Claremont CA: Small Town So Cal

Small towns in southern California make for the best day trips. One of my favorites is the little village of Claremont, a sleepy college town a bit over 30 miles east of Los Angeles.

One of the older towns in Los Angeles county, in the late 1800's Claremont built its first college: Pomona College.  At that time there was a small commercial center north of the Santa Fe railroad tracks running into Los Angeles from San Bernardino and beyond.

A rich history surrounds this town, the old Village core still vital with restaurants and shops. North of this is the older residential area.  Streets lined with bungalows, Spanish, English and other style homes are shaded under big trees. To the east of the Village is College Ave.  There the now nine colleges, most easily seen by walking the pathways from one campus to the next in the area east of College Ave.

Start your morning here at Yale and Bonita Avenues, and walk south along Yale down the two blocks to the street's end at First Ave. It's here that the old Santa Fe station sits, the tracks now part of the Metrolink line into Los Angeles.

Second Street connects the newer shops and restaurants west of the Village (west of Indian Hill) in this pedestrian friendly town. This side of Indian Hill Blvd was where the huge College Heights Orange and Lemon packing house was located during the citrus boom years from the early 1900's to the mid-1950's.  The groves were replaced over the years by urban housing which began to take over the landscape in the 1950's and 60's.

This is one village where you can bring your bike and ride around to see the sights. In fact, biking is probably the best way to see the adjacent colleges as well.

You will find Stover Walk starting at College Ave just north of Fourth. This is a lovely way to enter the Pomona College campus. To the south a block is the Pomona College Museum of Art where inspiring exhibits are shown year round.

Once you enter the campus, walk north through Pomona, Claremont McKenna, Scripps and Harvey Mudd colleges.  Pitzer lies east of these, and the others are generally to the west. It helps to refer to a map so you don't miss out on some of the highlights: Frary Dining Hall with it's frescos and the Margaret Fowler Memorial Garden are probably best known, but tiny gardens, big lawns, and architecture of note are at every turn.

After a long afternoon in the colleges, it's always nice to return to the Village for tea or coffee before heading back home again.

I have also reviewed small town Sierra Madre, if you enjoy finding villages to visit.

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