Julian, California, is known as apple country, and is famous for its apple pies (hence, the Julian Pie Company). And it's not far from Carlsbad, so it's a fun thing to do.
As a former New Englander, finding out about Julian has been a treat. I spent many years outside Boston, which as any good New Englander knows, is famous for apples, as well as chowder, lobster and other goodies. Julian doesn't have lobster or chowder, or certainly isn't famous for them, but they ARE for apples here in Southern California.
You can simply visit a number of fruit stands in the Carlsbad area and BUY apples. But the best experience, again my New Englandism emerges, is picking apples. And Julian is the place to go for the best and widest selection.
Here are some choices but visit Pick Your Own for more information:
4200 Highway 78, Julian, CA, 92036. Phone: 760-765-3620 or 858-586-0392 or 858-586-0522. Email: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. Open: Fri-Sunday 9am-5pm, Sept-Oct. There are more than 100 types of apples and pears on 30 acres. Located in Spencer Valley, 3 miles from Julian.
MJ Ranch(This is where we went to pick)
1070 Farmers Road, Julian, CA, 92036. Phone: 760-765-2423. Many varieties of both apples and pears. No pesticides used. Open every Saturday and Sunday from 10-5, from Sept.10 until Sept. 25. This was where we went for our picking - great views with a range of apple and pear varieties
Apple Lane Orchard
2641 Apple Lane, Julian - Please call: 760-765-1347 or 2645 to have more information mailed to you.
There are over 12 varieties, including Early Gold, Jonagold, Red Delicious, Winesap, Macintosh, Granny Smith and more. Apple cider pressed on-site year-around, selling wholesale and retail on the orchard. You can enjoy the taste of fresh picked apples by the bag, peck, bushel or box and fresh cider by the gallon or half gallon. They offer jams, jellies, preserves, coffee beans and speciality food products to make the most of the apples you buy! Tours are available by reservation for groups of 30 or less on growing, picking, sorting, peeling and processing apples for cider.
Stop off and visit the Menghini Winery too - some good local wines and inexpensive wine tastings.
A side trip in to Julian to explore the shops (plenty of places to buy apple pies), enjoy a meal or just watch the people is a fun way to spend the afternoon.
The vestiges of the recent fires, however, remain. While the recent ones were not significant in the way the one several years ago was, they were VERY close to town (below right photo), forcing the evacuation of many of the businesses just a week ago. Pretty scary stuff.
All in all it's a great trip for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, and only about 1 hour on Route 78 with great scenery.
On the way out or going home, stop off in Santa Ysabel (you drive right through this small town, about 7 miles before Julian) and visit the Santa Ysabel Art Gallery- it is surprisingly good, with talent from around San Diego. Definitely worth the visit, and it's on the left as you head east just past the road leading to Mt. Palomar. (Open Thursday through Monday from 11 - 5 and by appointment; Annie Rowley, the Director, is terrific. Call her at 760-765-1676).