In Los Angeles, it’s all about finding a niche. It’s about making and recreating oneself. It’s all about owning the city, while finding places one can explore and discover — alone or with others. Little personal things, such as having a coffee shop to escape to, or a restaurant with a favorite dish, can help brighten a bad day. For those just embarking on their journeys here at USC, Los Angeles is a city they will call home for the next four years, so don’t be afraid to go out and experience all it has to offer.
After checking out the Broad, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Getty Center and the Getty Villa, stop by smaller galleries, such as Gallery 1988, which specializes in L.A.’s pop culture art, or Thinkspace Gallery, which showcases work from the underground art scene. Because Los Angeles — especially Downtown’s Gallery Row — is an epicenter for art and culture, spending a day gallery hunting will be an enlightening and Instagrammable experience.
Recommend: Visiting the Getty Villa early in the morning after eating breakfast at the Malibu Pier Café.
From Warner Bros. to Sony, Pictures, tour the famous studio sets and see where the best movies and TV shows are filmed.
Recommend: Bringing a water bottle and wearing comfortable walking shoes.
ARCLIGHT CINEMA ON SUNSET BLVD.
Catch Q&A’s with your favorite actors and directors at the ArcLight Cinema on Sunset Boulevard. Afterward, check out the famous record store Amoeba Music on the corner across the street.
Recommend: Buying your ticket online, just in case you arrive at the theatre and the movie is sold out.
Signing up for TheWrap Screenings comes especially handy during awards season. Pay attention to which screenings come with an after-party invite.
Avoid: Pushing an Oscar-nominated director out of the way for crab puffs.
Whether at FYF Fest to catch Frank Ocean live or at the Staples Center to see Lorde, don’t miss out on the chance to see the best artists live in concert. Free concerts are more frequent during the summer, but be on the lookout for more affordable shows, especially from local bands.
Recommend: Not feeling pressured about missing out on Coachella.
BECOME A FOODIE
After checking Yelp reviews and skimming over the restaurant menus, try some of the best, the worst and the “in-between” eateries in Southern California. There are various options for a breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea time, dinner — whatever you’re in the mood for, this city has it.
Recommend: Eating at Urth Caffé, Eggslut, Joan’s on Third, Sycamore Kitchen, République, Belcampo Burger, Maccheroni Republic, Sage Organic Bistro, In-n-Out Burger, Sugarfish, Gracias Madre and Georgie.
CAFE AU LAIT, S’IL VOUS PLAIT
Los Angeles is becoming more known for its coffee shops. Find a spot to study, hang out or relax in and seek refuge from all the college stress.
Recommend: Visiting Organic Honey, Alfred’s, Groundworks Organic Coffee, Blue Bottle Coffee and Coffee Colab.
HIKING AT ESCONDIDO FALLS
Los Angeles has amazing hiking destinations and other recreational opportunities. When heavy rain hit Los Angeles in early 2017, the waterfalls began to flow again. Of course, the waterfalls are still there without the rain, but the water doesn’t run as profusely. For the courageous, there is the option to rock climb up to view two other waterfalls. If not, a 45-minute hike through the Malibu Mountains to the first waterfall is still worth it.
Avoid: Hiking alone, or after sunset.
SUNRISE AT GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY
Head to Griffith Observatory early in the morning to catch the sunrise over Los Angeles. Afterward, go for a hike on one of the several trails at Griffith Park. Recommend: Taking caution of the coyotes and wearing slip-resistant shoes.
MORNING HIKE TO THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN
The first 45 minutes of the Canyon Drive Trail may be a bit rough because of the incline, but once the trail plateaus, the hike is much easier. Or, visit the horse stables here and ride your way up on the back of an Appaloosa.
Recommend: Bringing an external battery so your phone doesn’t die at the top of the mountain, leaving you stranded.
CULVER CITY STAIRS
The view of Los Angeles at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook is worth the hike up a series of 282 irregularly designed steps.
Recommend: Taking the easier trail back down.
THE FULL HOLLYWOOD PACKAGE
Get the classic tourist experience by visiting Madame Tussauds, the Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Also, drop by a Hollywood Star ceremony, then buy some old-fashioned souvenirs at local art shops. Later, catch a late-night movie at the iconic Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
Avoid: Summoning ghosts.
THE LAST BOOKSTORE
The Last Bookstore is the largest record and book store in California. Remember to check out the Arts 7 Rare Book Annex, and pick out a vinyl as well. Try selling, exchanging, or donating old DVDs, CDs, books or records.
Recommend: Attending one of the late night events, which range from theatrical to musical and everything in between.
Spend the day at Disneyland with your friends (even if you already know Disney World is a lot better). Don’t forget to buy a pair of Mickey Mouse ears as a souvenir! A
void: Constantly reminding everyone Disney World is a lot better.
EL MATADOR STATE BEACH
Go early to explore this Malibu beach. Relax in the cave for a while or pose on the beautiful rocks for some high-quality Instagram pictures. Then, climb up the cliffs to witness a breathtaking view of the ocean.
Avoid: Swimming in the water with large, scattered rocks.
VENICE & SANTA MONICA
Rent some skates or a bike near the Santa Monica Pier, or Venice Beach. Afterward, enjoy a nice seafood lunch by the water, or go shopping on the 3rd Street Promenade.
Recommend: Strolling along the streets to see some of the talented performers.
Have fun, good luck and Fight On!