Escaping LA: Nearby Getaways

What do you think of when you think Los Angeles? Maybe palm trees, sunny skies or waves crashing on beautiful shores. The weather is mild and lovely; a light jacket would suffice on warmer months (and even some days in winter). There is Hollywood and the entertainment scene, with its horde of aspiring actors, A-listers, models, directors and musicians.

With nearly 13 million residents in the greater Los Angeles area, there is a crowd no matter where you go. Such a diverse population leads many things to do and explore in the city, but sometimes we students need a time for ourselves — a moment of rest and serenity, away from everything.

One of the things I love most about Los Angeles is its proximity to a plethora of destinations that are so different from the city. We can find places that are quiet and remote, places where you can actually see the stars (the real ones in the sky). Here are a few of my favorites.

Camping in the Desert: Joshua Tree National Park

The Joshua Tree National Park is like a scene out of a science-fiction movie. The trees look strange, the rocks stands stacked on each other, the desert stretches out to the horizon. The sky turns blood-red at sunset. And as the night falls, countless stars pepper the sky. I had been to many camping trips here, sometimes armed with telescopes (I saw Saturn once, Jupiter twice, Pleiades many times and wished upon several shooting stars). There are modern amenities available in some of the camping grounds, but make sure to bring plenty of layers! While afternoons are blinding hot, winters and nights can be freezing.

Up in the Mountains: Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead

Big Bear is a beloved destination for skiing and snowboarding. Last weekend, I went to stay there for two days and it was still snowing in late February (the day after the snow shower, we had a snowball fight and, afterward, hot chocolate in the warmth of the living room).  You can rent a cabin and enjoy a quiet, chilly mini-vacation with friends and family.

A Bus Ride Away: Santa Barbara, San Diego, Palm Springs

Yes, it’s possible to go on day trips to different cities from Los Angeles. If you drive, good for you! If you, like me, don’t know how to drive, the bus is there to save you! Once, I even took a bus to Las Vegas with a couple of friends (none of us wanted to drive there – the journey took five hours).

Island Life: Catalina

Catalina Island is a great place to relax and unwind. The beaches are very clean, the water so clear that you can see the fishes. The pace of everything is slower, somehow, and it is perfect for a day trip. Here’s a little advice for those interested: go on your birthday — the boat ride will be free!

The beauty of it is how close everything is to Los Angeles. Each is only a few hours’ drive (or boat ride) away. The next time you feel like you need to get away from the city, think of these places and go on an adventure!