Day Trip: Julian

Julian, California is a gold mining town up in the San Diego Cuyamaca mountains, famous for its apple pie and apple orchards (though, interestingly, the apples in those pies are by and large not from Julian, the volume demanded being too great for those orchards to keep up).

We hadn’t been back to Julian in a couple of years, so we decided to take the kids up there. The town of Julian is very small, consisting of a main drag with restaurants and touristy shops, a museum, and of course, lots of pie shops. The two younger kids love this place called The Candy Mine, located in the drugstore basement.

Julian is also home to a Wolf Sanctuary (reservations needed) and at least one gold mine, where you can go on a tour and pan for gold. Because Little Girl was getting over a cold, and I’m still getting over that bronchitis, we figured getting wet wasn’t the best idea, so we still haven’t done the gold panning thing.

It takes a little over an hour to get up there, and the drive is picturesque and only goes crazy in winding for a short time.

Once we did the Candy Mine (the kids each getting 3 pieces of candy) the kids were DONE and wanted to go home. They weren’t interested in the museum or the antiques shop. Sigh.

Is the Candy Mine worth an hour drive, you ask? I’d say no. All the candy they have, even the Goldminer’s Gum, is available elsewhere (the gum, for example, we saw in Michael’s the next day), for less. But if you are in Julian, and you have little kids, they will LOVE the Candy Mine.

We did convince the kids to go over to the bookstore for a minute. It’s a used bookstore in an old house, with creaking floorboards and well-categorized rooms. However, we didn’t see anything we needed.

Then we went to pick up a frozen pie at the Julian Pie Company, which we took home and had with dinner. It’s cheaper to buy a whole pie for the whole family than it is to get 5 individual slices (and there’s extra, ha ha). My favorite is the Natural Apple, which has no added sugar. It’s plenty sweet.

But you have to keep pie away from my Eldest, because she ate, I think, half the pie in the end. I could barely get this photo in before it disappeared.

The local farmer’s market sells these pies, too, only 5 minutes away from my house. And they cost $2 less at the farmer’s market. Which probably won’t stop us from going to Julian again, because, after all, we have to do the gold mine. And all those antique stores we haven’t seen. We should probably leave the kids at home and bring them some gum from the Mine.

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

2 thoughts on “Day Trip: Julian

  1. So much to say…

    Our family tradition growing up was to visit Julian the day after Thanksgiving. Mark and I named our daughter Julia after the town of Julian.

    I don’t remember the Candy Mine growing up (was it there?) but there’s our top place to visit whenever we go now. We also have pictures with the steps and the signs. There’s another place called the Candy Basket which I don’t remember well but I thought at the time it had a better selection (though less ambiance) than the Mine. My Julian reviews are below (and include the Candy Basket). For some reason I have neglected to review the Mine!

    For That Day Trip to Julian

  2. I love going to Julian and to the Pie Company. Glad you were able to check ou the bookstore. That’s where I found that vintage children’s book. Sorry you didn’t see anything you needed though. I love going in the fall too.

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