Apple Days in Julian present a festive, fun experience. Julian, a small mountain town in Southern California, sprang to life when gold was discovered here in the 1860s. Known for its pioneer storefronts, wooden sidewalks, and historic sites, Julian has an old West frontier feel.
If you’re in search of a fun day trip from San Diego, Julian is a perfect choice. And every fall, a bountiful crop of apples attracts people from near and far. Apple Days in Julian are a tasty treat.
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Part of celebrating Apple Days is picking a bag of apples to take home with you. All ages can participate, so this is a great family activity. You can fill a bag from the crates if you get tired of picking. You’ll need plenty of apples for making homemade applesauce and pies, and you’ll want to save some just for munching. Jonagold, Granny, Fuji, Gala, Empire, and Red Delicious — all varieties are grown here and are crisp and juicy and oh so sweet.
Orchards are within a mile or two from town, so you can easily spend some time strolling down Main Street, too. Hotels and shop buildings in Julian date back to the gold rush era. It’s a rustic town where people love the country and animals and peace and quiet.
We’ve made the hour-long winding drive up the mountain to enjoy Apple Days a few times, and it’s been hot and sunny. This year, we checked the weather forecast, and we were expecting sun. As we climbed higher, fog and mist rolled in and completely obscured the trees and even the side roads. The orchards were socked in. At first, we were disappointed. But it turned out to be a fun day. We visited shops and talked with people inside. All the stores welcome dogs, and Bailey is a great icebreaker.
We chatted with the manager, Don, who told us that the previous owner sold the store after losing 60,000 books in the devastating fire of 2003. Today you can find one-of-a-kind books here, and it’s fun to browse.
What does a town famous for abundant crops of apples do with them? Make pies, of course! I can also recommend the carmel apples, and you can stock up on fresh apple cider, too. Drippy weather or sun, we always sit outside with our pup and enjoy a piece of warm pie a la mode.
On our way out of town, we stopped at the Menghini Winery because we heard the resident cat is 28 years old. Bonnie is indeed that old and still jumps up on the shelves by herself. Sadly, she lost her brother Clyde a few years ago. So now you’ve seen a legendary 28-year-old cat still soaking up the sun.
Apple Days in Julian is an especially festive time. But Julian is a charming retreat any time of year. If you’re in the San Diego area, consider a day in the mountains to completely reset and feel refreshed.
Julian, small as it is, offers several choices for pies, carmel apples, cookies, and other pastries. My favorite is the Julian Pie Company for pie, and Mom’s for carmel apples. The Apple Alley Bakery is wonderful, too.
Stopping for lunch or dinner? You’ll find excellent food at the Julian Cafe.
Visit this website for more information about Julian, including wineries, seasonal events, hiking trails, and accommodations. Apple Days are in September and October. The dates for apple picking vary each year due to weather conditions. Check the website for peak picking times. Apple pies are available year round.