For much of its existence dating back to the latter years of the 19th century, the land in and around Fullerton was largely dedicated to agriculture.
The weather and soil are perfect for growing a variety of citrus fruits like Valencia oranges and grapefruit, but over the years, its economy has transitioned to one based on higher education, aerospace engineering, and tourism.
The city has just more than 130,000 residents and is located in northern Orange County about, 35 kilometers southeast of downtown Los Angeles.
Fullerton’s highlights include historical and cultural attractions, abundant restaurants, and lots of golf courses and state parks within just a short drive of city limits.
1. Laguna Lake Park
For those looking to relax or exercise in the great outdoors without hoofing it to larger and more distant state parks, Laguna Lake Park in Fullerton would be a great place to spend a few morning or afternoon hours.
The park features a network of unpaved trails that wind their way around a beautiful lake. They’re open to walkers, joggers, bikers, and horseback riders.
The lake is home to a variety of gamefish species – including bass, trout, and catfish – that are relatively easy to catch. There are a number of shaded seating and picnic areas near the dam just off Lakeview Drive.
2. Philz Coffee
For diehard coffee traditionalists who prefer their java in its most basic form, Philz Coffee in Fullerton is just the place to get it.
Their menu features more than a dozen individual blends made from high-quality beans sourced from all over the world.
Each has its own nuances and flavor profile. If you’re not sure which you’d like best, their trained baristas will definitely be able to help.
You won’t find popular drinks like cappuccinos or lattes at Philz, but they do have a nice selection of sandwiches and freshly baked goods.
Philz was founded in 1978 and is located on North State College Boulevard in town.
3. The Fullerton Arboretum
With such abundant sun and fertile soil, it’s no wonder California grows more than half the fruits and vegetables consumed around the country every year.
The Golden State is also home to a number of impressive cultivated gardens, and the Fullerton Arboretum is one of Orange County’s most idyllic.
Spread across more than 25 acres, it is home to more than 3,000 individual plant species from all over the world.
The arboretum grounds are crisscrossed with a myriad of trails, and there’s an engaging and educational agricultural museum onsite. Check their website for a schedule of guided activities and events before making a special trip.
4. Bootlegger’s Brewery
More than a decade ago, when the microbrew revolution swept the country, small-batch breweries popped up all over Southern California.
Though it hasn’t been around as long as some of its competitors, Bootlegger’s Brewery in Fullerton has attracted a loyal customer base since it was founded in 2008.
Now, the brewery produces a wide range of products that range from always available standbys to seasonal and limited release beers.
Perennial favorites include their pale ale and traditional hefeweizen – or German wheat beer.
For those who’d like to get a behind the scenes look at Bootlegger’s facility, guided tours are available by appointment.
5. The Muckenthaler House, Art and Cultural Center
Fullerton’s Muckenthaler House was built nearly 100 years ago and is one of the area’s most well-preserved examples of Spanish Colonia-style architecture.
The home features 18 rooms, is situated on nearly nine acres of land, and now serves as a historical, artistic, and cultural attraction that’s well worth a look when in the area.
In addition to guided home tours, the center features a full year-round schedule that includes musical and theatrical performances, festivals and fairs, art shows, and instructional courses for artists.
The grounds are particularly stunning during the spring bloom, and the facilities are available for private functions as well.
6. Les Amis
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Located on West Wilshire Avenue in Fullerton, Les Amis is a popular and often bustling local restaurant featuring vibrant Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine.
Les Amis is open for lunch and dinner and has several vegan options for those with dietary restrictions.
Previous guests have described the restaurant as trendy, comfortable, and inviting. As such, it often draws significant crowds during peak times.
There’s indoor and outdoor seating, the latter of which is particularly popular in the evenings and during the spring and fall, when the temperatures tend to hover in the 60s and 70s.
7. Cal State Fullerton’s Campus
College campuses often get overlooked as vacation attractions, but they usually offer lots of wide-open spaces, sporting events, and other activities that tend to be fun, engaging, and sometimes even free.
Cal State Fullerton campus is located on North College Boulevard and features lots of attractions, including a great bookstore, an art center, and some fields and stadiums for the athletic teams.
Check out Cal State’s website to see what’s on their calendar of events when you’ll be visiting, or just drive over and take a leisurely stroll around the campus and ask a student or two for recommendations.
8. Crystal Cathedral
The Crystal Cathedral on Chapman Avenue in nearby Garden Grove is one of Southern California’s most impressive humanmade structures.
Purported to be the largest glass building of its kind on the world, it’s also home to one of the world’s largest pipe organs.
Under the intense California sun, its towering mirrored surfaces reflect and magnify the light, giving it the luster and sparkle of a massive natural crystal.
The cathedral is located about ten minutes southwest of Fullerton. Since it’s a functioning place of worship, you’ll need to take in a service or view it from the outside before heading off on your next adventure.
9. Fullerton Museum Center
Located on North Pomona Avenue in Fullerton, the Fullerton Museum Center was established to provide engaging community activities in the areas of history, culture, science, and the arts.
The museum’s interactive exhibits and staff-led programs were designed for children and adults with a wide range of aptitudes and interests. It also features an impressive collection of contemporary pop-culture memorabilia that’s an especially big hit with out-of-staters.
Other yearly activities include concerts, guided tours, and lectures, so consider calling or checking their website’s schedule of events before heading out.
10. Craig Regional Park
Craig Regional Park is conveniently located in Fullerton, just north of the campus of Cal State Fullerton.
It’s comprised of nearly 125 acres and features a variety of natural environments, including rolling hills, a number of creeks, a lake, and lots of shady treed areas perfect for a picnic or an afternoon with a good book.
For sports-minded visitors and spectators, there are baseball and softball fields, basketball and volleyball courts, and horseshoe pits.
The park is an excellent place for a relaxing stroll. Finding a quiet area for yourself shouldn’t be a problem if you visit early in the morning or during the workweek.
11. Fullerton Golf Course
Orange County has several golf courses to choose from, and Fullerton Golf Course is a favorite for its scenic holes, narrow fairways, and relatively short average play time.
The course’s 18 holes feature numerous tees to accommodate men, women, and children of different ages. It’s set in a canyon that makes for significant changes in elevation.
On 12 holes, water hazards come into play. The greens are fast for much of the year, making long-distance approach shots tricky for even the most experienced players.
PGA teaching pros are available for those in need of professional guidance before hitting the links.
12. Clayes Performing Arts Center
The Clayes Performing Arts Center is located in downtown Fullerton and is named after a generous Cal State alumnus, whose donations were mostly responsible for its creation.
It’s a state-of-the-art live entertainment venue that features a large variety of annual performances, ranging from traditional music and stand-up comedy to dramatic theatrical performances and contemporary dance recitals.
The center is conveniently close to a number of downtown bars and eateries, making it the perfect start to a fun night on the town.
Tickets to popular performances tend to go quickly, so reserve yours in advance to avoid a frustrating sold-out situation.
13. Disneyland Park
Though it’s technically in nearby Anaheim, less than ten kilometers south of Fullerton, Disneyland Park is an attraction that should be experienced while in the area.
One of two distinct parks on the grounds of the Disneyland Resort, it has been open since the mid-‘50s.
Since then, it has drawn millions of visitors to the Golden State, and it’s still a significant economic driver for the area’s businesses like restaurants and hotels.
The park has expanded significantly since the ‘90s and now includes nearly 170 acres full of amusement park-style rides, live entertainment venues, restaurants, and iconic figures from classic Disney movies.
14. Marconi Automotive Museum
When the founder of the Marconi Automotive Museum relocated from Indiana to California in the ’50s, building a world-class car museum was one of the furthest things from his mind.
But after epic success in the vitamin and supplement business, he began collecting vintage automobiles that would make up the backbone of the collection for the museum that would open in the mid-‘90s.
The museum is located in a renovated food processing facility in Tustin, about 25 minutes southeast of Fullerton, just off Interstate 5. It is a must-visit attraction for lovers of everything from European sports cars to classic American muscle cars and hot-rods.
15. Stanley Ranch Museum and Historical Village
The Stanley Ranch Museum and Historical Village are located in Garden Grove, about 20 minutes southwest of Fullerton.
Though small by California ranch standards, the Stanley Ranch was once owned by a relative of young Walt Disney, who often used its garage as a studio before founding his global entertainment empire.
The ranch grounds include numerous buildings and tons of Disney related memorabilia, including cartoon characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse when they were still in the prototype phases of their creation.
The facility isn’t open every day, so check their schedule online or give them a call if you’d like to sign up for a one- or two-hour, docent-led tour.