Culture and Cuisine in Claremont
Story and photos by Greg Aragon
laremont, California is more than a sleepy college town with tree-lined
streets, craftsmen homes and sweeping mountain views. It is also an
exciting and eclectic place with great restaurants, pubs, boutique shops,
museums, an awesome botanical garden, hiking, biking and more. A friend
and I snuck away to Claremont recently and had so much fun we are already
planning a return.
Claremont is more than sleepy college town
Our getaway began at the mission-styled DoubleTree by
Hilton Hotel Claremont, where we checked into a spacious suite overlooking
the pool, Jacuzzi and the property's lush interior. The room featured
two queen beds, a 37-inch flat-screen TV, high-speed internet and a
large office desk.
Besides comfortable rooms, the boutique hotel also boasts
a fitness center, a full service day spa, and a gourmet restaurant called
The Orchard, which serves up California-Mediterranean fusion cuisine
for lunch and dinner and a fabulous traditional buffet breakfast. The
restaurant also has a full bar.
The mission-styled DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel makes
a perfect home base
for touring Claremont
Located on historic Route 66, at the foothills of the
San Gabriel Mountains, the DoubleTree hotel makes a perfect home base
for touring Claremont. It is steps from a dinner club with dueling pianos
and comedy called PianoPiano; and a few blocks from The Village, where
the heart of the city beats.
To get to The Village we took the hotels free
shuttle, which serendipitously dropped us off in front of Viva
Madrid, an authentic Spanish restaurant teeming with tasty tapas.
I heard of a great Spanish restaurant in Claremont, but I didn't know
where to look until the driver opened the door and there is it was.
Our Viva Madrid meal began with Gamba al Ajillo,
a favorite tapa in Spain, which features shrimp cooked with garlic,
white wine, parsley, lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil. Next we
devoured Espárragos con Salmon, a delightful dish of asparagus
wrapped with smoked salmon.
Viva Madrid is an authentic Spanish restaurant teeming
with tasty tapas
Continuing down the extensive tapas list, we split a
Spanish salad with carrots, beets, fennel, and cucumber in a pomegranate
dressing. We then enjoyed various tapas with fried squid with aloli
sauce; steamed clams in a spicy paprika sauce; and mussels with onions,
garlic, tomato and garlic sauce.
While eating we sipped Estrella de Galcia, a smooth,
refreshing Spanish beer, and admired the restaurants Spanish-styled
décor, with large, old wooden front door, wooden chairs, a faux
balcony, and walls lined with a bulls head, swords, sculptures,
mirrors and paintings.
After dinner we strolled through The Village and discovered
the Hip Kitty
Jazz and Fondue, a swanky and intimate jazz supper club and lounge.
Located in a renovated 1922 Packing House, the place sparkles with a
warm, vintage style that harkens back to an era when jazz was
subversive and fondue was all the rage.
Hip Kitty Jazz and Fondue is a swanky,retro, intimate
jazz supper club and lounge
The 21 and over Hip Kitty offers a retro menu with a
wide selection of cheese, chocolate, and meat and seafood fondues in
addition to a lounge menu. The place also has live music every night.
During our visit, a group called Sean Amato & Friends were belting
out a fantastic set of classic rock, American Standards and original
The next morning, we enjoyed a delicious buffet breakfast
at the hotel and worked out at the fitness center. We then lounged by
the pool until heading back to The Village for a visit to the Folk
Music Center and Museum, where we played guitars and ukuleles and
learned about the rich folk culture that has become a part of Claremont.
From here we visited the Raymond
M. Alf Museum of Paleontology, the only paleontology museum located
on a high school campus in the nation. The museum has two large circular
exhibition floors: the Hall of Life and the Hall of Footprints.
The Hall of Life traces the history of life on earth
through exhibits spanning the first cells through human civilization.
Highlights of this space include the oldest known single-celled and
multicellular organisms; dinosaur skulls and skeletons, including the
horned Centrosaurus, the fierce predators Tyrannosaurus and Allosaurus,
duck billed dinosaurs, a giant alligator skull fossil from the Amazon,
and a large collection of fossils from saber toothed cats, titanotheres,
and three-toed horses.
The Hall of Footprints is the largest, most diverse
collection of animal footprints on display in North America. On display
here is one of the most spectacular fossil footprint collection in the
world, as well as the oldest fossil elephant (proboscidean) footprints
from North America, tracks of the giant bear-dog, Amphicyon, with a
mounted skeletal cast, and rare footprints from extinct spiders and
The Alf Museum of Paleontology is an exciting and
informative trip back in time
We concluded our getaway at the Rancho
Santa Ana Botanic Garden. Home to the 10th largest herbarium in
the US, the gardens house more than a million plant specimens, almost
half of which are California plants. Since it was summer, we got to
see pink desert willows and yellow Palo Verdes mix with the tawny browns,
soft grays and greens of the many grasses, shrubs, and trees.
by Hilton Hotel Claremont is located at 555 W. Foothill Blvd, Claremont,
91711. For more info, call 909-626-2411 or visit: www.doubletree3.hilton.com.
For more information on visiting Claremont, visit: www.discoverclaremont.com.
Dulce and the Sierra Pelona Valley; Morongo
Casino Resort & Spa; Riverside
Mission Inn; A
Trek to La Quinta; Fall
Fun in Santa Monica; Warner
Springs Ranch, San Diego; Bahia
Resort hotel, San Diego