Free Things to Do in Julian, CA
Updated: Jan 26, 2022
The state of California, San Diego County, and tourist towns in general are known for their high price tags. Despite Julian having all three of those things going against it, there are still lots of free things to do. Don’t believe me? That’s okay. No hard feelings as long as you keep reading and are cool with being proven wrong.
Santa Ysabel General Store
Nestled in the beautiful Santa Ysabel valley where Highways 78 and 79 meet sits the historic 1884 Santa Ysabel General Store. This hidden gem is one of those places you didn’t intend to come across, but once you do you are sure glad you did. Today, the non-profit Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO) owns the store and barn in the back. They have restored San Diego’s only remaining false-front adobe building back to its original beauty. The store is stocked with canned goods, home goods, and antiques. For more information, see our blog post.
Julian Backcountry Quilt Trail (JBQT)
Since 2014, the Julian Woman's Club has been working with property owners and businesses to create Southern California's first quilt trail. Each of the over 30 painted quilt squares shares something about local history, the owner, and the property. For those looking to see the whole collection, a nice drive through the San Diego Backcountry is required. If that's not for you, there are 6 quilt squares all within walking distance of each-other hanging in store windows in the town of Julian.
The Julian Jail
At the Corner of C and Fourth street sits a 17 foot-long, 14 foot-wide, and 10 foot-high reinforced concrete building with an iron door, the Julian Jail. It was built in 1914 after the previous wooden jail built-in 1873 failed to keep inmates in. A local citizen ran the jail, and his wife cooked for the prisoners. In addition to temporarily housing inmates, the jail was home to the town's first indoor toilet.
If you’re thirsty for more history, stop by the Julian Town Hall to get the History Hunt answer card. Historic landmarks throughout the Julian historic district have plaques with a brief history of that building. Answer the questions about the buildings on your card. Before you leave town, drop your answer card back at the Town Hall to be entered for a chance to win $50. (Not too many people know about this opportunity so your chances are good.)
Doves and Desperados
Julian's own re-enactment group, Doves and Desperados, roam the streets of the historic Main Street Julian every Sunday. At 1 and 2 p.m. The famed group performs a historic and hysterical gunfight skit.
With a beautiful mountain comes stunning views. Hiking in our local mountains is popular all year long. If you do decide to take a stroll in the fresh air, please pay attention to the weather and hike during the cooler times of the day. Just to name a few hiking spots; try Stonewall Peak, Green Valley Falls, Lake Cuyamaca, Volcan Mountain, and Santa Ysabel East and West. We don't recommend Cedar Creek or Three Sisters despite their growing popularity. (See our blog post for additional information.)
Lookup (at night)! The sky is full of beautiful constellations that can’t be seen in the city.