Happy Friday! I hope you all have something fun planned this weekend. I’m going to apologize in advance as this is a long post. But there’s pictures so you can do it!
In previous posts I’ve mentioned how important getting away for a date night is to us. Whether it’s dinner and a movie or even sneaking away for dessert and coffee. Carving out time for just the two of you in the midst of the craziness of day-to-day life is crucial to a long, healthy relationship. While I’m no expert, I feel that three kids and 23 years of marriage gives me permission to make that statement!
Last month we took advantage of a gift certificate my parents had given us for Christmas and headed to our local mountains Orchard Hill Country Inn in Julian, CA for a belated Anniversary trip.
While only a 45-minute drive from our home in San Diego, Julian is a historic gold mining town with quintessential country charm in the midst of the Cuyamaca mountains. Known for the numerous apple orchards, the town is perhaps famous for their apple pie, cider and other apple delicacies.
We booked the summer package which included a picnic lunch and 20% off of a two night stay. We chose to stay in the Sweet Bough cottage room which was tucked away at the back of the property with a cute little porch, a gas fireplace and whirlpool bathtub.
We arrived in Julian in the late afternoon and stopped for lunch at Jeremy’s On the Hill that was recommended to us before checking in. O M G! Both the hubby and myself were amazed at the food. Julian is a small, country town. Not exactly on the map as a foodie destination, but Chef Jeremy Manley (a Cordon Bleu graduate) is going to change that!
After lunch we stopped at a nearby vintage marketplace appropriately named, The Barn which had some fun and quirky pieces.
With our bellies full, it was time to head to the Inn and check-in. The property is only a block from Main Street, but is tucked away up on a hill and nestled amongst oaks and pines. The front desk staff was extremely welcoming and friendly and showed us the way to our cottage. While not necessarily our style for design and decor, the room is charming and the decor is in line with the feel of the town.
Shortly after checking in we received this wonderful gift from the property. Having had a late lunch, cake and champagne made for a perfect dinner! *Side Note: The Inn offers complimentary hors d’ oeuvres and cocktails in the evening but we were too stuffed from lunch to enjoy them.
The next morning we were up early so we could go hike Volcan Mountain. The weather was hot and humid and we wanted to get an early start before it became unbearable. First we fueled up at a cute little cafe which had several gluten-free options.
The entrance to Volcan Mountain is super cool with an ornate gateway designed by James Hubbell. The Volcan range of mountains is small in comparison to the neighboring Laguna and Palomar mountains but is still beautiful nonetheless and you can see clear to the ocean (approximately 60 miles away) from the west-facing summit.
It’s hard to tell in the above picture, but that is the ocean in the distance. It was camouflaged by the storm clouds that were heading our way. Also, pay special attention to the vineyard and winery below. More on that later!
We opted to take the Five Oaks trail on the way up which is a tad more difficult but also more scenic and shaded. I’ve never been on a hike where there was a bench to sit on, but don’t mind if I do!
Some of the hiking websites rate the Volcan Mountain hike as Moderate to Difficult but we managed to do the 5 mile hike in the hot, hot, heat and humidity in about 2 hours. Remember that winery I mentioned earlier? Well, being the experienced hikers we are (not really), we only brought one water bottle to share. Knowing this we drank conservatively on the way up and then proceeded to guzzle it when we were coming down the mountain. We thought we had more water in the car, turns out we didn’t (#rookies). Lucky for us there was a winery literally around the corner from the entrance to the preserve so we did what any hiker, desperate to quench their thirst would do . . .and went wine tasting!
Turns out it was the soft opening of the new Volcan Mountain Winery (transitioning from the former J. Jenkins Winery) and they had music, food and even a masseuse giving chair massages. All I needed was the cold white wines! The staff was very friendly and I can’t wait to return and spend more time savoring rather than chugging the wine! We did purchase a bottle of the Arneis which I highly recommend and enjoyed over the 4th of July weekend.
After quenching our thirst and now slightly buzzed, we headed to grab yet another late lunch. This time we went to Bailey’s BBQ which we had been to on a previous visit to Julian with the family. If you like BBQ, then you will LOOOOOVE Bailey’s. The food is simple but oh so delicious! How cool is that table?
After lunch we took a walk up to the Julian Cemetery where the founders of the town are buried. Romantic right?
Lastly, no visit to Julian would be complete without apple pie. But I was on a mission for gluten-free apple pie and Apple Alley is the ONLY bakery in town that offers a gluten-free version and it is to die for! I had a slice with a side of cinnamon ice-cream. We of course bought a whole one as well to bring home to the kids.
Ahhhhh the kids. That’s right we’re parents and our weekend escape was over but oh so much fun and a great opportunity to reconnect. King B and are looking forward to returning to Orchard Hill Country Inn in the Fall or perhaps even winter when there may be a chance of snow. Whenever you visit however; I’m sure you will not be disappointed and for those of you looking for a date night close to home. Don’t forget about Julian.
To read about our previous weekend getaway and tips for the perfect overnight date night, read here.