Patriotic getaways

June 30, 2010|By Cary Ordway,
  • Balboa Island has charming shopping district alone Marine Blvd.
Balboa Island has charming shopping district alone Marine… (Cary Ordway, La…)

We're coming up on the most patriotic day of the year, and it's not too late to make plans for a very special Fourth of July. Certain towns and places in California have better patriotic vibes than others and, if you're interested in a Mayberry USA Fourth of July — or some time paying homage to one of our nation's great military generals — we have some suggestions for you. First a couple of patriotic towns:


A trip to the small town of Julian will transport you back through time and offer a glimpse of post-Civil War life in San Diego County. The journey will also take you through terrain that, at times, seems more like the Sierra Nevada range than the foothills east of California's southernmost major city.

Whether you come from the L.A. area through Warner Springs, or from the San Diego area through Ramona, the drive to Julian takes you through mountains, valleys and meadows, and then along forested hillsides as the two-lane road snakes its way up to Julian's 4,000-foot elevation. The views change from minute to minute as you pass farmhouses, horse ranches, cabins and the occasional outpost diner.


Then, suddenly, you're in Julian. No build-up with houses and civilization becoming more and more dense as you near town — you are one minute in the forest, the next minute on Julian's tiny Main Street. The business district, in fact, is only about three blocks long and four blocks wide, although you'll find sporadic businesses outside of the downtown area. On a weekend, about the only place to park will be a tourist parking lot on the southwest edge of the downtown area.

Julian is known for its apples, and a tourist ritual is to enjoy a fresh-baked apple pie and ice cream at one of several local eateries. For a town with just a few hundred souls, Julian has an unusual number of bakeries and pie shops, such as Mom's Pie House, where visitors stop for their obligatory treat.

The town definitely feels bigger on the Fourth of July. This place has become known as the go-to destination for some of that aforementioned apple pie and a very large dose of patriotic fervor in the form of flags that are sometimes carried, sometimes posted or displayed and sometimes worn. Motorcycle groups and just everyday people put on quite a spectacle, and you'll be constantly reminded of that Fourth of July patriotism.

For more information on Julian, contact the Julian Chamber of Commerce at or (760) 765-1857.

Balboa Island

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