There's An Unofficial McDonald's Museum And It Looks Awesome

The world's first McDonald's location is the site of the California museum.

The fact that a McDonald's museum exists should be of no surprise to anyone. After all, it's probably the first establishment you think of when you hear the words "fast food," and that deserves commemoration. The First Original McDonald's Museum is located in San Bernardino, California, on the site where Richard and Maurice McDonald opened their first restaurant in 1940. While the McDonald's itself is gone (the original building was torn down in 1972), the museum stands in tribute to the Golden Arches.

SFGATE recently wrote about the First Original McDonald's Museum (did you know McDonald's was originally a barbecue restaurant?), an establishment filled with displays of vintage memorabilia, toys, photos, and more. But one of the most fascinating things about it the museum is that it isn't affiliated with McDonald's Corporation at all, and yet it's still allowed to operate.

The First Original McDonald’s Museum, explained

The museum has no formal ties to McDonald's, yet the global company, headquartered in The Takeout's home base of Chicago, is surely aware of this place. After all, fast food giants aren't afraid to sock it to the little guy when they feel like someone's infringing on their territory.

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However, the museum is free of charge, so it's not a profit-generating operation. SFGate explains that it was founded by a man named Albert Okura, who founded the successful Juan Pollo chain of restaurants specializing in rotisserie chicken. He purchased the museum building back in 1998 and has kept it running for free ever since. If McDonald's ever had an issue with it in the past, well, a peaceful 25-year run means the museum is probably in the clear.

Okura died at the beginning of 2023, but he was definitely a character: At one point, he purchased the entire ghost town of Amboy, California, in the hopes to restore it to revitalize travel through Route 66.

What’s inside the First Original McDonald’s Museum

Just in case you can't pick up and fly over to sunny San Bernadino, YouTube channel Sidetrack Adventures has a detailed video rundown of the place. The displays are filled with an incredible amount of memorabilia, notably Happy Meal toys, which I'm sure would pull on my '80s baby heartstrings quite a bit.

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If you ever stopped at this jam-packed attraction on a road trip, you'd have the bragging rights for having been at the site where the very first McDonald's was housed—you can even walk on a tile of the original flooring. And though the actual building is long gone, the nearest McDonald's location is a mere four-minute drive away from the museum, in case you develop a sudden craving during your stroll down memory lane.

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