On our spontaneous $600 family road trip we made a detour into the mountains to check out the little town of Julian. Specifically to visit one of their main attractions, Julian Mining Company. We were looking for something different than the usual San Diego scenery where the kids could do something they’ve never done before.
Tucked away, a couple of miles from the center of town. Julian Mining Company offers a taste of what life was like during the gold rush era. The property is small, but is filled with great historical-looking pieces. A short walk from the parking lot is the general store where you will go to pick out your activities.
The most popular things to do at Julian Mining Company are gold panning and gem mining. Prices range from $7 for one child to pan for gold, to $70 for a bucket of gem mining ore the whole family can enjoy together. After you purchase your materials you get a quick lesson, and the friendly staff is available to help you at any time.
Gem mining is recommended for children under age 12, as it is very easy to do, and everyone is guaranteed to find something. My family purchased a small bucket of gem ore for about $26 for everyone to share and it outlasted the children’s attention spans and provided many great gems to collect. Afterwards, we spent some time trying to identify what we had found by comparing them to the chart near the mining area. We were also given clear plastic bags to keep our gems in so that we could carry them all.
Once you have finished finding your treasures, you can explore the property. There are quite a few old-fashioned artifacts around the property to look at. It’s located next to a small farm, so kids might be able to spot some animals as well. If you pack a lunch, you can eat it on one of the picnic tables near the General Store. There is also a small train that families can ride on for an extra fee.
During off-season, there is plenty of parking in the small lot in front of the General Store. During the summer it can get more crowded, so it is best to arrive early. They open at 10:00 am on Saturdays and 12:00 pm on Sundays.
Julian Mining Company is the perfect place for a day trip in Southern California. About an hour’s drive from Escondido, it isn’t too difficult to get to. Plan to spend about three hours there doing activities, a little more if you pack a lunch to eat on the property. There are shops and restaurants nearby in the main part of town as well, where you could explore and have a nice family dinner.
TIPS FOR THIS TRAVEL STOP:
- We recommend packing sandwiches and drinks, but save room for the great produce they have, especially in the summer.
- While they provide plastic bags to carry home your treasures, you might like to bring a sturdier container.
- Bring a hat and don’t forget the sunscreen – there’s not much shade around the panning area.
4444 State Hwy 78, Wynola CA, 92036