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L.A. Union Station. Image credit: Peter C/Flickr

Looking to get out of Claremont and into the city for the weekend? Along with the other day trips, day hikes and Valley destinations that you can peruse on The Forum, this guide will provide you with useful information to ensure a perfect twelve hours in metropolitan Los Angeles.

9:00 am – Depart

Hop on the Claremont Metrolink, located around First Street & College Avenue, to Los Angeles Union Station. Prices are $15.50 for a one-day, round trip ticket with a travel time of about one hour. Check the Metrolink website ahead of time for an exact train schedule.

10:30 am – Breakfast or Brunch at The Huntley

Upon arriving at Union Station, take an Uber or taxi up to the Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica to enjoy breakfast (weekdays) or brunch (weekends) at The Penthouse. Try the coffee cake or the make-your-own omelets that rival McConnell’s best all while taking in the scenic 19-story view of Santa Monica, the sprawling seaside, and a mountainous backdrop to top it off. Be sure to make your reservations ahead to save on waiting time.

Third Street Promenade
Third Street Promenade. Image credit: Kent Kanouse/Flickr

12:00 pm – Third Street Promenade

Once you’re finished at the Huntley, walk over to Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade to browse and shop with over 100 stores at your fingertips. You can find everything from Fossil to Zara to Kitson. Watch the street performers and treat yourself to something nice from your favorite store.

1:00 pm – Santa Monica Beach or Venice Beach

Walk over to Santa Monica beach or drive about 15 minutes down to Venice Beach to soak up the sun. Depending on your crowd, try Santa Monica Beach for a classic, kitschy pier, complete with corn dogs, carnival rides, and sandy stretches of beach that go on for miles, or visit Venice Beach to do some people watching, shop in hip, grungier stores, and to take a stroll down the famous Ocean Front Walk.

2:30 pm – Lunch at Bottega Louie

Head back to downtown and grab lunch at Bottega Louie, a restaurant featuring modern decor, high ceilings, and gorgeous flooring. Enjoy this bustling Italian spot that serves pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, and more. Don’t forget the brightly colored, delicious macarons available in flavors both classic and innovative (try the earl grey or passion fruit caramel) as a to-go snack.

The Last Bookstore
The Last Bookstore. Image credit: Chris Alcoran/Flickr

4:00 pm – The Last Bookstore & Grand Central Market

Walk over to The Last Bookstore, a large, artsy used-and-new book/record shop that describes itself as “glorious, Borgesian, [and] mad.” The mesmerizing and innovative multi-level layout will undoubtedly convince you to buy a book you’ve never heard of and take tons of photos to remember the place later. No matter if you’re a book lover or not, this sprawling yet homey shop will captivate your attention for at least an hour. After perusing to your heart’s content, take the short walk to the Homer Laughlin Building to visit the first floor Grand Central Market, L.A.’s largest and oldest public market. Grab a cup of coffee and a mouthwatering cookie before you begin to wander through the numerous stalls of food and goods that this farmer’s market/bazaar combination has to offer. Discover new cheeses and old spices by exploring the various stalls that sell everything from kale to bagels in a fantastic display of L.A.’s cultural and ethnic diversity.

6:30 pm – Dinner at Calle Olvera

Head in the direction of Union Station and visit Olvera Street, also known as Calle Olvera, to check out a hub of Los Angeles’s Hispanic and Latino population. Grab a churro, a glass of jamaica, or a bag of rueditas as a snack while you walk around and enjoy the hanging lights of Calle Olvera in the evening. The brightly colored tienditas sell the staples of Hispanic culture: find yourself a Baja poncho, a brightly colored saltillo blanket, a candle bearing an image of the Virgin Mary, or a huge, jangling sombrero. Be sure to eat dinner here in order to experience some of the best and most authentic Mexican food in L.A.

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The Troubadour. Image credit: Justin Higuchi

8:00 pm – Pick a spot in West Hollywood

Pick your poison, from the classic clubs—The Roxy, Whiskey a Go Go, the Viper Room—to the newer and more casual hangouts—The Den, the Hudson, the Surly Goat, Kitchen 24—in glamorous West Hollywood. Catch a concert at the Troubadour or the House of Blues, or even explore Sunset Strip. Choose an activity to fit your evening L.A. mood and you’ll be sure to enjoy yourself.

Hop on a train back to Claremont from Union Station before midnight for your round-trip Metrolink ticket and grab a milkshake from In-N-Out on your way back to ultimately round out a fantastic day trip into the city.