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Historic McDonald's Museum in California

Travelblog Gone with the Wine

Travelblog and lifestyleblog. Life under the Californian sun - Gone with the Wine. Trips, food and wine from all over the world. Solo and family adventures.

Historic McDonald's Museum in California

Paula Gaston

After Christmas we suddenly got an idea to visit the birth place of McDonald's in San Bernardino. We were visiting my husband's family for the holidays in Southern California. I don't think any of us are huge McDonald's fans, but the idea of the museum intrigued us. It was close enough so it wouldn't take all day, and sounded kind of fun. That is how we ended up visiting the Historic McDonald's Museum.


In 1940, Dick and Mac McDonald opened a restaurant in San Bernardino, California. The menu was mostly barbeque themed, and the restaurant soon became very popular. In 1948 they decided to change the business idea and only left the items sold the most on the menu: burgers, fries, milkshakes and sodas. They wanted to serve good quality food to people so that they wouldn't have to wait too long. They came up with a new techniques for cooking food faster, and at the same time, created the world's first fast food restaurant.

In 1998 Albert Okura bought the building where the restaurant used to be. It became the headquarters for his chicken restaurant: Juan Pollo. Mistakenly, some people thought he was opening a museum, and they sent him some original items from the first McDonald's. Later he decided to showcase the items to the public, and that is how the Historic McDonald's Museum got started.


The museum is easy to find. The area is not the best part of town, but you will definitely recognise the building when you see it. There is a huge McDonald's sign in front, and all kinds of statues around it. There is also a colourful mural going around the building. I think I actually enjoyed the outside area more than the inside of the museum. Inside they showcase different kinds of mementoes and collectibles from all over the world, as well as some things from the Founder movie. The movie tells the story of the shameless business man Ray Krock, who ended up buying the restaurant from the McDonald's brothers. He started franchising it and made it a world famous fast food chain. If you haven't seen the movie, it is a great way to learn more after your visit to the museum. The movie is well made, and it actually made me kind of sad.

Even though the museum is very small and you can walk it through pretty quickly, it is a fun place to visit. McDonald's for sure is part of American culture, and many people think it is the only "real" fast food restaurant. Unfortunately there is no restaurant by the museum, so we ended up leaving for lunch somewhere else. And this time, it was not to McDonald's.