The mad rush for gold that swept through California in the mid-to-late-1800s inspired a great many townships to spring up to accommodate the sudden influx of people eager to cash in on the boom. Unfortunately, the earthly riches proved less plentiful than the pioneers’ avarice, and many of these once-burgeoning cities lost their luster and their populaces, fading rapidly into lonesome ghost towns.
One of the small mining towns that did survive was Julian. Having discovered another kind of gold in its abundant apple orchards, Julian today is a charming tourist attraction with a serious bent toward apple pies.
About an hour’s ride northeast of San Diego, Julian is perfectly situated as the central hub among a plethora of motorcycle-friendly roads. Snuggled in the Laguna Mountains at 4,200 feet, Julian boasts a rarity in Southern California: four distinct seasons. Beautiful when cloaked in its fall colors, Julian can get cold and icy in winter, so motorcyclists would be well advised to check weather conditions before tackling the mountain.
Julian’s Main Street is a throwback to the wood-plank covered walkways of the Old West. The general store and saloon have given way to a variety of shops, restaurants, and bed & breakfasts. However, the quaintest aspect of Julian is its high ratio of shops proffering the modern day gold of its renowned apple pies.
From its lilac blossoms and historical reenactments to the turning leaves and a host of local festivals, Julian is a quintessential California escape for the weekend two-wheel adventurer.