The idea of mountains and San Diego don't usually go together, but the quaint mountain town of Julian, located in San Diego's east county includes rustic shops, pine trees and even snow on occasion. It's a great day trip destination to see a different side of San Diego.
The best way to experience this beautiful area is by driving east on Interstate 8 and exiting Japatul Valley Road. A left at the stop sign will lead visitors into the charming mountain town of Descanso, which means "a place of rest.' There is only one real sit down restaurant, a mom and pop shop called, The Descanso Junction. They have great food, a wait staff with small-town charm and rustic decor. For the best views, continue approximately 40 minutes up to Julian the "back way" along CA-79. This winding single lane road is bordered by chaparral, tall grasses, oaks and pine trees. Visitors can keep an eye out for deer, wild turkey and the occasional bobcat or mountain lion in this rural area.
Julian is a historic mining town nestled in the Laguna Mountains about 40 miles east of downtown San Diego. To the east is Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and to the west are rolling hills peppered with oak trees and grassy meadows. Julian itself is known for boutique shopping, rustic charm and apple farming. Main Street in Julian is lined with restaurants and pie shops serving up mouthwatering homemade apple pie and hot cider. The pies alone are worth the trip, but for visitors looking to get a feel for the Old West, a visit to the Julian Mining Company will do the trick. Here visitors can mine for real gold and gems and take a trip back in time to the days of the California Gold Rush. Open weekends and by appointment only on the weekdays, a mining trip to Julian is an outdoor experience visitors of all ages will enjoy.
Julian has become a popular day trip destination for locals and visitors alike with boutique shopping, sightseeing and the solace of a drive through the mountains. It's a great way to get away from city life and enjoy the natural beauty of San Diego's outdoors any time of year.