Friday, April 21, 2017

A jewel is Julian, California: Lovely dog-friendly country get-away gives small town welcome

The countryside around Julian, California, offers fine hiking, fun places to stay, bird watching -- and a peaceful get-away. 

Lilacs bloom and welcome to verdant
  countryside and Julian hospitality.


Spring flowers lead the way to a lovely late April and a pleasant May.

A VISIT TO Julian, California, is a journey back in time to a more innocent, leisurely day.
People still say "hello" and strangers with a map might find themselves guided to their destination -- "why it's just up the street and around the corner. I'll take you. I'm going that way."
Lake Cuyamaca Lodge is lovingly run by a husband-wife team
who take pleasure in providing scenery, comfort and individual attention.
My California squeeze and fellow traveler was born in San Diego and spent childhood time in Julian with his family, thus his fond memories.
Whispering Pines offers hospitality, privacy, attentive service
and a tranquil, rejuvenating retreat from the world's cares.
After a decade of visiting in spring and autumn, I'm gathering my own memories, too.
Bruce Keller and Christene (Cookie) Meyers, kick back
 at Romano's in Julian, a family-run enterprise with fine fare.

If you stop by Lake Cuyamaca
Restaurant for a meal, you may
 be lucky to catch David Dobler.
WE VISIT the bed and breakfasts and air bnb offerings, and there are plenty from which to choose here in this little mountain town about 90 minutes from the city.  San Diegans come for a weekend respite of peace and quiet in a natural setting. This spring, we admired a glorious patch of yellow and purples -- the first of the iris, the last of the daffodils, lupin and lilacs. Julian is also famous for its apples and the hills and valleys were a cloud of ivory and pink.
It's a splendid sight for this Montana kid, missing spring under the comforting cloak of the Big Sky. You feel your blood pressure dropping on the pretty drive northeast from San Diego.
WE STAYED this time in a charming cottage in Whispering Pines Retreat. We heard bird song -- finches, jays and red-winged blackbirds as I wrote -- enjoying a "cuppa" in a quaintly furnished cabin, while fixing supper and relishing the solitude. The Yorkies snoozed at my feet and all was right with the world -- for a few precious Julian hours.
The once historic gold mining town segued to a welcoming mountain village famous for apple pies, wine, ice cream, hiking and biking trails. We always dine one night at a great family run Italian bistro called Romano's. Julian is also famous for its festivals and holiday decorations and it always feels like a holiday at Romano's.
 THE APPLE CAPITAL of the world offers a get-away both soothing and exciting. There's plenty to do besides the famous fall apple fest. Think history.  The town was founded just
after the Civil War, and is nestled among oak and pine forests as old as Robert E. Lee. Surrounding the town are the
The view from Lake Cuyamaca Lodge is stellar and peaceful.
 Cuyamaca Range and the south slope of Volcan Mountain. We followed the road to Lake Cuyamaca for a night, for a delightful stay at Lake Cuyamaca Lodge and a fine meal with live music at nearby Lake Cuyamaca Restaurant. The place is famous for home cooking -- tasty American meals served in a rustic room with lake views. A tackle shop adjoins and it's your last chance for the famous Julian apple pie. Live music may be on tap on weekends. Check to see if the gifted David Dobler is playing.
JULIAN'S EAGLE  and High Peak Gold Mine lets you step back in time into a real gold mine dug out of a mountain with picks and your own pan. In many ways, the gold  mine
Julian has an annual October Apple Festival,
celebrating the fruit that keeps people coming back.
 is a metaphor for Julian itself -- a throw-back to the late 1800s.  Remove the autos and modern dress and imagine your great-grandparents strolling the streets of Julian.    Dogs are welcome, too, for us an essential.

Julian makes tourists welcome and
summer finds life centered around
the outdoors.
The whole township of Julian is a Designated Historical District. Its image as an early California frontier town with pioneer store fronts, historic sites and guided tours of the mines explains its continuing modern appeal.
We also heartily recommend Pheasant Hill Cabin and Julian Lodge, both popular and often booked. Tourism is Julian's largest industry. Enjoy yourselves. We always do.

A grey whale cow and her young calf are observed off the
waters of San Diego in a thrilling day on the ocean.
UP NEXT:    Nothing compares to the thrill for this pair of whale watching photographers and writers as observing a mother grey whale and her months-old baby, heading back from the Baja to Alaska for the season.  We delighted in a long look at these wondrous creatures this week with San Diego Whale Watch and its savvy naturalist and boat captain. We'll share the magic in the next whereiscookie. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us each Friday for a novel approach to the arts and nature driven travel.


  1. We always spend a couple long weekends in Julian, once in spring then fall or the holidays. Love the wineries and old-fashioned feel you so adeptly captured in prose and photos.

  2. Alabama AdventurersApril 28, 2017 at 1:26 PM

    Julian sounds just perfect from the pie and apples to the fun places to stay and an Italian bistro. We will make a point of a side trip next time we're in your corner of Paradise.