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Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique lodging adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Bobbi Zane

Photo, left, and interior photos courtesy Julian Gold Rush Hotel

April 17, 2018 (Julian) -- Julian Gold Rush Hotel is a lovely Victorian bed and breakfast that dates back to the 1890s. Known as the “Queen of the Back Country,” the hotel is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places 

In bygone days, travelers stopped for a delicious dinner, good night’s sleep and a chance to chat with famous guests such as Admiral Nimitz, members of Congress, and the Scripps family. Today, celebrities continue to frequent this quiet refuge in the mountains of San Diego’s East County.

The Hotel is the heart of Julian’s rich historical district.  Julian’s early residents include many African-American people who migrated to Southern California following the Civil War. Albert Robinson, a freed slave, met and married his wife, Margaret. The hotel that they built is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Southern California. Albert died in 1915, but Margaret ran the hotel until she sold it to Martin Jacobs in 1921. The Jacobs operated the hotel for 47 years until they sold to the current owners, Steve and Gig Ballinger.

Photo of the Robinsons courtesy David Lewis

The Ballingers updated the Julian Gold Rush Hotel for comfort and convenience, leaving the classy Victorian look. It is one of the few B&Bs in Julian that serves a full breakfast every morning in the bright dining room, which depending on the day may include freshly baked breads, fruits, cereals and local berries. There is also an afternoon tea.

Rooms are small but beautifully appointed with hand-made quilts, historic photos, comfortable furnishing and lovely bathrooms. The property also has guest cottages and colorful gardens.

 Reserve well in advance if you are planning to see the annual Julian Fourth of July Parade. The hotel offers the best view in town from the front porch. Rooms that face Main Street offer the best views of the Fourth of July Parade every year. Julian is also a popular destination for the annual apple season celebrations spanning a couple of months each fall.

 The hotel has catered to the rich and famous for more than a century. Look for their names--and add your own to the Guest Register.

 Photo, right courtesy Miriam Raftery


Important information

  • 16 rooms & cottages, air conditioned
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Steps from shops and restaurants
  • Afternoon tea and full breakfast
  • Free parking
  • No TV


2032 Main Street



East County Magazine gratefully acknowledges the County of San Diego for providing a Community Enhancement Grant to support our “Backcountry Hidden Pleasures” weekend getaways coverage.




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Sorry I have too...

The area use to be a retreat for those suffering from Lung Disorders and Tuberculosis , Till Gold was found... So please if your coming from San Diego please ride your bikes! Keep our air from clean, thank you.....Electric cars are just fine..... :)