Small-Town Spotlight: Claremont

Small-Town Spotlight: Claremont

By Rachael Medina
Staff Writer February 11, 2020

Nestled in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, about 45 minutes from Los Angeles, Claremont is a quaint college town full of tree-lined streets and quiet suburbs. With roots in the citrus-packing industry, the region is now known as “The City of Trees and PhDs,” thanks to its 24,000 trees and large percentage of doctoral residents. Situated between downtown Los Angeles and the vast Inland Empire, Claremont offers the best of both worlds. 

The city of Claremont is a charming escape complete with miles of hiking trails, dozens of eateries, locally owned boutiques, and endless beauty. Though the once-famous citrus orchards along historic Route 66 have been replaced by upscale apartments, family-friendly suburbs, and mom-and-pop shops, the small-town appeal still remains—with more to experience than ever. 

There is nothing quite like a stroll down Claremont's tree-lined streets. Photo courtesy of Kent Kanouse.

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Whether you want to peruse the shops in Claremont Village, drive into the foothills of Mount Baldy to hike the Potato Mountain Wilderness Trail, visit the collection of Claremont Colleges, or immerse yourself in California’s native plants at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, this diverse suburb has something for everyone. 

Drive around to get acquainted with the city and check out the unique architecture. Stained-glass Victorian mansions, Colonial houses, bungalows, and red-roofed Spanish Colonial Revival buildings sit side-by-side, alluding to the Southern California town’s rich history. Slowly cruise past the corner of First Street and College Avenue to see the oldest house in Claremont; built in 1887, the Sumner House is a historic landmark and one of the best representations of Queen Anne Victorian architecture. 

Afterward, visit Claremont Village to wander around the shops, consider taking a cooking class, and pop into the Claremont Farmers & Artisans Market on Sundays. If time permits, walk over to the Claremont Museum of Art to get a better understanding of the local culture before continuing on. Then, walk to the western edge of the shopping center until you come upon the Claremont Packing House. First opened in 1922 as the College Heights Orange and Lemon Association’s packing house, the space now hosts a variety of boutiques, eateries, and entertainment venues. 

Spend some time getting to know the art and culture of the town at the local art museum. Photo courtesy of the Claremont Museum of Art.

Once you’ve shopped to your heart’s content, head out on a filming-location tour. Since Claremont is within close proximity to Hollywood, it’s become a popular backdrop for movies and shows, including Gilmore Girls, The West Wing, Mrs. Doubtfire, Bird Box, and The Facts of Life. Make a quick stop at the (allegedly haunted) Old School House before continuing toward Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. Home to a curated collection of over 22,000 native plants, this is the largest California-specific botanical garden. If you feel encouraged to explore more of the region’s natural wonders, cruise to Claremont Hills Wilderness Park and trek the five-mile loop to see the stunning vistas and rolling green hills. 

Then, get a close look at California's native plant species at the botanical garden. Photo courtesy of the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.

With free downtown parking, idyllic scenery, and plenty to do in Claremont, there’s no reason not to visit. Did we miss your favorite spot in Claremont? Drop your recommendations in the comments below.

Staff Writer
Rachael Medina

Staff Writer Rachael Medina

Rachael Medina is the staff writer and content manager for California.com. She was born and raised just outside the Mojave Desert in Southern California and moved to the redwood forests of Humboldt C…

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