Summer means long days filled with sunny skies, ocean breezes, and sandy beaches – at least if you live in or are visiting San Diego. Farmers markets, free concerts in the park, beach barbeques, and stunning sunsets are the norm in this sunshine oasis. When day becomes night in San Diego it’s time for bonfires by the ocean, beers on rooftop bars with friends, and of course stargazing on grassy fields in the city’s enchanting parks. While San Diego County is known more for its beaches, you will also find the desert, mountains, and valleys offer you worlds of activity, including several annual festivals such as StarFest in Julian, California.
Welcome to Julian: One of California’s Finest Historical Landmarks
Julian, one of California’s Historical Landmarks, is a mere hour east of San Diego. This town has deep historic roots, stemming back to the 1870s. It became a tent village overnight after cattleman Fred Coleman found the first fleck of gold in a creek, inciting the Gold Rush that lasted nearly 30 years. Some of those pioneer miners stayed around and began farming Julian’s rich land.Horses and other animals were pastured, crops were planted, and orchards were started. One particular fruit flourished, and that was apples.
Julian is well known for its twenty one varieties of apples, which are a major draw to San Diegans who flock there each fall for apple picking adventures with friends and family. Julian’s rich gold mining history, apple orchards, and winter sledding make this quaint town, with its four distinct seasons, a dream locale for mountain lovers who also want to be near the desert and the beach.
Julian also has the distinction of the B&B capital of Southern California, offering a cozy atmosphere that draws in couples looking for a romantic getaway. That’s not to say this isn’t a family-friendly destination too. With excellent hiking opportunities, gold mines, a wolf preserve, and a historic downtown filled with quaint shops, there is no shortage of fun for people of all ages and walks of life.
You can enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides down Main Street, picnic amid the oak and pine trees, or join in one of the many annual events and festivals hosted in Julian each year. Gold Rush Days, the 4th of July Parade, Old Time Melodrama, Grape Stomp Festa, and Julian’s StarFest are just a few of the festivities you don’t want to miss.
It’s a Starry Night: What to Expect at Julian’s StarFest Every August
At the end of the summer season take your family up to Julian for an amazing weekend festival known as StarFest. This astronomy focused festival takes place in the beginning of August each year, and is hosted by the San Diego Astronomy Association (SDAA). The clear dark skies Julian is known for make it the perfect observatory; add in the SDAA’s telescopes located in several viewing areas and guests can enjoy magical, unobstructed views of the night sky. As an added bonus, astronomy experts will be on hand at each telescope location to answer all your questions about what you’re viewing and about the scopes themselves.
The main event is the Star Party held on Saturday at Meghini Winery. Large grassy areas accommodate the crowds. The festival is free to the public with a wide range of activities presented throughout the night. Among them are guest speakers that present on various astronomy related topics, exhibits related to the field, a swap meet, and even a raffle featuring some cool prizes. All you need is a comfortable blanket and a red light flashlight to have the entire universe at your fingertips.
Tips: For guests without a red flashlight, red film will be provided for your regular flashlight. White light flashlights are not permitted in the observing area. For those of you who wish to camp at the site adjacent to the observing site, it’s available on a first come first serve basis. Festival parking is free.
Where to Stay During the StarFest Festival
If you can’t manage to score a campsite or you aren’t the camping sort, there are quite a few other options. Choose historic accommodations like the Julian Lodge Bed and Breakfast which features period touches, free Wi-Fi, and a delicious breakfast each morning. The Julian Gold Rush Hotel is another historic gem tucked inside the City of Julian featuring gold rush-era, traditional, individually decorated rooms, a stunning garden, free Wi-Fi, and a delectable breakfast. Visitors can also choose from high-end, to modest B&Bs. Oak Hill Inn hotel has rooms for just $95 a night. Since Julian is only an hour from San Diego, out-of-towners may choose to sleep in San Diego instead.
If you want to attend Julian StarFest, visit the GoSanDiego Facebook Page to check for the latest details.