Fullerton has undergone several transformations from its 1887 founding as a rural stop on the Santa Fe Railroad. A longtime agricultural powerhouse in fruit and nut trees and ranching, Fullerton's economy exploded in the early 1900s with the development of the petroleum industry, with many fine homes and civic buildings constructed with oil money into the 1920s. After World War II, manufacturing displaced oil drilling, dominated by companies like Hughes Aircraft and Val-Vita Foods (later Hunt-Wesson, of Hunt's Ketchup and Wesson Oil). By the 1960s, Fullerton was also a bedroom community for booming Los Angeles.
In the 21st century, Fullerton's economy has shifted again, this time to education (driven by California State University, Fullerton and Fullerton College) and healthcare (driven by St. Jude's Medical Center). Its historic downtown has been revitalized into a regional shopping and entertainment district. Fullerton has a thriving arts culture, home to several theatre companies as well as a vibrant music scene that has its roots with famous guitarmaker Leo Fender. Fender was the first company to mass-produce solid-body electric guitars in 1950 (nowadays that model is known as the Fender Telecaster), hence Fullerton has been considered the birthplace of the electric guitar.
Fullerton has a large ethnic Korean community, drawn to its excellent schools. Unlike Westminster's Little Saigon or Garden Grove's Little Seoul, however, is no single Koreatown. Instead, you will find Korean restaurants, bakeries, churches, and shops scattered in pockets throughout the city.
- Fullerton Visitors information. This website provides information on downtown shopping, dining, and art. It also details parking and transportation.
The usual way to get into and around Fullerton is by car. The city is close to Interstate 5, connecting it to Los Angeles and Santa Ana, and State Highways 91 and 57 run along its southern and eastern borders. Downtown Fullerton is a 15-minute drive north of Disneyland straight up Harbor Boulevard.
The closest commercial airports are John Wayne Airport (SNA IATA) to the south and Long Beach Airport (LGB IATA) to the west. The principal international airport serving the region is Los Angeles International Airport (LAX IATA). If you happen to have a pilot's license, you could fly right in to 1 Fullerton Municipal Airport, Orange County's last strictly general aviation field, boasting a 3,121-foot (951 m) runway.
Amtrak has a station at the Fullerton Transportation Center at 120 E. Santa Fe Avenue. It is served by the frequent Pacific Surfliner train between San Diego and Los Angeles and the daily long-distance Southwest Chief which runs between Los Angeles and Chicago through the Southwest. The regional Metrolink commuter rail service also serves the station with two different lines: the Orange County Line between Union Station in Downtown L.A. and Oceanside in San Diego County, and the 91 Line which runs between L.A. Union Station and Riverside.
The nearest intercity bus/coach service are Greyhound, Megabus and Tres Estrellas de Oro in the nearby Anaheim.
Fullerton, like most of Southern California, is overall a very car-centric city, but there are respites. The city's street address grid is centered at the intersection of Harbor Boulevard and Commonwealth Avenue, in Fullerton's walkable downtown. Just down the street is the Fullerton Transportation Center, a major transfer point for OCTA buses.
Beyond downtown, Fullerton is criss-crossed with about 28 miles of public recreational trails for mountain bike, equestrian, or hiking use. It is possible to walk all the way across the city from Ralph B. Clark Regional Park in the west to Craig Regional Park in the east on these trails.
- Orange County Transit Authority (OCTA). Fullterton is serviced by several OCTA lines.
- 1 Fullerton Arboretum, 1900 Associated Rd (Yorba Linda exit off the 57 freeway), ☏ , fax: . 8AM-4:30PM (extended hours in summer months). A collection of 4,000 plants from around the world on 26 acres. Of note is the 100' tall Ombu tree and the large collection of desert plants. On the grounds is Heritage House an Eastlake-style cottage built in 1894 by one of Fullerton's pioneers. The home and grounds have been restored to portray life in turn-of-the-century Fullerton. Free - suggested $3 donation.
- 2 Fullerton Museum Center, 301 N. Pomona Ave., ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Tu W F-Su noon-4PM, Th noon-8PM, M closed. General admission $4, seniors 65+ $3, students (13+ with I.D.) $3; 6 to 12 $1.00, 5 and under free.
- 3 Muckenthaler Cultural Center, 1201 W. Malvern Ave. (At Euclid St.), ☏ . (Gallery) W–Su noon-4PM. The former mansion of Walter and Adella Muckenthaler, “The Muck” is part art school, part performance space, and part gallery. A variety of music festivals, art shows, and other exhibits call it home; check the website calendar for details. Free (galleries).
- 4 Moped Museum at Myron's Mopeds, 1879 W Commonwealth Ave, Unit L, ☏ . This is a collection of classic vintage mopeds from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. If you're looking for a unique place to visit in Orange County this is it.
- Air Combat USA, 3815 W. Commonwealth Ave. (At Fullerton Airport), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Check website for dates. Don't have a pilot's license? Never stepped foot on a plane? You can still be a fighter pilot for a day. Be transported from suburbia to aerial combat via single-engine plane, learning dogfighting tehcniques with ACUSA's skilled instructors. $700-2100.
- SkyThrills, 3815 W. Commonwealth Ave. (At Fullerton Airport), ☏ , toll-free: . By appointment, 7 days a week.. Take an aerobatic thrill ride in an open-cockpit biplane, or take a scenic aerial cruise over Catalina Island or downtown Los Angeles. No flying experience necessary, but call ahead; you may need to book several weeks in advance, especially for the romantic summertime sunset flights. $365-725.
- Haunted Fullerton Walking Tours, 301 N. Pomona Ave. (Meet at the Fullerton Museum Center.), ☏ . Sep-Nov: 6PM. A 2½ hour, 1½ mile (2.4 km) guided tour of haunted locations in downtown Fullerton. See the website for the exact dates. Note that the tour involves climbing stairs. Not recommended for children under 13. $18 (pre-paid reservations required).
- 1 Cal State Fullerton (CSUF (California State University, Fullerton)), 800 N. State College Blvd. (Yorba Linda Blvd. exit from SR-57. Call 657-278-3082 for parking information.), ☏ . CSUF is a 4-year university that offers 105 degree programs, including a doctorate in education. It is the largest unit of the California State University system by enrollment.
- 2 Fullerton College, 321 E. Chapman Ave., ☏ . Fullerton College is a two-year college offering 90 Associate degree programs.
- 1 Fullerton Market, On Wilshire Ave., between Harbor and Pomona (Downtown Plaza), ☏ . Apr 3-Nov 20: Th 4-8:30PM. Street fair, craft and farmers market. Free.
- 2 Downtown Fullerton, Harbor Blvd. at Commonwealth Ave.. Historic Downtown Fullerton is North Orange County's destination for shopping, fine dining, and nightlife. Many family and community oriented events are held frequently at the Downtown Plaza, next to the Fullerton Museum Center.
- 3 Fullerton Certified Farmers Market, 801 W. Valencia Dr (Independence Park), ☏ . W 8AM-2PM. Fruit, eggs, honey, flowers, nuts, and fish make their way from around Southern California to Independence Park for the oldest farmers’ market in Orange County. Whereas the downtown Fullerton Market is more of a carnival, this small market is easier for actually buying produce, especially Asian vegetables.
- 4 Buffalo Exchange, 215 N. Harbor Blvd., ☏ . M-Th 11AM-7PM, F Sa 11AM-8PM, Su noon-6PM. Used clothing shop has excellent selection of alternative clothing and shoes. Most in good shape and for fair prices.
- 1 Rutabegorz, 211 N. Pomona Ave. (Pomona Ave. between Amerige and Wilshire), ☏ , [email protected]. M-W 4-10AM, Th F 4PM-3:30AM, Sa 11AM-3:30AM, Su 11AM-8PM. A local landmark, Ruta's is known for their health-conscious, yet tasty— or should it be tasty, yet health-conscious?— offerings, from gigantic salads to lean deli meats to their famous cheesecake. The staff does not wear uniforms, but don't worry they'll make themselves known. Do: seat yourself (there are no hosts to seat you). Don't: order falafel, it's the one thing on the menu that everyone agrees is horrible. Fairly cheap.
- 2 Kimmie's Coffee Cup, 1605 W. Commonwealth Ave, ☏ . A classic American diner with a woman's touch. Independently owned, with just two locations, the Fullerton Kimmie's boasts an outdoor heated patio. It's only open until 2PM, so you have to come by for breakfast or lunch, but no matter what time you show up, you should order from the breakfast menu because that's where the goodies are. Banana-nut pancakes, build-your-own omelets, and the coffee, of course, you have to try the coffee. The waitresses are all smiles, and their aprons all handmade.
- 3 Roman Cucina, 211 N. Harbor Blvd, ☏ . Dark decor and fabulous dim lighting to set the mood. It's great to go with a date or a group of friends for an intimate dinner. Go Monday for Martini night, all menu martinis $5, or go on Wine Wednesdays when all bottles are 1/2 price. Their pasta dishes are hearty and delectable. They are only open for dinner.
- 4 The Mulberry St. Ristorante, 114 W. Wilshire Ave, ☏ . The Italian food is good, but go for the seafood. Ask your server for a good wine pairing. Go on the weekend when there is live entertainment. The entertainment won't be as good as the food, but it adds ambience to a night on the town. Monday night is Karaoke night. Open for lunch and dinner.
- 5 The Cellar, 305 N. Harbor Blvd, ☏ . Fine French cuisine underground. The restaurant is beneath the historic Villa Del Sol, a beautiful building and plaza in the heart of downtown. The wine list, as you may have guessed, is impressive and the menu is, well, French. Foie gras, escargot, and the like. A lovely experience for any day, but an excellent place to mark a special occasion.
- 6 In-N-Out Burgers, 1180 South Harbor Blvd (Harbor and Orangethorpe), ☏ . Most television series based in California will pay homage to In-N-Out at some point. It's classic California. Californians can't resist the fresh-cut potato fries, the Grade A beef (never frozen), and the spread. The spread used to just come on the burgers but they had to start packaging the spread for easier distribution because their customers always ask for extra to smother their fries in. The menu is as simple and classic as their image, but there is "the secret menu" that any local, or even the cashier, can tell you about. If you want to pretend to be in the know, just Google it before you go.
- 7 Taqueria de Anda, 300 W. Valencia Dr, ☏ . Part of a Southern California chain. They make the most authentic tacos north of the border. Drive-thru is open 24-hours. Enough said.
Downtown Fullerton is one of the biggest and most popular bar areas in Orange County. Offering over 20 bars and dozens of restaurants of all shapes and sizes. Most bars begin getting crowded by 9-10PM and go until 1:30-2AM. Parking is easily available and taxis are abundant at night.
- 2 Back Alley, 116 1/2 W Wilshire Ave, ☏ .
- 3 Bourbon Street, 110 E. Commonwealth Ave., ☏ . M-Th 4PM-2AM, F Sa 11AM-2AM, Su 10AM-2AM.
|Routes through Fullerton|
|Santa Barbara ← Los Angeles ←||N S||→ Anaheim → San Diego|
|END ← Los Angeles ←||W E||→ Riverside → Albuquerque|
|Long Beach ← Buena Park ←||W E||→ Anaheim|
|Pomona ← Brea ←||N S||→ Placentia → Anaheim|