Fulton, Missouri - Big Fun in a Small Town
Editor's note: While the nation and the world are beginning to reopen to tourism, some of the attractions we tell you about in our travel features may remain temporarily closed or are operating with abbreviated hours. Please check with the places you're interested in before you travel; we have included website addresses for each attraction where available.
When it comes to heartland cities that punch above their weight, Fulton, Missouri is one of the most impressive. With a population of about 13,000 and a location near vibrant Columbia, Fulton is home to Westminster College, the place where something very significant took place in 1946 when Winston Churchill came to town. At the invitation of then-president (and native Missourian) Harry S. Truman, Churchill came to Fulton to give a speech in which he warned of what was going on in Eastern Europe, and giving Americans their first knowledge of the so-called Iron Curtain. This historic event resulted in the National Churchill Museum being located in Fulton, and that attraction is what brings many tourists to the city.
Read our previously-published article about the National Churchill Museum here
The National Churchill Museum provides just part of the fun in Fulton. Here are some other attractions to find in the city, enough to keep you going all day, so we'll start you with a good breakfast!
Marlene's Restaurant and Crane's Museum
We're cheating a little bit here; Marlene's is located in Williamsburg, about 20-minutes outside Fulton. But you'll definitely want to make sure to visit this place while you're in the area, because it is two treats in one! The front part of the room is Marlene's Restaurant, a small and much-beloved diner renowned for their homemade biscuits and gravy. Omelets, egg platters and breakfast sandwiches are on the menu, and if you'd like a rib eye steak for breakfast, you can have that too. (Remember, you're fueling up for a full day of fun in the Fulton area!) The other part of the room, 4000-square-feet of it to be exact, houses Crane's Museum, a place for you to "step back in time" to the early 1900s before or after your breakfast. Sectioned off into different "rooms," visitors to the museum will find a toy room, an old store with lots of long-gone products, a doll room, a school room, a barber shop, and well, you get the idea. Among the more stunning displays are numerous pieces of art made from arrowheads, a doctor's buggy being pulled by a full-size papier-mache horse, and a 1927 Chevrolet Town Car that you'll find parked alongside an array of vintage gas pumps. Find more here.
Crane's Country Store
After enjoying Marlene's and Crane's Museum, mosey next door for a mind-blowing experience at Crane's Country Store. In business since 1889 and at their current location since 1926, Crane's is a true "got-it-all" country store. Run by the Crane family for its entire existence, Crane's Country Store is currently run by affable proprietor David Crane, who you may very well find assisting customers on any given day. You can see photographs and other items relating to the store's history decorating the walls, but Crane's is one of those places where your eyes are constantly drawn to the wide and wild offering of things for sale. All kinds of special soaps for outdoorsmen (or anyone) are packaged in eye-popping boxes; how about a bar of Big Ass Beer Soap? There's lots of hardware, and should you require a Japanese beetle trap, look no further. You can leave the store outfitted in a new pair of Carhartt jeans and Wolverine boots, or buy a new scope for your rifle. And if you just stopped in for some lunchmeat, that's cool too. They have a fun slogan at Crane's that references some of their wares; "Boots, Bullets, Britches and Bologna." Popular sellers at the store are a line of souvenir T-shirts with the slogan emblazoned on the back. Find more here.
Crane's Country Store - David Crane
Crane's Country Store
The Brick District
Back in Fulton proper, the Brick District is the city's cute downtown area where boutique shops and charming eateries await. Located primarily on Court Street, downtown Fulton's main drag, are very cool shops like Creating Unkamen Jewelry Supplies, a nirvana for bead workers and other crafts folk. One of the most popular stores on Etsy.com, Creating Unkamen has rows and rows of shelves filled with beads for beaders to marvel at, along with everything a jewelry craftsperson could dream of: chains and cords, jump rings, clasps, crimps and end caps, wire, jewelry kits, tools and you-name-it. There's also a small area where proprietor Karen C. Helmrich has some of her creations for sale. Speaking of art, Art House is a large gallery where you can view and purchase paintings, some done in a traditional style and some more of an avant-garde nature. Pop into GoPo Gourmet Popcorn Bar for some tasty treats, but don't spoil the lunch you might have at Beks (American gastropub) or Fulton Cafe where you can munch Cuban food. Maybe top off lunch with an ice cream treat at Saults Drug Store where they have an old-fashioned soda fountain. And should you hang around Fulton until evening, there's the Brick District Playhouse, a recently-renovated theater that hosts live music shows and other events on a regular basis. Find more here.
Auto World Museum
Ever heard of a Humberette? They have one of the vintage vehicles, from 1903, parked among a jaw-dropping display of cars and trucks at Auto World Museum. Generally about 75 vehicles are on display at any one time, ranging from other oldies like a 1907 REO Touring car, a 1909 Ford Model-T and a Stanley Steamer from 1924 to more "modern" beauties like a 1957 Ford Thunderbird and a 1982 DeLorean Coupe. The cars and trucks are situated in era-correct scenarios, and some of the oldest are adjacent to a mock-up of an "auto buggy repair" (there's a replica gas station from the '50s too, complete with vintage gas pumps and other paraphernalia.) You'll find lots of surprises as you "motor" through the museum too, like the 1919 Cremona G Nickelodeon. Find more here.
Auto World Museum
Auto World Museum
Serenity Valley Winery
After a full day of having fun in the Fulton area, why not top it off with a taste of the grape? End your exploration of the area in the tasting room at Serenity Valley Winery, where they generally have eight varieties on hand for you to sample. Maybe sip a dry white wine like Shimmering Falls Sauvignon Blanc, or a dry red wine like Tempestuous Malbec. And for semi sweet wines, the name of one particular Gamay red wine says it all; float off into the ether with a smile on your face and a glass of Little Bit of Heaven in your hand! The winery makes sweet wines too; try the Jammin' Berry, which is red wine with blackberry. Serenity Valley Winery also makes seasonal wines; what will be on offer of course depends on the time of the year. As the winery's name indicates, this will be a serene way to wrap up your time in the Fulton area. Find more here.
For information on other fun things to do in Fulton go here.
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