One of the most anticipated weekends of the year, Family Weekend, has come and gone. Whether your family stayed home, your parents came, or you were visited by your parents, siblings, and a distant relative, the electric buzz on campus is fun for all. Although many students eagerly look forward to this weekend, there is also a bit of stress that comes with it. This stress is particularly associated with the daunting question … WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY FAMILY FOR 3 WHOLE DAYS?
We have all felt the weight of this question. It is funny to think that even though you have lived with your parents your whole life, this is suddenly the time where you actually think about having to entertain them. Whether your family comes for family weekend or chooses to drop in a different time, figuring out activities can be difficult. Although I am from Kansas City, as “empty nesters” my parents drop in every chance they can, which is about 4 times a semester. Safe to say, I’ve learned the ropes about how to plan a weekend that will be exciting and fun for your parents but also keep you as a student sane with impending projects and midterms in the following week.
I propose to you, a 5 part roadmap for guaranteed hosting success.
1. Explore LA
Want to spice it up and get a change of scenery? Lucky for you, LA is full of places to explore! A winner in my opinion is The Grove! Located in West Hollywood, about a 25-30 minute drive from campus, The Grove is a trendy outdoor shopping area that has shops every member of your family will enjoy. If you go at night, walk under the twinkling lights and enjoy a warm chocolate chip cookie shot from Dominique Ansel bakery. If shopping isn’t your thing, the beach is always my go-to spot with my parents (my fav is Manhattan Beach). A trip to the beach gives you some personal relaxation time after a long week of classes along with a natural excuse to stay silent for an hour 🙂 Getting some sun is just what my parents need before they travel home to colder weather. Whether you go shopping, go to the beach, go hiking, or walk downtown, LA will never leave you and your family without something to do.
2. USC self-guided tour
If you are an engineer, it is safe to say that the weekend does not begin the minute your parents arrive. For me, my week is only getting started as my schedule is loaded with hours of class on both Thursday and Friday. Unfortunately, we must all continue the “grind,” leaving our parents hours of freedom during the day. Need a fool-proof way to entertain your parents? Send them on a self-guided USC tour! Print out a campus map and circle the buildings you have class in, your favorite places to eat, where you work out, and major landmarks on campus. Parents love getting the chance to actually see where you work and the spaces that you utilize every day! Plus, sending your parents on these adventures will keep them occupied and give you some precious study hours.
3. USC football jock rally
Although my dad and I constantly debate whether this should be called a “pep rally” or a “jock rally,” this is the place to be if you and your family are interested in USC’s strong football tradition. The jock rally takes place on Friday night around 4:45-5 in the back of Heritage Hall (where the Heismans are) in preparation for the big game the following day. The rally includes our incredible band, the song girls, the spirit squad, and the entire football team — the whole Sha-bang! Come to watch as your favorite football stars get hyped and listen to the band play old favorites and our famed fight song. There is only one home game left vs. UCLA so the last “jock rally” of the year is Friday 11/22/19. Try it out!
My personal favorite part of my parents visiting, THE FOOD! Although going to the dining halls and cooking in my apartment is great, I would be lying to you if I said that I haven’t been planning my dinner outings with my parents all semester. All those boxes of ramen and Trader Joe’s microwavable meals are suddenly forgotten when my family whisks me away to dive into LA’s top notch food scene. As a “foodie,” I love parent’s weekend because it is a chance to try new restaurants. Whether you go out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or a combination, going out to eat with your family is a nice activity that takes up time and is super rewarding for all parties involved. Some of my favorite spots to take your parents close to campus include Thai by Trio, Bacari, and Northern Cafe. If you are willing to venture further, Bottega Louie and Kazunori are some of my favorites.
This year, my family and I went to Takami for sushi which was incredible. Takami is on the 25th floor of a downtown skyrise. For an aesthetic experience that matches the delicious food quality, this is your place.
And what would family weekend be without a trip to the BEST ICE CREAM STORE OF ALL TIME (in my opinion hehe) SALT AND STRAW! Yep, you guessed it. I go here way too much. Thanksgiving flavors are out now so give it a shot if you haven’t been yet!
Family weekend = feast weekend
5. Attend a USC sporting event
Nothing screams family weekend like singing the fight song and watching our trojans fight on to victory (ideally). While the outcome against Oregon may have not been ideal this time around, football Saturdays are an iconic and extremely exciting event that is a “must” for your 5 star family weekend. For my family, we started with a gameday brunch at The Perch before we cruised through the campus festivities. There is nothing like walking down Trousdale Boulevard among all the tailgaters, listening to the USC band march to the Colliseum and kicking the flagpole.
Apart from football, our USC trojans excel across all sports. Currently, our Women’s Soccer and Men’s Water Polo team are ranked # 7 in the nation and our Men’s basketball team looks to have a promising season after a recent win over Villanova! All of these events are free for students and fun for all! Regardless of the score, these activities are always a “win”.
I love when my family visits me at school. Not only is it fun to show your family where you go to class and go out to fun dinners, it is also so exciting to introduce your parents to friends they have only heard about on the phone. Although there is apparent pressure to squeeze every inch of fun out of the busy weekend, remember that you are a student first and that your parents understand, and probably even admire, if you need to step out for a bit and get some work done. Trust me, there is plenty here to keep them occupied!
Hopefully these suggestions give you some inspiration for next year’s family weekend or anytime your family visits! Let me know what you try out, I am always eager for new ideas!