In Southern California, Julian is almost synonymous with apple pie — just seeing the long lines outside a bakery on Main Street could convince anyone of that. But the town’s attractions are as varied as its orchards.
You won’t find any chain restaurants here — or traffic lights — but there are options for every palate, from fresh-off-the-tree apple cider and local wines, to delicious dining with live entertainment.
Visitors can easily see that the heart of Julian is a heart of gold. Indeed, its history is rooted in the 1869-70s Gold Rush. But unlike other Gold Rush settlements that were established and then abandoned overnight, Julian flourished. And while miners were digging for the mother lode, a man named James Madison was unloading his wagon of apple trees and planting the future.
Nowadays, though, the true gold is evident in the heart of the community. Julian residents are proud of their apples and even prouder to be part of a community that values wildlife and respects the interdependence shared with all of nature. Within a few square miles, Julian runs the habitat gamut. Explorers can immerse themselves in the grasslands grace, forest mysteries, mountain air and chaparral adaptation. And that cold, white stuff on the ground in winter? That’s snow.
Julian is also one of the few places in Southern California that experiences all four seasons. So bring your boots and tackle the trails. Then ditch your shoes and join in the Old World Grape Stomp Festa. Have an apple-picking party during the Apple Days harvest. Comb through the quaint shops for holiday gifts and goodies. Grab your gloves and throw those snowballs! Then throw out the calendar altogether and travel back in time by panning for gold or taking a horse-drawn carriage through town.
And though there’s plenty to see, do and try, don’t forget to look up at the night sky, and feel the wonder of the Milky Way shimmering overhead.
By Megan Peralta; Photo by Kevin Wixom Photography