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Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

  • after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.
  • after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

As two college students not from California, we are so so fortunate to be able to live in one of the greatest places in the world: Southern California. Being UCLA and Pomona students, there is always something to do in LA and its nearby areas if you have a free weekend from classwork or even a chill weekday! It’s great to be able to go off campus and explore the city. 

In this post, we will be taking you through EIGHT different adventures you can go on. Living in Southern California means you’re able to have all kinds of adventures without ever repeating or getting bored. 

Before we get planning your adventures, there’s the big question. 

How do we get there on a college student’s budget?

For a lot of college students, getting places is a problem. For people that live in the middle of nowhere, it’s almost impossible to be able to have an adequate transportation system. However, getting from place to place in Southern California is super easy! 

Some people will have cars with them on campus. It’s definitely cool to invite a friend or two along on your weekend adventure and split the gas price.

Uber and Lyft are gems for college students. Almost every college student has these apps on their phone. Unlike other places, Southern California is full of Uber and Lyft drivers. Ordering a car is quick and simple! However, Uber and Lyft can be super pricey for college students, especially during peak hours, so you may have to look at alternate methods. 

If you get annoyed by the SoCal traffic, the Metrolink is very fast and efficient. Once getting to Union Station, there are different lines that will take you close to every major attraction you would ever want to go to. 

Of course, there’s always the bus (Sanjana’s personal favorite). The bus system has so many stops depending on which line you take. It’s very convenient to get off at a stop because you saw an interesting bookstore and then hop back the next time the bus passes. It’s definitely the cheapest option for traveling around LA, but don’t be expecting a NYC-style transportation system, because the bus can be super confusing to navigate. It’s all about practice!

If you want to travel outside of LA, there is always the FlixBus, which can take you to places like San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispol, and even San Francisco if you’re feeling super adventurous. There is a FlixBus stop right at UCLA and my friends and I have taken it a bunch of times for weekend trips, and it ends up only being around $10 round trip!

1. Beaches: A California Classic    

Southern California is full of amazing sandy beaches that people would die for. Before moving to SoCal, I can genuinely say that I hated going to the beach because all the beaches were full of rocks and sand was practically nonexistent. I was striving for the SoCal dream way before I was even thinking about college.

The best thing about going to college in SoCal is that you can pretty much go to the beach any time of year. My friends and I had a picnic on the beach during January: imagine doing that anywhere else. 

Here are some of the most beautiful beaches in SoCal that every college student HAS to visit.

Santa Monica

santa monica sunset

Santa Monica Beach is the most classic, touristy LA beach. If you’re just visiting California for a little bit, I’d highly recommend spending an evening or even an entire day at Santa Monica. It’s much closer to downtown Los Angeles, and around a 20 minute drive from UCLA.  The sand at this beach is so soft and nice and there’s so much to do once you get to the area. Downtown Santa Monica also has a bunch of shops and restaurants.

At Santa Monica, there is also a bike or walking path where you can get to Venice. Venice is a more “hipster” but still touristy beach where you will see tons of skaters practicing at the park and natives selling their arts on the streets. I highly recommend doing this walk if you get the chance, it’s super easy and fun!

Newport 

Newport Beach has over five (5!!!) miles of a beautiful sandy coastline. It’s only about an hour away from downtown Los Angeles and it’s home to amazing food right by the water. There’s also two piers jutting out into the water. Surfers love the beach and the waves. 

Malibu

malibu beach

Malibu is an area that has tons of beaches: from Zuma to Paradise Cove to El Matador State Beach. It’s definitely both of our favorite beaches! Celebrities love living in Malibu while everyone else loves visiting the beaches. It’s just a little further away from downtown LA than Santa Monica beach at about 25 miles. It’s relatively close to UCLA, I’ve taken the bus there multiple times to watch the sunsets or sunrise. Just sitting on the sand in Malibu makes every other problem in your life seem insignificant. 

One of my favorite parts about Malibu are that it has cliffs or really cool rocks along the beach. It’s one of the most beautiful views you can get: the beach with the mountains in the background. 

Huntington

Huntington Beach has two plus miles of coastline. Similar to Newport Beach, it’s about an hour away (40 miles) from downtown Los Angeles. It’s also favored by surfers and is home to the International Surfing Museum! While Huntington Beach allows swimming, sometimes the tides are strong and lifeguards have to go out into the water and save the swimmers. 

2. Amusement Parks: A Day of Fun

There are so many amusement parks around Southern California that you can take your pick of any of them. Every single one has an unique aspect to itself that you can’t replicate. Also, being in SoCal means you don’t have to plan as meticulously for the weather than if you were in any other state. There really are 300 days of sunshine.

Many colleges have deals with these Amusement Parks to have discounts for their students. During Halloween Horror Nights at Universal, UCLA gave me (Sanjana!) a huge discount for weeknights. 

If you need any inspiration, here are four of the biggest amusement parks in SoCal.

Universal Studios 

Universal Studios Hollywood is a place that I believe everyone should go to at least once in their life. Not only is it packed with amazing things for you to do, it’s also such an exciting atmosphere. Any Harry Potter fan would love spending their day in the Wizarding World. Having visited, I can tell you that the butterbeer alone was worth the lines. 

As we mentioned before, Halloween Horror Nights are a huge deal at Universal if you like being scared.

Disneyland

a castle in Disneyland at night!

Whether you’re a kid or an adult, Disneyland really is the happiest place in the world. People from all over the world come to the States, to Anaheim specifically to be able to visit Disneyland. With so many “lands”, there are so many rides for you to explore that you can take an entire weekend to visit Disneyland and still not be able to go on every single ride.

Knott’s Berry Farm

I remember the first time I heard of Knott’s, I laughed since I had no clue it wasn’t actually a berry farm. Knott’s is actually one of the best amusement parks in the country located about 20 miles away from downtown Los Angeles. It’s full of rides, themed areas, and annual events centered around the holidays. 

There’s an annual Knott’s Scary Farm that Pomona gave me (Deanna!) tickets at a discounted price and transportation there and back to be able to have a night off and have a scare!

Santa Monica Pier

santa monica pier ferris wheel

This is an absolute classic; everyone who is close by should spend an evening at the Santa Monica Pier. It has a small but fun amusement park and the iconic Ferris Wheel that’s run by solar panels! This is also the only amusement park in the Los Angeles region that’s free to enter. While it is a pretty small park, you’ll have so much fun here. 

3. Concerts, Musicals and Music Festivals

LA is such a big city that every single touring artist will stop by for a night or even two. As someone who didn’t live near a city where most artists had a stop, my first concert experience (Deanna) was during college in Los Angeles! There are so many concert venues that it’d be almost impossible for me to narrow it down to some of the best. 

Hollywood Bowl

Picture of the Hollywood Bowl

Unlike many other concert venues, the Hollywood Bowl is used for almost every type of concert. Opera singers have performed here along with orchestras and rock bands. The atmosphere of the amphitheater is so special and I feel so lucky to have been able to go to a concert. The acoustics of the Hollywood Bowl is also incredible with a mix of natural sound and amplified sound. 

Hollywood Pantages Theater

interior of the Hollywood Pantages Theater

The Pantages is home to Los Angeles’ Broadway. Every major Broadway show comes here on tour: Hamilton, Oklahoma, Mean Girls. The Pantages is one of the most beautiful theaters that I’ve ever seen. If you have the time, grab tickets to a musical (literally any musical, they’re all amazing), sit back, and watch the magic happen in front of your eyes.

Coachella

LA (or Indio, CA to be more specific) is home to the most famous music festival in the world—Coachella. While this festival is definitely NOT budget friendly, thousands of college students save up their entire year to go to Coachella. Most college students decide to camp at a campsite in their cars for the weekend, meaning they don’t have to pay for a hotel or anything like that.

While music festivals can be super expensive, if it’s your thing, it can definitely be an experience worth going to!

Camp Flog Gnaw

Camp Flog Gnaw is a music festival held by Tyler, the Creator at the Dodger Stadium. I went this year and it was one of the best experiences of my life. It’s a music festival mixed with a Carnival: so you’re able to enjoy incredible music at night while going on amusement park rides during the day! It’s literally anything you could ever want. 

camp flog gnaw at night

4. Classic Tourist Attractions

When you are living in LA, there are certain tourist attractions that you HAVE to see. Like the Big Ben for London or the Empire State Building for New Yorkers, you can’t live in LA without seeing these attractions! While you will be amongst a bunch of tourists, you just have to embrace that and see something new. 

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Located in the center of Hollywood, the Walk of Fame comprises many streets that are filled with the stars of famous Hollywood celebrities. You can also see the handprints and footprints of various actors and actresses. It’s definitely a must-see if you have never been. 

Right by the Walk of Fame, there is Madame Toussad’s and the Chinese Theater! The Chinese Theater is a beautiful theater that is home to a bunch of movie premiers. I saw the premier of Bad Boys for Life and saw Khalid, Will Smith, and a bunch of other celebrities. 

Griffith Observatory

griffith observatory from the outside

Griffith is a bit outside of central and downtown LA, but it provides an incredible view of the skyline, the mountains, and the Hollywood sign. It’s an observatory, so you can look through telescopes to watch the stars, explore exhibits, and see live shows in the Planetarium. It’s also FREE! You can bring a picnic and watch the sunset over the skyline with your friends. It’s also very fun because a bunch of people bring their pets so you will see a lot of dogs having fun with their owners. 

5. Museums

Being such a big city, LA is home to a bunch of museums. So, if you love art, a museum might be the perfect place for you to walk around with your friends! Many of the museums in LA also have amazing architecture and are located in beautiful buildings. Here are three iconic LA museums that you have to go to. 

The Getty Center and Villa

The Getty Museum is located in the Santa Monica mountains and it comprises a lot of European art such as paintings, drawing, sculpture, and photography. There’s also an incredible view of LA and the architecture of the museum is beautiful. You could spend hours walking around the Getty, even if you don’t like art, it’s just a really fun place to see and walk around. It’s also free!

The Getty Villa is overlooking Malibu and it’s a recreation of an ancient Roman country house. The architecture and landscape of the villa is more beautiful than the Center. It has four gardens that blend the Roman architecture with open air and outdoor plants. It’s definitely a must-see!

LACMA

LACMA, or the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts, is the largest art museum on the West Coast of the US. It’s located in Miracle Mile of LA and it’s super close to UCLA. It has a collection of both ancient and modern art from around the world. The LACMA is free for college students. It is also home to Urban Lights, one of the most famous places in LA to take cool pictures! 

Small fun fact: Urban Lights was designed by a Pomona alum: Chris Burden ’69

lacma lightposts

LACMA is near the La Brea Tar Pits, so you could make a day out of it and go to both! 

The Broad

The Broad is a contemporary and modern art museum in Downtown LA. The Broad is also free! It has new, rotating collections and exhibits. It just had it’s five-year anniversary and is becoming a more up-and-coming museum in LA. You should buy your tickets beforehand and definitely go!

6. Hikes

You wouldn’t think of LA as a place that is particularly famous for its hiking, but if you are a nature-lover, you can find a ton of fun hikes in LA! The landscape of LA is very unique: you can see mountains or cliffs and the beautiful ocean in the same view. Coming from somewhere where the hiking is completely different, I love hiking in LA to admire a different part of the country. Here are just two of the many hikes that you can find in LA. 

Hollywood Sign Hike

If you’re in LA and love hiking, you HAVE to do the Hollywood Sign hike. It can be a 3.5 or 6.4 mile hike depending on which trail you take. There are three trails that go from easy to difficult, so if you are just looking to see the sign but not break a sweat, that is also an option! It has a great view of the mountains in LA and of course, Mount Hollywood.

Topanga State Park

Topanga State Park is a park located in the Santa Monica mountains. It has hikes that start at around 3 miles but can go up to 10 miles! The different trails show you different landscapes: there is a trail leading you to a waterfall and also a trail that takes you through the mountains to a beautiful view of the beach and the Pacific Coast Highway. 

girl hiking

7. Professional Sports

LA is home to a ton of professional sports teams: eleven to be exact. If sports are your thing, you could head out to a Rams, Lakers, or Clippers game! Some of the places where these games are held are the Dodger Stadium or the Staples Center. 

8. FOOD!

LA has a ton of great food options. If you are bored of your campus food, you can head off campus and explore different cuisines. LA is home to a bunch of “ethnic” towns such as Koreatown, Little Ethiopia, Chinatown, or Little Tokyo. As a foodie, food is one of the best parts about being in LA. There are so many options for literally any cuisine you could be craving. Leaving campus to go eat out with your friends is a great thing to do if you have free time on a certain night. 

several pizzas

We hope you take our examples to heart! Living in Southern California gives you so many opportunities to make your own college adventures. Have fun, make your adventures, and live your best life!