Known for its apples, the small town of Julian, California was once a “booming” mining town. To this day the people of Julian embrace the town’s history with mine tours, panning for gold and even small historical skits on Main Street. Our Quick Weekender TravelingMom shares kid tested (and approved) adventures in Julian adventures.
Kid Tested (and Approved) Adventures in Julian California
We are a family of explorers. Give us quaint, unique or even, down-right weird and we’re there! So, ever since I heard about Julian, California, I knew it was just the place for us.
When the day finally arrived the kids were so so about going. The pull of video games and friends was almost too much for them. But “mean mom” forced them into the car telling them “it’ll be fun.”
And you know what? They had an incredible time and couldn’t wait to tell their friends about it!
Where to eat – Miner’s Diner
The brick building that houses Miner’s Diner was built in 1886 and was the first brick building in Julian. With a colorful history, the building has been home to the general mercantile, drugstores, a variety of restaurants and until it finally became Miner’s Diner in the 1990’s.
Open for breakfast and lunch Miner’s dinner serves up mouthwatering comfort food. It doesn’t matter if you order classic bacon and eggs or the overstuffed Goldstrike specialty sandwich, your taste buds will thank you.
The atmosphere of Miner’s Diner is an eclectic mashup of the building’s history, 50’s diner, and current trends. And there is something everywhere you look – including a train circling the entire restaurant.
TravelingMom Tip: Parking can be scarce along Main Street, but continue driving past Julian Pie Co. to find some parking available for a small charge.
Did You Say Candy Cave?
Hidden on the right side of Miner’s Diner squeezed in the back of the room is a cave of wonders. Gold rush? It’s more like a candy rush!
We were seated on this side of the restaurant and almost missed this little gem. My kids were fascinated by this tiny candy mine with its barrels and walls of candy. But let me tell you it holds treasures for kids of all ages.
Walking down the stairs I was overwhelmed with nostalgia. I came face to face with my childhood… Candy cigarettes! I know, I know these little white candy sticks are wrong. But to this kid that grew up in the 80’s these brought back memories.
Head for the Mines – The Eagle and High Peak Gold Mine
Since we lucked out with parking on Main Street, we explored the area by foot. I had heard about the mine tours and hoped we’d have time to check it out. As luck would have it, we parked just across the street from the dirt road leading to the mine.
TravelingMom Tip: The Eagle and High Peak Gold Mine is cash ONLY, so make sure you stop at an ATM beforehand.
Slightly off the beaten path, The Eagle and High Peak Gold Mine offers tours to the general public on most days. Each tour lasts about an hour and chock full of interesting tid bits – it is said to be one of the most successful gold mines back in it’s prime.
My tweens thoroughly enjoyed the wandering through the dark mine. They thought the historical mining equipment was “cool”, which in tween speak means “I’m going to tell all my friends how awesome this is, but not give mom the satisfaction of being right.” Which, is a win no matter how you look at it.
Panning for gold at the Julian Mining Company
You can’t go to Julian and not pan to gold! On our way out of town, we stopped by the Julian Mining Company. This adorable little stop was the highlight of our short trip.
TravelingMom Tip: Check Groupon for money saving deals on panning for gold at the Julian Mining Company.
We redeemed our Groupon inside the little shop and off we went. Our prospecting instructor greeted us at the gold mining area. After a short demonstration (which included an itsy bitsy gold sliver), we started the process by swirling our pans.
The actual gold panning didn’t hold the attention of our kids for long. But we had bought one of the gem buckets they offered. This ended up being a huge hit. I’m sure that is because it didn’t take a lot of work to find a big gem or two. My kids can be a wee bit lazy at times, so if it’s easy and they get rewarded they are all about it!
Mom’s Pies – The Other Location
No trip to Julian is complete without apple something. Apple cider, Apple pie, Apple dumpling – name it and I’m sure they serve it with apple somewhere.
Mom’s Pies has two locations both in Julian. The Main Street location is widely popular with locals and tourists and usually has a line out the building. But find the same great pies and other tasty desserts a little ways out of town with a much shorter line.
Right off of Highway 78, Mom’s Pies second location has ample parking and even a little picnic area in the back. Shamefully, not one of us ordered an apple pie. But I did order an apple dumpling while my husband dug into his strawberry rhubarb pie, so that kind of counts if you smoosh them together, right? I can understand why people line up to get a taste of Mom’s desserts. They were delicious.
The little mining town busted down my tweens “too cool” defenses and they ended up having a blast. They still haven’t stopped bragging to their friends about finding gems and walking through an abandoned mine
With a candy cave, old mines, panning for gold and pie, Julian California was without a doubt a success!