Happy day all! I recently met a fascinating couple named Rachel and Nico. Rachel was telling me about seeing a small town named Julian in California. When she mentioned a dragon, I was hooked!! Come along as Rachel and Nico take us on a tour of this cool small town! Much Love, Chrissy
Discover the delightful mountain town of Julian, CA
A mountainous escape at 4,200 feet
Julian is a small town in California, which is only an hour’s drive (60 miles) from San Diego in the Laguna Mountains of California. This makes it the perfect getaway, conveniently positioned between the coast and the desert. The population is 1,502 and the people are full of small town charm and country openness.
The story of Julian dates back to the 1800s when economic migration was a pull factor during the gold rush. People came from far and wide in the hope to gain their fortune. However, this was San Diego’s only Gold Rush and it did not last but the people decided to stay anyway. If you want to learn more, they offer tours at the Eagle Mining Company, where you can learn and see the equipment they used in the gold mines.
This quaint town will lure you in with its rustic, homely feel and its mountainous fresh air, especially if you’ve just come from the San Diego heat. It’s strange to think how it’s so close to the city, yet so different and rural. I’ve heard stories of the San Diego population rushing to the town if they hear it’s been snowing and you can’t blame them. I can imagine it to be picture perfect in the snow.
What Else is there to do?
There’s much more to see and do in Julian than you might think. I was lucky to go in a quite quiet time and really experience what country life was like. The first thing I did was walk around; it’s a small place so you don’t have to worry about getting lost. I enjoyed browsing the antique stores on the town’s main street. This street is so picturesque that you will spend some time just taking it in.
The ultimate experience in Julian has to be to taste its delicacy, the Apple Pie. Now, I know what you’re thinking, can you really get more American than apple pie? Well, there are numerous cafes in Julian that sell the good stuff, so it can be difficult to choose which one to go to.
My personal favourite is Mom’s Pie House that is located on the main street. It has been open for over 30 years and the ‘mom’ still lives in Julian, CA. You might see her in the shop. Hands down, this is the best apple pie I have ever tasted. It tastes like something your granny would make and you can tell that the pies are made fresh everyday in the shop.
Honestly, I’ve never eaten a pie so good; I just wish that you could transport it back to the UK. Even the inside of the shop feels so homely as you can eat the pie inside their cozy café. But don’t worry if you can’t stay long, they have the option to buy whole pies that you can take home with you to enjoy with others.
The local apples are rumored to taste the best in the fall, when the crisp mountain air leads to ideal conditions. This is when the famous Apple Day Festival takes place in Julian California, so if you visit in late September, you’ll certainly be in for a treat. There are many traditional American festivities that you can take part in to get the most out of your visit. They also have a traditional 4th of July Parade , among other festivals throughout the year.
This town sounds amazing but…what about the Dragon?
I strongly recommend combining your visit to Julian, with the nearby Galleta Meadows in Borrego Springs. I love this place because its creative art sculptures spread over 1500 acres of desert and it oozes with creativity. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. It’s hard to believe it’s free to visit. It comprises of 130 large-scale sculptures that aim to celebrate community and the environment. They’re seriously impressive and if you just happen to come across them you’ll be surprised at the sheer scale of the designs.
Make sure you leave enough time to visit the Chinese Dragon Snake, it’s my favourite piece and I was completely blown away. Maps are available online if you don’t want to miss any sculptures in particular or you can get one in the town for free. Just be careful with your car, as sometimes you will be driving on soft sand and there is a risk of getting stuck. No one wants that. Remember to take and drink plenty of water, you’re in the desert after all.
There really is something charming about small towns in America and Julian, CA does not disappoint. It’s an easy day trip from San Diego and you will feel like you belong in no time. The real question is when are you going to go?
The mouth-watering apple pie is waiting for you…
Rachel and Nico are a British/ Italian couple, who are the creators of Average Lives. A blog that shares traveler’s unique stories and useful affordable travel tips to show how travel can be for everyone. They have traveled to over 45 countries and have experiences to share with you.
Follow their adventures on Instagram