The Best 72-hour itinerary to enjoy Claremont, California
The beautiful, suburban city of Claremont, only 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles and nestled in the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains, is full of tree-lined streets, a dynamic culinary scene and dozens of locally-owned boutique shops. This charming town’s walkable, upscale village offers a casual California vibe.
The city of Claremont is a community that provides an extraordinary number of things to see and do for foodies, nature enthusiasts, inspired artisans and families.
Suppose your travels bring you to Claremont for at least 72 hours. If so, this three-day itinerary will give you a taste of Claremont’s personality, character, and charm. It’s a hidden gem full of life and offers the quintessential Southern California laid-back lifestyle.
Come explore Claremont with us!
DAY ONE: AM
Start your morning the way the locals do – enjoy the great outdoors! The Claremont Hills Wilderness Park is an exhilarating perfect start to your day – before it gets too hot! If you’re up for it, why not take an adventurous hike or a family trek through the San Gabriel Mountains and the Angeles National Forest.
You’ll have eight fantastic hiking trails, biking trails and running trails to choose from, ranging from a little over 4 miles up to 12 miles, plus a few extra steps.
The Sycamore Canyon Trail offers stunning views of the valleys and mountains. There are easy, moderate and hard levels to choose from. During your hike, the whole family can become secret “nature” agents. All you have to do is use the Agents of Discovery app and hike trails like the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park Loop.
After your invigorating journey on foot, it’s time to cool off with a refreshing and delectable lunch at The Back Abbey. Their pet-friendly, covered patio is the best! Relax with a Belgian brew or one of their creative cocktails as a gentle breeze mellows you into the moment. It’s true, it’ll be challenging to choose between the innovative Brunch choices, salads, sandwiches or the “best burger in town”, but the great news is you can always come back another day. Make sure to save room for the French Churros or the Maple Bourbon Beignets, which are out of this world.
Stroll around The Village Plaza and check out some distinctively-Claremont shopping boutiques.
- Stop by the Grove Vintage for some bohemian additions to your wardrobe, and then head a couple of shops over to their sister shop, The Grove Home. Full of hipster home decor and unique gift items, you’re sure to find the perfect souvenir of your visit.
- Search for your favorite comic books in A Shop Called Quest.
- If you love artisanal products, vomFASS is a retailer of high-quality extra virgin olive oils, balsamic and fruit vinegar, spices, gourmet foods, whiskeys and craft spirits. They entice you with a “try before you buy” experience that’s divine, leaving you inspired and felicitous.
- Ready for a sweet treat, I Like Pie Bake Shop has the most delectable, individually-sized, sweet & savory pies, coffee & ice cream. Pull up a chair in this heavenly, European-style town square, which features an interactive fountain with playful sculptures, and enjoy!
Now it’s time to visit an era that preferred the “sedimentary” lifestyle. Just a quick drive or bike ride away is The Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology, located at the Webb Schools. It’s a center of paleontological research for the international scientific community and an interesting dive into prehistoric times. Of course, you don’t need an epoch to experience everything in the two circular 4,000 sq. ft. exhibition halls, but the chronological display of the now-extinct fossilized predecessors is captivating. Overall, the Alf Museum is a delight for all ages!
For your first sunset in Claremont, you’ll want to ensure you have a front-row seat at the James Turrell Skyspace, “Dividing the Light”. First park near the campus of Pomona College and then, you’ll find it located in the Draper Courtyard.
This incredible public art installation takes place beneath an illuminated canopy. There you’ll find a window to the sky. A slowly changing colorful light show alters the viewer’s perception. The calming, zen sound of a tinkling water fountain can be heard. Subsequently, beneath the opening the light and water slowly mirror and reflect the differences between night and day.
Finish your evening with a dinner at the Tutti Mangia Italian Grill, an upmarket Italian eatery that serves steaks, seafood & more classic fare in a dimly lit, romantic space.
Looking for ambiance? Skyspace and Tutti Mangia are sympatico. Both are intimate and enchanting, with a little spice. No need to look any further, Claremont has you covered for date night!
DAY TWO: AM
First, grab a savory or sweet pastry and an espresso at Claremont’s oldest bakery – Some Crust Bakery – offering hand-made baked goods for over 100 years.
Once you’ve fueled up, make sure you have a bottle of water, a hat and sunscreen for a post-breakfast, self-led walk through the California Botanic Garden (formerly the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden). A horticulturalists dream, this richly diverse conservatory of native California plants and trees is spread across 86 acres, attracting birds, pollinators, tiny, curious reptiles and roaming mammals.
Navigate the main paths and visit the three main garden areas: SoCal Gardens, Mesa Gardens, and California Habitats. Each section explores the different garden trails that lead to scenic shaded areas with water features or sculptural pieces. Sit, take a break to sketch or write poetry, and enjoy the quiet natural beauty.
You might brie getting hungry after your morning excursion, so time to gouda the Cheese Cave. This rustic cheese shop with a global selection of the non-colloquial version is a little slice of cheese heaven. The full-service, cut-to-order cheese shop is family owned and operated. You’ll find boutique wines, handcrafted local beers and artisan salami. Make sure you leave with some chocolates, honey, olives, crackers and gourmet sandwiches.
Shhh… We’re letting you in on a local secret. So many unique Claremont shops are located in the downtown, tree-lined, college-named streets. There’s no better place for exploring the over 150 shops, boutiques, galleries, salons, spas, and restaurants.
The Folk Music Center & Museum – owned by Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Ben Harper’s family – features a collection of rare and antique musical instruments. You’ll also find artifacts from around the world. Ben’s mother is usually found behind the counter. In addition, there are classes, workshops and musical performances happening every month.
Amelie, Nectar and the new Maple Boutique offer the latest fashion trends for women’s clothing and accessories. Men will love Xerxes and Authentix Sneaker and Clothing Boutique for fabulous finds.
Ready for a little self-care?
First, relax at Mint Leaf Natural Products and Thai Bodywork. It’s a day spa with luxury massage services. Equally important, you might want to bedazzle your toenails and fingernails with a professional mani/pedi from Claremont’s Hands Down.
Glowing head to toe, you’re ready for dinner and an entertaining night out. Bardot serves up inventive Cali-French-inspired plates in a hip environment. The outdoor patio is the place to be with heaters in the colder months and misters on warmer evenings.
Be sure to try the goat cheese lollipops, truffle-parmesan fries, duck taco a l’orange and the Kurobuta pork chops. Of course, you can’t go wrong with a steak and one of their 3 House Dipping Sauces: Chimichurri, Béarnaise, and creamy horseradish.
After dinner, head to the PianoPiano Dueling Piano Show, featuring performers who frequent the Las Vegas piano scene. With showtimes from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. on weekends, you’ll be able to catch a show even if your dinner runs overtime.
This lively lounge – decorated in a burlesque 1920s Prohibition-era style with a sassy upscale atmosphere – encourages audience participation through song requests and interactive sing-alongs across all music genres.
DAY THREE: AM
Awaken your mind, body and soul at Claremont Sanctuary Pilates – a fully-equipped boutique pilates studio with only state-of-the-art STOTT PILATES® equipment – providing customized programs for novice and elite athletes.
A breakfast favorite of locals, Walter’s creates eclectic fare from Mexican omelets to plates of pasta & Afghan dishes in a relaxed space with an ambient outdoor patio. The décor features one-of-a-kind photographs and artwork by several local artists, conjuring the comfort of home with just a touch of the exotic.
As one of the first cities in Southern California to declare itself a Fair Trade Town, shopping at these boutiques support the principles of Fair Trade through ethical and sustainable purchasing choices:
Rio de Ojas offers a unique blend of Mexican folk art, Day of the Dead art, Mexican chocolates, home decor, hand-painted Mexican dishes and imported Spanish foods.
Buddhamouse Emporium promotes peace, beauty, and well-being. Discover beautiful jewelry, large crystals, transcendental statuary, inspirational books and artistic creations at this spiritual center.
Sipping award-winning beers and sampling local ciders and ales is a great way to experience all the locally-made products; plus, there’s always something to celebrate when in Claremont. Fortunately for visitors, you’ll find that a few of the most popular places to imbibe are all within walking distance of each other at a local industrial park. The atmosphere on any given day (Tuesday-Sunday) is inviting and relaxed.
Make your way through tastings at Claremont Craft Ales for its Jacaranda Rye IPA and other seasonal offerings, while Ironbarks Ciderworks offers fresh fruit ciders (gluten-free) and slushies. Of course, you’ll love the laid-back, unpretentious, dog-friendly, casual vibes and the food trucks that pop up if you need a snack.
Wake up your inner ’90s nostalgia with a dose of vintage games in the most family-friendly retro arcade. Lost Levels features an extensive collection of old-school game machines and video game consoles inside the historical Claremont Packing House. As you head down the secret stairway towards a bygone era, it may provoke wonderfully evocative feelings of yesteryear.
Time to share a specialty charcuterie cheese platter paired with a boutique wine as you sit on the wooden deck of one of the most historic buildings in the Inland Empire. Packing House Wines restaurant and wine shop – recently named one of Wine Spectator’s ‘Best of’ – offers wine tastings and Wine Classes 101 for those who would like to appreciate a sommelier’s discerning palate.
Aren’t you curious about what pairs well with Brillat and Jam, Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Blue Cheese or Mac and Cheese?
Claremont is the perfect Southern California destination, and we’ve got several itineraries for you to look at if you’re coming back for another fun weekend. We hope you’ll return for an extended stay in the “city of trees and Ph.D.s” soon.