City Spotlight: Fullerton

Eclectic and hip, Fullerton, California, is a city continually on the move. From college students at California State University, Fullerton working towards their degrees to young professionals climbing the executive ladder and families at every stage of life, the city is dynamic and evolving. This energy is evident just walking down the street.

Founded in 1887, the city boasts a rich history that is reflected in the buildings and culture in its downtown area. From Spanish Colonial homes in the Santa Fe District to the Villa del Sol—a quaint 1920s-era hotel converted to shops, salons, and boutiques—Fullerton offers sights, sounds, and tastes for everyone.

The neighborhood of Fullerton Grove is of special interest to visitors and individuals looking to relocate to beautiful Fullerton, California. Here, over 280 A. Quincy Jones-designed homes were built between 1953 and 1965. These distinctive homes have been brought back to their original greatness in recent years as the popularity of Mid-Century Modern homes has found resurgence, fulfilling the advertisements that called these dwellings “Forever Homes.” Take a driving tour of these homes to fully immerse yourself in this modern neighborhood.

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Spend a Friday evening on the Fullerton Art Walk, a free multi-venue event that includes stops at many of the city’s art galleries. Explore the historical center of the community on the guided tour which includes a highlight of Fullerton’s local artists. Independent creativity is the focus of Fullerton Art Walk. Some galleries host live music for the event, which takes place on the first Friday of every month.

Take a historic downtown walking tour of the city with Fullerton Heritage to discover the rich history of the city while visiting some of its favorite historic buildings. The non-profit organization also offers a walking tour of Hillcrest Park where three iconic Fullerton buildings sit among 35 acres of lush landscape.

Downtown Fullerton ShopsThe Fullerton Market is a favorite of locals who can’t get enough of the artisan bread, brilliantly-colored flowers, and farm fresh produce offered by local vendors. Stop by the beer garden for a continually changing selection of brews. Proceeds from the beer garden support the Fullerton Museum, which presents permanent and traveling exhibits throughout the year. The whole family is welcome to the Fullerton Market on Thursday evenings, April through October, and it’s the perfect place to listen to indie bands, pick up local produce, and even get the kids’ faces painted.

The SOCO District—short for South of Commonwealth—is a prime location for adults after the sun goes down. Here you can spend hours walking between bars, lounges, and eateries right in the heart of Downtown Fullerton. Park nearby and wander on foot through this iconic part of the city. Stop by the Commonwealth Lounge & Grill for local DJs and live music throughout the week. Grab a plate of Hawaiian bread sliders piled with caramelized onions, bacon, arugula, and spicy aioli, or nosh on the pesto hummus plate while discovering your new favorite local vocalist.

McClains CoffeehouseMcClain’s Coffeehouse is a favorite among college students, as well as teens who just can’t wait to be one of them. Open until 3:00 a.m., the coffee shop features outdoor seating. After sunset, strings of lights twinkle against the California night sky. Outdoor heaters make the patio an enjoyable place to visit all year long. Grab a hearty breakfast burrito and a delicious Italian soda on your way home after a night out. Be sure to check out the local art featured at McClain’s, and if you’re lucky, you may come across the next Hollywood star making her directorial debut—the shop opens its doors to students and the movie industry for filming.

Fullerton Historic Post OfficeVegetarians love the local Rutabegorz Restaurant, where their mission is to provide healthy alternatives to traditional restaurants. They pride themselves on a positive, unique experience, and it’s a place where locals become regulars, and regulars become friends. Non-dairy items and vegetarian offerings take center stage at Rutabegorz, but carnivores love the place for their curry chicken served with whole wheat tortillas and seafood enchiladas. As with so many of the buildings in Fullerton, Rutabegorz’s location had a previous life before the restaurant took over the space in the 1970s. It was once the office and residence for a well-known physician who practiced out of the tile-roofed building for over 40 years. Be sure to check out this beloved spot that was saved in 1973 by the local community who rallied around Rutabegorz, signed petitions, and marched in protest of it being leveled for a parking lot.

Villa del SolDog lovers can’t get enough of the Fullerton Pooch Park. The site features two separate parks, one for small, senior, and disabled dogs and another for active, high-energy, and big four-legged friends. The park is open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. six days a week; it’s closed on Wednesdays. If you’re big on the outdoors, hike through the Fullerton Creek Greenbelt to enjoy the scenery. Challenge yourself on its exercise par course that features fitness spots throughout the nearly eight acres of land. If you want an extra challenge, try the Nora Kuttner Trail, an uphill path that features spectacular views and bird watching courtesy of the adjacent West Coyote Hills Nature Preserve. Just make sure your furry friend is kept on a leash at this and all local hiking trails.

Whether you’re taking in a show at the Maverick Theater—where you can see anything from “Spamalot” to heart-wrenching Eugene O’Neill dramas—or you stop by the historic Fullerton Post Office built in 1939 to mail a letter, the mix of old and new, modern and historic gives residents a distinctive place to live and play.

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