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“An other-worldly pleasure” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Observer's Inn

Observer's Inn
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Observer's Inn
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3535 Highway 79, Julian, CA 92036   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #7 of 15 Julian B&B and Inns
San Diego, California
1 review
“An other-worldly pleasure”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 15, 2012

Wow. Right from San Diego's back yard, we were transported to the freaky surface of the moon! Planning another trip soon.What a meaningful endeavor (and the retractable roof is pretty cool, too.)

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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17 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    14
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    3
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (2)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
San Carlos, California
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 8, 2012

Summary: This is a fabulous B&B, even without the astronomy. And unless you're unlucky and get clouded out, you'll have an unforgettable night sky experience.

Some background: I am an experienced amateur astronomer, and stayed with my wife and kids (7 and 10). We booked both rooms, stayed two nights, and took the star tour both nights.

First, this is a great B&B. The rooms are very comfortable, the lounge has a great collection of books, games and movies (many on astronomy and sci-fi, to get you in the mood), and the breakfast is sumptuous and first rate.
Then, there is the astronomy. The most important thing in astronomy is the quality of the sky. You need clear skies, and the absence of city lights, and this site has both - which is why we came. It's only 35 miles from the legendary Palomar Observatory, the site of the largest telescope in the continental US since the 1940s. There's some glow on the SE horizon from Mexicali, but it's not bad.
The owner, Mike Leigh, has probably the best-equipped amateur observatory that you'll ever get access to. He has four superb permanently-mounted telescopes and operates them in such a way that you're never waiting long to see the next thing. He is both experienced and knowledgeable, and can explain astronomy to anyone. He has a real knack for explaining cosmic concepts in terms everyone can understand, and a wonderful sense of humor, too. My kids loved the sky tours, as did my wife and I.
And if you want to go the extra mile, he has a medium-sized portable telescope that you can rent for the night to use on your own - which I did.

As to some of the criticisms in other reviews: yes, there is a guard dog, and you will likely see it behind a fence and hear it bark, but it did not bother us in the slightest. After dark I did not hear a bark at all, even when I was wandering around on my own to and from the observing area.
Yes, it's possible that you will call and nobody will pick up; or you'll have to wait a little for the doorbell to be answered; but Mike and Caroline run the place by themselves and you can hardly expect them to be everywhere all the time. They are gracious hosts and have generously opened their home and observatory to guests of the B&B and anyone who wants to book a sky tour. When you factor in the quality, the hospitality, and the unique astronomy experience, this B&B is terrific value.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, Massachusetts
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 2, 2012

The hosts were absolutely wonderful throughout our stay, and the accommodations were very comfortable and excellently maintained. The homemade breakfast was absolutely delicious, and the location was far from the madding crowd.

And then, there was the observing. If you haven't experienced the beauty of the skies before, this is a great opportunity. Mike gives a great tour of the sky from his very impressive telescope observatory (some terrific telescopes there). And even after that, please do take the time to just lean back and look at the stars the way stars should be, with no light pollution.

If you are already an experienced starwatcher, there's nothing more to say other than this place is perfect.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Escondido, California
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 17, 2012

My husband and I recently celebrated my birthday with a stay at the Observer's Inn. Mike was very accommodating throughout our stay: he called us to let us know that he would be walking his dog shortly before we arrived (just in case we arrived early), provided a good dinner recommendation, and made time to talk with us and answer our questions while we were there. The inn itself is clean, comfortable, well decorated, and warm (important!). The star tour was the best part of our stay. Mike is very knowledgeable, and was able to answer all of our questions and provide insights that go well beyond basic astronomy. (And, it's not every day you get to look through a research-grade telescope.) The continental breakfast that Mike and Caroline made for us was also excellent. I would definitely recommend both the inn and the sky tour, and hope to visit again!

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Humble, Texas
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 7, 2012

My husband and I were visiting San Diego from Houston and always try to experience something new and different when returning for a visit. In my search, I discovered Julian, a quaint little town in the mountains and only a short drive from San Diego. I began to read various reviews on lodging, primarily B&B's, since there are no large hotels in Julian. Several sounded lovely and had good reviews, but nothing about any of them appealed to me in my quest for a new adventure until I came across The Observer's Inn. We booked two nights and looked forward to our "star gazing". Personally, we enjoy a B&B that offers some privacy. We were warmly welcomed by Mike, the owner, and were shown to our private bedroom and private bathroom. I am known to be an "inspector" and quite particular when it comes to our hotel and lodging arrangements. The place was immaculate! The bed was a quality mattress and the bedroom seemed like home. A yummy and healthy breakfast including yogurt, oatmeal, baked pears, fresh fruit, special muffins and breads, coffee and juice were prepared by Mike and Caroline. The star gazing tour began promptly at 8:30 p.m. Mike has created an unforgettable experience, especially for novices like my husband. Mike's love and knowledge of astronomy along with his sense of humor made for two unforgettable evenings. With his impressive collection of telescopes, we were able to view star clusters, galaxies, planets and a nebula. We left the Observer's Inn with a new appreciation of our awesome universe. We are looking forward to returning and possibly taking some friends or family next time. You won't be disappointed when you visit The Observer's Inn in Julian, CA.

Room Tip: There are two rooms in the B&B house and they are identical, except for color. Both have privat...
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santee, California
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 3, 2012

My wife and I recently celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary at the Observer's Inn, and we couldn't have asked for a better experience.

Checking in and out is a breeze, and the guest house is exceptionally clean and comfortable. Central heating and an extra deep bathtub provided a great way to stay warm in the chill of winter. Plenty of fresh water, tea, cocoa and coffee was readily available and made us feel at home.

The sky tour was certainly the highlight of our evening. If you're technical minded, you'll love hearing the way telescopes work or track objects. If you appreciate astronomy, your eyes will behold amazing wonders incredibly far away, and your mind will be treated to the facts and history behind these sights. Mike's gentle demeanor and passion for the stars is contagious. You'll leave wanting a giant telescope in your back yard!

In the morning, we went for a short walk on a trail just outside the inn and then had a delicious breakfast prepared for us. We felt welcome and safe the entire time. Mike and Carol are excellent hosts.

The dog was not a problem and was never anywhere remotely close to us. Then again, we elected not to ignore 3 sets of caution signs and two gates nor did we walk into their house. That seems to be a good strategy when it comes to other peoples' property.

We're waiting in anticipation for our next stay or sky tour!

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portland, Oregon
Top Contributor
78 reviews 78 reviews
34 hotel reviews
Reviews in 42 cities Reviews in 42 cities
48 helpful votes 48 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 9, 2011

Did not stay at the B n B but did spend the evening here for the sky tour. The owner of the Inn is an amateur astronomer and I use the word amat lightly. His knowledge and equipment were waaaay beyond amateur. It was really fun, interesting and educational.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Observer's Inn

Address: 3535 Highway 79, Julian, CA 92036
Location: United States > California > Julian
Hotel Style:
Ranked #7 of 15 B&Bs / Inns in Julian
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 2

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