Visiting Claremont California: A Complete Guide from a Local
I’ll never waver from saying Claremont is LA’s best-kept secret. I mean, I created a whole blog dedicated to this amazing city! Claremont is located about 30 miles east of Downtown Los Angeles and rests at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains giving you access to mountain views year-round.
Downtown Claremont is referred to as “Claremont Village” and is bursting at the seams with charming architecture, art galleries, museums, boutiques, high-caliber restaurants, coffee shops, specialty retail stores, pocket parks, tree-lined streets, and so much more.
Claremont is known as the “City of Trees and PhDs'' as it’s home to 7 prestigious Claremont Colleges, 24,000+ trees, and a large population with college degrees. The feel is a small town and yet eccentric in its own sophisticated and quaint way.
I’ve been living in Claremont since 2015 and was smitten on day one. If you are looking to explore cities that are total gems, go on a day trip to Claremont and follow this ultimate visitors guide.
Coffee Shops in Claremont
Start your day in Claremont on the right foot by grabbing a coffee, espresso drink, or tea at one of the many specialty coffee shops in Claremont.
Iron & Kin is located inside the historic Claremont Packing House and they serve high-quality drip coffee along with specialty lattes called “affirmation lattes.” Try the Worthy (brown sugar, vanilla, figs) or Kind Hearted (cacao, chipotle, pasilla chilies, cinnamon) latte.
Rev’d Up Coffee & Classics is my personal favorite coffee shop in Claremont for their classic car vibe, Stumptown drip coffee, variety of espresso drinks, and delicious food menu. Try their breakfast burrito, avocado lox, or sandwiches.
Nosy Neighbor is in the heart of Claremont Village serving coffee, lattes, and mini donuts. Choose your own sugar to sprinkle on your donuts and take your coffee across the street at Shelton Park for a scenic morning view.
The Last Drop Cafe located on Harvard Ave and will completely fulfill your coffee, sandwich, soup, salad, and cookie needs. There is limited seating inside, so grab a seat outside or walk up to Shelton Park to enjoy your morning cup of Joe.
Lucky’s Coffee is located off the beaten path in Claremont on Foothill Blvd and offers a robust coffee and tea menu and rotating lattes around the seasons and holidays. They roast their own beans and have ample space to sit, work out of your laptop, and/or relax in the morning.
Visit the Claremont Colleges
What’s a visit to Claremont without seeing the Claremont Colleges? There are seven Claremont Colleges and I suggest taking a stroll through Scripps College which has often been referred to as one of the most beautiful college campuses in America.
Walk through Scripps College to find an orange grove, Spanish gothic style architecture, manicured lawns, a secret garden called Margaret Fowler Garden, the Denison Library, and so much more! You’ll feel like you’re walking into a movie set as the beauty is endless.
Fun fact, I took my engagement photos at Scripps College.
Pomona College is another must see Claremont College campus. I recommend taking a casual walk around the green belt in front of Bridges Auditorium, sit in front of the magical water fountain at the Stanley Academic Quadrangle, uncover a hidden time capsule at the Richardson Garden behind the Seaver House (Pomona College Alumni office), watch an orchestra performance at Bridges Hall of Music, or visit the Pomona College Organic Farm.
Before sunset or sunrise, make your way to the James Turrell Skyspace at Pomona College for a lighting program called Dividing the Light𑁋no reservations needed. Visitors can watch the sunrise or sunset on benches beneath a canopy that frames a window to the sky where the lighting changes colors, from goldenrod to turquoise which alters the viewer’s perception of the sky.
Outdoor Claremont Activities
There are so many things to do in Claremont, especially outdoors. Luckily, Claremont is home to the California Botanic Garden𑁋an 86-acre garden housing the largest collection of plants native to plants native to California. Here you’ll find a 300 year old Majestic Oak, redwood groves, Joshua trees, fan palms, valley oaks, a turtle pond, wildflower meadows, and so much more. Allow yourself 1-2 hours to go through the gardens.
Since Clarermont is situated at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, there are hiking trails abound! The 5-mile Claremont Loop is the most well known however my favorite is Potato Mountain and Johnson's Pasture. Refer to this blog post for more Claremont hiking options.
If hiking is a bit much for you, walk along the scenic Thompson Creek Trail𑁋a flat 4.4 mile trail that gladly accommodates strollers, scooters, bikes, and dog walkers. Higginbotham Park is along this trail and is one of Claremont’s most beautiful parks.
Day Activities in Claremont
Visit Claremont Craft Ales𑁋a brewery located on Claremont Blvd in an industrial park. Enjoy their award winning beers where they serve a variety of IPAs including the Pepper & Peaches, Jacaranda, Coffee Del, and Baseline. There’s always a food truck there so come hungry.
Walk through the historic Claremont Packing House to find various kiosks, a coffee shop, art galleries, vintage shop, an arcade, wine bar, book shop, boutiques, and so much more! Be sure to read up on the history placed throughout the Packing House. Each Friday from 6-9, Claremont Gallery hosts additional vendors, artists, and live music inside the Packing House.
Claremont is home to many art galleries and museums. Put the Claremont Lewis Museum of Art at the top of your list and snap a photo of the glorious architecture and iconic “Claremont Clock”. Then head over to the Benton Museum of Art. Art Galleries to parooze through are Bunny Gunner and Ahmad Shariff.
Shop at one of many boutiques in Claremont such as:
luxury loungewear and bath products at Jasmine Store
Outdoor and indoor novelty items at The Grove Home
One-of-a-kind clothing at Amelie
Buy, sell, and trade retro clothes at DeeLux
Mid-century modern art and furniture at Noren's Space
Any scented candle you can think of at Smell House
Entertainment in Claremont
Head over to Piano Piano which is a lively dueling piano bar for a night of belly laughs and raunchy jokes by the musicians. It’s quite the experience and one thing is for sure, you will be thoroughly entertained.
Head over to Bridges Hall of Music located at Pomona College to see a beautiful orchestra performance. Their Spring Concert Series just released so view the schedule and fit a FREE orchestra concert to your schedule.
Carve out some time to watch a broadway caliber theater performance at Ophelia’s Jump Productions in Upland. This local theater is a complete gem with high caliber talent, an intimate and exclusive lounge vibe, ambient lighting, and cash bar.
Watch a magic show byHandcrafted Mysteries at the Claremont Forum in the Claremont Packing House. Greg Van Holsbeck is the talent behind it and voted "Best Local Illusionist" by Inland Empire Magazine. View upcoming performances.
If you’re itching to hear live music, check out Claremont Music Scene’s live music events calendar which provides you with a feed of live music happening around Claremont on any given day of the week.
Dining in Claremont
Claremont has a plethora of dining options from a casual breakfast or lunch to a fine dining experience. When you visit Claremont you will surely have a great dining experience at any of these spots.
Union on Yale is always at the top of my list for brunch and lunch for their whimsical outdoor patio, craft cocktails, and quality ingredients.
Bardot is the place to be for weekend brunch with their bottomless mimosas and loaded bloody mary’s, scenic views while dining outdoors, and extensive menu serving contemporary cuisine.
Eureka Burger is the #1 place to go for a gourmet burger paired with a local craft beer. Located in the Claremont Packing House, Eureka Burger offers an array of appetizers, salad entrees, and sandwiches paired with an Old Fashioned as they specialize in whiskey.
Le Pain Quotidien is the ideal spot to have a slow morning sipping a cappuccino, enjoying the rustic decor while eating a yummy quiche. Their European inspired menu includes bread baked fresh daily, omelets, sandwiches, soups, fresh pastries, and so much more.
Tutti Mangia is an Italian restaurant and chophouse with incredible ambiance, world class customer service, and quality ingredients. They offer a healthy variety of pasta dishes, seafood, steak cuts, sides, wine list, and cocktails.
Viva Madrid is an authentic Spanish tapas restaurant in the heart of Claremont Village serving the best paella in town. Notable tapas are the bacon wrapped dates, patatas bravas, oxtail soup, spanish cheeses, croquetas, empanadas, and the list goes on. Don’t forget the carafe of Sangria or their infamous Spanish coffee.
Guss’s BBQ is conveniently located in the historic Claremont Packing House and never disappoints with atmosphere, service, southern comfort food and impressive range of whiskey, wine, cocktails, and craft beer. Try and get a seat outside on the North side where you’ll get a clear view of the mountains and enjoy the sunset.
The Quarter Creole Cuisine is an authentic cajun fare and the ambiance transports you to the French Quarter. Their family recipes date back 5 generations and any menu item is bursting with flavor. Try their Quarter Catfish, crawfish biscuit, frog legs, fried oysters, and bourbon bread pudding.
After Dinner Drinks
If you’re anything like me and love a nightcap, head over to these places for an after dinner drink.
Walter’s Restaurant has a loungey style courtyard with firepits, plenty of seating and a walk up bar. Their margaritas are the best in town and they have a plethora of craft beers to choose from.
The Whisper House is located in the Claremont Packing House and if you want to sit at the bar top and sip on craft cocktails especially their whiskey based ones. Depending on the weather you can grab a seat in their outdoor patio.
Evolve Distillery is a new distillery located in a commercial warehouse center off Claremont Blvd serving specialized, handcrafted cocktails. Lookout for their Claremont Cocktail Club on Sundays and sign up for their website for updates as they open to the public.
Stay Overnight in Claremont
Want to stay overnight? Book a room at Hotel Casa 425𑁋a spanish style boutique hotel with only 28 rooms. It’s located in the heart of Claremont Village and is conveniently across from the historical Claremont Packing House. Their hotel lounge is a local favorite hang out spot with fire pits, lounge style seating, delicious food and crafted drinks. Fun Fact, my fiance and I had our first date there.
Another excellent option is to stay at the DoubleTree by Hilton Claremont featuring a sparkling pool, gorgeous courtyard, and lively hotel bar called The Orchard. It’s located outside of the Claremont Village on Foothill Blvd and is just a few steps from the local staple dueling piano bar called Piano Piano. It’s a hoot!