Harp’s been talking no-stop, as in daily, about going camping since she caught sight of my Coachella tent out of the corner of her eye way back in February. It’s become an obsession that started with wanting to check out the tent and escalating to only wanting to watch TV shows that involved long uninterrupted time in the woods. We knew it was time to make the plunge. We decided to reserve a site at William Heise Country Park in Julian, California. Julian is a small town a little over an hour northeast of San Diego. We had camped there in the ancient past a few times and the campsite is beautiful and close enough to home that if it went terribly wrong we could crawl home with our tails between our legs virtually unnoticed. Until we decided to invite some friends to go with us…then there was no backing out. Well, it all ended up going fairly swimmingly and Harper couldn’t have had a better first camping trip. The weather was perfect, the company amiable, hikes pleasant, and of course s’mores. What else could a mini-camper want?
As I’ve said, Julian is one of our favorite parts of San Diego. Just because we haven’t been camping up there in a while doesn’t mean we don’t visit on occasion. When we do, we have a couple of spots we always have to hit.
Julian is a bit of a tourist attraction for the city folk who want to get away for a day or two. *cough* Us *cough, cough*. You never know what you’ll happen upon in town. Maybe you’ll get to ride a llama like Harper did last time we were there. Even if you don’t go into the shops, there are always interesting people milling around and on the weekends there are often special events that include farmer’s markets, live music, fun and games.
Julian Pie Company
2225 Main St
Julian, CA 92036
There is a friendly pie feud going on in Julian. There are two pie companies, one is Julian Pie Company and the other is Mom’s Pie House. Everyone has a favorite and we are Julian Pie Company people. Why? I think it’s because Julian is in the name. I doubt I could pick one over the other in a blind taste test because they are both fantastic. That being said, it’s pretty much a local sacrilege to visit and not eat pie, so we eat pie. My favorite is the original apple pie and my family loves the apple cider donut holes (I don’t because I think they are kind of dry, but to each their own). If you aren’t down for a whole pie, get a slice a la mode.
William Heise County Park:
4945 Heise Park Rd
Julian, CA 92036
When we are camping, we camp at William Heise County Park. The grounds are clean, the campsites are fairly large in to other campgrounds I’ve recently visited which is a plus for us since our kid is still a little too young to go off exploring on her own for a couple more years. It’s also dog friendly so we can bring the two mutts with us when we want to. Each campsite has a large picnic table and fire ring installed so you can invite the whole family and sit around the campfire roasting hot dogs. Campsites are $23 a night plus online reservations fees. They also have a few on-site cabins which look really nice, but I have yet to stay in one but we’ll be checking them out in July, so after that I’ll update with some details. I do know the cabins are not pet friendly and cost about $60 a night, after reservation fees.
The Julian Cider Mill:
2103 Main St
Julian, CA 92036
If you are looking for Julian Hard Cider in one of it’s three delicious varieties, you’ve come to the wrong place. They don’t sell it here but they do have a bunch of non-alcoholic ciders for sale. They also have a menagerie of different snacks including local honey, trail mix, dried fruit, old-fashioned candy sticks, and caramel apples covered in anything you heard desires including chocolate chips (pictured below) or my favorite, rainbow sprinkles.
30218 California 78
Santa Ysabel, CA 92070
This place is one of my favorite San Diego eateries. We almost always stop for a sandwich on our way out of town, if they are open. Their schedule is just kind of stupid. They are only open from Thursday through Sunday. But, they have amazing bread (try the jalapeno cheddar!) and their sandwiches are too die for. They are pretty big as in I can never finish mine in one sitting. I love the build your own option because I like to add a lot of different veggies but they also have monthly specials. Also, bonus. They have giant pickles.