Just east of L.A. is a New England college town, all pipe smoke and tweed and thoughtful walks along hushed side streets. More than 50% of residents hold bachelor's degrees, and you're as likely to hear young lovers discussing epistemic theories of truth as you are to see them smooching. The town grew up around the railroad tracks and Pomona College, which moved in 1889 from its nearby namesake into the Hotel Claremont. Pomona soon welcomed two grad schools and four sister campuses, including Scripps, the renowned women's college.
ONE THING TO DO
Put the Class in Classroom
Satisfy your latent back-to-school desires. The Claremont University Consortium schedules more than 100 lectures, plays, debates, concerts and other events each month; go to www.collegescalendar.org to plan your visit. December highlights include a class in bookmaking, with lessons in folding paper, sewing bindings and building wooden spines; a brown bag lunch lecture series called "From Merriam to Guadalupe: Towards a Theory for Religion as Art," featuring a professor of ethnomusicology; and a performance of classic Charlie Parker jazz tunes.
Number of full- time students attending the Claremont Colleges
Tea, Tomes and Threads
The Bamboo Tea House sells more than 20 varieties of green tea, including White-Monkey and Dragon Curl from China, as well as an assortment of teapots and tea accessories from around the world. 221 Yale Ave., (909) 626-7668 . . . At Claremont Books & Prints, owner Charles Goldsmid stocks nine rooms with 80 sections of wall-to-wall used and rare books. With independent bookshops closing in droves, Goldsmid knows why his store is unique:
"I exist," he says with a smile. 128 Yale Ave., (909) 624-0757 . . . Marsha Valencia-Liu, the owner of the Little Dress Shop, worked for designer legend Betsey Johnson before becoming one of the only retailers to carry Betsey's creations in eastern L.A. County. 214 W. 2nd St., (909) 626-2996.
From Spinach to Saganaki
At the Press Restaurant, mother and son duo Rosejane and Stephen Rudicel dish up healthful fare, such as an eggplant and oats burger and a lentil loaf served with brown rice and spinach. Shattered marble floors and wooden rafters complete the scene.
129 Harvard Ave., (909) 625-4808 . . . Embrace your inner mythical deity at Yiannis, a taverna specializing in lamb, moussaka and rich saganaki, cheese flambeed in brandy. Opt for a sidewalk seat and listen to the guitar stylings of a street performer. 238 Yale Ave., (909) 621-2413.
Literary Landmark: In the 1950s, Maud Hart Lovelace and her husband Delos lived at 774 W. 8th St. "Although she sounds as if she could have been a stripper, she was, in fact, the author of a popular children's series," says Ginger Elliott of Claremont Heritage. The "Betsy-Tacy" series, which Lovelace began writing in 1938, includes 13 books that catalog the adventures of two best friends in the fictional town of Deep Valley.