Comprehensive Guide to Fullerton, Ca. [For Residents of Fullerton or Anyone Thinking about Living in Fullerton]
This is a comprehensive guide to Fullerton, Ca.
What makes it so?
This page will tell you exactly what makes Fullerton such a unique and wonderful place to live.
It’s a guide for residents of Fullerton, or anyone thinking about living in Fullerton.
If you want to gain a deeper appreciation for Fullerton, its rich history and its promising future, then you’ll enjoy reading on.
Let’s start with a brief history of Fullerton.
Brief History of Fullerton, Ca.
Fullerton, California was founded in 1887 during the Gilded Age of American history.
The railroad industry was booming, and the economy was rapidly expanding.
A pair of ambitious brothers by the names of George and Edward Amerige had moved to southern California from Massachusetts.
These grain-merchants-turned-real-estate-investors surveyed the land of what is now Fullerton, Ca.
They were attracted by its natural beauty and closeness to the established town of Placentia.
The Amerige brothers then encountered a man called George H. Fullerton, who was the president of the Pacific Land and Improvement Company, a subsidiary of Santa Fe railroad.
Around that same time, the California Central Railroad, another subsidiary of Santa Fe, was seeking land in the mustard fields to the north of the agricultural town of Anaheim.
The Central Railroad was in need of a right-of-way to connect the Orange County region to Los Angeles and the continental railroad network.
The Amerige brothers thought they could insure the success of their prospective land investment through an agreement with Fullerton.
In their meetings, the Amerige brothers offered to name a town after Fullerton if he could reassure them that the right of way would cut through the land they were surveying.
With Fullerton’s reassurance, the Ameriges made the decision to purchase the 430 acres that would become Fullerton, Ca.
On July 5, 1887, Edward stood among the tiny yellow flowers in a mustard field located where the intersection of Harbor Boulevard (formerly Spadra Road) and Commonwealth Avenue is today.
He hammered a stake into the ground, and the townsite was born.
Through a vote, the community chose to name their newly founded town after its benefactor, Fullerton.
Is any of the town’s early history still accessible to local residents today?
Historic Buildings in Fullerton, Ca.
The earliest wood structures built from the town’s inception in 1887 to its incorporation into Orange County in 1904 have been replaced.
The oldest surviving buildings in Fullerton date to the early 1900s.
Wrought iron grill work and red tiled roofs are common sights to see in Fullerton and representative of the Spanish Colonial Revival style.
A classic example is the performance venue formerly known as the Louis E. Plummer Auditorium constructed in 1920 at 201 E. Chapman Avenue.
Another is the California Hotel constructed in 1922 at 305 N. Harbor Blvd.
The Fullerton train station known as the Santa Fe Depot is another example, constructed in 1930 at 120 E. Santa Fe. Ave.
A less common architectural style in Fullerton is the Beaux Arts style, known for its Greek and Roman inspired columns and ornate building details.
Only one example remains in Fullerton, the Farmers and Merchants Bank at 122 N. Harbor Blvd., constructed in 1904 and redesigned in 1922.
It is now called the Landmark Plaza Building.
Among residential properties, the California and Craftsman bungalow styles are quite common to see in the neighborhoods near the survey stake that marked the original town site.
Some of these homes, easily identified by their simple box shapes, low gable roofs, ample porches and well-crafted decorative details were constructed going back as far as World War I.
The state of California now offers an economic incentive program known as the Mills Act, for the restoration and preservation of qualified historic buildings by private property owners.
Fullerton’s California and Craftsman bungalows may qualify for this program along with owners of other historic residential properties. We’ll explore the Mills Act in more detail later in this guide.
Before we move on, here is a list of buildings in Fullerton with historic significance:
- Chapman Building
- InChrist Community Church – First Methodist Episcopal Church
- Elephant Packing House
- Fox Theater Complex
- Fullerton Police Department – Old City Hall
- Heritage House – Dr. George Clark House and Office
- Hillcrest Park
- John Hetebrink House
- Landmark Plaza Building – Farmers & Merchants Bank
- Muckenthaler Cultural Center
- Old Spaghetti Factory – Union Pacific Depot
- Pierotti House and Gardens
- Plummer Auditorium
- Santa Fe Depot – Fullerton Station
- Spring Field Banquet Center – Masonic Temple
- Williams Company – Odd Fellows Temple
The Fullerton Heritage Society is an excellent resource for more amazing history about Fullerton and its historic buildings.
Geography of Fullerton, Ca.
The Amerige brothers were drawn to the land that is now Fullerton, Ca. not only for the prospect of the railroad opportunity, but also for its natural beauty.
The land sits 150 feet above sea level and enjoys a Mediterranean climate with onshore breezes, blue skies, consistent sunshine and an average annual temperature of 62 degrees Fahrenheit.
In those early days, an abundance of Valencia orange groves and other citrus trees covered the landscape and scented the air with an uplifting, sweet fragrance.
Jagged purple mountains anchored the horizon in the distance while rolling hills surrounded the landscape offering majestic views overlooking the citrus groves.
On a clear day now it’s possible to see the skyline of Los Angeles some 30 miles in the distance.
Disneyland is 5 miles away, and its nightly fireworks display is clearly visible from many back yards and front porches in Fullerton.
Fullerton sits about 25 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean as well as about 90 miles from the nearest ski slopes or the nearest desert.
Virtually any outdoor enthusiast will find their playground less than 2 hours drive from Fullerton.
What does Fullerton offer for the non-outdoor enthusiast?
Fullerton, Ca: Birthplace of the Electric Guitar
Fans of that old time rock ‘n’ roll will appreciate knowing that Fullerton, Ca. is the birthplace of the electric guitar.
A man by the name of Leo Fender opened his shop, Fender’s Radio Service, in Fullerton in 1938. Fender started out by building and repairing amps and PA systems for bands and musicians.
Working with his business partner, coincidentally named George Fullerton (originally from Arkansas and not related to the town’s namesake), Fender launched a company known as the Fender Electric Instruments Company.
They developed the first mass-produced solid-body electric guitar, in 1948.
It would be renamed the Telecaster in 1950.
In 1951, their company introduced the Fender Precision Bass, the world’s very first electric bass guitar.
And in 1954, they introduced the iconic Fender Stratocaster, the first guitar to feature three electric pickups instead of two.
The Strat also featured a tremolo arm for vibrato effects originally heard in surf rock.
The Strat became the go-to instrument of choice for Hall-of-Fame players such as Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, among others and is still widely used by pros and amateurs alike today.
The shop where Fender sold his groundbreaking instruments is located at 107 South Harbor Boulevard and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Watch this YouTube video for more about the story.
There sure is a lot of cool rock history in Fullerton, but are there any cool local music venues in Fullerton to catch a live show today?
Entertainment + Nightlife in Fullerton,
Downtown Fullerton is a hub of nightlife, and weekend nights especially near the intersection of Harbor Boulevard and Commonwealth Avenue are lively.
College students from nearby Fullerton College and California State University, Fullerton spend nights out at dance halls such as the western-themed In Cahoots located at 1401 S. Lemon Street as well as local music venues such as Continental Room located at 115 W. Santa Fe Ave.
Other popular music venues include Back Alley Bar and Grill at 116 ½ W. Wilshire Ave and Heroes Bar & Grill at 125 W. Santa Fe Ave.
A number of bars, restaurants and coffee houses offer live music entertainment just about every night of the week, where you can enjoy local musicians performing in just about every genre.
These are some more popular local music venues in Fullerton:
- Totally 80s Bar & Grille
- BIGS Fullerton
- The Night Owl
- Bourbon Street Fullerton Bar, Craft Beer & Grill
With so much entertainment + nightlife, it’s easy to work up an appetite. What are some of the best restaurants in Fullerton?
Favorite Restaurants in Fullerton, Ca.
Fullerton is teeming with a number of locally owned restaurants celebrating a variety of cuisines, from the decadent Italian menu at Roman Cucina located at 211 N. Harbor Blvd. to the entertaining Japanese hibachi spot Chomp Rockin’ Sushi located at 181 E. Commonwealth Ave.
For a more laid-back, down-home atmosphere, The Olde Ship located at 709 N. Harbor Blvd. offers hearty British pub far in a cozy atmosphere away from the DJs and karaoke stages.
Fullerton’s culinary scene is sure to offer something for every palette and preference. Here are a few lists of our favorite restaurants for just about any occasion.
Top Vegan-Friendly Establishments
- Chicana Vegana
- Les Amis Restaurant & Lounge
- Green House Café
- Green Bliss – The Café
Top Outdoor Dining Establishments
- Bootlegger’s Brewery
- The Pour Company
- Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar
- Café Patio
- Hopscotch Craft Beer & Whisky
Top Date Night Establishments
- Stubrik’s Steakhouse
- Mulberry St. Ristorante
- Roman Cucina
- Twisted Vine
- Kentro Greek Kitchen
Top Family Night Establishments
- Old Spaghetti Factory
- The Hungry Bear
- Angelo’s and Vinci’s
- Polly’s Pies Restaurant & Bakery
- Wahoo’s Fish Tacos
Top Birthday / Celebratory Establishments
- Summit House
- Chomp Rockin’ Sushi
- Matador Cantina
- The Cellar
- Hidalgo’s Cocina & Cócteles
The nighttime is not the only reason Fullerton is such a wonderful city to call home.
Lovers of walking trails, parks and nature preserves, will find numerous paths and daytime adventures to explore. These are some of our favorites.
Parks + Trails in Fullerton, Ca.
In the northern part of Fullerton are of the ranch home style, constructed piecemeal in the years after World War II.
They’re build upon large lots, anywhere from half an acre to two acres of land, typically single-story dwellings with attached garages and that are wide and rambling, with stone or brick accents.
In this part of Fullerton, known as Sunny Hills, it’s not uncommon to see neighbors riding atop their horses and gently clopping along the side of the road.
Nestled in the middle of Sunny Hills is the Laguna Lake Park, an idyllic watering hole, stocked with catfish and trout, with a chaparral walking trail around the perimeter that is about ¾ a mile long.
The park is also home to the Fullerton Recreational Riders and the Laguna Lake Park Equestrian Center.
The Riders are an association of horse riders in Fullerton, registered with the California State Horseman’s Association (CSHA) and established in 1961.
The Riders are also credited with establishing and maintaining some 28 miles of horse trails throughout the city – whose borders only stretch 5 miles across!
The Fullerton Loop Hiking and Biking Trail is one such trail.
The loop stretches for 11 miles around the northwest neighborhoods of Fullerton.
This trail a very popular area for birding, hiking, and horseback riding as well as mountain biking.
The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime.
Dogs must be on a leash.
The Fullerton Loop also passes the Hillcrest Park, centrally located in Fullerton just north of the historic downtown section.
With plenty of mature, shady trees, Hillcrest Park is ideal for a picnic.
The park is dotted with memorials to residents of Fullerton who served the country in times of war.
Perhaps the star of Hillcrest Park is its 1920s-era fountain and surrounding stonework that was originally constructed as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project.
The fountain was restored in 2018.
The Hillcrest Stairs are a relatively new feature, completed in 2017, connecting Hillcrest Park with the football field and softball diamonds of Lion’s Field below.
The Hillcrest Stairs have become a popular attraction for fitness buffs.
For lovers of fitness and the outdoors, who prefer a slower pace of play, the Fullerton Golf Course is another wonderful public amenity to enjoy. The course at Fullerton is set in a small valley and features dramatic dogleg fairways.
Golfers face constant elevation changes.
The course meanders alongside beautiful Brea Creek.
Challenging greens and well-placed bunkers define this Fullerton Golf Course, which was designed by renowned course architect William F. Bell. Players of all levels are sure to enjoy their 18-hole round at Fullerton.
But it’s not all play in Fullerton.
In fact, the city is home to the university that is consistently recognized as a top producer of graduates and a driver of the entire Orange County economy.
Schools in Fullerton, Ca.
Founded in 1957, California State University, Fullerton is not only a top employer in Fullerton, it’s also considered a top economic driver for Orange County and the state of California.
An analysis in 2022 concluded Cal State Fullerton powered $2.26 billion in economic activity while supporting some 15,000 jobs and generating $126 million in local and state tax revenue.
Cal State Fullerton is also known for having one of the most successful collegiate baseball teams in the country. (Go Titans!)
Among its notable alumni are actor Kevin Costner, astronaut Tracy Caldwell-Dyson and several Major League Baseball players.
In addition, Cal State Fullerton is known for having one of the most affordable four-year educations in the country.
The university offers 110 kinds of degree programs.
55 are undergraduate programs.
55 are graduate programs.
The average full-time tuition for an in-state undergrad is under $6,000 per year.
The average full-time tuition for an in-state grad student is just over $7,000 per year.
Meanwhile, Fullerton College is the oldest continuously operating community college in the state of California, established in 1913.
It offers 147 certificate programs as well as 93 different Associates degrees.
High Schools in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District:
- Buena Park High School
- Fullerton High School
- La Habra High School
- La Vista High School
- La Sierra High School
- Sonora High School
- Sunny Hills High School
- Troy High School
List of elementary schools in the Fullerton School District:
- Fern Drive
- Golden Hills
- Laguna Road
- Pacific Drive
- Rolling Hills
- Sunset Lane
- Valencia Park
Healthcare in Fullerton, Ca.
St. Jude Medical Center, now known as Providence St. Jude Medical Center, is one of California’s most respected and technologically advanced hospitals. It is also a top employer in Fullerton.
A businessman, Miles Sharkey, donated land in western Fullerton with the stipulation that it be used to build a hospital.
On November 24, 1953, the hilltop property on which St. Jude Hospital was later built was blessed and dedicated.
Opened in 1957, the original campus sat on the southeast corner of the intersection of Harbor Boulevard and Bastanchury Road.
In 1962, the hospital doubled in size with the addition of 125 beds in a new hospital wing.
In 1987, north Orange County’s first neonatal intensive care unit opened at St. Jude and was staffed by certified neonatologists 24 hours a day.
In 1997, St. Jude opened north Orange County’s first dedicated breast center.
In 2014, the more than $200 million Northwest Tower opened offering the state’s most advanced surgical environment, including leading-edge neurosurgery, cardiac surgery and robotic surgery capabilities.
St. Jude Medical Center now offers 384 beds and has seen a number of other important developments in patient care and provides specialty care in the following areas:
- The Virginia K. Crosson Cancer Institute
- Ann G. Fetters Diagnostic Imaging Center
- The St. Jude Centers for Rehabilitation and Wellness
- The Kathryn T. McCarty Breast Center
- Fred A. Jordan Radiation Oncology Center
- The St. Jude Neurosciences Institute
- Center for Thoracic and Esophageal Diseases
- The St. Jude Knott Family Endoscopy Center
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Cardiac Services
- Sleep Center
- Chronic Pain Program
- Synergy Medical Fitness Center
- St. Jude Advanced Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine
- Maternity Services, including Fetal Diagnostic Center and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
- Minimally-invasive and robotic surgery
- Women’s health, including advanced gynecological care
Whether you’re a young person who’s just starting a family or an aging person in need of specialty care, having one of California’s leading hospitals close by is a major perk of living in Fullerton.
Moving to Fullerton, Ca.
Thinking about moving to Fullerton, Ca.?
After everything you’ve just read, who could blame you!?
Before moving to Fullerton, Ca., first browse homes for sale in Fullerton.
Fullerton is a unique and wonderful community boasting beautiful parks and trails and educational institutions to satisfy a lifetime of curiosity.
The food scene in Fullerton offers something for every taste while the local history is fascinating and culturally significant.
Homes in Fullerton come in a variety of architectural styles from ranch homes to California and Craftsman bungalows to mid-century modern masterpieces to Spanish Colonial Revival and more.
The average sale price in Fullerton, Ca. was $770k in September 2022, according to Redfin.
The average time on market was 41.5 days for the same period.
The Fullerton real estate market does appear to be cooling after a mad run spurred by the low interest rates during the pandemic.
That means opportunities for people wanting to buy a house in Fullerton are opening up again.
If you’re thinking about moving to Fullerton, talk with a Fullerton REALTOR like James Bobbett who can show you all the wonderful perks of living in Fullerton and show you all the homes for sale in Fullerton.
If you’re a Fullerton homeowner who’s considering selling a home in Fullerton, make sure you speak with a Fullerton REALTOR like James Bobbett who knows all Fullerton has to offer a prospective buyer.
Demographics of Fullerton, Ca
Population by Race*:
- One race: 95.3% of population
- White 55.3%
- Black or African American 2.8%
- American Indian & Alaska Native 0.3%
- Asian 24.6%
- Native Hawaiian & Pacific Isl. 0.4%
- Some other race 11.8%
- Two or More Races: 4.7% of population
(*As of the U.S. Census in 2013 – 2017)
Registered Voters: 70,729
- Republican – 22,270 (31.5%)
- Democrat – 26,667 (37.7%)
- NPP (No Party Preference) – 18,675 (26.4%)
- American Independent – 1,835 (2.6%)
- Libertarian – 646 (0.9%)
- Green – 242 (0.3%)
- Miscellaneous – 203 (0.3%)
- Peace and Freedom – 191 (0.3%)
(OC Registrar of Voters, as of 9/4/2019)
Housing / Real Estate:
- Total Housing Units: 47,885
- Occupied Housing Units: 95% of Total Housing Units
- Unoccupied Housing Units: 5% of Total Housing Units
Average Household Size:
- Owner-Occupied Units: 2.93 persons
- Renter-Occupied Units: 3.08 persons
(Housing and Average Household Size, 2013-2017 American Community Survey, U.S. Census)
- Household Estimate: $71,660
- Family Estimate: $83,924
(2013-2017 American Community Survey, U.S. Census)
Is Fullerton a good place to live?
Hopefully after reviewing this guide you see, and you will agree, that Fullerton has so much to offer and that makes it a unique and wonderful place to live.
Is there something we missed?
Have something to add, or a topic about Fullerton you’d to know more about?