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!
So let’s talk Julian.
First off, it’s 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.
When to go?
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 they 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 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! It 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 lifes! 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:
1. Fort Cross – 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! https://www.fortcross.com/2. Apples and art Orchards – 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! http://www.applesandartorchards.com/ 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 – 1284 Julian Orchards Dr., Julian, CA
Where to Eat?
- 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!
2. Mom’s Pie House – The best Pie in town! There is a few options for pies but this place is the absolute best and well worth the lines and wait!
3. The Julian Grille – The best place in town for dinner by far! This was once an old house and the ambiance is quaint and wholesome. The Ribeye steak is pretty good and very reasonably priced! (They also have a kids menu)5. Granny’s Kitchen- This little breaky spot is as traditional and homely as it gets. The food was surprisingly very good and they did have several Gluten-Free options as well as vegan choices. It was once an old house and still very much gives you the “granny’s home feeling” with old photos hanging, soft lighting and all of grannies furniture! My husband was quite impressed with the espresso machine and coffee they served. (you know how the Aussies love their coffee) 🙂
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.
What’s worth skipping?
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!
The Eagle Gold Mine. Probably worth skipping in my opinion. Even though every review swears it’s the best thing to do .. i beg to differ. Walking inside the mine was super cool, the commentary i could do without – it was slow, boring as bat shit and uneventful. We had to leave the tour early before i fell asleep in quite muttered history class.
For these, and many other reasons is why i started my website to begin with! You always have yelp, and tripadvisor 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.
Cheers! – Megan