Stop & Enjoy the Fun

Wynola ~ Santa Ysabel ~ Warner Springs

The beautiful, winding highway takes visitors on a scenic drive through rolling foothills — and to three unique communities that are must-see destinations.

© Ramona Home Journal

© Ramona Home Journal

Visit Santa Ysabel

— Megan Peralta

As the intersection of Highways 78 and 79, beautiful Santa Ysabel is nestled in a valley surrounded by Volcan Mountain, Black Mountain, Julian and Mesa Grande. But what is now a quaint and serene area with grazing cows and stretches of open fields was once a historical intersection of cultures, livelihoods and national interests. 

The land was inhabited primarily by American Indian tribes until the Santa Ysabel Asistencia chapel was built around 1821. It wasn’t long before ranches were established and the Mexican-American War broke out. In 1846, General Stephen Watts Kearny 
led the Army of the West through Santa Ysabel on his way to the Battle of San Pasqual. 

Of course, a lot has happened since then. In the late 1990s, The Nature Conservancy purchased more than 5,000 acres of the old Edwards Ranch. This area is now the Santa Ysabel Ranch Open Space Preserve. 

These days, Santa Ysabel’s attractions include wonderful bakeries and culinary establishments, interesting shops, the Santa Ysabel Mission and plenty of hiking trails.

Santa Ysabel Asistencia PHOTO BY CHARLENE PULSONETTI

Santa Ysabel Asistencia PHOTO BY CHARLENE PULSONETTI

Visit Wynola

— Megan Peralta

Located on Highway 78 just a few miles from Julian town center, Wynola has a beautiful view of surrounding meadows, orchards and mountains from its location 3,600 feet above sea level. 

The Wynola area is part of the town of Julian, and it is well known for Coleman Creek, which flows from the mountains through Spencer Valley. The creek was named for Fred Coleman, though his horse probably deserves some of the credit for its fame. Coleman, a Kentucky native who worked as a cattle herder and placer miner, had let his horse stop for a drink from the creek when something shiny caught his eye — gold! 

As word spread that gold had been found, a road was cleared for wagons, and soon stagecoaches were running back and forth, taking fortune seekers from San Diego to Julian through what are now Poway and Ramona.

From around 1869 to 1899, Julian, Cuyamaca and Banner were hot destinations for miners, prospectors and their families. During this time, Wynola was developed into ranch country and began to produce an abundance of agricultural products, such as Julian’s famous apples, which won first prize at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, and the San Francisco World’s Fair in 1915. 

Nowadays, Wynola is still well known for its agriculture, with crops that frequently go from farm to table. The area is rich with picturesque orchards and vineyards, and is renowned for its restaurants, bakeries and tasting rooms. There are also year-round attractions and events, including live music, antiquing, berry picking, hayrides, cider pressing and, of course, gold panning. 

Ye Olde Cider House, Wynola JOURNAL FILE PHOTO

Ye Olde Cider House, Wynola JOURNAL FILE PHOTO

Visit Warner Springs

— Megan Peralta

Located on Highway 79, Warner Springs has a rustic spirit with plenty of activities and accommodations to keep visitors engaged. 

Historically, the Cupeño tribe of Native Americans inhabited the area, which was turned into a working ranch in the 1800s. 

During the Great Depression, it was also the movie set where the 1936 adaptation of Helen Hunt Jackson’s 1884 novel, “Ramona,” was filmed, starring Loretta Young and Don Ameche. 

These days, you might find anything from a film festival to a golf tournament rocking this backcountry destination. The Warner Springs Ranch Resort is the go-to place if you love golf or want a modern take on the Old West feel. Visitors can also hop on a horse for a trail ride through the countryside or soar in a glider at the Warner Springs Airport.

Art lovers won’t be disappointed, either. The Gallery at Warner Springs features a different local artist each quarter. And, of course, nature’s own artwork stretches out in all directions. 

You can literally get lost in the beautiful tranquility that characterizes this hidden gem.

Warner Springs Ranch Resort Golf Course.  Photo Courtesy of Warner Springs Ranch Resort

Warner Springs Ranch Resort Golf Course. Photo Courtesy of Warner Springs Ranch Resort

Written by Angela McLaughlin