Hotel at a Glance: The Julian Gold Rush Hotel
As its name suggests, the Julian Gold Rush Hotel harks back to the days of the California Gold Rush. Inside the Queen Anne–style building, you'll find old-fashioned lace curtains and antique lamps and furniture. Elegant guest rooms boast heirloom quilts, clawfoot bathtubs, and cast-iron fireplaces. Built in 1897, it's the oldest continually operating hotel in Southern California and even appears on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Famous guests: UK Prime Minister Lloyd George, C.S. Lewis, and Robert Duvall
- Complimentary two-course breakfast with granola, seasonal fruits, date nut raisin toast, and a homemade hot dish that changes daily
- Afternoon tea served every day
- Best spot to sit a spell: The hotel's breezy front porch is outfitted with wicker furniture and surrounded by colorful flowers.
Julian, California: Historic Gold-Mining Town with Famous Apple Pie
Julian is a pintsize mountain town located 60 miles northeast of San Diego. Thanks to its position at just over 4,200 feet in the Laguna Mountains, the town enjoys four distinct seasons—unlike the rest of Southern California. Julian was the first and only gold-rush town in San Diego County, and as a result, the entire township is a designated historic district. Explore its rich heritage aboard mining trains or during the year-round History Hunts, which send participants through downtown to find answers to questions about local sites.
Though gold mining may have put Julian on the map, the town is most famous for its apple crops, which began springing up here at the end of the 19th century. Less sweet than traditional types, the apples are ideal for baking into pies, brewing into cider, and using to prop open doors. You'll find sumptuous variations of the hallmark fruit all over town. The area's unique climate also makes it a prolific grape-growing region; you can enjoy complimentary tastings of pinot grigio and pinot noir at a number of award-winning vineyards.
There’s plenty to do outdoors, as well. A 2.5-mile hike to the top of nearby Volcan Mountain reveals panoramic views of the desert, mountains, and sea. Lake Cuyamaca offers year-round trout fishing, and you can partake in Julian's stargazing tradition at private astronomical observatories in town.