Staff Picks: 4 Reasons to Visit Julian, California

By Jessica Armstrong

It wouldn't be a vacation to California without some glamping, and I've got a special treat for you. While I'd love to keep the charming town of Julian, California, a secret just for me and my family, it would be wrong of me not to share.

A beautiful view of Lake Julian from the tree house cabin.

A stunning view of Lake Julian from the comfort of Rick Dyer's tree house cabin.

Just an hour outside of San Diego, Julian offers epic views of nature around every corner, the US's best apple pie (yum!), deer sightings almost every hour, and one of the best glamping sites I have visited to date. For a town of only 1,502 residents, Julian sure has a lot to offer glampers looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of city life.

1. Rick Dyer's Tree House Cabin

I have had my eye on this accommodation for quite some time, and boy, did it exceed my expectations. From waking up to woodpeckers in the trees to enjoying the sunset from the Jacuzzi after an excellent day of hiking, this tree house cabin was the perfect place to call home for the week. Having been passed down for generations, Rick has made this glamping accommodation a true haven for families to spend some quality time with each other.

Rick Dyer giving us the grand tour of the cabin rental.

Be sure to get the full tour to learn fun facts about this glamping rental.

A photo of the author in front of the tree house.

I couldn't help but get a photo in front of this beautiful retreat.

All bundled up around the kitchen table playing board games, catching up, making new memories, and sharing laughs that could probably be heard across the canyon is exactly what glamping with the family is all about. When visiting this cabin be sure to ask Rick for the grand tour—it is worth hearing all the fun facts about the previous owners' family stories. This will not be my last visit to this tree house cabin.

A view of the tree house from the trails above.

Explore the trails above the tree house to get the most epic views of Julian.

2. Julian Apple Pie

If you have heard of Julian, apple pie was probably mentioned in the same sentence. Why is Julian so famous for apple pie, you ask? During the Gold Rush, Julian arose as a charming mountain town and along with it came an outstanding number of apple trees. As the saying goes, when life gives you apple make apple pies—and so they did.

One of Julian's delicious pie companies.

This may or may not have been our secret pie spot, but guess you will have to find out for yourselves.

With over five different pie companies in Julian alone, glampers will have to make a day of touring the different cafes to find out which one really is the best. We found our answer, but I will keep that an insider's secret for now.

Dutch Apple Pie from Julian Pie Company.

We're still dreaming of Dutch Apple Pie.

3. Antiquing

There is nothing I love more than a good shopping trip, and Julian is filled with the cutest antique stores. A personal favorite? The Warm Hearth of Julian. With cookbooks, kitchen products, clothing, and home goods galore, it was hard not to spend more than an hour browsing the trinkets and collectibles this store has to offer. I wouldn't be the shopper I am if I did not pick up a few collectibles to fill my house with.

A view from the top of Stonewall Peak hike.

There is nothing quite as good as hiking to the top of Stonewall Peak with this view as your reward.

4. Hiking Stonewall Peak

The exquisite views that stretch from Julian to the Pacific Ocean are worth the hike up Stonewall Peak. A good hike for beginners and intermediate hikers, it takes about two hours and 30 minutes from start to finish. I would not recommend hiking this trail on a very windy day, as the top of the hike requires stairs and holding onto rails, but on a sunny day like ours, it could not be beat. I cannot wait to go back and visit more trails surrounding this peak.

A view from the other side of Stonewall Peak hike.

My brother is a professional climber, so he did all the daredevil work for us.

A view of Julian from the top of Stonewall Peak.

A photo does not quite capture the beauty to been seen from the top of Stonewall Peak.

From a lovely stay at Rick's tree house cabin to the yumminess of apple pie and the breathtaking views of Southern California, Julian is one for the books.


Be sure to check out more amazing, one-of-a-kind getaways in Southern California, including this amazing Julian tree house rental for your next getaway!