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All aboard, for a green excursion!

Fullerton, Calif., is located in Orange County near Anaheim and Disneyland. It was founded in the late 1800s and experienced its boom during the decade after WWI. Valencia orange groves and oil fueled the town’s rapid growth during that period, giving rise to a number of notable Spanish Colonial Revival structures. Many of these landmarks have been fully restored and have become meeting and event venues. Today, Fullerton is a charming historic community, with a thriving culture of sustainability.

The Fullerton Transportation Center is the busiest train station in Orange County. It provides access to Amtrak, Metrolink, the OCTA bus system and secure bicycle storage. Metrolink is the Southern California commuter rail system and has over 100 million riders. On an average day, over 3,000 commuters travel through the Fullerton Transportation Center. It is located in the city’s historic downtown and within walking distance to many of its event centers, making Fullerton an interesting choice for event planners organizing a completely green excursion.

A short walk to the corner of Harbor Boulevard and Wilshire Avenue will take you to one of Fullerton’s crown jewels, the Villa Del Sol. This beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival structure was originally the California Hotel, built in 1922, and considered one of the finest hotels in the state. The property is now home to a number of businesses, including several restaurants and specialty boutiques as well as an extraordinary outdoor event venue.

The building’s tranquil courtyard is adorned with a Spanish fountain and lush vegetation. Guests can enjoy the seclusion offered by the arched and iron-railed terraces that surround the courtyard, which is strung with low-wattage, European lights. The venue can accommodate up to 250 guests, and the Villa’s four restaurants will customize menus for those requesting vegan or all-organic menus.

If you plan an event at the Villa Del Sol, you will have the pleasure of working with their director of special events, Ruth Davies.

“I’ve been in the hospitality industry for 27 years,” said Davies. “What I love the most about what I do, is that I get to create memories for people. I’m very passionate about what I do, and I’ve been told it shows.” www.thevilladelsol.com

Green Bliss is one of the Villa’s resident restaurants. They sum up their mission this way, “Our goal is to provide a welcoming space where all of our friends and neighbors can come by to find information on sustainability or to share their experience with others on how to make this world a better place while sipping that perfect cup of locally roasted coffee and munching on great food sourced from local vendors.”

Their sustainable business practices include buying local food, composting all food scraps (except for dairy products), using 100 percent recyclable to-go packaging and eco-friendly printing. Even their website is powered by wind energy. Green Bliss’ menu does change seasonally, depending on what locally grown and organic foods are available. Some of the local farms that Green Bliss works with include Ray’s Ranch, Tanaka Farms and Spring Hill Jersey Cheese. Coffee is obtained from local roasters,and many of the beans used by the roasters exceed fair-trade minimum standards. www.green-bliss.com

This historic, earthy community offers almost too many worthy destinations to mention, but here are a few more of my favorites:

Muckenthaler Mansion
The Historic Muckenthaler Mansion, designated by the National Register of Historic Places, was built in the 1920s. This venue hosts numerous weddings, festivals and corporate events each year. Planners may select from one of its six indoor and outdoor venues, the largest of which may accommodate more than 400 guests. www.themuck.org

Plummer Auditorium
This Spanish Colonial Revival gem was constructed in 1930. The beautifully detailed auditorium seats over 1,300 people, and features a grand Wurlitzer Organ, which is original to the building. The Auditorium is owned by the Fullerton Joint Union High School District. For rental information, call 714.870.2813.

Spring Field Banquet Center
This building was constructed circa 1920 and was the city’s second Masonic Temple. After being fully renovated in the 1990s, the building became an events center. The Springfield Banquet Center offers three beautiful rooms for meetings, conferences and special events for up to 300 guests. www.springfieldbanquet.com

Green Tip:
Numerous sources agree that rail travel is an eco-friendly choice. An independent study commissioned by Eurostar, the rail line that connects London and Paris, demonstrated that taking the train between the two cities rather than flying cut CO2 emissions per passenger by 90 percent. This is partly due to the fact that planes emit CO2 into the upper atmosphere, which does nearly twice the damage as CO2 emitted at ground level.

Although rail travel is already an eco-conscious choice, Amtrak provides passengers with the option to purchase carbon offsets, right on its website. Carbon offsets are fees paid to reduce an equal amount of carbon emissions somewhere else, usually by helping to fund a certified, sustainability project. www.amtrak.com

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