Fall weather is still weeks away for most of Southern California. But in Julian, a historic gold mining town about an hour from San Diego, now is the best time to visit. The days are still warm with temperatures in the 70s, but you’ll get a taste of fall in the town’s famous pies, which are made with apples picked fresh from the nearby orchards.
Located just before the intersection of the 78 and 79 in Santa Ysabel, about 15 minutes from Julian, Dudley’s Famous Bakery is a San Diego favorite. The establishment is known for its more than two dozen varieties of fresh-baked bread. Make sure to try the Irish potato bread!
Perfect for kids and history lovers alike, the gold mine tour at Smith Ranch offers a glimpse into Julian’s early history as a mining town. Explore a real mine from the 1870s. Then pan for gold just like they did in the old days. Closed Sundays, reservations required. $15 for adults, $12 for children ages 3 to 12.
Treat yourself to finger sandwiches, scones, and a pot of Earl Grey at Julian Tea & Cottage Arts—just what you need after your historic adventures! Reservations are recommended, full luncheon menu available. From $9 per person.
Julian’s Main Street is lined with quirky and nostalgic shops selling classic candy, natural yarns, antiques, jewelry, and more. While there, stop by Apple Alley Bakery for homemade caramel apple pie (gluten-free options available).
There’s just enough time to squeeze in one last stop—this time at Apple Starr Orchard. The orchard typically offers apple picking through early October. Make sure to check the website before you go, as hours and availability vary. $25 for one peck (12 lbs.).
Julian is the perfect day trip from Carlsbad, San Diego, or Coronado. It’s 1.5-hour drive from Carlsbad and Coronado and a one-hour drive from San Diego. Make sure to bring back some pie and bread to enjoy in your vacation condo the rest of the week!