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Ultimate Guide To Claremont: Things To Do, Eat, See, & Experience

Looking for the top things to do in Claremont, California? Look no further! Claremont is a hidden gem beloved by Angelenos. It’s a city that embodies the quintessential California experience, making it the ideal spot for a fantastic family vacation.

Claremont isn’t just a college town; it’s a charming city with a unique character. Nestled among tree-lined streets, this delightful suburb boasts a walkable downtown village. Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and architecture that exudes nostalgia. This tight-knit community has many locally-owned shops, boutiques, and restaurants.

Want to know more about Claremont? Search no more! Your Definitive Handbook for Claremont: Where to Explore, Feast, and Immerse Yourself. Cherished by Angelenos, Claremont is a hidden gem encapsulating the quintessential California adventure, offering an unparalleled setting for an extraordinary family getaway.

More than just a college town, Claremont is a captivating city with distinctive charm. Set amidst tree-lined avenues, this enchanting suburb features a stroll-worthy downtown village. Revel in the laid-back ambiance and architecture steeped in nostalgia. Within this close-knit community, discover an array of locally-owned shops, boutiques, and dining establishments.

A Charming California Destination

Conveniently located on the eastern edge of LA County, Claremont is accessible via the 10 Freeway or the Metrolink. It’s just 30 miles (48 km) east of downtown Los Angeles. As you wander through this tranquil village with its vintage charm, you’ll be transported to another time. But don’t be fooled by its old-world charm – Claremont has many family-friendly activities that will keep you coming back for more.

So, if you’re searching for an unforgettable family getaway, Claremont is the perfect destination. Whether exploring the charming village, enjoying the local dining scene, or discovering the many attractions, Claremont offers something for every family member. Come and experience the top things to do in Claremont and the magic of this enchanting hamlet for yourself – you won’t be disappointed!

The Captivating History of Claremont

In the late 1800s, the arrival of The Santa Fe Railroad prompted city planners to establish a whistle-stop. This gave birth to the community we now know as Claremont. It was one of roughly 30 planned outposts strategically positioned between San Bernardino and Los Angeles. Although the initial real estate boom was relatively short-lived, the founding of Pomona College in 1888 played a pivotal role in shaping a community that mirrors the New England heritage of its founders.

The citrus industry further fueled growth and expansion in the area with Mexican-Americans. Many of them were immigrants from Mexico, contributing significantly to the local labor force. Thanks to robust citizen involvement, Claremont achieved official incorporation in 1907. Today, the town’s character remains deeply influenced by its colleges, the citrus industry, and Spanish heritage, making Claremont one of California’s most distinct and charming towns.

Getting to Claremont

Claremont is nestled in the Pomona Valley at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. It’s approximately an hour’s drive from Los Angeles. Travel times can vary depending on the day and time.

For a fun family adventure, consider taking the Metrolink and disembark at the Claremont station for an even more enjoyable journey. The stop is conveniently located at the Claremont Depot, across from Old Claremont Village. Of course, it’s affectionately known as “The Village” by locals.

This family-friendly neighborhood is a treasure trove of delightful cafes, coffee shops, bakeries, brewpubs, eclectic gift shops, high-end galleries, and diverse restaurants to cater to any culinary desire. Whether you’re planning a family outing, a day trip, a romantic date night, a girls’ weekend, or college tours, Claremont is eminently walkable and ripe for exploration. Blessed with the same Mediterranean climate as LA, you can expect mostly sunny days and perhaps a light jacket for the evenings throughout the year.

Finding the Perfect Place to Stay

While visiting Claremont, why not extend your stay and truly immerse yourself in the captivating neighborhoods and perhaps even explore the college campus? Spending one or two nights is the ideal way to savor everything that Claremont has to offer, and I can guarantee you’ll find yourself returning time and again to uncover more of this LA escape’s incredible charm.

Hotels in Claremont

Here’s a selection of five local hotels that cater to various budgets and come highly recommended:

  1. DoubleTree by Hilton Claremont: Situated on the historic Route 66, this hotel offers a touch of nostalgia in a modern setting.
  2. Hotel Casa 425: Located in the heart of the Village, it features a charming courtyard and a delightful Happy Hour. It’s a stone’s throw from restaurants and shops, perfect for those without a car.
  3. Claremont Lodge: With an inviting outdoor pool and just a two-minute drive from the Village, this is an excellent option for a relaxing stay.
  4. Motel 6 Claremont: If you’re arriving via Metrolink or want to be close to the Village, this option is just on the other side of the 10 Freeway, off Indian Hill Blvd, and a short two-minute drive to the heart of Claremont.

Hotel Suggestion for Families

For those with kids, Hotel Casa 425 is particularly appealing. The adults can relish Happy Hour while the youngsters have fun in the room next to the courtyard. With an open courtyard area perfect for lounging, Hotel Casa 425 transforms into a bar area after 4 p.m., offering a delectable Happy Hour menu featuring creative cocktails, savory small plates, and a full bar. Known as “The Lounge,” it creates an intimate atmosphere for friends to gather in the evening. Enjoy the “outdoor living room,” featuring comfortable seating around the glass firepits on balmy nights. The small plate menu at Lounge 425 includes tempting options like Ahi Poke, Guinness battered Fish and chips, and various modern culinary delights. So, kick back and make the most of your stay in Claremont, where everyone in the family can find something to enjoy.

DoubleTree by Hilton Claremont is an ideal retreat for families seeking a memorable and comfortable stay. This family-friendly hotel offers spacious and well-appointed rooms, ensuring everyone has ample space to relax. The warm and welcoming atmosphere, coupled with Hilton’s renowned hospitality, makes it a home away from home. Families can indulge in a delicious warm chocolate chip cookie upon check-in, a signature DoubleTree treat. The hotel’s convenient location provides makes it a convenient hub for exploration. With amenities like a refreshing outdoor pool, a fitness center, and an onsite restaurant, The Orchard, catering to various palates, DoubleTree by Hilton Claremont promises a delightful and stress-free stay. Here you’ll be creating lasting memories for every member of the family, young and old.

Indulge in the Culinary Delights of Claremont

Claremont boasts an array of dining options that are so enticing you might want to extend your stay for a week to savor them all. There’s no shortage of exquisite dining experiences here, covering every meal of the day, even snacks, desserts, and Happy Hours.

Morning

If you’re on the lookout for quick, on-the-go breakfast options, consider these recommendations in Claremont Village:

  • 42nd Street Bagel – Offering New York-style bagels at 225-A Yale Ave.
  • Some Crust Bakery – The “oldest bakery in Claremont” celebrated for its delectable croissants at 119 Yale Ave.
  • Crème Bakery – A haven for gourmet breakfast treats, though please note that on the day of our visit, Crème was closed. Not to worry, Claremont offers numerous alternatives.
  • Last Drop Café is a local gem for coffee and vegan pastries at 119 Harvard Ave.
  • Sanctuary Coffee – You can find it at 994 W. Foothill Blvd.

For a hearty, full-fledged breakfast experience, consider these inviting options:

  • Walter’s at 308 Yale Ave.
  • Village Grille at 148 Yale Ave.
  • Claremont Village Eatery at 232 W Bonita Ave

All promise a delightful culinary adventure!

Afternoon

Claremont Village boasts an array of superb lunch choices, many of which offer the perfect pairing of lunch with craft beers or spirits, and most are locally owned:

  • The Back Abbey at 128 N. Oberlin Ave., tucked behind Laemmle’s. This is where you’ll find the celebrated “best burger in L.A.”
  • Eureka! at 580 W. First St. in the Packing House.
  • Pizza ‘n Such at 202 Yale Ave.
  • Gus’s BBQ at 500 W. First Street is renowned for its mouthwatering BBQ flavors and delectable cornbread.

If you’re exploring beyond the Village, consider these dining destinations:

  • Euro Cafe (Portuguese) at 546 E Baseline Rd in the Vons shopping center.
  • Wolfe’s Market is an excellent choice for a picnic adventure. This classic “Route 66 era” neighborhood market has served patrons since 1917, featuring a gourmet kitchen, deli, and bakery. It’s conveniently located near the DoubleTree by Hilton. 160 W. Foothill Blvd.

In recent years, Claremont has earned a reputation as a regional dining destination, thanks in part to the dedicated efforts of local restaurateurs like John Solana, Ed Inglese, Sal Medina, and the culinary talents of chefs such as Stephen Rudicel and Matt Mattison. With an ever-increasing number of regionally acclaimed restaurants and an abundance of locally owned eateries ensuring a constant influx of fresh culinary delights, it’s no wonder that Claremont has earned distinctions from LA Weekly and NBC Los Angeles as a “food neighborhood” that’s undeniably “worth the drive” for food enthusiasts and tourists alike. Our sentiments exactly!

Evening

Here are some well-regarded options within Claremont Village that should top your list:

  • Aruffo’s Italian Cuisine at 126 Yale Ave.
  • Bardot at 206 W. Bonita Ave. Ensure you make reservations, as this spot is invariably bustling.
  • Meat Cellar (famous for steaks and chops) at 160 W. Foothill Blvd., conveniently located at the front of Wolfe’s Market.
  • Tutti Mangia Italian Grill at 102 Harvard Ave.
  • Union on Yale at 232 Yale Ave., offering outdoor seating and a bocce ball area for family fun.
  • Viva Madrid at 225-B Yale Ave. is celebrated as one of the finest tapas restaurants in the area.
  • The Whisper House (a speakeasy) at 502 W. First St.

The culinary journey through Claremont was a delight, with each dining establishment offering a delectable experience and leaving us in awe of the abundance of choices.

Every Opportunity to Eat

One entertaining approach to exploring Claremont’s culinary accomplishments might involve crafting your own walking food tour. You can savor delectable bites while strolling through the Claremont Village, with stops at our favorite locally-owned establishments.

Say “Cheese”

Consider partaking in a delightful “wine and cheese” pairing experience at The Packing House Wine Merchants (540 W. First St.) and The Cheese Cave (325 Yale Ave.). The wine bar and shop at the western end of the Packing House beckons with a world of wines by the glass, boasting varietals from wine-growing regions across the globe. With over 1,500 wines, it’s the perfect spot for an afternoon wine and cheese plate.

If you wish to bring home some wine, do not forget to pay a visit to the esteemed Cheese Cave, a bustling cheese shop on Yale Ave., offering an assortment of dozens of cheeses from around the world, their hand-pressed olive oils, and an array of unique gourmet foods. It shares a sister store with DTLA Cheese in Los Angeles’ Grand Central Market.

Vom Fass (101 N. Indian Hill Blvd C2-100) beckons with a superb selection of whiskeys, aperitifs, and olive oils. Sampling is warmly encouraged, and it’s practically impossible to depart without acquiring a bottle or two, or perhaps even three – that’s guaranteed!

Sweets!

Got a penchant for sweets? Allow us to introduce some scrumptious options:

  • Bert & Rocky’s Cream Company (242 Yale Ave.) – An old-fashioned ice cream shop serving an astounding array of 200+ homemade flavors, candies, and treats like caramel apples. When you visit, indulge in some treats, and don’t forget to try the white chocolate-covered apple.
  • I Like Pie (175 N Indian Hill Blvd. #102-B) – This charming bakery with individually sized sweet and savory pies is reminiscent of fond memories of baking with grandmothers. Their flavors change with the seasons, and you can relish a coffee alongside your pie and ice cream, affectionately dubbed “pice.” You can enjoy your meal outdoors next to the waterfall or take a substantial box of pies home, allowing you to sample various flavors. Their gluten-free offerings are delightful, and we eagerly anticipate ordering some pies for Thanksgiving!
  • A Kline Chocolatier (210 W Second St) – A locally owned and operated establishment crafting high-quality, hand-made, hand-dipped chocolates for over 40 years. Their repertoire extends to fudge, sugar-free candies, and an assortment of unique gifts.

Brews and Ciders

For those hankering for a refreshing beverage, Claremont presents Ales, Brews, and Ciders galore – making it the perfect destination for an afternoon of tasting. We made it our mission to try them all!

  • Claremont Craft Ales (1420 N. Claremont Blvd #204C) – Established in 2011, this brewery enjoys regional renown for its Jacaranda Rye IPA. Their seasonal offerings are also available at various Claremont restaurants and area stores. The atmosphere is casual, with indoor and outdoor spaces, and, on occasion, food trucks set up shop at the back, should you need a snack.
  • Ironbark Ciderworks, conveniently located in the same complex (1420 N. Claremont Blvd #107B), exclusively offers fresh fruit ciders within their tasting room. The ciders are naturally gluten-free and boast a fantastic flavor profile. We recommend trying a flight or two to experience the full range of flavors.

Embracing Retail Bliss

Unlock the joy of shopping in Claremont by spending your afternoon leisurely exploring the charming boutiques and locally-owned shops that grace Claremont Village, Packing House, and Claremont Village Square. Claremont’s array of locally-owned stores offers a truly one-of-a-kind shopping experience, and this vibrant shopping scene lends the downtown area its unique atmosphere. Here’s a delightful tidbit: Claremont was the first city in Southern California to declare itself a Fair Trade Town proudly. Several boutiques and restaurants are leading the way.

Fair Trade Shops

  • Buddhamouse Emporium (134 Yale Ave.): A serene haven that offers a diverse range of ritual objects, spiritual statuary, inspirational books, artistic creations, and unique jewelry.
  • Rio de Ojas (250 Harvard Ave.): An enchanting treasure trove that features a captivating blend of Mexican Folk Art, Home Decor, Day of the Dead items, Frida-inspired creations, Mexican Chocolates, hand-painted Mexican Dishes, Imported Spanish Foods, and so much more.
  • Studio Claremont (522 W. First St.): Nestled within the historic Packing House, this children’s art studio imparts art lessons in various mediums for school-aged kids.

Distinctly Claremont Shops

Other local retailers, each infusing their distinct Claremont flair into the shopping experience, include:

  • Maple Boutique (456 W. First St.): A destination for women’s apparel and accessories from casual chic to activewear, catering to all ages. They exude a sense of fun and freedom in fashion. The boutique offers a mix of California name brands and exclusive trendy labels, allowing you to define a unique style.
  • Nectar (319 W. First St.): Specializing in fresh and fashionable women’s clothing at delightful prices, Nectar and their women’s shop For Good became an official give-back brand in 2017. They donate 10% of all profits towards supporting local kids in need by providing brand new, brand-name clothing to boost their self-confidence. It is a beautiful gesture that contributes to their better education and success. We found this shop particularly heartwarming.
  • Grove Vintage + The Grove Home: These twin stores delightfully combine Clothing, Accessories, and Home Goods. We thoroughly enjoyed our shopping excursion in both stores. Bonus: earn points towards purchases if you shop in both stores. Needless to say, most of my holiday gift-giving will be courtesy of The Grove Home; it’s simply incredible!

Off-The-Beaten-Path Things To Do in Claremont

For music aficionados and aspiring musicians, a visit to the Folk Music Center and Museum (220 Yale Ave.) is a must. It’s open only from Wednesday to Saturday. Owned by the family of Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Ben Harper, this center houses a captivating collection of rare and antique musical instruments and artifacts. You might even run into Ben’s mother and recording partner, Ellen Harper, behind the counter. The Folk Music Center offers classes and workshops for budding musicians. They also host musical performances by local and international folk artists and an Open Mic event on the last Sunday of each month. Be sure to explore Ellen’s new book, “Always A Song,” available in the store. The shop’s cool musical instruments are a delight, especially for the kids.

And if you’re in Claremont on the weekend, one of the top things to do is head to the Sunday Farmer + Artisans Market at Harvard Ave. and Second St., Hosted by the Claremont Forum since 1996. This open-air market is one of the region’s largest, featuring over 100 growers and artisan members as regular participants. Keep an eye out for the weekly bookstall sponsored by the Claremont Forum’s Prison Library Project, showcasing a fantastic selection of used books at budget-friendly prices, with proceeds supporting the project. We grabbed some fresh fruit and snacks for our hotel stay and the ride home.

So, whether you’re seeking unique crafts, distinctive art, musical treasures, or fresh produce, Claremont’s shopping scene offers a delightful range of experiences to satisfy every shopping desire.

Exploring the Claremont Colleges

Claremont, aptly named the “City of Trees and PhDs,” boasts a rich cultural tapestry with over 24,000 trees on public land. The overall population boasts more than 10,000 residents with advanced degrees. While you might not be scouting for colleges, the seven Claremont Colleges (comprising five undergraduate and two graduate institutions) occupy an area of roughly one square mile. Each campus has lush lawns, picturesque gardens, inviting public squares, and captivating architectural wonders. These five undergraduate colleges regularly feature in the upper echelons of national liberal arts school rankings. Pomona College, Claremont McKenna College, and Harvey Mudd College hold positions among the top 14 according to U.S. News and World Report’s 2016 rankings, while Scripps College and Pitzer College are proudly ranked within the top 40.

Planning A Visit to The Claremont Colleges

When you pay a visit to these esteemed institutions, even if just for the sheer pleasure of it, consider adding the following campus highlights to your checklist:

Pomona College:

  • Bridges Auditorium (450 N. College Way).
  • Bridges Hall of Music (Little Bridges, 150 E. 4th St).
  • James Turrell Skyspace, known as “Dividing the Light.”

Scripps College:

  • Margaret Fowler Garden, a renowned attraction featured in Westways Magazine, is a compelling reason to explore Claremont’s campuses. This garden is on Amherst Ave., just north of 9th Street.
  • “Inscription Walk,” a pathway adorned with inspirational quotes from renowned women throughout history. This path is directly south of the President’s house at Amherst Ave. and 9th Street.

Claremont McKenna College:

  • Chris Burden’s “Meet in the Middle” sculpture, comprised of metal benches and streetlamps, evokes his celebrated “Urban Lights” installation at LACMA. It’s in front of the school’s Roberts Pavilion athletic center (690 Mills Ave.).
  • Kravis Center (888 Columbia Ave.): This LEED Silver Certified complex at the western gateway of the university opened in 2001. It boasts ascending cantilevered terraces, abundant natural light, verdant spaces, and an all-glass “living room” at the heart of the college’s interior courtyard, offering open views of the campus quad.

Harvey Mudd College:

  • Hixon Court, where you’ll find the Venus statue in the koi pond, sculpted by the Flemish-Italian artist Giovanni Bologna (1529-1608). This artistic gem can be discovered on campus just north of the Columbia Ave. entrance.

During the academic year, galleries, such as the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery at Scripps College, open their doors on weekends, making Sunday an ideal day for a leisurely walking tour.

Nightlife – Events, Live Music, Theatre, and Celebrations

Claremont offers a variety of adult entertainment options for the post-dinner and evening hours. It’s so inviting that you might plan a return trip to this remarkable city, perhaps for a girls’ weekend! We wholeheartedly recommend the enthralling retro arcade experience for some family-friendly fun:

  • Lost Levels (530 West 1st Street): A retro arcade boasting an extensive collection of classic game machines and video game consoles within the historic Claremont Packing House. Here, you can revel in unlimited play for your visit without needing quarters. They also have a retail store offering novelty items and video games spanning all generations. It’s an unforgettable experience suitable for all ages.

Additional Highlights Include:

  • The Claremont Colleges’ Performing Arts Programs offer ticket-worthy events throughout the academic year. The Pomona College Department of Theatre and Dance serves as the theatre program for all five undergraduate Claremont Colleges and presents four major productions and a dance concert each year in the modern Seaver Theatre Complex. Majors and non-majors participate as performers and production personnel, ensuring a dynamic season of student-generated productions.
  • Local musicians frequently grace the stage at Lounge Casa 425 and other Claremont eateries. Do remember to check for age restrictions before attending.
  • Laemmle 5 Movie Theater stands out with its five auditoriums featuring stadium seating, wall-to-wall screens, and rigorous Covid-safety protocols. You can enjoy matinee, senior, and student special prices and explore their Virtual Cinema and Anniversary Classics offerings.

For Adult Audiences

  • The PianoPiano Dueling Piano Show (555 W. Foothill Blvd.) is adjacent to the DoubleTree Hotel and features regular performers on the Las Vegas piano scene. Showtimes are from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. on weekends, excluding Sundays.

Celebrations and Events

The City of Claremont hosts a year-round calendar of events, including a Halloween Spooktacular, a Holiday Promenade, a Spring Celebration, Friday Nights Live, Concerts, and Movies in the Park. The Taste of Claremont is an ideal occasion to visit, featuring over 40 local restaurants, wineries, and breweries proudly offering samples of their delectable offerings. The event is infused with live music, an art exhibition, and exciting raffle prizes.

The Village Venture, an annual event, serves as a gathering point for family, friends, and neighbors to relish music, delectable food, and the arts. It’s a golden opportunity to get a head start on your holiday shopping as you traverse the streets of Claremont Village, adorned with over 450 booths, vending unique art, original crafts, and distinctive apparel. This immersive experience allows the opportunity to explore local businesses and nonprofit organizations, all while soaking in the architectural splendor of Claremont’s unique village.

A Great Gift Idea For Those Looking for Things To Do In Claremont

Consider the Discover Claremont gift cards if you’re contemplating thoughtful gifts for someone planning a Claremont visit. These make splendid holiday “experience” gifts, redeemable at more than 140 participating Chamber members, including over 40 restaurants and pubs.

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