The Fullerton Arboretum: A Free and Therapeutic Day Out for the Whole Family

Lake view at the Fullerton Arboretum

Looking for a fun and free thing to do with the entire family? Look no further than the Fullerton Arboretum. This botanical garden in Southern California is dedicated to trees and is home to 26 acres of trees and plants from around the globe, making it the perfect place to spend a day exploring nature. I believe it is one of the best free things to do in Orange County!

Lately, I’ve been looking for more ways to connect with nature and practice being in the present moment. This was the perfect place for it! I felt refreshed after spending quality time in nature, soaking up the sun, and forest bathing among the trees. I highly recommend this outing if you need a place to slow down and free your mind. Nature is therapy after all. Here’s what you need to know about visiting the Fullerton Arboretum in Orange County, California.

What you need to know before visiting the Fullerton Arboretum

The entrance gate to the Fullerton Arboretum

Based in Orange County, California, the Fullerton Arboretum is on the California State University, Fullerton Campus, at 1900 Associated Road in Fullerton. It’s easy to get to and close to many major freeways, and as of July 2023, parking is $4 per hour or $10 per day.

The arboretum is typically open from 9am to 4pm seven days a week, but double check the arboretum’s website for the most accurate information.

As of July 2023, entrance to the Fullerton Arboretum is completely free! They do accept donations and the suggested amount is $5 per person, payable by cash or credit card.

You’ll want to wear comfortable shoes and bring water with you. It can get hot in this area, so dress appropriately during the summer months. Although there are a lot of areas to rest in the shade, you may want to shield yourself from the sun as well with sunscreen and a sunhat.

If you have young children in a stroller, or a family member using a wheelchair, you can access the .25-mile trail found on the arboretum map very easily. You will also be able to access some of the trails off the main route as well.  

Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed, so leave the fur babies at home.

What you’ll see inside the Fullerton Arboretum

Flip through this slideshow to see some of my favorite photos from visiting the Fullerton Arboretum in July 2023.

  • Trail going through a bamboo forest in the Fullerton Arboretum
  • A tree inside of the desert section of the Fullerton Arboretum
  • A wooden gazebo inside the Fullerton Arboretum
  • A bridge over a waterfall near the entrance to the Fullerton Arboretum
  • Sunflower field inside the Fullerton Arboretum botanical garden
  • Redwood tree inside Fullerton Arboretum
  • Trail through a palm tree garden in Fullerton Arboretum
  • A brightly colored plant at the Fullerton Arboretum gardens
  • A large palm leaf at the Fullerton Arboretum

Upon entering the arboretum, you’ll find a large sign showing a map of the trail system. I would recommend starting the loop going to the left first since this will take you through the sunny desert areas towards the beginning of your walk instead of the end. If you complete the route this way, you’ll enjoy lots of shade at the end of the loop.

There’s not just one main trail to walk around the loop, but many other smaller trails to take you through mini forests of bamboo, redwoods, wildflowers, and more. You don’t want to skip out on those smaller trails as they offer a little more adventure than the main trail.

If you follow my recommendation and start the loop to your left, you’ll first see some California native plants, a desert area, and an orchard.  Make a stop at the Heritage House to appreciate a 19th-century Victorian home, the Rose Garden, and Children’s Garden.

A little more than halfway through the loop you’ll encounter a small lake with plenty of grass and benches so you can sit and enjoy the view for a while. The kids will like to watch for fish and turtles inside the lake. Stroll through the subtropical section, woodlands, and conifers, and don’t miss out on the bamboo forest and redwood trees. Enjoy the small stream meandering through the forest and be on the lookout for mini turtles inside!

Activities at the Fullerton Arboretum

The students at Cal State Fullerton did an awesome job of creating some unique activities for teens and adults to try while exploring the garden, including mindfulness exercises and a yoga session. You can find those exercises in the YouTube videos on this page.

If you’re looking for something a little more active, the arboretum also offers a variety of educational programs and events throughout the year. You can find also find a list of upcoming events on the arboretum’s website.

Heritage House Museum, a 19th-century home, at the Fullerton Arboretum

I also recommend stepping inside the Heritage House Museum once it re-opens after rennovations in late 2023.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day in nature or a more active adventure, the Fullerton Arboretum is the perfect place to spend a day with the whole family. Comment below or reach out to me on Instagram @itsthatocgirl if you have any questions.

Keep exploring,



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The Fullerton Arboretum: A Free and Therapeutic Day Out for the Whole FamilyThe Fullerton Arboretum: A Free and Therapeutic Day Out for the Whole Family

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