Mt. Palomar - Julian
Palomar Observatory (Mt. Palomar) - Take a day trip to Palomar Observatory, in operation for more than 50 years. From the visitor's gallery, kids can see the 200 inch Hale Telescope, used almost every night for observations of asteroids, comets, stars, the Milky Way, galaxies beyond. The photo gallery has amazing pictures of stars and galaxies, photographed with the telescopes at the observatory.
Bring a picnic lunch - there are tables near the observatory, and boulders for kids to climb on. Feel like a stroll in the pines? Take the Fry Creek Trail that goes all the way to the campground.
Julian - Julian is a quiet, old-fashioned town in the mountains, but in 1869, gold was the currency in Julian City.
Eagle and High Peak Mines - The Eagle mine and High Peak mine were hard rock gold mines - all the ore was dug out with tools by hand. Your tour through the mines follows tunnels, lined with tracks for the ore carts. You'll see wooden trusses to brace the tunnels, chutes to carry ore to the ore carts, and hoist room machinery to carry the miners from the lower levels.
Outside the mine are huge stamp machines that crushed the ore to extract the gold. There's plenty of 19th century tools, saddlery, and machinery in the out-buildlings. Kids can try their hand at panning for gold. There are picnic tables, so bring your lunch.
Country Carriages - In town, pick up a horse drawn carriage for a ride around town and the countryside around Julian. Look for the carriages at the corner of Washington and Main Street.
In the Julian Pioneer Museum you can see the original black "Julian City buggy" that delivered the U.S. mail, as well as 19th century ladies' clothing, huge rattlesnake skins, household and mining equipment, gold scales and pans, local Indian arrowheads and baskets. There are picnic tables next to the museum.
Julian Stables Trail Rides - Take a guided trail ride through the pines and oaks, with views of Cuyamaca Peak. Kids have to be 8 years and up, helmets are provided. Call for reservations 760.765.1598
California Wolf Center - Visit this conservation center to see North American Gray wolves up close! Every Sat. at 2:00pm, learn about the habits of wolves and see two different wolf packs. Call for reservations: 619.234.9653 or 760.765.0030. During the week, you can arrange for a private tour also (same reservation number).
Fun food
In fall, buy fresh-picked apples from orchards around Julian. Try the cider, or caramel apples (bad for braces) too.
The old fashioned soda fountain in the Miner's Diner has treats such as sarsaparilla, caramel, butterscotch and root beer floats, or hot brownie sundaes.
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