JULIAN | Ghost Town

Julian, C.A. is one of those places all of us urban dwellers like to venture to when you just gotta get out of town. It’s a historic gold rush town, just an hour east of San Diego. The Cuyamaca mountains run alongside this beautiful site, with seasonal hikes, and horse rides. Discover where gold was found, and take a trip through the landmarks full of history dating back to the 1870’s. Be sure to taste Julian’s famous apple pies too - coined after James Madison who brought a wagon full of apple trees up into the mountains and flourished. Shop local stores in historic buildings, and take a ride down Main Street by carriage. Here is a bit of what you can do as we did, on our latest venture to Julian, C.A.…


Julian Gold Rush Hotel.
The Julian Gold Rush hotel is located in the Historic District of Julian, C.A. The hotel was built in 1897, and sits right on the outskirts of San Diego county. A ghost town at first glance, this hotel is not your typical Best Western. You have to ring a bell to get inside the hotel, and once you walk in you begin to have this very exclusive feel. We were greeted with phenomenal service, and the lady at the front desk gave us a great rundown of things to do and where to go in the area - visit gold mines, hiking, or nature walks and boat rentals at the nearby lake.

The lobby was full of antique fixtures that were straight out of the Victorian era. Parking wasn’t bad either. We were able to park right in front, and made several trips to our car with ease. Our room was on the second floor, winding around red carpeted stairs with a patio right outside, in back of the hotel. Very romantic all around. There were a lot of updates to the rooms, however, that still didn't change the historic building or the town at all. Walking down the street from the Julian Gold Rush hotel, is like walking through history - Literally.

Carmen's Garden.
From old antique shops, to several pie bakeries, and a little diner at the end of the street, we stopped in to have a burger at Carmen's Garden before sunset. What once was a house located conveniently next door to the Julian Gold Rush hotel, is now a mom-and-pop restaurant known for their outdoor BBQ’s, and picnic-like feel. You almost get a sense you’re at a friends house enjoying a burger with fries. The owner and her husband were working behind the counter, and the art of the local artist surrounded the walls. Overall, the experience was fun with lots of people. Carmen’s Garden is also dog friendly, so bring along those furry loved one. Carmen’s place is a great spot to eat with an outdoor patio as well.

Julian Cafe & Bakery.
Since Julian is known for their apple harvest, we wanted to try their famous apple pies! Even though their apples were not in season, we decided to stop in after dinner at the Julian Cafe & Bakery built in 1882. Everything else was closed by 7pm, so make sure to make it to try the apple pies. We heard the Apple Alley Bakery is the best. We were stopped by two locals in their car who saw us looking at the bakery to see if it was opened, and said that was the best spot to go for their apple pies!


Granny’s Kitchen 
The next morning, breakfast at Granny’s Kitchen was a definite treat! I ordered the corn beef hash and eggs with toast. The coffee was self served unless you ordered something fancy. The owners were working behind the counter again, and local art colored the walls of this small restaurant. The house was so old, it even had a slight slant to it where we were sitting. This brought a lot of character to the house - I mean restaurant.

Lake Cuyamaca.
Lake Cuyamaca is just a few miles away from the Julian Gold Rush hotel. So, we decided to make a quick visit to the nearby Lake Cuyamaca before heading to the hotel. There are several attractions by the lake, such as nature walks, bird watching, and fishing. You can also rent boats and have that romantic “Notebook” experience you’ve always wanted. The rental spot for the boats was a bit of a challenge to find, but they comped us parking and the lot is right next to the dock - Very convenient.

The drive back to the hotel is just as beautiful as the drive to Julian from L.A. Several farms lie alongside the roads, with fruit trees, horses frolicking, and mountain views. We even saw camels on our drive! This romantic getaway was just that experience everyone needs, whether you’re by yourself, with friends, family, or loved ones.

Hiking Trails.
There are different trails, wrapping around Cuyamaca Rancho State Park - Green Valley Falls Trail is an easy 1.5 mile round-trip hike. Follow the marked trail to a beautiful waterfall. Best times for this trail would be in spring and early summer.

Indian Trail - Easy one mile trail which leads you to an old Indian village site. Plaques are all around this trail that describe the Indian uses for common plants.

Paseo Nature Trail - Easy .5 mile loop with a scenic route. Self-guiding trail with 16 signs explaining various natural and cultural resources of the area.

Gold Mines.
There are a few gold mines around the area of Julian. Eagle High Peak and Washington Mines are just a short walk from the Julian Gold Rush Hotel, roughly 5 minutes away. The Julian Mining company is also located a short distance where you can drive west to pan for gold, and appreciate several other attractions around the area.

Horseback Riding.
Experience the scenic routes by horse. The Julian Stables, Integrity Stables and the Kenner Ranch all have horse riding lessons, with a guided tour through the magnificent mountains of Julian, C.A.


Historic Julian Tours
You can also catch other tours such as the Historic Julian Tours hosted by Historian, David Lewis. Here, you can learn about the iconic history of Julian, uncovering gold, and more!