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Every spring, prospective students and their parents make the pilgrimage to Claremont, California, to tour the seven campuses of the renowned Claremont Colleges. They also discover a small city that blends worldly sophistication with small-town appeal.
About 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, and joined to it by Interstate 10 and Metrolink trains, Claremont is, geographically, a Los Angeles suburb. Spiritually, it’s distinct. In the neighborhoods along Indian Hill Boulevard, American elms shade streets lined by vintage cottages and Craftsman bungalows. A few minutes’ walk from the campuses, Claremont’s compact downtown (known to everyone as The Village) mixes contemporary restaurants and boutiques with local landmarks that grads from the 1980s remember from their days at Scripps or Pomona.
Claremont visitors always mean it as compliment when they conclude that this smart, leafy community (“the city of trees and PhDs”) reminds them of a college town back East. But Claremont is no Wellesley wannabe. It’s Californian through and through, a onetime citrus town with easy access to both the wilds of the San Gabriel Mountains and the culture of Los Angeles. Claremont strives to preserve its character, even as it evolves. For longtime and newer residents, it’s that small-town-meets-big-world connection that defines Claremont.
Population: 35,824. Median home price: $624,000.