When one thinks of San Diego’s mountain towns, the most popular one that comes to mind is usually Julian. Rightfully so as this is an adorable town jam-packed with fun shops and things to do!
What gets far less mentioned is its sister town, Wynola! Wynola sits one town northwest from Julian and is brimming with unique businesses and mountain charm (but with only a fraction of the crowds)!
With its stunning landscapes, rich history and vibrant local culture it’s well worth a visit. Whether you come for the nature, shops or the social aspects, Wynola is a slice of tranquility away from the hustle and bustle of the city life below.
History of Wynola
This area is historically Kumeyaay territory and has been for around 10,000 years. In the winter of 1869 though a freed slave named Fred Coleman was passing through Wynola when he let his horse drink from the creek.
Looking below he noticed yellow, glistening particles which were confirmed to be gold. This discovery single-handedly helped revolutionize the gold rush in San Diego.
With the help of his Kumeyaay comrades, Coleman carved a wagon trail up the sharp road from Santa Ysabel to what was then known as Coleman Valley (today we call it Wynola). In no time hundreds of families moved up to Wynola and Julian. Soon after businesses and ranches began sprouting up as well.
The town also served as a stagecoach stop for the historic Southern Emigrant Trail. Traces of its past can still be found preserved in Wynola and many of the businesses pay homage to this history.
Strolling through the town, one can catch a glimpse of the past, imagining the travelers who called this area home.
Today the area is a lively pocket on the way to Julian filled with apple orchards, farm stands and some of the best businesses around! I would love to share with you some of the shops I have visited out here and what a day in Wynola can look like. Check it out!
The Julian Station is a one-stop-shop/mini mall of sorts. It holds numerous businesses inside which include Julian Hard Cider & Julian Wine & Chocolate (both spots that we sampled and loved). There are arcade games and a play station for kids, Mexican food and fun boutiques to shop at!
I was interested in learning that the building used to be an apple and pear processing and packing shed where they also made cider!
The Julian Station has a nice outdoor patio with scenic views. This is basically the perfect spot to kick back, relax and hopefully leave with some great goodies to take home!
They have live music on the porch Saturday & Sunday afternoons from 1-4pm.
Current hours for most businesses are 12-6 pm Friday through Sunday with some businesses open Thursdays and Mondays as well (including the Cooler beer bar and Julian Hard Cider’s tasting room). Please contact businesses directly for the most up to date information.
Do not be fooled into thinking that by being in the back-country means a lack in quality food. Wynola has fine dining flavors out here which can be found at Jeremy’s on the Hill! Literally every dish I have ever tried here has been mouth-watering delicious.
This is a family-owned company, fronted by chef Jeremy. His sweet mom even waited on us. I love companies like this!
They carry seasonal farm-to-table ingredients guaranteeing the freshest flavors around! I love that their steaks come from grass-fed cows as well. It just *feels* better to eat humanely-raised meat!
This is an incredibly unique business which allows you to pan for real gold! They also have gem sluice mining, a mini mine ride, tomahawk throwing, a super cool general store and an incredibly unique bottle house. This is a great spot for kids and field trips!
Fort Cross is one of my favorite back-country businesses and I am so thrilled to finally have a child of my own to bring here! Trust me though, it’s fun for adults too!
They offer a 2-hour ‘Farm Tour Adventure’ most weekends which includes archery, tomahawk throwing, slingshot gallery, farm animal visit and an interactive reptile show.
Depending on the event, they teach you all old timey skills such as candle-making, apple cider-pressing, slingshots, tomahawk throwing, gardening, hoedowns and more!
Make sure to stop by in the springtime for their lilac festival and walk through their lilac maze! They also have an autumn jubilee that is just as fun.
They also offer educational field trip programs and private events that involve music, art, survival skills, team building, and agriculture workshops! All structures are handmade by co-owner Jesse Cross. You can check out our page for them here!
This was SUCH a cute and unique spot to visit! If you are into antique shops, thrifting and all things vintage then you absolutely have to stop by here! This is a mother-daughter run business and I was told that it was their dream for many years to open this.
It is so evident this was their calling as they are very skilled decorators.
This is the kind of place that you could spend a couple hours in so plan your day accordingly. I found every item in their shop fascinating. The business has multiple rooms and is two stories so there is a LOT to see!
If you’ve ever gone up to Julian and ordered a slice of pie, there is a good chance you went to Mom’s. Their line is always out the door and for good reason. Beat the lines at their Wynola location and I promise you will not be disappointed!
This cozy establishment serves up a delectable array of homemade pies, each bursting with fresh, seasonal ingredients. My personal favorite is their Dutch apple pie with homemade whip cream and a scoop of cinnamon ice cream!
Once you’ve ordered, head outside to their beautiful garden patio. We visited in spring when the sweet peas were blooming. I was so blown away that I had never been here before!
This 3rd generation restaurant’s theme pays homage to heroes of all kinds. It is really touching to see all the images on the walls and learn about so many different heroes.
The food is out of this world too. I highly recommend their wood-fired pizzas which is what they’re known for!
They also carry crafts brews, tasty appetizers, live music and beautiful views of the valley from their back patio.
Til next time Wynola!