If you're a tourist, chances are you've already benefitted from Fullerton's finest exports—and by that, we mean the famous people and things that come out of here. Play a Fender Telecaster or P-bass lately? Thank Leo Fender, who helped to kickstart rock & roll right here by building his first legendary axes. Listen to KROQ lately? Thank No Doubt's Gwen Stefani and Mike Ness for growing up here and soaking up enough angst to make timeless tracks that stay in rotation. Watch Tube 8 lately? Thank Jenna Haze for using this town as a springboard to spread her legs for the world.
Fullerton is one of those places that already comes with a certain cache, even if you don't know anything too specific about it. The city has become well-known for the wrong reasons (Kelly Thomas' murder) and the right ones (endless bars filled with hot Cal State Fullerton co-eds), but either way, it's not a city you can skip on your summer trek through OC.
What you're going to wanna do first is get really familiar with State College Boulevard. It's the root for many of your prime Fullerton excursions. It will take you past the massive Cal State Fullerton campus; find the arboretum and bring your best weed . . . you'll thank us later (800 N. State College Blvd., 657-278-2011; www.fullerton.edu; www.fullertonarboretum.org). It also points the way to Burger Records (645 S. State College Blvd., 714-336-0561; www.burgerrecords.org), the decent-sized record shop and label headquarters (now of New York Times fame!) that's always busy disseminating clangy, brilliant garage rock to the hipster masses. Pick up a cassette or two, if you're feeling nostalgic; it has plenty! And no vinyl enthusiast's trip is complete without a visit to Black Hole Records (108 N. Harbor Blvd., 714-449-1788; www.blackholerecords.info), still run by punk guru Bill Evans.
Since you'll probably still have a few hours before sundown, make the most of downtown Fullerton by hitting Bootlegger's Brewery (130 S. Highland Ave., 714-871-2337; www.bootleggersbrewery.com) and Stadium Tavern (305 N. Harbor Blvd., 714-447-4200; www.stadiumtavern.net) for a quality craft brew. Recover from your beer buzz with some dog walking, frisbee throwing, etc. at Ted Craig Park (3300 State College Blvd., 714-973-3180; ocparks.com/parks/ted), which offers plenty of lush greenery, trees and lake areas to keep you from schvitzing too hard in the summer months.
Be here on the first Friday of the month for the always-anticipated Fullerton Art Walk, (223 W. Santa Fe Ave., 714-871-2727; www.fullertonartwalk.com), filled with vendors and more creative types pumping out creations that'll have you oohing, ahhing and perhaps reaching for your wallet. Other spots for you artistic types: Maverick Theater (110 E. Walnut Ave., 714-526-7070; www.mavericktheater.com) to catch a play or Steamers Jazz Club (138 W. Commonwealth Ave., 714-871-8800; www.steamerscafe.com) if you'd like a fancy piano solo to go with your craft cocktail.
Of course, when the classy folk and artists are away, the drunks come out to play. If you can manage to weave through the melange of frat boys, cholos and 909ers, you can pretty much stay out of trouble. Fullerton's people-watching and wide range of fun is enough to keep you busy from sundown to last call.
Nate Jackson is the gatekeeper to your dreams of local dive bar stardom. If he writes about you, expect your band to be offered at least one more drink ticket than the rest of the bands on the bill. Get his attention with some groovy tunes and he might just do it. Then, boy will you feel special.