UPDATE (9/29/2014): Due to the serious drought we experienced this year in California, several apple orchards in Julian will not be open. Visit our Guide to Apple Picking in Julian to see the full list of open orchards.
Every year we take a family road trip (including the dog, Monty) to the historic mining town of Julian, CA. Located 60 miles east of San Diego, Julian is home to various apple orchards and wineries. October kicks off apple season where thousands of people will ascend upon Julian to taste it’s famous apple pies. This weekend is the Julian Apple Days Festival Oct. 5 & 6, 2013 10am-5pm. This two-day festival, held at the Menghini Winery, features music and dancing, children’s games and activities, gold panning demonstrations, a beer & wine garden, food, and lots more! There are many things to do and see before you head to the festival. Here is our Julian road trip adventure. We hope it comes in handy for you and your family.
There is a plethora of places to see and things to do before you get to Julian. The fun starts at stop number one, Mountain Valley Ranch located at 842 Hwy 78, in Ramona. This family-friendly ranch is open now until October 31st, seven days a week from 9am – 6pm. This ranch has a giant corn maze, pumpkin patch, corn cannon, petting zoo, and an array of pumpkins (for jack-o-lanterns or cooking) for sale. There is a small fee for the corn maze and the corn cannon, but the petting zoo is free.
Stop number two is Dudley’s Famous Bakery, located at 30218 Highway 78 (Julian Road) in Santa Ysabel, CA. Dudley’s, founded in 1963, has been voted San Diego’s Best Bakery four years in a row by The San Diego Union Tribune! Take home some of their freshly-baked bread. Some of our favorites include Buffalo Bleu Cheese and Danish Apple Nut. Dudley’s also has a deli and a gift shop inside. This makes a great pit stop to grab a quick lunch or a restroom break.
As you continue on to Julian you will also come across some other interesting places to check out. One of our faves is the Winona Farms Market Place where you can sample and purchase Julian Hard Cider which is a premium, American hard cider hand-crafted in Julian. You will also see the first U-Pick orchard on your left, Calico Ranch Apple Orchard. You can stop here or keep going to our favorite orchard that’s next to a wine tasting room that we will cover later.
Stop number three is Main Street in Julian. If you’ve never been to Julian, you will be surprised to see that it is a very small town. Main Street is where the majority of shops, restaurants, and bakeries are located as well as the famous Julian Gold Rush Bed & Breakfast. Most of the shops sell collectibles and gifts. A couple of our favorites are the Julian Soap Company, the Candy Basket, and the Miner’s Diner where they have an “old-timey” soda bar. A must-see is the Julian Cider Mill. Here you will find a wide array of dried fruits, jellies & jams, candy, and fresh apple cider. My husband absolutely loves their freshly-made apple cider. In fact he loves it so much, he buys 2 gallons of cider every time we visit!
Now where to go for apple pie? There are three primary bakeries to choose from off of Main St, Mom’s Pie House, Julian Pie Co., and Julian Cafe & Bakery. Everyone swears by one or the other but my personal favorite is Mom’s Pie House crumble-top apple pie. My husband loves going to Julian Pie Co. for the cider donuts (yum!) and the Julian Cafe & Bakery makes an awesome apple pumpkin pie. No matter where you get your pie, each whole pie will set you back around $15 bucks!
After you’ve done some shopping and possibly suffer from an apple pie coma, check out the outdoor vaudeville-style street performance put on by the local residents. It’s quite charming, funny, family friendly and free. This is also off of Main Street.
Fourth and Final Stop
Ready for some apple picking or wine tasting? Stop number four is Volcan Valley Apple Orchard (formerly Raven Hill) and Jenkins Winery tasting room. This stop is located at the corner of Wynola & Farmer Rd (Main St turns into Farmer Rd). For $10 you can pick and fill a bag with apples of your choosing. There are a variety of apples to choose from, Jonathan, Empire, Golden Delicious, and Gravenstein. These apples are great for baking pies, apple tarts, or just enjoy right off the tree. Across from the orchard you will find Jenkins Winery tasting room. Tastings are available for $6.00 per glass and you get to keep the wine glass. Choose from vin gris de syrah, syrah, merlot, and their popular apple wine & apple port.
Do you like apple picking in Julian? We want to know what your favorite places to stop or shop while in Julian, by leaving a comment below! Safe travels!