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Story and photos by Miriam Raftery

October 1, 2010 (Julian) –If you’re heading up to the Julian Apple Festival this weekend, you’ll find plenty of sights to see along the way.


This time of year, watch for wildlife and glimpses of fall foliage as the trees begin to acquire their autumn shades of splendor, though the most spetacular fall colors are still a couple of weeks away in most areas. Still there are plenty of attractions right now to make a trip to the mountains worthwhile.


I recommend starting by exiting I-8 at Lakeside, then driving up Highway 79 (which becomes Highway 78) through Ramona, Santa Ysabel and Wynola to Julian, then head south on Highway 79 past Lake Cuyamaca and Green Valley Falls before rejoining Highway 8. Along this route during the past couple of days, I’ve seen seven deer and several flocks of wild turkeys, mostly in the early morning and late afternoons.

In Santa Ysabel, stop off for some famous apple-walnut bread or one of the other many choices at Dudley’s Bakery (www.dudleysbakery.com) , or visit the Julian Pie Co. (www.julianpie.com) for some piping hot pie. (My personal favorite: the apple-berry crumb-topping pie.)

As you pass through Wynola and on up to Julian, watch for the Julian Mining Company (www.julianminingcompany.com) on your left. Here, you can taste freshly-pressed cider at a cider mill, let the kids run wild in a pumpkin patch or petting zoo, or try your hand at panning for gold. The property is along a creek where the original gold find was made in Julian, which became a hub of hard-rock mining in the 19th century.

They also have bags gemstones you can buy for use in a sluice, or shop at a country store complete with everything from scented handmade soaps to arrowhead replicas and coonskin caps for the kids.

A horse-drawn carriage ride through the historic gold rush town of Julian, at $7 a person, will provide you with the rich history of the town and its founders. While in Julian, you can choose from three apple pie making shops and a wealth of other stores offering crafts and quaint gifts, including hand-woven items and more.

Art galleries display a wide-range of artwork by local artists and artisans, including portrayals of wildlife, scenics, and more. ( In one, a pair of clucking chickens followed us inside.)

Melodramas by Doves and Desperados are held regularly on weekends, reliving Julian’s wild western heritage. There are also museums and gift shops hawking western memorabilia.

Savor winetasting at several wineries, including the award-winning Orfila Vineyards and Witch Creek Winery, as well as Menghini and Jenkins wineries. Visit a u-pick apple orchard for fresh-off-the tree apples, such as www.wynolafarms.com. Head down to the Menghini winery grounds for apple festival activities and live musical entertainment.

The Eagle and High Peak Mine at the end of “C” street north of town offers tours open to the public of Julian’s famed hard-rock gold mine. You can also visit a gem and mineral shop on the premises.

Another option is to take a one-mile “gold mine train” ride at Smith Ranch (www.pioneerways.com), where you can also explore an old mine and pan for gold. The ranch offers special seasonal tours such as Apple Days, Thanksgiving Train Adventure, and Julian Christmas Train Express.

Julian has many eateries in or near the town, from cafes and a barbecue pit to fine dining at Jeremy’s on the Hill (www.jeremysonthehill.com) or the Julian Grille (historic home of the Robinsons, freed slaves who founded the Julian Hotel.)

If you can, stay over at one of Julian’s many wonderful bed and breakfast inns. For affordable charm, Julian Meadow View Inn (www.julianmeadowviewinn.com) is a good bet. Enjoy a leisurely stay, whiling away time on an outdoor wooden swing while watching squirrels and blue jays at an outdoor bird feeder, then savor spectacular sunset views over the mountains from the comfort of your pine-walled cabin-like rooms.

Other options including the historic Julian Hotel (www.julianhotel.com) or the four-star Orchard Hill Country Inn (www.orchardhill.com) , as well as Pine Hills Lodge (www.pinehillslodge.com) nestled in the woods just outside of town.

Drive home past Lake Cuyamaca (www.lakecuyamaca.org) , where you can rent boats or take the family fishing. Pass through a “ghost forest” burned during the 2003 Cedar Fire.

You’ll pass several campgrounds on your drive back towards civilization; my favorite is Green Valley Falls which still had water flowing over the weekend—before yesterday’s torrential rains. You’ll come home refreshed in mind, body and spirit after a day trip or staycation in East County’s delightful mountain towns.

Find a full list of activities and events in Julian at www.julianca.com.


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The pictures look absolutely

The pictures look absolutely great ! A trip isn't a trip without all the activities you are able to perform. I remember one time we had the best opportunity to get some hawaii hotel deals and at that hotel they presented even more promotions with mini trips on other islands, scuba diving, zoo visiting. Even about the food I cannot say anything bad because it was delicious!!

The pictures are so tempting

The pictures are so tempting that it can lure anyone to visiting Julian. This is the kind of place I'd want to pick up for my next holiday destination. The pictures are also very impressive well deserving to receive awards. Satellite Beach Real Estate

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Thank you for posting the great content…I was looking for something like this…I found it quiet interesting, hopefully you will keep posting such blogs….Keep sharing

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i live in Pine Valley. If

i live in Pine Valley. If you get car sick, don't take the Descanso exit (the 79, i went that way once, and i was driving. twists and turns the entire way)Just go up two exits to Sunrise Highway. The drive is about the same (give or take a few miles) and the view is breathtaking. plus there a lot of places on the way, where you can stop, and park, get out and take pics. About 3/4 of the way there, you can also see the devastation from the fires. There's a plaque up there with information about it. Plenty of deer, cows, and turkeys to see too.

the only twists and turns on that road, come about 5 miles before Julian, and its a much easier drive.

Sunrise Highway is a beautiful drive!

Only issue would be if there's snow, in which case chains may be required at the higher elevation in winter months.  There's a lodge (Mt. Laguna Lodge, or Inn?) at the top that's rustic and has a store as well. I have fond memories of visiting this area as a kid--and enjoying sledding and playing in the snow.