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Terry & Dave Taylor

Julian, California

Borrego Springs, California: You know you must be on vacation when you drive 60 miles round-trip for pie. Not just any pie, mind you, but the pie one of my idols, Jane Stern, declared the “best apple pie she ever tasted”. Jane was, of course, talking about the Julian Pie Company in Julian, California.

After the hot weather from yesterday, we were surprised to wake to cool clouds. It was chilly again! It was very quiet around the campground. It seemed we were not the only ones who wanted to remain in our warm beds. Finally, people began to stir, dogs were exercised, greens were mowed and walkers began walking. Time to face the day.

The 30-mile drive is straight up from Borrego Springs, climbing from 600 feet to 4200 feet. We have been through Julian before, on one of our very first RV trips – when we just drove and drove and drove and rarely stopped. Now we just stop and stop and stop and explore as much as possible. It took us several years to learn this lesson. Even if we stay only two nights in a town, it gives us one full day to see the sights. In many little towns, one day is enough. But often, spending one day exploring a small town will only turn-up more things to see and do, requiring a longer stay.

Julian, California
Downtown Julian, California

Julian isn’t the cutest tourist town we have ever seen, yet it has that quaint California mining-style town feel to the three-block-long main street – complete with wooden sidewalks, covered walkways and fun shops. Gold is no longer the main business in Julian. Now it is apples, pies and cider bringing the crowds. In the early 1900’s settlers learned the elevation, winter snow, cool evening temperatures and warm summer days combined for the perfect apple-growing climate. Only a few of the orchards are even irrigated. One hour from San Diego, Julian is swamped most weekends with tourists.

Romano's Dodge House
Romano's Dodge House

Our first destination was lunch at Romano’s Dodge House, serving authentic Sicilian cuisine. One interesting menu item is Brasciole. The chef mixes ground beef, bread crumbs, tomatoes, raisins, pine nuts and egg and rolls the combination in pounded top round steak. The Brasciole is then topped with a rich marinara sauce. DT had a good Sicilian-style cheese pizza. In this apple-loving town, there is a sign on Romano's Dodge House door: “No credit cards and no apple pie”. What a hoot.

 Romano's Dodge House in Julian, California   Brasciole from Romano's Dodge House in Julian, California
Pizza and Brasciole at Romano's Dodge House in Julian, California

Every bakery in town claims to bake the best pie in Julian. The largest pie producer is the Julian Pie Company. They make pie and nearly only pie at a large bakery a few miles outside of town and sell the pies from a small shop at the bottom of Main Street in Julian. The pies are also available at many area supermarkets and restaurants, and on any given Saturday over 600 pies will leave the small shop in Julian. The Julian Pie Company sells old-fashioned apple pie, unsweetened apple pie, Dutch apple pie, a few other varieties and seasonal specialties. Another popular treat is “Apple Memories” – pie crust sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. In the Julian store, you can buy a whole pie or sit down and enjoy a slice. Either way, the pie will have been made the same day. The Julian Pie Company also serves a delicious cup of coffee.

Apple Pie from the Julian Pie Company
Apple Pie from the Julian Pie Company

With that huge lunch, we could only buy a pie to take home with us for later. After arriving back in Borrego Springs, we drove a bit past the campground so we could see miles of citrus groves – grapefruit, oranges and lemons – the branches hanging heavy with fruit.

We will not be eating dinner. Still too full from lunch. But, there is an entire apple pie to appease us should hunger pangs strike.

RV Park: The Springs at Borrego - RV Resort and Golf Course

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