Apple Season is here, and since my daughter is learning all about apples in kindergarten it seemed like the perfect family activity. We decided to make a weekend of it, and headed up to the mountains in Julian, California. We literally just got back today, and I’m so excited to write this article and tell you guys all about it!
Before we left i did what anybody would do and researched everything. I probably read 300 trip advisor reviews and also put my husband to work to find the best places to eat. Well let me just tell you that everything I read and I mean everything was completely OFF and not my cup of tea. (who are these people that write these reviews anyway?? .. I would love to meet them)
Now don’t get me wrong .. we LOVED Julian, and we had the best time! Which is why this article is so fun to write .. and so useful to you if you plan on going. If you have kids and are anything like me, than I think you’ll love my recommendations and have the best weekend away!
Apple picking with kids
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Julian, California is about a 2 hour drive from Orange County towards San Diego and then inland a bit. The elevation is at 5,000 Ft so it has beautiful summers and snow in the winters. Julian is known for apple picking, famous for apple pies and extremely charming. When i say “charming”, I mean small, vintage, old-fashioned, picturesque, old-world craftsmanship and a major time warp taking you back about 500 years! (no joke) This town moves very slowly, they are so friendly, it has that wonderful crisp fresh air, animals roaming everywhere and exactly what we needed for some good R&R.
Apple picking with kids
Apple picking season starts labor day weekend in early September and goes through December or when the season dries up. However, you can visit all year around.
In the winter months Julian can get up to 22 inches of snow and it’s a fantastic winter wonderland escape if the kids like to play in the snow. During the spring and summer nature is so beautiful and there is plenty of activities to enjoy with your family!
So whatever month you want to plan your escape you will enjoy it – promise! Just make sure you go Friday – Tuesday. The town seems to completely shut down Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Where to Stay?
Julian, California has a few hotels in the town but my favorite place to stay is actually a VRBO a few miles away. It is close enough to town so you can do everything but it’s also secluded private and so relaxing!
This is the perfect getaway with your family and everything opposite of Orange County – which is exactly what you need sometimes to check out and really unplug from our regular busy life! I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to get out in nature and show the kids a different, slower way of life cuddled up by the fire and watching deer play in the front yard!
This particular rental takes the cake as the best one by far since it is modern, recently remodeled, extremely clean, has a perfectly stocked kitchen, and does not feel like your staying in Grandma’s house .. if you know what I mean! You can see all of the photos and book directly with the owner to save a little money at http://www.deerwalkretreat.com/
Best you pick orchards
This is completely catered to kids and families and it’s my top recommendation if you are coming with the kids! As you can see in the photo above they have so many fun things for the kids and baby bunnies too!
These Apple Tours are for Groups of 20 or more. If you don’t have that large of a group you can call ahead of time and see if you can join a group. They require a $60 deposit in order to reserve your space. The apple tour is complementary and you can pick your own apples for $12 per bag. You also get a complimentary cider lesson with tastings!
3. Volcan Valley Apple
Family fun with 7000 trellis grown apple trees and 7 apple varieties. Easy hand picking by all ages. $12 per bag – Located at 1284 Julian Orchards Dr., Julian, CA
Tips for the kids
- Bring your camera! If you can coordinate matching outfits even better! The lighting and backdrops are beautiful.
- Bring wet wipes and sanitizer too
- Go in the morning before it gets too hot.
- Make sure you call the orchard ahead of time and reserve a space, find out if they have apples and get the details! The orchards run out of apples, sometimes they come late in the season and sometimes they have events going on, so it’s best to make a plan!
- Avoid the apples with worm holes!
- Make sure your kids know that whatever you pick you have to buy. Therefore better to prepare them before they pick 100 apples!
- Bring snacks! My kids were hungry and need some crackers and substance within an hour of the hay ride.
- You can pack a picnic or eat at the cafe when you are finished! Call ahead and see what the orchard offers so you have a plan for lunch!
- Dress the kids in layers. Depends on the weather but it can get hot and cold, so it’s great to have a light jacket or sweatshirt you can easily remove.
- Shoes and socks is best since it’s a lot of dirt and you will get dirty feet. Natives, are probably not the best idea here. (we learned the hard way)
- Miners Diner -This place is cute and there is a real train that runs right through the restaurant. It has a cool vintage feel and reminds me of a diner from the 50’s. Mainly open for breakfast and lunch with traditional classics like burgers and fries. Take my advise – don’t come here and order a salad!
I would also note while we are talking about food … I called a local pizza place to see if they delivered and she replied, ” NO MAM” and i said “ok, thank you, does anybody deliver any food in Julian?” and she replies, “NO MAM THEY DO NOT” – Coming from a world of Uber eats and food at our fingertips this came as a little shock to me. So be prepared and have your cabin stocked up with food unless you want to drive to dinner.
Skip the 6 mile drive to the lake. There is nothing to see and nothing to do. The kids can’t play around or hike and just look at my face! haha – skip this one!
For these, and many other reasons is why I started my website to begin with! You always have yelp, and trip-advisor and everything else on the internet at your fingertips…. But we all like to take the opinions of likeminded people who have a similar taste to our own.
I hope if you are reading this you know me or follow my family on social media and we have a common ground! I hope my own travels and lessons can help make your trip a little better, a little easier and hopefully unforgettable.