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Fall is just around the corner – and what better way to celebrate its arrival than apple picking in Julian? Apple picking season has been a big-hitting family favorite for years in San Diego; especially in and around Julian and nearby mountain towns.
This year, we were lucky enough to have plenty of rain early on; meaning that all of these apple picking farms are officially open for a long season! Here are the best spots for apple picking in Julian and San Diego.
Apple Starr Orchard
1020 Julian Orchard Drive, Julian, CA 92036.
Open every weekend from 10am-5pm.
The original orchard at Apple Starr was planted by the Farmer family after whom “Farmers Road,” the road to the town, is named. Parts of the land were earlier used as a milk dairy, and the old barn was constructed in the early 1900s.
The orchard is home to roughly 1000 apple and pear trees. The trees range in age from 20 to 70 years and the majority have low branches that children can access. They only use certified organic products and are inspected annually to maintain their certification. Pear varieties include Bartletts, Comice, Anjous, Bosc; and apple varieties include Jonagold, Granny, Fuji, Gala, Red Delicious. No reservations are necessary for u-pick!
Volcan Valley Apple Farm
1284 Julian Orchards Drive, Julian CA 92036.
Open Friday-Monday 9am-5pm (last bag sale is at 4:30pm)
Julian’s largest orchard, Volcan Valley Apple Farm, attracts big crowds every year with 7,000 trellis-grown apple trees of red and green apples ready to pick. Choose between seven different varietals of apples, including Gravenstein, Empires (a cross between a Red Delicious and a Macintosh), Jonathans, Golden Delicious, and Pippins. Pick up a bag for $12 and then head into the fields to fill it up yourself! Also on-site: Granny’s Pies! Grab a sweet treat after you’ve filled up your bag for the day.
Apples & Art Orchard
1052 Julian Orchards Drive, Julian CA 92036.
Open by reservation only.
For groups of 20 or more, this u-pick apple orchard offers tours and picking sessions. For $12 per person, groups will get the chance to pick a “half peck of apples” (which is about 5 pounds) and spend a relaxing afternoon checking out the Apples & Art Orchard. The adventure includes an apple fact lecture, apple picking, group cider making, and a tasting. This season’s apple varieties include: Red Delicious, Arkansas Black, Fuji, heirloom apples, and more. Their harvest is always pesticide-free and all natural, so you can be sure it’s healthy too!
They book tours at 1pm and 3pm daily for groups only (no individuals), and you must book a tour online ahead of time. Be sure to book your reservation soon – they fill up fast and are only open until the apples are gone. This is a great idea for Boy/Girl Scout troops, homeschoolers, and camps!
4200 Highway 78, Julian CA 92036
Please call(858) 586- 0392 ahead of time for information about opening times.
Calico Ranch is a family-run apple and pear orchard located just outside of Julian. The farm has remained in production since it was first planted in the early 1930s, and is one of the oldest remaining farms in Julian today. The Young family has owned the 30 acre orchard for more than twenty years. Calico Ranch offers u-pick experiences on the weekends, Saturday and Sunday, and usually open at 9am. The last weekend for their u-pick season (according to their Facebook) is the weekend of September 23rd.
Tips for Visiting Julian
- Make a day of it! Downtown Julian has to much to offer and explore, especially for families – from restaurants to antique stores and, of course, apple pie.
- Don’t expect cold weather – September is historically very warm in Juilan (usually in the 70s and 80s), so be sure to pack sunscreen, a hat, and dress for warm weather.
- Plan your trip ahead of time – and call the orchard you plan on visiting to be sure they are open.
Other Spots to Check Out
- Oasis Camel Dairy: This is a great place to visit after you’ve finished your apple picking! Check out their hand-crafted camel milk soap, lotions, and camel milk chocolate. They offer daily tours, camel rides, and special events throughout the year.
- Julian Mining Company: Open Saturdays and Sundays, this a fun place to learn about Julian’s history. Experience and enjoy gem sluicing, gold panning, a petting zoo, and tomahawk throwing! Unfortunately, their u-pick is closed for the year.
- Julian Cider Mill: The Cider Mill has been in operation since 1975, making and producing their own apple cider along with homemade fudge, classic preserves, and candies. They also have many varieties of apples, pears, preserves, raw honey, French prunes, Italian plums, dried fruits, nuts, candy, caramel apples and other gifts.