Until I visited USC last March, I had never been to Los Angeles. When I arrived in LA for my campus visit, I knew very little about the city beyond its idyllic depiction in La La Land, a movie which left me excited to have those quintessentially LA experiences seen in the film.
After my visit, I realized why all of my family had told me that I’d have plenty of things to do in LA. Though I’d known it was a big city, I’d had no idea how massive it was– how many different neighborhoods there were to explore, restaurants to try, museums to enjoy, and beaches to tan on. I can honestly say I was a bit overwhelmed. How would I make time to enjoy this incredible city while also keeping up with my school work and getting involved on campus?
Going to new places in and around LA has become one of my favorite ways to spend my freetime. Looking back on my year, I’m really satisfied with the number of places I’ve been able to go, but for every place I’ve been I’ve found five new places to check out. In the rest of this post, I’m going to talk about some of my favorite spots, from Malibu to Griffith Park.
As my friends know, I’m a bit obsessed with going to the beach. And by obsessed I mean I get cranky and complain when I haven’t seen the ocean in two weeks. Because of this, I’ve spent many weekends on various beaches in the area. Santa Monica and Venice are great because of their accessibility– you can take the Metro line that goes right past campus straight to Santa Monica. However, I’ve also journeyed further away to Malibu (north of LA) and Laguna (south of LA). Both beaches were gorgeous, much quieter than Santa Monica, and perfect places to destress for a few hours. Definitely would recommend!
One of my favorite places to hike in LA has been Runyon Canyon. It’s a loop that’s only a couple miles and looks out over Hollywood. Pro-tip: try to go earlier in the morning on a weekend, it’s not too far from campus and is a great way to motivate and start your day! Plus, if you’re a dog person there are plenty of dogs out and about at all times. Another hiking spot that’s close to Runyon is Griffith Park. There are many trails in the park, though I always find ones that lead up to Griffith Observatory, a beautiful building made famous in La La Land. Take any trail up, but I’d recommend going closer to sunset and watching the sunset from the observatory. Bring a flashlight so you can find your way back down or take one of the many buses back to the parking lots.
It’s undeniable that LA is a foodie’s paradise. I’ll share two of my favorite spots to eat with you. The first one is Apple Pan, a little diner serving delicious burgers and fresh pies. It’s a cash-only, counter seating establishment. Get a hickory burger, fries, and a slice of banana cream pie!
If you know me, then you know that I’m a huge fan of ice cream. I firmly believe that Salt & Straw serves some of the best ice cream in the country– and there’s one only twenty minutes from campus. Try flavors before making a decision, and get a waffle cone (you won’t regret it)!
My parents are both artists, and because of this I’ve been to many different museums in my lifetime. LA has many world-class museums which I’d encourage you to check out! My favorite is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which features tons of modern art including works by Picasso (my favorite artist!). Another awesome museum is the J. Paul Getty Museum, which is situated on a hilltop looking out over all of LA. Enjoy the views and be sure to check out the sculpture garden!
Finally, I’ve also checked out the Getty Villa on a field trip with my Engineering Freshman Academy class, where we enjoyed the ancient Greek and Roman art and architecture and learned about the museum’s unique construction to protect the art from earthquakes.
Though I’ve been to many places there are still so many more to explore! Stay tuned to see where my next adventures take me!