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Monday, September 14, 2015

Back to School - The Ivy League of the West, Claremont, California

It’s only 40 minutes away in good traffic but riding the train out here seems like you’re on the east coast, taking  the  Metro North out of the city. The streets are lined with leafy, mature trees…many that drop their leaves in late fall…the coffee bars filled with bearded college professors and students trying to get a degree within this lifetime.
Known as the “Ivy League of the West,” the handful of universities that make up the Claremont Colleges are names that regularly appear on each year’s list of the best… Claremont-McKenna, Pomona College, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Scripps.

There’s money, talent, and knowledge wandering around here. It’s also a good reason why so many people fall in love with the Inland Empire town of Claremont separated by two sets of hills, a valley, and four freeways from Los Angeles and bumps up right against the San Bernardino County line.

The heart of Claremont is a 10 square block area halfway between the 10 and 210 freeways along Indian Hill Boulevard known at The Village. It’s here where you’ll find the best of what the town offers.
Possibly the most transit-enabled town in the Inland Empire, Claremont is served well by Metrolink commuter rail from Union Station in Los Angeles and the buses of Foothill Transit. The trains and buses converge on the beautifully restored train depot at the south end of The Village making everything within walking distance and eliminating the need for a car.

If you do want to drive, that’s okay too. There’s plenty of parking and the area is bracketed by two major freeways.

Arriving in the morning, you can grab a quick breakfast at Crepes de Paris at the new addition to The Village, the Packing House, on the west side of Indian Hill Boulevard. The Packing House is an old citrus packing shed that’s be redesigned into a space for shops, restaurants, and nightclubs.  Night owls will want to visit the Hip Kitty jazz club here or the comedy club upstairs.

Walking off breakfast, head east to Yale Avenue…one block east of Indian Hill…where The Village’s “downtown” is.  The last Rhino Records shop exists here along with the world famous Claremont Folk Music Center. This little music shop, crammed with every instrument you can imagine, and many you can’t, is a popular stop for some of the world’s top musicians to stop by and give impromptu concerts.

Going a couple of blocks further east you come across the campuses of the colleges, all kind of mixed together.  Check bulletin boards…you can catch some free entertainment such as concerts or plays. The colleges are associated with SCIAC, a NCAA athletic conference, and you can catch some college sports there too such as football, basketball, and baseball.  The stadium where the Claremont-McKenna-Scripps Stags play…located in a little pine forest…is one of the prettiest you’ll ever see.
If you’re hungry for lunch, stop in one of the several cafeterias on campus or Café Sagehen, a full-service sit down restaurant serving upscale meals with wine and beer available. Back in The Village, a number of restaurants serve a great lunch too.  Pizza ‘n Such, Village Diner, and Espiau’s  are suitable for a nice midday meal.

After lunch, options include going to Bert and Rocky’s at the north end of Yale Avenue for ice cream and dessert; going up to the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens a few blocks north on Foothill for some great wheelchair accessible hiking trails; or taking in a matinee at the Laemmle Theatre on Indian Hill and Bonita Avenue.

If you’re still around at dinner time, Claremont has two of the gourmet burger places in Southern California. The Back Abbey (in the alley behind the Laemmle) serves its signature burger…a large patty with aged gouda, mustard aoli, carmelized onions bacon, and fresh greens served on brioche… along with a nice selection of Belgian beers.

Just around the corner, back at the Packing House, is Eureka!...serving a range of gourmet burgers that is as good as the Back Abbey…along with their selection of local craft brews.
Looking for something more than burgers? Aruffo’s serves quality Italian fare in a relaxed atmosphere back over on Yale.

Some people fall in love enough to spend the night. Casa 425, across from the Packing House, is the area’s trendy boutique hotel.
If you’re in Southern California, save a day to visit this pretty college town just a short drive…or train ride…east of Los Angeles.

For more information, visit The Village's website:
Copyright 2012 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved


  1. What took you here Darryl? Classes, a conference, work, or simply a day trip?

  2. Just having some fun, I live nearby so we find ourselves here quite a bit.