A pleasant one-hour scenic drive from San Diego will take you to the historic mining town of Julian. Rich in American heritage, this town has become famous for its autumn foliage, apple pies and as a peaceful, romantic mountain getaway. Gold was discovered here in 1870 and the restored 19th century wooden buildings that line the main street give the place a real pioneer days feel.
Just outside Julian, and set in the 1,600 acre Palomar Mountain State Park, is the Palomar Observatory is home to the 200-inch Hale Telescope. Visitors aren't allowed to look through the telescope, but the exhibition and photo gallery are incredibly informative and interesting. The park also offers great hiking trails and super trout fishing.