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By Chanin Brooks Victor
Observer Staff Writer 

A Favorite Hidden Gem with Angelenos: One of the Most Quintessentially California Places to Visit

Claremont: The Ultimate Weekend Getaway + Awesome Family Vacation - Part I

 

October 6, 2021

Claremont, The Ultimate Family Vacation

A favorite hidden gem with Angelenos and one of the most quintessentially California places to visit, live or go to college. Claremont, California is the ultimate overnight or weekend getaway for an awesome family vacation.

Notable as a college town with some of the nation's most highly respected educational institutions, Claremont, the city, is impressive in its own right. The distinctly, quaint suburb of Claremont has idyllic tree-lined streets, a walkable downtown village, a relaxed, casual atmosphere, and authentically nostalgic architecture. Many of the shops, boutiques, and restaurants in this rural community are locally owned.

It's a self-contained, charming retreat on the eastern edge of LA County, easily accessible by the 10 FWY or the Metrolink, and only 30 miles (48 km) east of downtown Los Angeles. You'll feel like you're worlds away, in another era, as you stroll through this peaceful village with vintage vibes. Don't let that fool you though, there is so much to do in this endearing, magical hamlet; you'll want to come back again and again.

History of Claremont

With the arrival of The Santa Fe Railroad in the late 1800s, city planners needed a whistle-stop resulting in the creation of a community named Claremont. It was one of about 30 planned outposts between San Bernardino and Los Angeles. Although the real estate boom was short-lived, the founding of Pomona College, in 1888 helped establish a community, which reflects the founders' New England heritage. The citrus industry also brought growth and expansion to the community. Mexican-Americans, often immigrants from Mexico, contributed to the labor force. A strong citizen involvement helped the town become officially incorporated in 1907. To this day, the influences of the colleges, the citrus industry, and the Spanish heritage make Claremont one of the most unique towns in California.

Location & How To Get There

Claremont is in the Pomona Valley, at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. It's about an hour's drive out of Los Angeles, depending on the day and time. For an extra fun time, take the Metrolink and get off at the Claremont station, which is right across the street from Old Claremont Village, a.k.a. "The Village" to locals. It's a family-friendly neighborhood with dozens of quaint cafes, coffee shops, bakeries, brewpubs, quirky gift shops, high-end galleries, and restaurants to satisfy any kind of craving. Whether you are going for a family outing, day trip, date night, girls' weekend, or college tours, it's navigable by foot and easy to explore. It's the same Mediterranean climate as LA, so plan for sunny days and maybe a light jacket at night most of the year.

Where To Stay

As long as you're visiting Claremont, why not stay for a while and explore the architecturally appealing neighborhoods and maybe even the colleges' campus. One or two nights is the perfect way to get a taste of all that Claremont has to offer and I guarantee you'll be back, again and again, to discover more incredible fun from this LA getaway.

Here are five local hotels (for different budgets) on our recommended list of places to stay:

● DoubleTree by Hilton Claremont on the historic Route 66

● Hotel Casa 425 in the heart of the Village with a courtyard Happy Hour

● Claremont Lodge features an outdoor pool and a two-minute drive to the Village

● University Inn Claremont near the 10 FWY with an outdoor pool and free breakfast

● Motel 6 Claremont just over on the opposite side of the 10 FWY off of Indian Hill Blvd,

and a two-minute drive to the Village

If you don't have a car or you arrived via Metrolink, book your stay at Hotel Casa 425. It's right in the Village and within walking distance to almost everything, including restaurants and shops. Hotel Casa 425 is a stylish boutique hotel with an open courtyard area for lounging. After 4 p.m., it becomes a bar area with a tasty Happy Hour menu, featuring creative cocktails, savory small plates, and a full bar. The Lounge, as it's known, becomes an intimate venue for friends to come together in the evening. On warm nights, enjoy the "outdoor living room" featuring casual seating around the glass firepits. Lounge 425's small plate menu includes Ahi Poke, Guinness battered Fish & Chips, and other modern fares.

Dining (Anytime is the best time to eat, drink, and be merry!)

In Claremont, you'll find so many places to eat that you'll want to stay for a week. There is no shortage of good dining here. Whether you want breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts, or Happy Hours, Claremont has it all.

For quick or on-the-go breakfasts, some recommendations in the Claremont Village are:

• 42nd Street Bagel – New York style bagel shop, 225-A Yale Ave.

• Some Crust Bakery – the "oldest bakery in Claremont" with amazing croissants, 119 Yale Ave. • Last Drop Café – local coffee and vegan pastries, 119 Harvard Ave.

• Crème Bakery – gourmet bakery and breakfast treats, 116 Harvard Ave.

• Sanctuary Coffee -- 994 W. Foothill Blvd.

For a full breakfast, consider:

• Walter's – 308 Yale Ave.

• Village Grille – 148 Yale Ave.

• Claremont Village Eatery – 232 W Bonita Ave All are delicious!

There are several terrific lunch choices in Claremont Village. Several of them will pair lunch with craft beers or spirits, and most are local owned:

• The Back Abbey – 128 N. Oberlin Ave. (behind Laemmle's) | a "best burger in L.A." choice

• Eureka! – 580 W. First St. (Packing House)

• Heroes & Legends – 131 Yale Ave.

• Casa Moreno Mexican Grill, 101 N Indian Hill Blvd. Suite C2-103

• Pizza 'n Such – 202 Yale Ave.

• Gus's BBQ, 500 W. First Street – their first location was outside Pasadena, and this location opened June 2018 - best BBQ flavors and we loved the cornbread!

Outside of the Village, consider these choices:

• Euro Cafe (Portuguese) – 546 E Baseline Rd (in the Vons shopping center)

• Wolfe's Market (great if you're going on a picnic adventure) – 160 W. Foothill Blvd. – Since 1917, a classic, "Route 66 era" neighborhood market featuring a gourmet kitchen, deli, and bakery. It's right near the DoubleTree by Hilton.

Claremont's reputation as a regional dining destination has been on the rise in recent years, thanks in part to the efforts of local restaurateurs John Solana, Ed Inglese, Sal Medina, and the work of chefs like Stephen Rudicel and Matt Mattison. With a growing number of regionally acclaimed restaurants and dozens of locally owned eateries keeping the food scene fresh, it's no wonder that LA Weekly and NBC Los Angeles have declared Claremont a "food neighborhood" that's "worth the drive" for foodies and tourists. We agree!

Here are some popular Village area choices to consider:

• Aruffo's Italian Cuisine – 126 Yale Ave.

• Bardot – 206 W. Bonita Ave. Be sure to make reservations as it's always packed

• Meat Cellar (steaks, chops) – 160 W. Foothill Blvd. (front of Wolfe's Market)

• The Orchard at Doubletree by Hilton Hotel – 555 W. Foothill Blvd. and don't forget to eat your chocolate chip cookies when you stay here

• Tutti Mangia Italian Grill – 102 Harvard Ave.

• Union on Yale – 232 Yale Ave. outdoor seating and bocce ball area for the family

• Viva Madrid – 225-B Yale Ave. one of the best tapas restaurants we've tried recently

• The Whisper House (speakeasy) – 502 W. First St.

Everywhere we ate was delicious and it was amazing that we had so many choices.

The goal here is to provide a comprehensive dining list to help you discover great eateries. So we will leave no stone unturned.

A fun way to explore Claremont might be to build your own walking food tour! Snack your way through the Claremont Village with stops at our locally-owned favorites: Consider the "wine and cheese" pairing of The Packing House Wine Merchants (540 W. First St.) and The Cheese Cave (325 Yale Ave.). The wine bar and shop located on the western end of the Packing House offers a world of wines by the glass and varietals from growing regions all over the globe. 1,500+ selected wines to choose from and they're perfect for an afternoon wine and cheese plate. If you want to grab some wine for home, be sure to stop at the renowned Cheese Cave, a busy cheese shop on Yale Ave., which offers dozens of cheeses from around the world, their hand-pressed olive oils, and a selection of unique foods. (Its sister store is DTLA Cheese in Los Angeles' Grand Central Market.)

We Olive & Wine Bar Claremont (221 Yale Avenue) also offers the finest artisan California olive oils, balsamic vinegar, tapenades + wines. Dine al fresco or take some home with you for yourself or as gifts.

Vom Fass (101 N. Indian Hill Blvd C2-100) – has whiskeys, aperitifs, and olive oils. Sampling is highly encouraged and you won't leave the shop without a bottle or two or three, guaranteed!

Got a sweet tooth?

Bert & Rocky's Cream Company (242 Yale Ave.) An old-fashioned ice cream shop serving 200+ homemade flavors plus candy & treats like caramel apples. Enjoy some treats and make sure you try the white-chocolate covered apple.

I Like Pie (175 N Indian Hill Blvd. #102-B) Who knew a pie shop would bring back memories of baking with my grandmother. Quaint bakery with individually sized sweet & savory pies and the flavors change seasonally. Enjoy a coffee with your pie and ice cream, a.k.a. "pice". Eat outdoors next to the waterfall or grab a big box of pies to-go so you can taste all the flavors. We especially loved the gluten-free options and will be ordering some pies for Thanksgiving!

A Kline Chocolatier (210 W Second St) – locally owned and operated for over 40 years, A-Kline Chocolatier is known for its hand-made, hand-dipped, high-quality chocolates. They also have fudge, sugar-free candies, and unique gifts.

Thirsty? Ales and Brews and Ciders, Oh My! Spend an afternoon tasting at a nearby industrial complex and bring the family!

• Claremont Craft Ales (1420 N. Claremont Blvd #204C) was founded in 2011 and is known regionally for its Jacaranda Rye IPA. Their seasonal offerings can also be found at various Claremont restaurants and area stores. It's a casual indoor/outdoor space and food trucks sometimes park out back in case you get hungry.

• Ironbark Ciderworks, in the same complex (1420 N. Claremont Blvd #107B) and adjacent, offers fresh fruit ciders in its tasting room only. Ciders are naturally gluten-free and taste amazing! Try a flight or two to taste them all.

Distillery

• Citrus Grove Distillers, also located in the same industrial complex, offers locally crafted spirits. This is more like a bar though and has a 21+ policy so plan on a babysitter if you want to check it out. For fun, take a tour so you can see how a distiller creates a spirit from beginning to end, what equipment is used, and how to avoid hangovers. Taste the final product while a master mixologist suggests a cocktail based on the spirit you loved the most.

There is so much to do and see in Claremont, that we're publishing our city guide of Claremont, California in two parts. If you enjoyed reading about Claremont, where to stay, and what to eat, you'll find Part 2 interesting. We'll cover events and activities in Claremont as well as places for recreation. You'll also find out about the shopping, the nightlife, the adults-only activities, and celebrations.

If you didn't know, Claremont is a college town as well, so there is so much to learn about this hidden gem in LA county. Look for Claremont Part 2 in next week's newspaper.

 

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