 2017 Carignan red wine, and the 2019 Grenache Rose. You can schedule a tasting at the winery, and you may even bring a picnic snack of your choice that you know would absolutely pair well with your wine.
Volcan Mountain Winery
Address: 1255 Julian Orchards Dr, Julian, CA 92036, United States
Website: Volcan Mountain Winery
Opening hours: Fri - Mon: 11am - 5pm (closed from Tue - Thu)
2. Meet the animals at Oasis Camel Dairy
Just a 30-minute drive from Julian is where you’ll find the unique and inspiring Oasis Camel Dairy in the town of Ramona. This family farm in San Diego County provides a rich pasture setting to mother camels raising their cute, delicate calves. Touring the farm is one of the best ways to have fun in the county, especially when you’re traveling with kids. You can book private family tours and camel rides with Oasis Camel Dairy. If you want a more in-depth knowledge of the goings-on, the camel camp is an ideal way to go.
Oasis Camel Dairy
Address: 26757 CA-78, Ramona, CA 92065, United States
Website: Oasis Camel Dairy
3. Discover awesome gemstones at Julian Mining Company
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
Julian Mining Company 4444 Hwy 78 Julian, CA 92036Posted by Julian Mining Company and Julian Farm on Thursday, September 28, 2017
A great thing to do in Julian that’s guaranteed to be fun for everyone, kids and adults alike, is discovering the awesome stones at Julian Mining Company. You can try gold panning, throw tomahawks, dig pits, and ride the Mine Tunnel train at the attraction. Sifting through ore to find colorful gemstones for sure isn’t an activity you would have imagined doing on vacation, but Julian is full of surprises like that. Book a tour and class and make your trip a memorable one!
Julian Mining Company
Address: 4444 CA-78, Julian, CA 92036, United States
Website: Julian Mining Company
Opening hours: Sat: 10am - 4pm; Sun: 12pm - 4pm (closed from Mon - Fri)
4. Have close encounters with a North American gray wolf at California Wolf Center
Committed to the recovery and well-being of the North American gray wolf, California Wolf Center is an exciting rehabilitation facility that affords visitors an intimate look at these impressive creatures. California Wolf Center’s main goal is to not only return gray wolves to their natural habitat but to ensure communities foster the gray wolves’ ability to endure. Various informative and fun tours are available and there’s the chance to observe a wolf pack close up.
California Wolf Center
Address: 470 K Q Ranch Rd, Julian, CA 92036
Website: California Wolf Center
Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)
Price: 20 - 50 USD
5. Explore tunnels and pan for gold at Eagle Mining Co.
With a history of gold mining in its past, why not do what Julian’s early settlers did and attempt to strike gold. Eagle Mining Co. allows you to do just that when you visit this historic gold mine site. Spend the day exploring 1,000 feet (304.8 meters) of exciting underground tunnels and pan for gold on 24 acres (9.71 hectares) of intriguing gold-mining land. Eagle Mining Co. equips all participants with the tools needed for an adventuresome day of enjoyment.
Eagle Mining Co.
Address: 2320 C St, Julian, CA 92036
Website: Eagle Mining Co.
Opening hours: 10am - 4pm (daily)
Price: 10 USD
6. Browse artifacts of the town's history at Julian Pioneer Museum
One of the best attractions in town, Julian Pioneer Museum may be small but it’s filled with plenty of interesting items important to Julian’s history. Housed in a revived 1890-blacksmith shop, this museum showcases artifacts that contributed to pioneer living such as household and mining equipment, an original buggy and sleigh, time-worn clothing, and more. There’s even a famed lace collection that’s the finest in the state. Visitors can also learn about the Native American village life that preceded settlers in Julian.
Julian Pioneer Museum
Address: 2811 Washington St, Julian, CA 92036
Website: Julian Pioneer Museum
Opening hours: Thu - Sun: 10am - 4pm (closed from Mon - Wed)
7. Take a revealing tour of Julian Ciderworks
With Julian’s landscape boasting century-old orchards, it would be a shame not to visit Julian Ciderworks and sample some truly tasty cider. Known for growing great apples and pears, Julian Ciderworks showcases the delicious results of its labors with a wonderful variety of unique hard ciders and delectable apple wines. Sample the Crooked Tree, a distinct dry cider with the aroma and slight taste of pineapple, or the Arkansas Black Dry, a full-bodied cider with an excellent fruity aroma and hints of cherries and blackberries.
Address: 17552 Harrison Park Rd, Julian, CA 92036
Website: Julian Ciderworks
Opening hours: Thu - Fri: 2:30pm - 6pm; Sat - Sun: 12pm - 6pm (closed from Mon - Wed)
8. Hike along the trails of Santa Ysabel East Preserve
Vast woodlands, fields of colorful wildflowers, and native grasslands comprise the 3,800 acres (1,537-hectares) of the beautiful Santa Ysabel East Preserve. For avid hikers, you can take advantage of the splendid multi-use trail that stretches well over 13 miles (20.9 kilometers) and winds through a myriad of scenic habitats. The opportunity to observe some captivating wildlife can be discovered along the way. Hikers can bring their dogs but they must be leashed at all times.
Santa Ysabel East Preserve
Address: 500, Farmer Rd, Julian, CA 92036
Website: Santa Ysabel East Preserve
Opening hours: 8am - sunset (daily)
9. Indulge in rustic wines and chocolates at Julian Wine & Chocolate
If you’re a die-hard chocolate and wine lover then Julian Wine & Chocolate is the ultimate destination. A charming rustic wine bar, Julian Wine and Chocolate provides a discriminating assortment of locally made wines from the San Diego County area’s unique high-elevation vineyards. You can enjoy a glass of fine wine paired with decadent homemade chocolate for a sophisticated and yummy indulgence. This is a great establishment to unwind and offers a kid- and dog-friendly atmosphere.
Julian Wine and Chocolate
Address: 4470 CA-78, Julian, CA 92036
Website: Julian Wine and Chocolate
Opening hours: Fri: 1pm - 6pm; Sat - Sun: 12pm - 6pm (closed from Mon - Thu)
10. Admire the scenic beauty from the summit at Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve
Situated between the Laguna and Palomar Mountains, Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve is a hiker’s paradise. Comprised of 2,900 acres (1,173 hectares) of rich evergreen forest, Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve features 5 miles (8.04 kilometers) of scenic hiking trails that lead to the magnificent summit. Hikers that reach the summit can look westward and see the lovely coastline and in the eastward direction drink in the remote desert landscape. Nice picnic areas provide a tranquil spot to enjoy lunch after a strenuous hike.
Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve
Address: 1209 Farmer Rd, Julian, CA 92036
Website: Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve
Opening hours: 8am - sunset (daily)
11. Chill with friends at Nickel Beer Company
Surrounded by abundant orchards and deep green foothills, Nickel Beer Company is the ideal spot to relax and savor a cold beer. The simple green wood-frame building offers a wonderful unpretentious ambiance and 16 delightful beers are on tap to quench your thirst. The outdoor patio is a prime spot offering a breezy atmosphere that’s dog-friendly. Nickel Beer Company even invites local bands so patrons can listen to great live music.
Nickel Beer Company
Address: 1485 Hollow Glen Rd, Julian, CA 92036
Website: Nickel Beer Company
Opening hours: Sun: 11am - 8pm; Mon - Thu: 2pm - 8pm; Fri: 11:30am - 9pm; Sat: 11am - 9pm
12. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Julian Pie Company
From traditional apple pie to yummy variations like peach-apple and apple-berry crumb pies, a sea of crave-worthy sweets to tempt your palate can be found at the popular local bakery Julian Pie Company. One of the biggest draws is the scrumptious apple-cider donuts. Pair apple cider donuts or the bakery’s flavorful apple nut bread with a hot fresh cup of coffee and you have the perfect way to start your morning.
Julian Pie Company
Address: 2225 Main St, Julian, CA 92036
Website: Julian Pie Company
Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)
13. Be mesmerized by dark skies at the Observer's Inn
A prime spot to view the immense night sky, Observer’s Inn sits on nearly 5 acres (2.02 hectares) of the picture-perfect landscape. This is a superb place to stargaze with a professional observatory and one-hour guided tours by an expert astronomer. Guests are welcome to bring their own telescopes or binoculars. Catch awesome sights of the moon, planets, brilliant star clusters, and so much more. If you plan to stay at Observer’s Inn the tour is offered at a discounted price.
Address: 3535 CA-79, Julian, CA 92036
Website: Observer’s Inn
14. Enjoy riding at The Kenner Horse Ranch
Explore Julian’s dazzling mountain country on horseback at The Kenner Horse Ranch. Experienced horsemen take participants on exciting trail rides along tranquil meadows, remote ponds, dense woodlands, and amazing mountain vistas on this relaxed nature excursion. The collection of horses are gentle so this ranch provides top-notch worry-free family fun and trail guides are capable to expertly maneuvering up to six members in a party.
The Kenner Horse Ranch
Address: 17550 Harrison Park Rd, Julian, CA 92036
Website: The Kenner Horse Ranch
Opening hours: 8am - 6pm (daily)
Price: 50 USD
15. Sample fine wine of Menghini Winery
For wine-loving addicts, Menghini Winery is an ideal place to spend a pleasant afternoon. Residing on 6 acres (2.42 hectares) at the foot of Volcan Mountain and surrounded by an excellent vineyard and apple orchards, Menghini Winery is a boutique winery offering top-quality wines from grapes grown in the immediate area. Selections include fantastic Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Menghini Winery also hosts a world-class apple festival and grape-stomp event every year.
Address: 1150 Julian Orchards Dr, Julian, CA 92036
Website: Menghini Winery
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 11am - 4pm; Sat - Sun: 10am - 5pm
16. Enjoy boating and fishing at Lake Cuyamaca Recreation & Park
If you live for boating, fishing, or both Lake Cuyamaca Recreation & Park is nirvana. A wondrous addition to Julian’s wide-open spaces and situated in the beautiful Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, Lake Cuyamaca Recreation & Park is a premier spot for fishing. The sparkling 110-acre (44.5 hectares) reservoir is packed with practically every species of fish from trout to sturgeon. The area features a convenient tackle shop so you can stock up on bait. This beautiful reservoir is a popular spot for relaxing boating activities as well.
Lake Cuyamaca Recreation & Park
Address: 15027 CA-79, Julian, CA 92036
Website: Lake Cuyamaca Recreation & Park
17. Relish appetizing American platters at Julian Café
Boasting an Old West ambiance, Julian Café is a historic restaurant that originally began as a general store. Julian Café is where you can find the famous Julian Apple Pie and so many other great American eats. Comfort food is the main focus. The menu offers homemade meatloaf, satisfying chicken-fried beef steak, hearty burgers, golden-fried fish and chips, baby back ribs, and juicy prime rib. There’s also a nifty gift shop and marketplace where you can purchase preserves, syrups, scented candles, and more.
Address: 2112 Main St, Julian, CA 92036
Website: Julian Café
Opening hours: Mon - Thu, Sun: 8am - 7:30pm; Fri: 8am - 8:30pm; Sat: 7am - 9pm
18. Shop for local and regional artwork at Crow and Lilac Gallery and Boutique
From fine art prints to ceramic and everything in between, if you want a remembrance of your time in Julian then a trip to Crow and Lilac Gallery and Boutique is the right choice. The still-life art and oil paintings are simple yet bold and colorful and a nice addition that’ll enliven any room in your home. While you’re there you can also pick up some rejuvenating organic body products and fragrant aromatherapy and essential oils.
Crow and Lilac Gallery and Boutique
Address: 2608 B St, Julian, CA 92036
Website: Crow and Lilac Gallery and Boutique
Opening hours: Mon, Thu: 1pm - 5pm; Fri - Sun: 11am - 5pm (closed on Tue & Wed)
19. Have a drink at The Red Barn
Located across the patio from Wynola Pizza’s Bar is The Red Barn. Found in a rustic setting, The Red Barn is Julian’s ultimate watering hole serving refreshing signature cocktails, and sudsy cold craft brew. The drink menu constantly changes so patrons can relish a nice variety. When you’re ready to eat Wynola Pizza’s Bar - where you can dine on delicious wood-fired pizzas - is only steps away. Live musical acts perform on the patio on Friday and Saturday evenings and action moves are screened inside The Red Barn when nights are a bit nippy.
The Red Barn
Address: 4355 Hwy 78, Julian, CA 92036
Website: The Red Barn
Opening hours: Sun - Wed: 11am - 8pm; Thu - Sat: 11am - 9pm
20. Enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride with Julian Carriage Company
See the town of Julian at a leisurely pace and in a unique way when you take a ride at the Julian Carriage Company. Fifteen-minute carriage rides take you through the charming downtown area for a splendid afternoon excursion. Don’t forget to bring a carrot for the horse which is greatly appreciated. If you choose to ride on a weekday - with the exception of Friday - you must make a reservation; the price is also considerably larger.
Julian Carriage Company
Address: Main St & Washington St, Julian, CA 92036
Website: Julian Carriage Company
Opening hours: Fri - Sun: 1pm - 5:30pm (closed from Mon - Thu)
Price: 10 USD
21. Rejuvenate your body at Julian Mountain Spa
Feel completely reinvigorated at the professional Julian Mountain Spa. Go for a solo massage or bring your significant other along for a nice couples massage. A range of massage activities is available from Swedish Massage to Heated-Stone Massage. This spa delves deep into traditional Chinese medicine treatments with soothing acupuncture, expert herbal consultations, and more. There are also holistic skincare remedies and a variety of eclectic therapies.
Julian Mountain Spa
Address: 2122 Main St, Julian, CA 92036
Website: Julian Mountain Spa
Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)
22. Go camping with friends at William Heise County Park
Only moments from downtown Julian is the beautiful and serene William Heise County Park. This is the go-to place for camping, providing 42 stellar tent sites. There are also additional camping options like numerous partial hookup and non-hookup sites for recreational vehicles, trailers, and tents. Hike scenic trails then gather around a fire pit and cook over an open flame. Or simply sip your favorite beer while admiring the starry night sky and tranquil surroundings that William Heise County Park offers.
William Heise County Park
Address: 4945 Heise Park Rd, Julian, CA 92036
Website: William Heise County Park
Opening hours: 9:30am - sunset (daily); Camping hours: 24 hours (daily)
Price: 3 USD (Parking)
23. Browse the interesting items at Julian's Yesteryears
Boasting an eclectic mix of vintage and handcrafted items, Yesteryears is a first-rate place for buying souvenirs either for yourself or family and friends and is one of the quirkiest gift shops in town. Shop for well-made merchandise like sweet-smelling soaps, body lotions, and candles. Pretty jewelry and attractive wall art are also on hand. If you want some music to listen to on the trip home, Yesteryears has an ample collection of music on CDs that feature lively bluegrass and modern folk music. Something for anyone’s taste can be discovered here.
Address: 2116 Main St, Julian, CA 92065
Website: Julian’s Yesteryears
Opening hours: 11am - 5pm (daily)
24. Pick your own organic apples at Apple Starr Orchard
For a fabulous weekend activity that’s fun for the entire family head to Apple Starr Orchard. This certified organic orchard allows you to pick your own yummy and juicy apples from a wide-ranging selection: Red Delicious, Fuji, Gala, and more. Apple Starr Orchard boasts nearly 1,000 apple and pear trees and visitors are armed with handy picking poles to reach the higher hanging pieces of fruit.
Apple Starr Orchard
Address: 1020 Julian Orchard Drive, Julian, CA 92036
Website: Apple Starr Orchard
Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily, Sept - Oct)
Price: 25 USD
Simply sensational Julian
An alluring mountain hamlet, Julian is a true getaway that’s a good cure for stressed-out city dwellers. Slow down the pace and enjoy a slice of deliciously fresh apple pie and try your luck at panning for gold. Julian offers nothing but simple pleasures in an inviting environment.
Get Trip101 in your inbox