Spending a Day in Claremont, a Leafy College Town with World-Class Art

A gem amid a sea of sprawl

Leafy enclaves around L.A. don’t get any leafier than Claremont, the college town and onetime citrus community beneath Mount Baldy. An island of academia surrounded by a sea of sprawl that extends through the Inland Empire, Claremont brings town and gown together in its walkable village.

Quick Stops


Indulge: In a Mission-style icehouse from Claremont’s citrus heyday, Back Abbey pairs such favorites as its namesake burger (aged Gouda, mustard aioli, caramelized onions) with Belgian brews on tap. You’ll also want the pommes frites cooked in duck fat.

Discover: South Pas’s Gus’s Barbecue just arrived at the Packing House, a 1922 citrus facility where you can attend themed tastings at Packing House Wines and rediscover the pleasures of print at the Claremont Forum Bookshop & Gallery.

Sip: Union on Yale, a sleek midcentury hang, has record covers on the walls and bocce on the patio, though its biggest draws are the craft cocktails and fried chicken. It’s near the Cheese Cave, a primo place to satisfy your curdy cravings.

Listen: Opened in 1958 by the grandparents of owner Ben Harper, the Folk Music Center is where you might find the dulcimer of your dreams. There are monthly open mic nights, and SoCal notables Dave Alvin and I See Hawks in L.A. occasionally play.

Make a Day of It


Great Walls: In addition to murals by local boys Milford Zornes and Millard Sheets, Claremont boasts works by leading Mexican masters. José Clemente Orozco’s 1930 Prometheus dominates Pomona College’s Hogwarts-style Frary Dining Hall. In 1946 Alfredo Ramos Martinez painted The Flower Vendors in the hidden Margaret Fowler Garden and Oratory on the Scripps College campus.

Art Attack: At Claremont Museum of Art, located in the city’s 1927 Spanish Colonial Revival depot, you’ll find works by such internationally acclaimed artists from town as painter Karl Benjamin (below).

Light Show: Even as Pomona College alum James Turrell toils on his epic Roden Crater project in Arizona, around sunrise and sunset Saturdays through Mondays you can marvel at the interplay of lighting and sky at this class of ’65 perceptual psychology major’s Skyspace installation on campus.

Green Giants: Wander from the boojums of Baja to the coast redwoods on a journey into California landscapes at the 86-acre Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.

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