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McDonald's First Restaurant Now a Cool Museum Full of Rare McMemorabilia

The California tourist attraction takes visitors through the history of the fast-food chain.

Dishing out pieces of the past is nothing new for McDonald's, which has been known to revive fan-favorite menu items—and celebrate beloved characters. But there's one location that takes nostalgia to a whole new level.

Located on Route 66 in San Bernardino, Calif.—the site where the very first McDonald's was built in 1940—is a museum dedicated to the iconic fast-food chain.

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Despite the significance of its location, this museum isn't officially sanctioned by the McDonald's corporation. However, the company is "presumably aware of it," according to SFGate.

Open daily and free of charge, the unofficial McDonald's museum transports visitors through time, where they can learn about the history of the world's largest fast-food chain. Upon stepping foot onto the premises, guests will spot McDonald's characters like Grimace and Hamburglar, along with what is dubbed "The World's Most Detailed Mural," which wraps around the museum's exterior.

mcdonald's museum world's most detailed mural
Rachelle L. / Yelp

Once visitors enter the building, they are further immersed in the McDonald's of yesteryear. The space is decked out in photographs and fast-food memorabilia, which includes old employee outfits, cooking equipment, and replica menus from when the chain got its start as a barbecue spot.

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And what would a trip to McDonald's be without scoring a Happy Meal? The museum displays a collection of Happy Meal toys that were distributed over the years, as well as previous Happy Meals from around the world. Museum visitors can also look at the clothing worn in the 2016 film The Founder, which details how Ray Kroc turned McDonald's into a multi-billion dollar empire.

mcdonald's museum toys
Kristoff W. / Yelp

The unofficial McDonald's museum was created by the late Albert Okura, the founder of Juan Pollo, a Mexican-style rotisserie chicken restaurant chain. Okura purchased the museum's building in 1998 and also used the space as Juan Pollo's headquarters.

This San Bernardino tourist attraction wasn't the first McDonald's museum to come into existence. In 1985, the McDonald's Store No. 1 Museum opened in Des Plaines, Ill., operating as a replica of the chain's ninth location and first restaurant opened by Kroc in 1955. However, the museum was ultimately demolished in 2018 due ongoing flooding at the site.

Brianna Ruback
Brianna is a staff writer at Eat This, Not That! She attended Ithaca College, where she graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Communication Studies. Read more about Brianna
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