6 Things to Do in Julian, California || Travel California

Julian Apple Pie Company

Having an apple of a time in Julian, California

Since I’ve been back from the Philippines, I’ve been a hibernating bear.  The lack of sleep and jet lag caused me to be up in the AM and sleep, snuggled under three layers of blankets, until the early hours of the PM.  I miss the blanket feeling of humidity and 80 degree weather. I love hot weather (I’m a summer baby)! But now I’ve got to suck it up and experience California winter weather.

Read: A Weekend Guide to Idyllwild

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Being my first weekend back and the start of the new year, John and I wanted to go on a little adventure.  During college, I remember buying Julian Pie Co. pies from my friends whenever they were holding fundraisers for their clubs.  From San Diego, Julian is about 1.5 hours away, so we decided it would be our first destination of the year.

6 Things to Do in Julian, California

The Apple Pie

Our first stop was Julian Pie Company!  The shop is this tiny house-like establishment with a small sign inviting customers with its sweet aroma.  

John and I ordered a slice of Dutch Apple Pie, Peach Pie and a side of vanilla ice cream.  A slice cost $3.50-$4.50. Whole pies (baked and frozen unbaked) cost $14.95-$17.95. Ice cream (vanilla or cinnamon) come in different sizes: topping, bowl, pint or cone ($1.95, $2.95, $3.50, $250 respectively).  Other pie toppings available are sharp cheddar cheese, whipped cream, cinnamon sauce or caramel for $1.95 each. What I love about their pies is that they have a good filling to crust ratio, not too much fruit filling to golden, crumble crust.  The crumble!!! It is just sooo good! Buttery, crunchy and perfect! The vanilla ice cream is just basic and I am indifferent about having ice cream with my pie but it should always be on the side. Just sayin’! No one wants soggy pie, right? 

*My Favorite: Dutch Apple Pie*

 The Warm Hearth

My favorite part of walking through the Main Street of tourist small towns is walking into all the little stores because they sell the most random, eclectic, unique objects that you wouldn’t normally find. 

Lured by the red paint of The Warm Hearth window sills, we decided to walk into this shop. The store has a ton of things they sell, from board games to greeting cards, from kitchen decorations to holiday decorations, from leather vest to fluffy scarves.  We walked around looking at all the unique objects and at one point I could hear foot steps stomping on squeaky wooden floors above me and I looked for a way up. It ended up being an “Employee Only” area. But my continuous wandering brought us to the back of the store, where it opened into an enormous warehouse.  There was even more inventory!

John and I stopped at a long, log table that had an array of simple board games made out of wood that were samples of ones for sale. We sat down and spent an hour playing Pucket, Bridget and Rollet. You should definitely look these games up. They maybe simple in design, however were really fun and I think we would’ve stayed longer if we hadn’t realized that we’d spent about an hour there already.  

Julian Cider Mill

As we continued down Main Street, we went into Julian Cider Mill and boy was there a lot of people inside!  The line wrapped almost the entire inside perimeter of the small shop! The Julian Cider Mill sells numerous homemade goods such as chocolates, snacks and jams.  They are known for their homemade, secret family recipe apple butter, pumpkin butter and fudge. We were able to taste a sample of their raw apple cider which you can purchase a cup for $2.50 hot or cold, but personally it wasn’t our cup of cider.  I think we aren’t used to the taste of raw cider.

Julian Book House

The Julian Book House is a house turned store, selling rare and good used books.  You can purchase books in the three bedrooms, living room and dining room, even the front porch.  I just adored the outside of the shop with its cute little garden.

Horse, Horse, Horse Drawn Carriage…Llama

Downtown Julian offers a horse drawn carriage ride for any romantics who want a tour around the town. But we also found  two horses and a llama just hanging around at the corner of Main Street. The owners allowed people to pet and take pictures with these furry creatures.  Funny enough, we passed this corner multiple times that day and felt they were playing a trick on us. First time we passed the horses and llama they were there and the next time they disappeared.  The third time they were at the corner of the street and the fourth time they were gone again. We had no idea why they were appearing and disappearing so frequently and yes we passed the same corner four times. 

The Old Well

We had seen the Old Well after parking but wanted it to be our last stop before going back home.  This shop houses the old well that used to be the source of water for Julian a long time ago. Though, I’m always a sucker for history, my favorite part of the shop was their collection of old film cameras.  I recently bought a Canon FTB QL and seeing the old Minolta and Polaroid cameras and even the antique super 8 projectors got me excited. They sell a variety of other antiques such as music records, typewriters and cowboy boots.

While perusing, it started hailing outside! It had hailed a bit earlier for a few seconds but this time it was a bit longer.  We did notice that during our exploration of Julian it was getting colder and the clouds began to roll in but we weren’t expecting rain, let alone hail! I hadn’t seen hail for years.  We were stranded in the shop waiting for the rain to stop. John had an umbrella in the car but we didn’t bring it since it wasn’t forecasted to rain and it was fairly sunny when we left the car.  The hail turned into regular rain and after about 5 minutes we were free. That was our signal that it was time to go.


Julian, you have very scrumptious apple pie! It is worth the hour and a half to explore this cute small town and I am definitely coming back.  Julian is a great San Diego day trip, OC or LA Weekender or just any tourist with a stomach rumbling for pie.

If you are visiting during the winter, definitely dress warm and come with an empty stomach.  This place will definitely fill and warm you up.

Next time I want to try Mom’s Pie Company instead because when we passed by their establishment their line was making itself down the end of the street. I’ve got to see what all the hype is about.  Eagle and High Peak Mine and Lake Cuyamaca are other do’s of Julian I wasn’t able to do on this short day trip that I would like to do next time.  

Justine Alonzo
Justine Alonzo

Justine is a bubbly, outgoing creative who has always loved traveling. Growing up, her family took trips to the Philippines, the Bahamas and road trips all over California. A collector of pressed pennies, unique postcards, quotes from other travelers. She is always drawing, especially while she travels.

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