I come from sunny SoCal and I constantly hear other Southern Californian’s describe Claremont, California as a “total gem”. It’s only 30 miles from Downtown Los Angeles and is nestled at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains with picturesque mountain views. It’s got a small town feel with an eccentric flair. I’ve never seen so many people wear Birkenstocks with socks before! Nevertheless, when you visit Claremont, expect to see trees that canopy the streets, brilliant architecture (Craftsman, Victorian, Tudor and Spanish Colonial Revival style), a farmers market, pocket parks, a charming downtown village, people walking their dogs, and professors grading papers at the local coffee shop.
Claremont is best known for being home to the 7 prestigious Claremont Colleges reflecting in its nickname “City of Trees and PhDs” due to its 24,000+ trees and large population with college degrees. The downtown area known as Claremont Village is home to music shops, cutesy boutiques, top notch restaurants, family owned coffee shops, wine bars, pocket parks, art galleries, a historic Packing House, and so much more.
Well, how about a visit to Claremont? Maybe you have a family member who attends one of the Claremont colleges or perhaps you’re the traveler who visits the cities that aren’t on the “greatest hits” list. Maybe you are a B-Sides kind of person who strays from the mainstream (I hope you’re getting this musical reference). At any rate, when you decide to visit this LA County hidden gem, use this two-day weekend itinerary to experience Claremont, California as if you were a “Claremonter” yourself.
Consider Staying Here During Your Visit
My top recommendation for your stay in Claremont is Hotel Casa 425 – a charming boutique hotel with Spanish style architecture and located across from the historical Claremont Packing House. Another option is for your stay is The DoubleTree by Hilton Claremont – it has a loungey pool and lively hotel bar. Fun fact: it’s located along historic Route 66. If AirBnb is more of your forte, neighborhoods to stay in Claremont like Claraboya, Padua Hills, Russian Village, Claremont Village, and Claremont Club are excellent options.
In the morning, check out the local favorite Some Crust Bakery on Yale Ave (in the heart of Claremont Village) where you’ll find a sign in their window saying “Yes, We Have the Best Coffee in Claremont”. Their espresso drinks and drip coffee are high quality and delicious with a capital D! But don’t leave without having tried their fresh baked pastries or build-your-own egg slider. Crème Bakery, located on Harvard Ave, also sells pastries that will literally change your life expectancy and you’ll know it by the line out the door.
If you’re a morning bagel kind of person, drop into 42nd Street Bagel and let your eyes take in the 27+ bagel options. The best options for breakfast burritos or avocado toast are at the Claremont Village Eatery.
Then, take your morning caffeine and munchies to these scenic locations which are all walking distance within Claremont Village.
There is plenty to do in Claremont to stay active. Luckily, it’s home to Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens – the largest botanical garden dedicated to California native plants and home to a 300-year-old Majestic Oak. Another option is to take a brisk stroll, walk, or run on Thompson Creek Trail or the 5-mile Claremont Loop at Claremont Hills Wilderness Park.
If shopping is more of your speed, pick up some fun and whimsical gifts at these unique gift shops in Claremont Village. If music is more your jam (get it?), Rhino Records has tons of records, books, posters, and novelties to choose from. Plus, it’s always very nostalgic going into a record shop especially since this one has been around for 40+ years!
Since you’re already in SoCal, why not have an award-winning craft beer while you’re at it? Head over to Claremont Craft Ales on Claremont Blvd. It’s a family and dog friendly brewery with food trucks, games, music, and good vibes. Try their national award-winning craft beers like Happy Days Imperial Red, Grapefruit IPA, Norman Cream Ale, Jacaranda Rye IPA, and Pepper & Peaches West Coast IPA to name a few.
Evening Wind Down
There is no shortage of impressive restaurants in Claremont for the family, a date, and/or foodies. Head to Aruffo’s Italian Cuisine if you’re in the mood for hearty Italian. What about Japanese? Kazama Sushi is your best bet. How about dinner outside? Of course, it’s Bardot or Union on Yale. Date night? I got you! Viva Madrid or Uno Tre Otto will surely impress.
If you’re like me and enjoy after-dinner drinks, wind down the night at the Lounge & Bar at Hotel Casa 425 (mega-bonus if you’re staying there!). There are beautiful outdoor glass fire pits and ambient stringed lights throughout. If you don’t prefer an adult beverage but are craving dessert, get a double scoop ice cream cone from Bert & Rocky’s – you won’t regret it 😉.
Welcome to day two in the City of Trees! How about a nice breakfast? Crepes de Paris, located in the historic Claremont Packing House, has decadent crepes and dazzling lattes that are Instagram worthy. Guss’s BBQ, also located in the Claremont Packing House, opens early for breakfast serving country style fare and your favorite weekend cocktails like Bloody Mary’s and mimosas. If you can, sit outside on the north side of the Packing House to get a scenic view of the San Gabriel Mountains. For dessert, walk over to I Like Pie Bake Shop to salivate over the fresh baked bite-sized pies! A baby-sized pie won’t hurt anyone 😉
Time to burn off those morning breakfast calories! For a local Claremont hike, Johnson’s Pasture is very doable and quite scenic. But if you’re feeling extra spicy and adventurous, drive up to Mount Baldy (16.5 miles from Claremont Village and a 35-minute drive). Begin at Mount Baldy Trailhead and hike up less than a mile to San Antonio Falls Viewpoint to get a glimpse of the waterfall – perfect for a photo op. If you keep hiking up about 1.5 miles, you’ll end up at the Mount Baldy Resort Restaurant (elevation 7,800 ft.) where you can grab a crisp beer or wine to celebrate your productive day!
If you want to ease up on the hikes or walking trails, take a stroll through Scripps College, voted as one of the nation’s most beautiful college campuses. Another option is the Claremont Museum of Art or Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College (opening Fall 2020) to experience the artsy side of Claremont.
Evening Dinner and Drinks
Time to take a load off and enjoy a nice dinner! Elvira’s Grill is authentic Mexican cuisine with abundant outdoor seating, stringed lights throughout, and a waterfall statue right smack in the middle. For a lively, Pub-ish vibe, go to The Back Abbey (they have Belgian beer for days). If you want the family to be entertained during dinner, book a dinner and show at Candlelight Pavilion.
For a night cap, head to Citrus Grove Distillers, a hidden distillery off the beaten path, where you’ll find craftiest of cocktails. Local tip: It turns into a Speakeasy after 10 PM. But if wine is your favorite adult beverage (like me!) grab a glass at Packing House Wines or We Olive & Wine Bar.
There you have it, friends! A 2-day itinerary in the ever so charming Claremont, California full of outdoor adventures, quality restaurants, craft cocktails, beautiful architecture, and lush trees.
See you in the City of Trees and PhDs!
Bio: Hi my name is Rosemary AKA Miss Claremont and I am super passionate and smitten by the city of Claremont and would love nothing more than for others to experience its charm and magic like I do. When I am not writing about Claremont, I am active in CrossFit, trail running, playing video games (shout out to my Zelda peeps!), going to concerts, drinking craft cocktails and bold wines, and meditating. I have a master’s degree in Education Technology with an emphasis in Multimedia. I am a Digital Marketing Specialist by day and socialite by night. I’ll leave you with a music quote that best describes my life “If I could do just one near perfect thing, I’d be happy. They’d write it on my grave or when they scatter my ashes,” -Belle & Sebastian.