Coming from a small town just outside of Chicago, I’m not really used to being surrounded by things like mountains and oceans. When I came to USC, I made it my goal to see as much of California as I could. My freshman year I had the opportunity to explore so many cool places in California, and these are just a few of my favorites.

  1. Sequoia National Park: By far my favorite place I went. While the four hour drive there was a little tiring (made all the better with a pit stop at Panera), the views of the mountains and trees were amazing. While I didn’t get to see a bear, it was pretty awesome to see snow, something I missed from home.

    Malibu Pier

    The drive up the mountain at Sequoia

  2. Malibu: Much closer to campus, but still kind of a hike, Malibu is home to what has become my favorite Thai food and what I consider the prettiest beach in all of SoCal. 
  3. Santa Monica: Super Close to campus, Santa Monica is my go-to place for shopping, site seeing, and to wow any visitors that come into town. It is the definition of movie southern California, and the boardwalk is just as cool as it looks in all the movies.
  4. Eaton Canyon Waterfall: Nestled away near Pasadena, Eaton Canyon was the prettiest hike I went on this year.You hike through rivers and landslides and come up to the most stunning, Instagram worthy waterfall.
  5. Griffith Park: A staple for anyone in LA, Griffith Park is the beginning of the Hollywood sign hike, home to a super cool abandoned zoo, and a great place to do some celebrity sighting (apparently they only go when I’m not there, but lots of friends have seen some there)
  6. Palos Verdes: Last but definitely not least, Palos Verdes is where tons of USC students are from, and its beaches have some of the most insane wildlife. My friend and I are *sure* that we saw a whale, but honestly I have no clue.

    Beaches at Palos Verdes

Well, that’s it. I can’t wait to see what more places I explore this upcoming year. Hopefully I meet some celebrities and actually see a whale this time.

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