My Friend, Julian.

One of the best parts of living in (certain parts of) California is the gift of the quality day trip. You know, the two-three hour round-trip you take when you want to get out of the city or get lost in a different one.

I took day trips often growing up in the City of Orange… I’d fish at the lake or play in the snow at Big Bear. My friends and I would hit Palm Springs for the sake of dry desert sun. I’d head to San Diego for a different vibe of beach. Concerts and museum trips in LA were a common occurrence. I can also add wine tasting in Temecula to that list, but I think I enjoyed the day trips I would take to wine country when I was living in San Francisco slightly (significantly) more. Don’t even get me started on the day tripping options in the Bay Area.

Even though I’ve called San Diego home for some time now, I do still catch myself occasionally dwelling on how much further I am from all of those day trip destinations I enjoyed in my younger years. Beyond being further from those places, I’m further from mini road trip destinations like Vegas and Paso Robles too. Having ranted enough about that, I will say that I have found that San Diego does have worthwhile outskirty day trips to enjoy. Mexico, for one. Julian, for two.

This past weekend, Dave and I decided to head to Julian, CA – a small town famous for their apple pie and cider, a place that screams, AUTUMN! as much as a Southern California town can claim having seasons. After all, they do have an apple harvest. That’s autumn, right? Sometimes, it even snows.


Dave drove my Elantra up the winding roads toward our destination, while I messed around with my camera and attempted to reel in the looming threat of car sickness. It was too beautiful a day to spoil with projectile empty stomach.


After an hour and change, we made it. The unreasonably picturesque town (might as well be a west coast Stars Hollow) was alive with the hustle and bustle of fellow pie lovers and weekend warriors. Our first stop was to meet my cousin, his wife, and their pup for lunch.


We walked up and down the main road in search of a patio lunch and settled on Buffalo Bills. Unfortunately, as the manager so kindly alerted Dave, “This [was] not a fast food restaurant.” So two and a half hours of waiting later, we were greeted by club sandwiches and decidedly tasty buffalo burgers (though I’m not certain there’s any meal worth a 2.5 hour wait).


Life Tip #36: Keep a snack – something compact, healthy, and filling, like a granola bar or Ziploc of nuts – in your purse, man satchel, fanny pack, camera bag, etc. Hunger tends to strike hard. 

We cleaned our plates at record speed and headed for the main event: Mom’s. Even after mowing down a club sandwich, potato salad, and half of Dave’s fries, I was prepared to enjoy a serious slice of apple pie a la mode.

We opted to go to the Mom’s Pie House on the outskirts of town because it’s closer to the pumpkin patch and would inevitably have a shorter line than the Mom’s on Main. Did I mention I was ready for pie?

We took our slices of heaven to a shady table between the orchard and cider mill and enjoyed. I took a stroll through the orchard and learned about Arkansas black apples and bumbleberries from the helpful caretaker. FYI,  bumbleberries aren’t an actual thing, but rather, the name Mom gave to her blueberry/blackberry/strawberry pie.

We parted ways with my cousin and co., and then entered into the Cross Family Farm Pumpkin Patch. The presence of barracks, mining equipment, and a teepee provided a unique Julian twist to a patch of corn stalks and expanse of pumpkins, fresh on their vines/rotting off the vine.

We played until the sun grew heavy in the sky.

Not two to waste a day trip, Dave and I decided to make two last stops. The first was to Pam’s place for her Ass Kickin Jerky and FROG (To ease your mind: Fig Raspberry Orange Guava) Jam. We chatted with Pam, who had been running her quirky stand for 24 years, and Dave played with her assistants’ pretty bird.

The second and final stop was at a viewpoint for nothing more than the view.


Life Tip #37: Stop and smell the roses.



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