1. Claremont Village. “Discover the charm, explore the change.” A European-styled village spanning 12 city blocks with more than 150 unique restaurants, shops, bakeries, day spas, art galleries, entertainment venues, hotels, lounges and more. Walking these streets will immediately make you feel you’re no longer in Southern California.
  1. Local dining. American, Afghan, Argentinean, French, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Lebanese, Mediterranean, Mexican, Persian, Thai and more. There are more than 80 eateries to sample in Claremont, most with local operators, and some with regionally renowned chefs and owners, including Stephen Rudicel (The Press Restaurant), Jose Ruiz (Tutti Mangia) and John Solana (The Back Abbey, Union on Yale). The variety and abundance makes this a weekend trip you want to make several times a year.
  1. College Heights Lemon Packing House. Originally built in 1909, the Packing House has been recently renovated to include shops, galleries, dining and night clubs. Home to Flappers Comedy Club, it also features vintage clothing stores, a cooking academy, and a nationally famous bookstore, Thoreau’s Bookshop, that provides donated books to inmates.
  1. A boutiquing paradise. Claremont is the home to dozens of locally owned boutiques featuring hand-selected merchandise, chic fashions, kitschy collectibles and antiques, gifts from unique corners of the world, and Fair Trade-sourced materials. Children’s clothing shop Tattle Tails, the tea boutique Bamboo Tea House, and upcycled finds at Heirloom and The Green Gypsies are among dozens of unique gift stores and merchants that give Claremont its unique vibe. The Packing House and Old School House also feature additional galleries and artisan shops.
  1. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. The largest botanic garden dedicated exclusively to California’s native plants, the Garden displays about 2,000 taxa of California plants spread across 86 acres, including plants native to the California Floristic Province as a whole – from southern Oregon to Baja California. In addition to featuring a world-class botanical library and graduate-level education program, the Garden offers horticulture and community education programs to the public to encourage the use of California native plants in home landscapes.
  1. Local baked goods and sweets. From sweets at the Some Crust Bakery and morning treats at the Last Drop Café to bagels made fresh all day long at 42nd Street Bagel Café, Claremont Village is a Sweet Tooth’s delight. Local chocolatier Kline’s candy shop is filled with hand-dipped treats, and creamery Bert and Rocky’s features more than 31 unique, homemade ice cream and sherbet flavors.
  1. Wine and cheese. The Packing House Wine Merchants wine bar and shop is located on the western end of the Packing House, offering a world of wines by the glass, varietals from growing regions all over the globe, and small plates and dinners from its executive chef. The Cheese Cave, a busy cheese shop on Yale Ave., offers dozens of cheeses from around the world, their own hand-pressed olive oils, and a selection of unique foods.
  1. Bike-friendly streets. Honored as Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, Claremont’s streets are ideal for bicycling. For families, Claremont’s tree-lined streets offer majestic views of historic homes and the town’s college campuses, and easy rides to the Claremont Village to find an ideal eatery. Experienced cyclists can tackle the same route as the 2011 Amgen Tour of California from Claremont to Mount Baldy.
  1. Pubs and grub. Befitting a college town, Claremont features several unique pubs that feature good food, live music and televised sports. The Lounge at Casa 425 features small plates and a signature margarita. And from the Back Abbey’s “Best in L.A.” pub burgers and dark ales to Walter’s “secret bar” and the nightly live bands that play The Press Restaurant’s stage, Claremont has a after-dark scene that’s all its own.
  1. Dinner Theater and Historic Route 66. The Foothill Blvd. corridor includes the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Claremont and the Candlelight Pavilion dinner theater that is housed within the gymnasium of the Old School House, Claremont’s original 1911 school building. DoubleTree’s popular dueling piano bar, Piano Piano, comes alive nightly with acts straight from the Las Vegas Strip.
  1. Seven world-class colleges. A consortium of five undergraduate and two graduate schools of higher education all within walking distance. Internationally recognized for producing leaders in business, government and the professions. Check their calendar at http://www.collegescalendar.org/ for stimulating presentations, musical productions and other events.
  1. Public Plaza Village Square. Newly built in 2007, the Village Square is surrounded by shops, restaurants and the boutique hotel and lounge Hotel Casa 425, and is home to the Laemmle 5 Claremont A modern public art fountain meanders through the square, providing both soothing water sounds as well as space for outdoor picnicking and music.
  1. The great outdoors. In Claremont’s backyard are hikes at Claremont Hills Wilderness Park, skiing at Mount Baldy, and other adventures in the majestic San Gabriel Mountains.
  1. Free parking. Indeed, there is one place in Los Angeles County where you can keep your quarters and credit cards in your pocket: Claremont offers free parking throughout the city.