Sometimes you want to just get away, AMIRITE? Who’s to say you can’t get away in your own town or one that’s 30 minutes away. To me, staycations are underrated which is why I put together a weekend staycation guide for visiting LA County’s’ most hidden gem–Claremont, California. Not only does Claremont have spectacular views of the San Gabriel Mountains and a 30-mile drive to Downtown LA, it’s rich in history (established in 1887), home to the prestigious Claremont Colleges giving this college town a more artsy and free spirited vibe. It’s hard not to be smitten by Claremont’s charming architecture, trees that canopy the streets, and loads of dining and shopping options in the quaint Claremont Village. Consider Claremont for your next staycation and use this weekend guide to get the most out of the “City of Trees and PhDs”.
Claremont Village Mural Alleyway, 2020.
Day 1: Gallivant through Claremont Village
The Claremont Village is a shopping, dining, and entertainment destination for locals and visitors in search of upscale boutiques, unique restaurants, and outdoor seating. It’s home to the 28 room boutique hotel Hotel Casa 425-perfect for an overnight stay during your staycation. This Spanish style hotel and lounge is conveniently in the heart of Claremont Village and a stone’s throw away from the historic Claremont Packing House.
Morning Coffee & Pastries. First things first, get your coffee on! Claremont’s new novelty coffee shops are Iron & Kin, located in the Claremont Packing House, and The Reverse Orangutan inside the Laemmle Claremont 5 Theater.
Head to Some Crust Bakery to grab a freshly baked scone, cookie, croissant, bear claw, or a build-you-own egg slider *gasp*. Interesting tidbit about Some Crust: it’s housed in a historic building from 1888 and has been operating as a bakery for over 100 years!
More pastry options are available at Crème Bakery specializing in savory breads, baguettes, cakes, tarts, sandwiches, cookies and viennoiserie.
For a good ol’ fashioned bagel the number spot is 42nd Street Bagel (the jalapeno cheese bagel with scallion cream cheese is the tops).
Far left is Iron & Kin's latte; Far right is Some Crust's ice coffee with hazelnut flavoring, 2020.
Afternoon Shopping. With your caffeine and sustenance needs now met, time to gallivant through Claremont Village. How about we start with shopping then music? There are many unique and charming boutiques in Claremont Village like The Grove, Nectar, Heirloom, DeeLux, and Jasmine. For more recommendations on great places to shop in Claremont, check out Master the Art of Unique Gift Giving Part I.
Let’s move on to music. You’ve got to hit up Rhino Records on Yale Avenue. It’s your classic record shop from your rebellious teenage years. Check it out to bask in the nostalgia because records shops are relics these days (*sniff sniff*). Stock up on vinyl's, posters, patches, CDs, and even cassette tapes (Okay, now I’m just dating myself)!
For more on music, read Get Your Music Fix in Claremont.
Visit the Claremont Colleges. What’s a visit to Claremont if you don’t see any of the Claremont Colleges? Take a gander through the Claremont college campuses starting with Scripps College. Scripps has often been referred to as one of the most beautiful college campuses in America. Walking through Scripps is like walking into a movie set with manicured gardens and hedges that are lined with palm trees with Mediterranean, Spanish, and gothic architecture. This blog post will outline the most scenic locations at a few of the Claremont Colleges.
Scripps College and Pomona College, 2019.
Claremont Art Scene. Claremont has a very artsy and free-spirited vibe. Do yourself a favor and scope out the art scene by visiting the Claremont Museum of Art located in the historic Claremont Train Depot that was built in 1927 showcasing brilliant Spanish Colonial Revival architecture.
Other places to experience art are the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College (opening fall 2020), Studio C Art Gallery (home to the cutest shop cats named Vinny and Chleo), Bunny Gunner, or the artist kiosks in the Claremont Packing House.
Evening Dinner. Wind down for the evening or turn it up (hey, it’s your choice!) at one of the many gourmet restaurants that will meet your service, ambiance, and quality expectation. You can’t go wrong with any of these options:
The Meat Cellar–Recommended for meat and seafood lovers who want to have a craft cocktail or robust wine with dinner. Outdoor seating is plentiful with perfect views of the San Gabriel Mountains and foothills.
Union on Yale–Two words: Retro vibes! Their menus look like records and their outdoor patio has ambient lighting with perfectly placed succulents throughout. Food options are plentiful with wood fired pizza, fun and shareable appetizers and filling entrees.
Gus’s BBQ–Absolutely yummy BBQ options and lively atmosphere. All dishes are southern inspired including desserts and drinks. Perfect views of the San Gabriel Mountains and outdoor seating is available.
Elvira’s Mexican Grille–Lively atmosphere with an abundance of outdoor seating with many hearty and gourmet Mexican entrees. Freshly crafted margaritas anyone?
Aruffo’s Italian Cuisine–Knock your socks off Italian food and memorable service. It’s owned and operated by a husband and wife team since 1985. It's an extensive dinner menu but I can never get away from the Butternut Squash Raviolis and house made garlic bread.
Left to right: Elvira's Mexican Grill, Aruffo's Italian Cuisine, & Union on Yale, 2020.
How about an after-dinner drink? Claremont has some stellar choices for craft beer, cocktails, and wine. You can find a list of them in this blog post Grab an After-Dinner Drink at These Places in Claremont.
Day 2: Becoming One with Nature
But First, Brunch. The brunch life is strong so why not live your best brunch life in Claremont? There are plenty of brunch options where you can sit outside, sip on your mimosa, people watch, and dig in that Eggs Benny at Bardot, Walters, or The Whisper House. Refer to Live Your Best Brunch Life in Claremont for even more options.
If you’re not a brunch sort of person, grab a quick and casual lunch outlined in this blog Casual Lunches in Claremont that Won’t Break the Bank.
Bardot's Eggs Benedict, 2020.
Hikes & Trails. Active, outdoor activities are plentiful in Claremont from trails and hikes to bike riding orleisurely strolls through the park. Some good trails in Claremont for hiking, running, or walking are Potato Mountain, Johnson's Pasture, Thompson Creek Trail and Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail AKA the Claremont Loop.
If you’re feeling extra froggy, drive up to Mount Baldy and hike up to Mount Baldy Resort starting from Mt Baldy Trailhead. There’s a beautiful waterfall along the way known as San Antonio Falls–perfect for a photo op.
Mount Baldy during sunrise, 2020.
Botanical Garden. Pass the time by taking a brisk stroll through the California Botanic Garden in Claremont. This 86-acre garden has 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.
Picnic in the Park. Claremont has a plethora of parks. If you have a pupper, bring him/her to the Claremont Pooch Dog Park or Padua Park. Higginbotham Park is quite scenic and lush; perfect to just sit and relax, read a book, throw a Frisbee, or meditate. Pack a picnic at Memorial Park or Shelton Park or play a round of tennis at Mallows Park.
Shelton Park, 2020.
Celebratory Dinner. What a productive day filled with parks, picnics, hikes, trails, and gardens! Celebrate your productivity with a memorable dinner. Here are more suggestions for dinner spots that will be the cherry on top to your Claremont staycation:
Viva Madrid–This is a local favorite. It’s an authentic Spanish restaurant full of charm with delicious tapas. Their paella is a complete homerun and bacon wrapped dates are unforgettable. Don’t forget to order the sangria!
Bardot–Another local favorite as it’s a bustling French American style restaurant in the heart of the Claremont Village. Plenty of food and drink options such as steaks, gourmet burgers, sandwiches, appetizers, salads, cocktails and wine.
Uno Tre Otto–This is the freshest food in the village serving authentic Italian fare tucked away in an alley. It’s farm to table style and the service is impeccable. Their food and drink menu rotates with the seasons and their outdoor dining is quaintly set up with stringed lights and beautiful vines growing across the building.
Eureka!–Quite possibly the busiest restaurant in Claremont and for good reason; gourmet burgers, fun and shareable appetizers, and craft beer and cocktails.
Kazama Sushi–My personal favorite sushi place in Claremont mainly because the staff treats you like family and of course their sushi is fresh and serves sizable portions.
Left to right: Viva Madrid, Bardot, & Uno Tre Otto, 2020.
There you have it–a two day Claremont staycation planned out for you and you didn’t even need to consult Yelp. There’s plenty else to do here and I am happy to provide more recommendations. Just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I welcome comments below for other great recommendations you might have for a Claremont staycation.
Arrivederci in the City of Trees!