Head east from Los Angeles to explore this hidden gem
Things to do
Places to Eat & Drink
Thirty miles east of Los Angeles, the suburban city of Claremont has a walkable downtown village, a lively dining scene, and eclectic museums. The city holds onto some of its early Spanish influence with historic buildings, including the Padua Hills Theater and Claremont Station, and has updated shopping and eateries that make for an appealing quick trip from Los Angeles (made easy by Metrolink, which takes visitors from Union Station in L.A. to Claremont’s Santa Fe Depot).
Want to shop, eat, and enjoy entertainment all in one spot? A good place to start is the Claremont Packing House, the city’s largest historic building and now home to a food hall, located in Claremont Village, a downtown neighborhood with more than 50 artisan stores, studios, galleries, and restaurants. It’s the place to be any day of the week, with openings, art walks, and special events happening regularly, including the Claremont Gallery at the Packing House every Friday night and a farmers and artisans market on Sundays.
For more California cuisine, chef Alain Fournier has you covered at Bardot. Housed in the former home of Harold Lloyd’s Village Theater, the outdoor patio acts as a venue for black-and-white movie nights which pair perfectly with the vino and vintage flair. The food is fresh and inventive, and the specialty cocktails change based on the season (order the bartender’s choice to try something new). Craft beer connoisseurs should make their way to Claremont Craft Ales, a family-run pub that offers specially brewed beers. The selections are hoppy and the tasting rooms are popping, with the signature and seasonal ales keeping fans coming back for more. Food trucks and vendors switch up nightly, and regular special events include Yoga on Tap, Crafts with Craft, and Bowties, Bingo, and Beer night. (Bonus: You can take a growler to go!)
Once you’re well fed, head to the 86-acre California Botanic Garden. This private conservatory is home to the largest collection of native California plants, including Joshua trees, Torrey pines, California fan palms, and a Grove of Thorns. With more than 22,000 plants (some of which are endangered), botany lovers will appreciate the sights and scents, as well as the guided specialty tours, including bird walks and medicinal plants and folklore. Or take a trip to the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park, located at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains and Angeles National Forest, and take a hike on the five-mile loop or shorter trails for views of Downtown L.A. and Catalina Island.
If dinosaurs and history are more your speed, check out the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology. Jurassic Park fans will enjoy this up-close-and-personal look at prehistoric fossils, footprints, and other fascinating paleontology finds, and visitors of all ages will “ooh” and “ahh” over the Hall of Life, home to some of the newest finds from students and researchers today. Another unique, must-see museum in the area is the Folk Music Center, which is also part store and educational facility. Regular performances and exhibitions provide opportunities for visitors year-round, but the annual folk festival brings in the genre’s best to play for a crowd of thousands. The non-profit center aims to make folk accessible to novices and virtuosos alike, with classes, workshops, and some of the most rare and unique instruments ever created. Want to buy or sell a one-of-a-kind ukulele, or maybe just see one up close? The FMC is the place to be.