Fall is here and that means it’s time for apple picking in Julian, California! September and October are prime apple picking months, so it’s an ideal time to be outdoors and plan a fun family outing.
And nothing is better than gathering up your own apples and taking them home for eating, cooking, and baking. So, let’s head to the mountains of Julian for these wholesome fall treats.
History of Julian Apples
The town of Julian is the place to go for apples. Located just an hour northeast of San Diego in the foothills of the Cuyamaca Mountains at an elevation of 4,225 feet, Julian is a refreshing throwback to simpler times.
Once a bustling gold mining town, Julian’s mines eventually dried up, but a new treasure had already been taking hold — apples. All thanks to a widower named James T. Madison who relocated here from New Orleans and quickly discovered the fertile soil of Julian was perfect for fruit orchards.
Madison traveled to San Bernardino with a four-horse wagon and returned with it filled with apple trees. And the rest is history.
By the 1890s, Julian was proclaimed the “greatest apple belt in the world” and its fruit and pies were winning one national award after another. Julian’s legacy lives on today with its apple farms and famous apple pies.
Julian Apple Picking: Where and When to Pick Julian Apples
Here’s a listing of places to pick apples in Julian. However, it’s a good idea to check the website or give these businesses a call for updated information before you go.
Julian Farm & Orchard
Julian Farm & Orchard is all about connecting living history with a working farm. Yes, there are apples, but this orchard offers a whole lot more.
Fall at the Farm begins September 19-October 25 with a variety of autumn activities like hayrides, cider press, pumpkin, berry, and apple picking. The farm is open Saturdays 11-3 and Sundays 12-4.
Check Instagram @julianminingco_ and julianfarm_ for updates. They also have a pumpkin patch right about the same time, so make sure to check that one out too.
Cost: $15 per bag and $2 per person entry fee.
Volcan Valley Apple Farm
A seasonal u-pick orchard with 8,000 trellis grown apple trees and 7 apple varieties, Volcan Valley Apple Farm is all about family fun, and is currently open for picking.
Hours of operation are Friday-Monday, 9 am to 4:30 pm (last sale). Gates close at 5.
Cost: $15 per bag which holds about 7 lbs. and includes one admission. Active military with an ID pay $10. Extra admission is $5 per person. Children 5 and under are free.
Crosscut Farm and Orchard
1209 Farmer Rd, Julian, CA 92036
Gather your friends and family and be ready when the family-owned and operated Crosscut Farm and Orchard opens for apple picking on September 21-25 (extended to 9/27 if apples are still available).
Reservations are required and assigned as a 10-group minimum must be met. Walk-ins are not permitted.
Cost: $15 per bag and $2 per person entry fee which includes parking, a narrative on apple farming and local history, a cider demonstration, and picnic site.
Peacefield Orchard U-Pick and Farmstand is currently open on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 am to 2 pm (or until the day’s ripe apples run out). So, it’s a good idea to arrive early! Orchard tours and u-pick by appointments are also available.
Cost: $14 per bag with no entry fee.
Calico Apple and Pear Ranch & Cidery
This family-run ranch has been in operation for over 90 years and is a great place to pick apples and pears. While this year, they are already picked-out, you should definitely keep them on your radar for next year and also stop by for their cider, which luckily, has not run dry yet.
Their cidery is open Friday-Sunday 11 AM to Sunset and all their ciders are made from their own apples.
Cost: $7 per 1/4 peck bag, which is about 7 lbs. Cash preferred.
Apple Picking Tips: What to Wear and How to Prepare
Our first recommendation is to check the weather report as Julian can sometimes see cooler temperatures than the rest of San Diego due to its elevation. Comfortable, cotton clothing should be worn along with comfy shoes (preferably tennis shoes) as you’ll be trapsing through orchards.
A short orientation on proper picking technique is available at each orchard prior to apple picking. Orchards require masks and social distancing within the rows. We’d also recommend you pack hand sanitizer, wipes, and bottles of water. Each of the orchards has bathroom facilities available.
Think about spending the night…. Yes, Julian is an easy day trip from San Diego or Los Angeles, but if you spend the night, you REALLY get to enjoy it.
Here are some really great places to stay in Julian:
Other Apple(y) Fun Things to Do in Julian
Stop in for a Piece of Apple Pie in Julian
You can’t be in Julian and not try a big slice of flaky, sweet, delectable apple pie, a true Julian treasure. Several pie companies in town offer either sit down or window service, but you just have to do it.
These are the best apple pies in the universe (and even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top). We guarantee you’ll be taking one home with you.
But which bakery has the best apple pie in Julian? It seems like every family in Southern California has their personal favorite and some are hard set on only eating apple pie from “their” bakery.
I have tried a few of them and have to say, they are all amazing and you won’t find a bad piece of pie in Julian, promise. Here are some of the best Julian Apple Pie Bakeries in town:
- Julian Pie Company
- Julian Cafe & Bakery
- Mom’s Pie House
- Apple Alley Bakery
Visit Volcan Mountain Winery
Open Friday through Sunday 11-5, Volcan Mountain Winery is located directly across from picturesque apple orchards. Sparkling, white, and reds are available for tasting, but their apple wines like the Pomme D’Amour sparkling and Dolcezza, an estate-grown apple white are unique and luscious. This is one of the best wineries in San Diego county. Don’t miss this!
Check out Julian Hard Cider
Yes, you can get apple cider at various places throughout the town of Julian, but there’s the really good hard stuff too. Julian Hard Cider’s Miners’ Saloon is located in a former apple packing facility.
They feature a variety of premium fresh-pressed ciders from harvest apple to cherry, berry, pear, and yes, even apple pie. Open Friday to Sunday from 12 to 6 pm, it’s a super fun way to toast the autumn!
Have fun with the apple picking in Julian, and be sure to share your experience with us!